Coaster World War II
My fellow coaster enthusiasts, it appears we stand on the brink of change. Changes that may set the tone of the next generation of entertainment, yet many of us have been looking at the past for perspective. Many people point at Magnum XL200 as the first shot of the coaster wars that spurred innovation and record breaking construction for about a twenty five year period. However before and after this time period ride design has always been pushing the boundaries and chipping away at records. I think Magnum deserves to be called the catalyst by hitting that nice even number, but this war was always churning, and it has continued to this day. However last season as many of us were diving into the 2019 ride announcements, an odd thing happened. We collectively became aware of large projects going into 2020 and beyond. So is this the beginning of a new escalation? Will Cedar Point fire the final shot this time around? I’ll give them the last word. Or perhaps it has already been in progress gaining inertia, drawing up plans, and we are just now starting to see this arms race explode into view.
I think the earliest shot may have been the New Texas Giant, while many have criticized Six Flags for their minimalist approach to investment the Iron Horse has been very influential. News of an old wooden roller coaster turning into a hybrid sends a shock wave around the world now that RMC has proven this technology can turn the worst of experiences into the best. This has of course lead the way for the RMC topper track that provides a similar experience with a wooden twist, but the more impactful change may come in the form of the single rails. We saw a pair of these Raptor models installed last year, and the logical path for speculation now is where will the first T-Rex go? How will that technology offer a different experience?
I would also say Six Flags and Cedar Fair made another shot with The Battle for Metropolis and Wonder Mountain's Guardian. All of the chains have been adding an emphasis on storytelling and theme but these two ride in their own way have added that in places that were actively avoiding these elements for over two decades. Interactive experiences, and story elements are being pushed into the amusement park experience more and more. Just this year on roller coasters Universal has introduced Hagrid’s a very immersive storytelling coaster. Carowinds added Copperhead Strike that added a show element to a coaster, and opening later this year West Coast Racers will do the same. In the dark ride motion simulator market BGW has gone for VR. While Cedar Point has gone into full on reality in the Forbidden Frontier and actual space for story telling and interactive puzzles and activities.
Many parks have been taking on new territory, always a good tactic in war. Disney is the super power in this department they add new attractions and continually develop at all of their parks worldwide in an attempt to not have any rivals. Between Toy Story Land, Pandora, Galaxies Edge and the many current attractions that they are rebranding and updating it is hard to question their dominance on this front. Universal, always a challenger, has a plot of land in Orlando many speculate could become a fourth park for them. There are two new construction projects underway in the NYC area right now. Legoland just north of NYC and the American Dreams Mall just over the river in New Jersey. Both of these projects are reminders of just how difficult new construction can be as they both are suffering unexpected delays and obstacles. Dollywood opened a large new expansion called Wildwood Grove, but the public still seems to be preoccupied with Lightning Rod and its status. SeaWorld Parks are expected to put a new roller coaster in every park next year, that would signal a massive change in their investment cycle. The fiercely independent Hersheypark will be adding Chocolate Town a mixed use retail and dining area, along with a new entrance and roller coaster.
Cedar Point fans learned at Coastermania during a Q&A session that the peninsula is becoming four acres larger. While they did not give details on where this new land will be created or how it would be used it is an interesting revelation. This could signal an arms build up. Cedar Point fans have wondered if they would get a new record breaking coaster that could take a substantial record like; speed, height, length, or inversions. On CP Unlimited Andy & Steven discussed the possibilities and challenges of cramming a large scale coaster onto Cedar Point’s heavily developed property. They also discussed another Cedar Fair trend of building up hotel properties. What if Cedar Point’s WMD is a combination of both. The polercoaster is often the best example of how to build very tall with a limited footprint. This type of ride could break the 500 foot barrier and create a layout that could claim the height, length and inversion records in one shot. This structure could have a dual use for the park. Instead of a multi story observation deck at the top, it could be utilized as hotel suites. This premium location and view could command a premium price, while all of the utility areas could be placed at ground level. I understand that space on this type of structure would be limited, but let's do some calculations. With about 125 operating days for the park per season this hotel would have a similar schedule, however there would be extra demand in May, September, and October when guest may want to arrive the day before they head into the park. For simplicity I will be using 125 days. If the hotel platform was four stories tall and could fit only six guest suites per level they would only have 24 rooms. I am going to use conservative estimates so we will look at the low end of what is possible. If each room could earn the park $600 beyond the cost to operate the hotel that would be $14,400 per day and $1.8 million per year. However I think there is room for more days, and a higher nightly rates. Combine these figures with the add-ons that go with staying on property like food, snacks, drinks, and other premium services. The hotel would be the nuclear tip on a roller coaster that could create a lot of demand at the gate and for merchandise. The four acres of land could become the new home of whatever was displaced for this new hotel/roller coaster complex. Only time will tell how this war will play out, and I have proved before, I am always wrong.
You Might Be A Fanboy
EDITOR'S NOTE: The author of this article is a community member and not a member of the site staff. We encourage all members of our community to submit similar op-ed pieces by e-mailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org for review by our editorial staff.
Fanboys unfailingly support a park that seems in most cases to do little other than disappoint. It's one thing to uphold a park well recognized for excellence, like Cedar Point or Disney. Those are first class amusement/theme parks who frequently reward their patrons for their loyalty.Most Fanboys of other parks are still waiting for their world class roller coaster, dark ride, flat ride, etc. ship to come in. They'll continue to wait for as long as necessary because being a Fanboy means having patience, and unlimited hope.
That said, Fanboys rarely exhibit actual patience. Hope springs eternal, whether warranted or not, and from that hope springs rage when the park doesn't measure up to expectations. Unfortunately they often set their expectations too high, and have to face a disappointing reality.By the end of the season, Fan Boys "can't do it anymore" and threaten to quit. And then something magical happens that brings all Fanboys together and renews faith in the park. An off season rumor from an “inside source” erases months of anguish after all hope was lost, and begins the cycle anew.That event is at the core of the most prominent way you know you're a Fan Boy:
#1 The Off-Season Is More Exciting Than Coaster Season!!!
Coaster Season? Never mind that, the Fanboy needs to start scouting for their next world-class ride instead of you know RIDING COASTERS! They prowl around the park looking for flags, dots of spray paint, and study land clearing. Of course, it rarely works out for the Fanboy, as they act like archeologists finding proof of a record breaking attraction that ends up being a Dippin Dots stand. The off season is more exciting than the actual coaster season when your park has confirmed land clearing. They always come into those off seasons with lots of optimism. The off season is almost always a time to fill the most massive Fanboy want, never the essential park need.
#2 The Most Frustrating Fanboys Are Your Own
You all know this one. This person is a Fanboy, technically, but he has become so jaded over the years that the first sign of adversity is enough for him to throw his hands up and quit—and try to bring everyone else down with him. And I'm not talking about a kids area expansion two years after the last one. That's frustrating to anyone. No, to this guy, a new restaurant or new bathrooms, and or other general improvements. Means all hope is lost for the park and "FIRE EVERYONE." There is no in-between. To an extent, this Fanboy is to be pitied. What you're seeing is little more than a defense mechanism built up over years of not getting what they want. Mentally, he destroys any possibility of success so that the actual act of losing, in their mind hurts less. It's kind of sad. That doesn't make it any less obnoxious when you're trying to enjoy a day at the park though.
#3 You Own Merchandise of a Ride You Now Hate! (Because you bought it the year before you rode it…)
Don't be ashamed, way more people than you own those Storm Chaser T-shirts. The nature of over-hyped rides is that expectations are sky-high for them, so everyone goes out to buy their merchandise. But the problem with over-hyped rides is that they can never live up to expectations. And by that point, Fanboys have turned on them for betraying their expectations. The sight of the T-shirts alone brings back awful memories of disappointment, confusion, anger, and maybe a hint of the excitement that came with that rides initial arrival. They look upon them with shame in retrospect, but they are a part of the park's history like anything else. That said, they are a great way to prove you supported the park even during its worst years.
#4 The Slappy
There's no doubt that most of us have been accused of being an insert park here slappy in our lifetime. It's not a bad thing, though it is often conceived as a bad thing. What is slappy? A slappy is a Fanboy that believes their park can do absolutely no wrong. The sky is always blue, and this is the year their park will build the best ride in the world. Any attempt to tell the slappy any different will result in said slappy calling you a hater or even a Fanboy of another park. I say slap on slappy. There's nothing wrong with a little optimism. Seeing the bright side of things helps. Even if it's a bad situation, take the Valravn announcement. Only the diehard Cedar Point Fanboys were impressed. They took great pride to tell anybody who would listen that Valravn was a perfect fit. The rest of the enthusiast community gave out a collective yawn.
#5 The Angry Fanboy.
Angry Fanboy will get incensed if anything negative is said about their park. This Fanboy will loudly debate you all night and will tell you, you're wrong no matter what. There is nothing wrong with this Fanboy's love of the park. But if you insult the park, even suggest it isn’t the absolute best in front of them, you'll wish you hadn't. Get ready for a long night.
#6 The Elitist.
They are similar to the grammar police in that; they are always correcting you. "That is the best roller coaster in the world. No that is the best roller coaster you have ridden." The Elitist is invariably well traveled, at times to more than one continent. The type of person who has been to Alton Towers, but skipped Stonehenge. They will tell how much better the parks and rides that they have visited are, compared to the ones you love. "I am telling you Nagashima Spa Land and Hakugei are better than Cedar Point and Steel Vengeance. I know I have been to both." The Elitist will proudly wear T-shirts from obscure parks and rides that only ten other Elitist know. To sum it up, you seriously start to contemplate breaking the sixth commandment when you around them for too long.
#7 The Lifer
The Lifer is everyone that is proud to be a park Fanboy. The Lifer is the Fanboy that wakes up early every day to get their parking space, because it is theirs. Makes sure to watch the local news and weather. Is usually the first one in line, The Lifer will go to the park every day they can, they know every inch of the park, the employees great him by name. They are the Fanboy that can't wait to take their child to the park for the first time and buy his first ride picture. They can never walk away from their favorite park. Truth be told It's a little bit in all of us, whether we're happy or angry, we'll always faithfully attend and borderline worship our favorite park. When that day comes, and our park builds themselves the worlds best roller coaster, dark ride, flat ride, etc. The Lifer will experience the most blissful experience they have ever felt.
Until then, let's hear some of your suggestions for the different types of Fanboys in the comments below.
My Life Is Going Downhill
Dear Coaster Friends,
Close your eyes and imagine you are on a roller coaster, maybe a special ride that you feel is exciting. You crest the top and dive down, whizzing past trees, hugging the ground, and just hauling at an unrelenting pace. What ride was it? The answer is probably different for many of us, but when I think of near misses with nature and the ground being a focus and not the air I think of terrain coasters. This special designation often deliver an extra layer of uniqueness to a roller coaster because its setting is intertwined with the ride experience.
There are many reasons to use the terrain as an element when designing a roller coaster. Often times the simple fact that using an existing hillside could help the park save money because they can get away with less materials. It is a great win win. Sometimes a park is built with limited area to develop midways and paths that are easy for guests to traverse, this may force designers to place the rides in more rugged surrounding terrain, to leave more flat space for people. Then there is a third option, add artificial terrain in a spare no expense approach to create an ideal setting. These types of rides often have that extra something that makes them feel more special. This isn’t a required ingredient because a good ride is a good ride and my favorite coaster, El Toro, does not have a terrain element. However when a ride does have this element is typically a welcome addition.
What ride did you think of when I asked you to close your eyes and imagine? I thought of Boulder Dash at Lake Compounce. This roller coaster was designed by CCI and was inspired by Rollo Coaster at Idlewild Park. Boulder Dash omits the most expensive part of a wooden roller coaster, the lift hill. By using the natural terrain to help shape the lift, first drop and most of the elevation changes on the first half of the ride they were able to save a lot of material cost while creating a very exciting ride. To me Boulder Dash is more than simply fast, it feels wild. The combination of the near misses created by the trees and rock face, help disguise a downward path that makes the ride feel like it is speeding up when you expect it to be slowing down. This is near the top of my list of wooden roller coasters and it is so wild and fun I excuse its biggest flaw. It is rough, but I love it anyway.
I have a positive impression of B&M hypers, and I really enjoy all of the ones I have ridden. The thing is they all leave a similar impression on me, in fact I rank them all together for the most part and they each have something that stands out even though they deliver a similar experience. I typically give the edge to Apollo’s Chariot, not because it is bigger, faster or steeper. It is actually none of those things. I give it the edge because it uses the terrain to enhance the experience. The reason this ride uses the terrain is to develop a part of the property that guests could not access, and it would not be useful for future expansion. I don’t think Busch Gardens saved any money on the slightly shorter lift hill because of the predrop that was added to get out to the elevation change, but I like the effect it created. Those few extra seconds to build a little momentum and take in the views is a welcome added extra the terrain helped dictate. The rest of the ride is fairly standard, but because the terrain is at different elevations at different points in the layout it makes the drops larger or smaller because they need to line up with the low points below them. In fact this is the one B&M hyper where the first drop isn’t my favorite part of the ride, it is the last drop. The last drop is very surprising, and even though I knew it was coming the first few times I rode it still got me. If you aren’t sure what I mean or why the last drop is worth talking about I won’t spoil it, just head on over to BGW to ride Apollo’s Chariot.
The final category of terrain coasters would be best examined by going to Florida, a state where a certain mouse set the bar on theming. My favorite mine train is Big Thunder Mountain, not because it has the best layout but because it has the best setting. This coaster creates its own terrain and takes riders off onto a mountain scene from out west in the hot, humid, awful, oppressive Florida sun. Wait, why are we in Florida again, oh yeah theming. A 90 minute car ride away from the Orland market will land you in Tampa Bay home of my favorite invert Montu. Montu is partially buried so the layout dives through these trenches themed to look like Egyptian ruins. If the whole ride was lifted about two or three stories and had the same layout but not terrain and scenery to interact with I don’t think it would have the honor of being called my favorite invert, just like natural terrain coasters the scenery creates near misses and enhances the feeling of speed. Cheetah Hunt does the same thing on a portion of its track where it reuses part of the old river raft ride. Both of these rides are arguably better than similar rides that lack these interactions.
There are so many of these types of rides to mention, and some parks have capitalized on it really well like Holiday World, Dollywood, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, and Kennywood. These are all parks that use their uneven terrain to their advantage and have put themselves in my sights because I know they will offer something that no place else can. They all offer something different and unique, and it is not just a big pile of dirt or a dangerous hillside. It was the bold decision to build on it that created a natural attraction for an unnatural experience. Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click…
Coaster Dad Season 3
Dear Coaster Friends,
Sorry, but I got a repeat for you, actually I want to take a blog post from last year and annualize it for the week before Father’s Day. That way all my coaster dad friends will get a boost on their holiday, and prospective coaster dads, and coaster kids can reflect on their dad and going to theme parks. This hobby can be very family friendly and I wanted to update this every season.
I got into roller coasters as a hobby later in life, not because of a lack of love for roller coasters, but simply it never occured to me that it was a thing. I always enjoyed going to theme parks as a kid and throughout my life. I grew up asking my parents to include going to parks as part of family vacations, and sometimes I was indulged and other times it wasn’t in the cards. The desire to be hurled around a circuit of wood or steel was my love and it was not shared by my family, so I was the lone voice begging to ride one more when the day was over. I was very lucky to have a dad who would indulge me and become my riding partner when I wasn’t old enough to wait in line by myself. This was greatly appreciated, especially since my dad doesn’t like heights. His fear of heights was not something I was aware of at the time.
When I became a teen I attended a summer camp that brought us to amusement parks, and it became my first job too. So a few outings a summer to amusement parks were a welcome perk. Then when that first summer of work was over I needed to find a year round after school job and my priorities shifted to work and school. I still had fun and went to parks with friends, but because of the cost of paying my own way it became less frequent. Then I became a college student and almost all of my free time was about working for extra money, so I could socialize with my friends, and not eat Cup-O-Noodles for every meal. After several years with no amusement parks I started going to Great Adventure at least once a year with friends, and my girlfriend who later became my wife. I was working on my career, but it still never occured to me that I should be branching out and seeking new experiences.
Then all of a sudden it clicked when my wife and I were in Los Angeles attending a family wedding. We realized we had an extra day to visit and we were on our way to Magic Mountain with my cousin and his wife. They ran out of steam after a few hours but we kept on riding and enjoying our day at the park. On the drive back to LA we were like, “Why aren’t we doing this more regularly?” So we started making a spring and fall trip every year to Great Adventure, and every time we were out of town with the opportunity we visited a new park. Then the sickness really kicked in and I was like let's plan road trips to parks too! We gradually started making our travels a bit further and more frequent, we started visiting lesser well known and sometimes out of the way parks too.
Age starts to creep up on you and things change, responsibilities expand, and life happens. One year I injured myself and I couldn’t ride roller coasters for a year, I was devastated. I even had to face the possibility that I could be done, at the risk of ruining myself physically. Thankfully I healed and hit the ground running again. Then came the biggest change, my wife was pregnant and our family would be expanding. This was a welcome change that was both scary and exciting. It did however change my thinking on the future and family time.
I now have a daughter who will turn four this fall, and I have gone from adrenaline junkie to coaster dad. As soon as my daughter was the right height I brought her to Adventureland, the first park I went to as a kid. Instead of waiting on line for the roller coaster I was folding myself in half to fit into the kiddy rides with her. My wife and I will still go to parks without her when we are lucky to have a babysitter and enjoy that time. However the conversations have changed from, “Do you think we can find a time to visit Cedar Point this year?” to “How long before we can all go to Storyland/Great Escapes/Disney?” I think we will be bringing her someplace new this year soon, so she can see big rides in action, most likely her second park will be Lake Compounce or Six Flags New England. They both are a fair distance from were we live and have a good mix of; being easily walkable, having fun attractions for my daughter, and some large scale rides for her to see. I don’t remember being her age but I do remember not being tall enough for rides and I hope being exposed to large scale thrill rides may spark her imagination.
I was never the enthusiast who would ride kiddy coasters without a kid. No judgement if you want to I just felt like I would rather be going on something I enjoyed more or I felt self conscious and silly. But last spring when visiting Kings Dominion with Daniel Westfall I jumped on Woodstock Express solo. I told Daniel I wanted more wood credits so El Toro would be number one in the Ride Warrior Choice Awards, but really I wanted to feel a kids roller coaster to see how long before I thought my daughter could ride something like it. I even got mad and upset at the thought a kiddy ride could get removed before we have outgrown it. I did get to ride with my daughter on her first roller coaster a few months later in the summer back at Adventureland. We have been back several times since her first ride, and sometimes she asks to ride the roller coaster and sometimes she doesn’t. At our first visit this season she wanted to ride, when we told her we wanted to take her someplace new, with new rides she seemed very excited at the prospect. I really hope it is the beginning of a family pastime. So does this mean I need to slow down? NO! I WILL BE GOING FASTER AND HIGHER THAN YOU ON KINGDA KA! But now every time I ride I am doing mental math, how long before my daughter can ride this too?
WCPO was the first media outlet to report that a major new roller coaster is coming to Kings Island. Now, construction has begun on both the foundation and the steel track for the ride.
Video from Chopper 9 shows the work underway on the new project, which is on the north side of The Racer, where Firehawk and Dinosaurs Alive used to stand.
According to blueprints filed in May with the city of Mason, Ohio, it appears to be what's known as a giga coaster — a coaster taller than 300 feet.
Calling all Lego lovers.
With a new Legoland New York Resort slated to open next spring, guests have the opportunity to get access two months before it officially opens to the public.
Lego announced its limited edition “First to Play” pass, which allows pass-holders to gain access to a special pre-opening preview day event in advance of the grand opening in 2020.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The author of this article is a community member and not a member of the site staff. We encourage all members of our community to submit similar op-ed pieces by e-mailing them to email@example.com for review by our editorial staff.
This is going to cause me some pain to admit. You see, Kings Island always has and always will have a special place in my heart. My first roller coaster and lifelong love affair with them was born there. So, please understand that this brings me no joy. I hate that King’s Island is always late to the party. By now, most of us have seen or heard about the land clearing and leaked plans for the 2020 Kings Island project X. While you may be thinking that I am going to go into a rant about this coaster. I want to dive way deeper.
Instead Let us go back to 1993, the beginning of the Paramount years. Kings Island unveils Top Gun, now The Bat. Why revisit tradition instead of push innovation? Who wanted an Arrow suspended coaster? After Batman: The Ride came out in 1992 all Arrow suspended coasters virtually became obsolete overnight. B&M inverts were the flavor of the month, the enthusiasts and the general public were going gaga over them. It wasn't until August 8, 2013, that Banshee was announced. The Kings Island faithful erupted with glee, the rest of the enthusiast community yawned. It had almost been a decade since a B&M invert had been built! Banshee's failure at the gate, only proved that an invert doesn't excite the general public anymore. Had the B&M invert arrived on time, 2013 could have been the year for a giga. With two years head start on Fury 325 and the experience of Leviathan this could have been the best ride in the world for its time.
Let us jump forward in time to 2005 for the next missed opportunity. Son of Beast by this time is starting to circle the proverbial drain and needs replacement. The park is falling further behind Cedar Point, at the time a competitor. The park installs The Italian Job Coaster, now the Backlot Stunt Coaster. The theme was an odd choice for a family coaster as the movie was rated PG-13 and not a movie that is for the whole family. The more prudent choice at the time could have been to wave the white flag on trying to keep Son Of Beast limping along and write it off. That plot of land just screamed for Great Coasters International twister layout. In 2005 GCI was the hot new toy and would have been a great replacement for SOB, while being innovative and building on the parks tradition. In 2016 Kings Island did install their modern GCI wooden coaster, but did they learn from the past? No, not even close. In 2016 Rocky Mountain Construction was the new flavor of the month and a tasty one at that. 2016 could have been the year Kings Island built a signature ride to rival Outlaw Run, Goliath, and Lightning Rod. This would have been a move towards the future instead of a nostalgic look back.
Let us play what if and look at Kings Island's coaster line up with the correct choices. I do understand that some of these coasters were not Cedar Fair's doing, but close your eyes and imagine this skyline. The Bat could have been a B&M Invert. Son of Beast/Backlot Stunt Coaster could have been a modern G.C.I with a twister layout. Diamondback, good choice! Banshee could have been the giga. Mystic Timbers could have been an R.M.C. woodie. That would open Project X to be something new, different, and join a killer line line up of varied coasters that were innovative when built.
Now the 2020 project has begun there will be debate over the layout, stats, blah, blah, blah. No, my friends what I want to know, and what we should be asking is. "WHY CAN'T KINGS ISLAND BUILD THE RIGHT COASTER AT THE RIGHT TIME FOR THE LAST 25 PLUS YEARS?"