The 7 Wonders of the Parks
by Danny Miller
Earlier this week, my hockey teammates and I somehow got into the discussion of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and other similar lists. Eventually, one of them asked me if there was a list of the seven roller coaster wonders of the world. I immediately started to think of what such a list would consist of. Tonight, I decided to blog about my decisions and see what all of your lists would consist of. The following rides are in no particular order.
LEAP THE DIPS – This was one that barely made the cut for me here, but how can the world’s oldest roller coaster not be on a list like this? On a list that is quite similar to a “legendary” coaster list, Leap The Dips deserves a spot, if for nothing else, longevity. After falling into disrepair, this ride was brought back to life just before the new millennium and has been a treat for budding enthusiasts that make their way to Lakemont Park in central Pennsylvania. It was a privilege to ride it a few summers ago and add it to my coaster track record.
X2 – This coaster continues to be among the most sought after coasters for all enthusiasts. The world’s first 4-D (and now only 5-D) coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain is a ride that members of the general public have heard of even if they haven’t ridden it. The uniqueness of this ride is what gives it a spot on my list, and what would likely also place it on your own list.
MILLENNIUM FORCE – I might take some heat for this one, but any ride that breaks as many records as Millennium Force did when it opened, and when it has the following and notoriety it has, it deserves a spot here. The world’s first giga coaster among other things, Millennium Force remains one of the most well known coasters in the world, and one that any reasonable coaster enthusiast has ridden. After all, Cedar Point is the roller coaster capital of the world.
KINGDA KA – Once the fastest, and still the tallest coaster in the world, Kingda Ka is a wonder to look at even prior to arrival at Six Flags Great Adventure. In pictures, videos, and renderings, Kingda Ka impresses. All things considered, when one arrives at the park, the massive blue and green structure inspires awe, and watching it function is just as impressive. Perhaps that is why the smaller (yet older) brother, Top Thrill Dragster has a grandstand next to the launch area just to allow guests to watch if they opt out of the experience.
BEAST – Perhaps another one I’ll take a little bit of criticism for, I feel that the Beast ought to have a spot on this list. After more than 30 years, the Beast is still the longest wooden coaster in the world, and one of the most iconic for sure. If someone says, “I’m thinking of a legendary wooden coaster,” you immediately should think of the Beast. Its incredible length, reputation, and draw as one of the Kings Island’s most popular attractions, even with the arrival of newer and more advanced attractions, earn it a spot on my list.
SMILER – Up until this season, Colossus from Thorpe Park probably would be on this list, mostly due to its long-standing position as the inversion record-holder. Other rides had matched the ten inversions, but in 2013, Alton Towers in England destroyed that record with the fourteen-inversion Smiler. I just trust that the ride has fourteen inversions, because trying to count them in that tangled mess of track and supports is darn near impossible. Barring unexpected setbacks, I expect to ride Smiler during my 2016 Europe trip.
FORMULA ROSSA – If we have the tallest and formerly fastest coaster on this list, it only makes sense to finish off with the currently fastest, Formula Rossa at Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi. At nearly 150 MPH, Formula Rossa requires riders to wear safely goggles to ride, and it’s a good thing, with bugs and sand usually a problem when this ride operates. While it is a hard ride to get to, there is no doubt it should be on this list with its blazing speed and fame despite being so new.
HONORABLE MENTION: GRAVITY MAX – If I were allowed an eighth coaster (but I’m not), I would give it to Gravity Max at Lihpao Land (formerly Discovery World) in Taiwan. This coaster is better known as the “Tilting Coaster” made by Vekoma. It is the only one in existence, and here is what it does. At the top of the lift, instead of simply dropping down an incline, the entire stretch of track literally pivots about its center until the horizontal track is vertical. With the train held in place, the track connects with the rest of the course, and the train is released to continue down the vertical drop. I encourage you to check out videos and pictures of this incredibly unique ride.
So what do you think? Do you agree with my list? Do you like most of it? What would your list look like? Tell us about it in the forum topic here or post in the comments!