Kings Island's new inverted roller coaster is giving fans something to scream about.
The Mason amusement park Thursday gave more than 1,500 fans a preview of its new attraction, Banshee, which will become the world's longest inverted steel roller coaster when it opens in April 2014.
Seated riders dangle four to a row as they're hurled through 4,124 feet of track and seven stomach-churning inversions at speeds up to 68 mph during the two-minute 40-second ride.
The coaster will cost $24 million to construct, making it the park's largest investment in its 41 year history, said Greg Scheid, the park's vice president and general manager.
Banshee marks the first female-inspired ride at a Cedar Fair Entertainment Co. park. In Irish folklore, a banshee is a spirit in the form of a ghostly woman whose mournful wailing at night was believed to foretell the death of a family member.
The coaster is manufactured by Bolliger and Mabillard, or B&M. The Swiss firm also created Diamondback, the park's most recent roller coaster, which opened in 2009.
The ride starts with a 167-foot ascent before plunging 150 feet and pitching white-knuckled riders through a dive loop, vertical loop, zero-gravity roller, two batwing inversions, a second vertical loop and a 170 foot heartline finale.
The coaster can accommodate up to 1,650 riders per hour, an increase over the 1,400 hourly rider capacity of Diamondback and The Beast, said Scheid.
Banshee will become the fastest B&M coaster in the nation, surpassing the previous record of 67 mph held by Busch Gardens-Williamsburg's Alpengeist, said Don Helbig, park spokesman.
"It's one of those rides that every time you ride, you can't get enough of it. Every seat you sit in will be a different experience," he said. "I think it's definitely going to bring guests from around the country and the world."
A new coaster could be a boon for area tourism, said Bridget Kochersperger, a communications manager with the Warren County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
While the organization doesn't track visitors by attraction, Kings Island is one of the county's most popular draws, she said.
Attendance at Kings Island grew 2 percent to $3.2 million in 2012 over the previous year, ranking 15th in the nation, according to a report released in June by the Themed Entertainment Association, which represents developers, designers and producers from around the world.
"Kings Island is something that pulls families and people of all ages to come to Warren County," said Kochersperger. "I do think we will get an influx of those thrill-seekers who come for those attractions, for sure."
The new coaster is already proving a draw for one national group. The American Coaster Enthusiasts will hold its annual conference at the park this spring.
Dave Lipnicky, the group's public relations director, said Kings Island is a favorite thrill park of many of the organization's 7,000 members.
"Kings Island has been a world leader for decades starting with The Racer in 1972. A lot of people claim that is what started the second golden age of roller coasters," he said.
"(Banshee) definitely is going to be popular not only with coaster enthusiasts, but amusement park fans worldwide," he said.
Kings Island is already home to another world record-breaking coaster -- The Beast has held the record as the world's longest wooden roller coaster since it began giving its first shrieks in 1979.
Sandusky-based Cedar Point, another Cedar Fair park, broke world records in May with its new GateKeeper coaster. The $30 million attraction boasts the longest track (4,164 feet), tallest drop (164 feet), fastest speed (67 mph) and most inversions of any wing coaster in the world, among other records.
Helbig said guests have clamored for an inverted coaster since the late 1990s. Banshee becomes the park's 15th roller coaster.
"It certainly changes the landscape for thrill-seekers," he said. "No matter what type of thrill you're looking for, we have it right here at Kings Island."