Specific Type: Wooden, Twister
If ever there was an amusement park that had to wait more than its fair share to get what it longed for, California’s Great America would be near the top of that list. It took over 5 years in the making with countless roadblocks in between, but finally, it looks like the park has struck gold for 2013.
The legacy started back in late October 2007, when Cedar Fair confirmed it had plans to add a new Great Coasters International (GCI) coaster to the park for 2009, eight years after the addition of the park’s last coaster, Psycho Mouse. To make matters worse, Great America’s last major coaster added, Stealth (2000), was removed in 2003 by Paramount and relocated to Carowinds as Borg Assimilator (now Nighthawk). The park also lost a long time staple in Greased Lightnin’ (1977) when it was removed in 2002. The new wooden coaster, which was pictured dropping around the skytower, was exactly what the park needed, but it was not to be.
Before construction could begin, the park had to deal with issues involving their neighbors, the San Francisco 49ers, who wanted to build a new stadium in the parking lot. This dispute led to a number of delays that threatened not only the coaster but the park’s future and well-being, and as such the plans for the new coaster were scrapped. After things settled down and the issues were resolved in late 2011, the rumor mill started back up, and talks about revisiting the coaster project resumed.
Finally, on August 30, 2012, Six Flags announced that Gold Striker would be making its way to California’s Great America for the 2013 season! After years and years of waiting, Great America would finally become home to the coaster it deserved, the tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster in Northern California. The name Gold Striker was chosen for the ride to pay homage to the pioneers and gold-seekers who helped build California in the mid-1800s. Located in the Celebration Plaza, and standing as the park’s eighth coaster, the ride will wrap around the park’s iconic Star Tower attraction just as originally planned back in 2007.
A ride on the Gold Striker starts with guests loading up onto one of the coaster’s two Millennium Flyer trains. Once all-aboard,” the train glides out of the station and veers right, taking a short jog before dropping through a small right-handed U-turn, then rising and twisting to the left to engage with the lift hill. After cresting the apex of the 108-foot tall structure, the train begins to drop abruptly to the ground, banking heavily and twisting to the right as it approaches the earth below in a long, twisted, double-down effect that finishes at ground-level. Now rocketing towards the starting point of the lift hill at 54mph, the track rises slightly and abruptly turns left at the last second to parallel the lift. The train then blasts over a low airtime-filled hill right next to the station before rising, banking right, and executing a curvy turnaround.
Dropping back down towards the ground the track then leans and rolls to the left over a banked hill that leads into an 80-degree banked fan curve. As the train hurtles back down, it rolls to the right, then drops and turns left, crossing under the track it previously traversed. Crossing over another low speed hill filled with airtime, the train rises through a right-left S-curve that banks nearly perpendicular to the ground as it rolls and drops back down to the left. A quick shuffle to the right is followed by a drop and turn to the right which pulls up and morphs into a lefthand turnaround. A quick dip and turn to the right pops up into a final turnaround left into the final brake run, ending the 3197-foot long goldrush.
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