DOSWELL, Va. — Tragedy struck the beloved Kings Dominion theme park this morning when, at approximately 10 a.m., the notorious Volcano roller coaster violently erupted, causing massive amounts of magma and volcanic ash to devastate the park.
The eruption comes after years of tense anticipation regarding the dormant Volcano tucked away in Kings Dominion’s “Lost World” section. Prior to today’s eruption, the most threatening elements of the Volcano were described as its “really long wait time and inability to remain operational for a full week.”
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Roger Schubert, a veteran volcanologist, began studying the attraction in 2001. He said that even though there were preliminary warning signs of an eruption as evidenced by minor shifting of the tectonic plates beneath the surface of the park during its Smurf Mountain era, the event was still a surprise.
“Our seismic analysis showed that she wasn’t likely to blow for another 10-15 years, at least,” said Schubert. “Without advance warning, we weren’t able to evacuate the entire park; thankfully we cleared the 12 people waiting in line for Anaconda really quickly.”
The eruption sparked a lava flow that immediately began to fill the nearby Lake Charles, causing rapid evacuations in the surrounding area. The ride’s structure suffered severe damage, including melting components in the ride’s early launch element.
“That really is the worst part,” commented Schubert. “The launch was awesome. Mother Nature knows no mercy.”
Rescue teams led by the Red Cross arrived on the scene soon after and immediately began assisting in the evacuation efforts; they were followed shortly by the park’s medical unit. Both groups are expected to remain onsite until the volcanic flow has been contained and the $8 keychains from the ride’s merchandise shop have been salvaged.
Kings Dominion general manager Gary Chadwick immediately issued a statement following the eruption. “We are utilizing all of our resources in response to the Volcano’s eruption. We’ve dispatched scientists, first responders, and our best part-time ride maintenance team to contain the situation.”
Thankfully, there have been no reported fatalities, although a number of patrons were disappointed that their on-ride photo looked worse than usual. Schubert agreed that, given the power of the eruption, the lack of casualties is something to be grateful for.
“I haven’t seen a catastrophe of this magnitude since the Fabio-goose incident at Busch Gardens.”
There is currently no projected date for the ride to reopen. Officials have also been keeping a close watch on the neighboring Avalanche rollercoaster for subsequent post-eruption threats.