Everyone I know seems to be taking out the old tape measure to see what measures up. Today I present Top Thrill Dragster, almost the tallest, almost the fastest, but just as much fun as when it was. Records don't create fun, and they are made to be broken. Marketing doesn't make our favorite ride our favorite. As soon as TTD gets its fix you can hop on and get blasted into space, if there is a clear sky you might just see Orion before twisting back down to Earth. If you can't wait that long just hop on Kingda Ka!
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.
August 15, 2019 at 10:00 PM Kings Island announced what we have all known was coming for months. The attraction had been teased, and leaked to death, it had been analyzed and over-analyzed. We now know this coaster will be called Orion and according to the park, this new attraction will be the 10th fastest coaster in the world. The park proudly presented the second “Giga” coaster in the state of Ohio. This all sounds great. After all who can be unhappy with another Giga coaster? However, the statistics paint another picture of this coaster all together. Orion has a length of 5,321 feet, a height of 287 feet, a drop of 300 feet and a speed of 91 MPH.
The definition of a Giga coaster appears to be somewhat of a moving target. Like many of the “records and statistics” parks have claimed in recent years, it seems the parks can and do modify definitions at will. Wikipedia (incidentally the park uses this also) defines a Giga coaster as any full circuit coaster with a 300 plus foot height or drop. Many other coaster sites and enthusiast define a Giga coaster as any full circuit coaster that is between 300 and 399 feet tall. For a reason that will become clear shortly I tend to dismiss the Wikipedia definition and subscribe more to the coaster site definitions. I do this for many reasons, but the biggest reason is simple. It makes sense to me that if you want to obtain good information about roller coasters, you would ask the people that know about coasters.
I know you are all starting to see where this is going, but before you lose your minds hear me out. Let’s compare Orion to Millennium Force. Orion has a 287-foot height with a drop of 300 feet. Millennium Force has a height of 310 feet and a drop of 300 feet. To me the drop does not a Giga make. This is my rationale. If we look at the 6 other Giga coasters on the planet, my argument begins to take shape. Let’s look at all 6 strictly from the perspective of height.
You now have my permission to lose your mind. Are you ready? The Kings Island Giga is no such thing. It is a Hyper!!! It falls significantly below the height of other Gigas, and if the coaster settles at all it won’t even make the cut based on height of drop. But what about the drop you ask? I would contend that the drop is irrelevant when classing a coaster as a giga. If you look at Millennium Force, What made it special? It was the first complete circuit coaster with a height greater than 300 feet. Using this logic all other coasters should be judged against the same criteria. With this said, Orion looks like it has the potential to be a great ride. I am sure the Kings Island faithful will get years of enjoyment out of riding it. We will have to wait and see if it becomes the headliner that Kings Island hopes it will, or if it will be the second-best Hyper coaster in the park. Will it make me beat feet across the country to ride it? NO. Then again, Steel Vengeance didn’t make me do that. I will get there when I get there. After all there are plenty of ACTUAL Giga’s that I still need to ride.
I visited Kennywood for the first time this past Monday August 12th. Phantom's Revenge had already been on my radar, but the addition of the Steel Curtain put this park on my short list to visit this year. We arrived before the park opened so we could get an early start. My expectations were low since this isn't a typical corporate park and I have heard from friends that this park is somewhat inconsistent with customer service and ride ops. I would have to say that was my observation as well, however I found many friendly employees who went out of their way to engage with myself or my wife. They were juxtaposed by many disinterested employees and ride ops. Some were very friendly and helpful and others were so disengaged I felt like I was being ignored, this was a recurring theme during our visit. I did have a great time at Kennywood, but as someone who breaks the door down when the park opens I will warn you they did start letting people in at opening, however they essentially didn't open the park for another 30 minutes. A few stands and services were open by the gate, but other sections of the park were closed entirely and shuttered. They allowed people to line up outside the queue for Steel Curtain, but did not open the queue and the ride for about 30 minutes. Annoying but not the end of the world. Another thing to note is that Steel Curtain and the gift shop are essentially the only part of Steelers Country that are done and open. The rest of the area is under construction.
The ride collection at this park is varied and make this park feel unique. The roller coaster collection is what I was interested in but they had a good mix of kiddie, family, and high thrill attractions. They also had a good mix of classic and modern attractions. We spent all of our time on the roller coasters, though we did not ride Exterminator or Lil Phantom.
Steel Curtain is a great ride for the park and is a really fun ride experience for guests. The trains and restraints are really great and are super comfortable. I hope to see S&S use this chassis in the future since I felt both Maxx Force and Steel Curtain rode well. The lift is very steep and brings you up to the top for a pre-drop curve before the fake out barrel roll drop. I like the drop and it felt unique compared to other inverting drops I have tried before. The ride may be the inversion record holder in North America, but the ride isn't only about inversions. The sensation of speed is great through the entire layout, and there are even a few airtime hills that delivered great negative G's. The inversions are obviously the highlight of the ride and a cool variety are offered. The two sets of double inversions are fun and offer a twisted experience that really caught me off guard my first few laps. The dive loop and corkscrew provided nice whips, and the stalls gave good hang time. Steel Curtain was very re-rideable, and both my wife and I found it more enjoyable with each lap.
The stand out at this park for both of us was Phantom's Revenge. I love how the ride interacts with the Thunderbolt and the ravine. It gives it a special feel like it could not exist anywhere else. I was a little nervous the ride would be too rough to enjoy. While it was wild and out of control feeling in all the best ways I didn't feel it was rough at all. There was a jarring moment on the ride but after the first lap I knew it was coming and braced myself for it and the rest of my laps were awesome. I never experienced the original Steel Phantom, but I have to imagine the work that went into changing it over into the Phantom's Revenge was worth the effort. The ride feels modern and smooth, while at the same time holding onto some sort of DIY nostalgia fitting it into the landscape. The ride delivers heights, speed, intensity, with a generous helping of both positive and negative G's.
I hate to call the rest of the coasters the rest of them because they all are fun and have something cool about each of them. Skyrocket has a good launch and tons of airtime on the tophat. Jack Rabbit might have delivered the most surprising airtime of the day on the unique double down drop. The Racer was a fun layout with the cool racing interaction you would expect. Finally the Thunderbolt was the most complete and thrilling of the three classic woodies. Also as a whole group none of the wooden coasters have ratcheting lap bars. Thunderbolt and Racer have buzz bars, while Jack Rabbit has a single position lap bar. The steel coasters give riders freedom too with only lap bars and no over the shoulder restraints to be found. Kennywood offers an experience that feels nostalgic and unique at the same time. My wife and I truly enjoyed our visit and I can't stop thinking about Phantom's Revenge.
I took the photo that inspired this image on the media day that I attended with Coaster-net. The event was a blast and I wanted to share this image with the community, and also my ride description from my experience at Kings Dominion from the media event, passholder event, and the opening day.
The ride begins with a gentle right hand turn out of the station to line the train up with the 111 foot tall lift hill. The lift chain grabs the train and the loud clang of the chain and the anti roll back give this the familiar feel of a traditional wooden coaster. At the top of the hill, there is a quick dip and banked turnaround to gain a bit of momentum, followed by the barrel roll drop. At this moment, it is clear there is nothing traditional about this ride. The barrel roll drop is a great way to kick off the action; you hang out of your seat and then drop straight down to the ground. At the bottom there is a small bunny hill that jolts you up before soaring past the station in a high banked turn at 54 MPH. At the exit of the turn there is another small hop that jolts you up again. The next section is all about airtime, and this ride delivers. They built up three camelback airtime hills that offer a traditional sequence you would get on a wooden coaster, but then you get flipped upside down in a cutback turnaround, and you are back into RMC country. This is where the ride becomes unhinged and twisted. The next series of airtime hills are twisted to give you lateral airtime back and forth, then a trick track pitching the train first to the right and then to the left. Then, without warning, the track suddenly drops out from under you all the way to the ground. It jumps back up into an airtime hill thought the lift structure providing a great head chopper. The track rises through the structure and pitches left, but makes a sudden right hand turn and drops. The train bounds over another bunny hop to get you out of your seat and then into the final inversion, a zero-G roll. As you exit you hit an over banked turn that puts you on your side, and one more to turn you back towards the station. There are two more pops of airtime, and you are up on the brake run.
After riding the ride many time and in different seats, I will say there is no bad seat on these trains. I enjoyed my front seat and back seat rides more than the middle but you would expect that. I was also surprised to find I did have a left vs right preference. This ride only makes right hand turns since it follows Hurlers triple out and back footprint, so I found the left seat more enjoyable as you get a bit of extra whip around some elements. Because both rides have a barrel roll drop there is a desire by many to compare the ride to Storm Chaser, but they have different profile and feel. According to ride designer Alan Schilke, the barrel roll drop is steeper on Twisted Timber than on Storm Chaser. Twisted Timbers is more focused on straight airtime than turning and laterals, as he intended for Storm Chaser. Twisted Timbers is very well planned to have the sensation of speed and to maintain excitement throughout. All of the instances where the ride cuts though supports or structure are towards the end of the ride when it is carrying less energy, but these near misses enhance that feeling of speed and keep riders on their toes. The two overbanked turns at the end to me are not the finale. To me, the zero-G roll is the finale; you storm into the first over bank, and it controls a lot of the leftover speed and inertia. I see this final sequence as part of the brakes, a way to control the ride and get it under control in a fun way. It still hits the brakes with some speed and feels fast throughout the whole ride.
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.
On May 6, 1989 Cedar Point opened the first ever hyper coaster. The ride stats shocked the world, standing at 205 feet tall it was the tallest complete circuit coaster in the world. On opening day the lines for the ride reached 6 hours long. When the Golden Ticket Awards first came out in 1998 Magnum was 1st, and would hold the top spot for 3 years. Magnum would stay in the top ten until 2013. Though as of last year it was 14th, many people would say it's not a top 15 steel coaster. This drop in public support caused it to drop out of the Coaster-net Thrilling 32. You may ask well what coasters should it best? I'd say it's better than both B&M hyper coasters at Wonderland. It has way more airtime than Behemoth and i think it is a better ride than Leviathan.
Today in 2019 however is Magnum still one of the best? Most will say no. I think if the ride opened today it would still be the talk of the industry. The ride is filled with air time, almost all of its 10 hills deliver. The ejector airtime is still among the best around. Many will say, the ride is too rough. A great ride is still able to deliver a great experience even if it is rough, just ask Voyage. Therefore, to say Magnum is not one of the best, because some say it is rough is unfair. Besides that, what people call rough is just the extreme ejector air time it has. I am not saying this ride is better than: Steel Vengeance, Fury 325, Expedition G-Force, or whatever ride you say is the best. I do think this coaster should still be in the top 100 in the world. I feel many people have forgotten it or have ridden it many times and just have taken it for granted. Maybe those reading this will have better reasons for why it is not elite but, for me, as it celebrates its 30th year, it should still be one of the best coasters. Maybe next year it will make the Thrilling 32 though sadly it probably will not.
Dear Coaster Friends,
Is there anything left to be excited for in 2020? Are we taking all the fun out this season's reveal for next year by looking at some of these projects with such a long lead time? Some say yes, and some are impatient. I'm impatient and had the thought the other day that this has to be it right? If not who is left to build it, because many companies have been booked, some even beyond 2021 already. So let's take a look at what we believe is yet to be announced, if anything, and who could be building it.
Let's start with the old guard, B&M. They have typically taken on many projects for a single season, and they appear to be busy right now. We know they are building Mako a dive coaster at SeaWorld San Diego. Hersheypark recently revealed Candymonium their front gate hyper coaster, and we believe that B&M is building the unannounced Kings Island giga. They are also building a wing coaster in China and are booked for two 2021 projects. I think it is safe to say they are booked for 2020 and they aren't looking for more work.
We recently got a peak at Pantheon, Busch Gardens Williamsburg's multi launch coaster being built by Intamin. This is the only project Intamin has scheduled in North America for 2020, but they also have one in China and another in Europe. Additionally they have two projects in Europe for 2021 and 2022 already announced. Intamin is used to doing multiple projects at the same time however with 5 projects in progress they may be booked as well. We do have an idea that all of the SeaWorld owned parks will be getting a new roller coaster in 2020 so there is a possibility that the rumored launch coaster for SeaWorld Orlando could be an Intamin. I am going to put that one on Premier Rides dance card until I know otherwise.
There are two other SeaWorld parks SeaWorld San Antonio and Busch Gardens Tampa. SeaWorld San Antonio has not announced their ride but it is already visible and it appears to be a wooden coaster by Gravity Group. This is the only project Gravity Group is working on in North America, but they are doing another wooden roller coaster for SeaWorld in Australia. But they have opposite peak seasons so they can do one project at a time as this project has a projected opening date in December.
The other park is BGT and they are working with Rocky Mountain Construction to turn Gwazi into a hybrid roller coaster. With no other announced or anticipated plans RMC could be a builder of an unannounced project. This is typically the time when last ride notices are out out there for potential candidates for the iron horse, but at this time none have been revealed. So if RMC has other 2020 plans it will be ground up. I know Holiday World is teasing a 2020 addition, but with all of the animal clues I am going to assume it is for the water park until I know for sure. I think the best possibility would be a single rail. The real question is where and which style? With only one Cedar Fair coaster in the works another raptor track could be possible. If they have the larger T-Rex model ready then Six Flags Great Adventure could be the park to see the first one. They did recently tease that Great Adventure would get a new world record breaking project. There is also one wildcard in the mix and that is Lagoon, they have begun building a ride called Primordial. Not much is known about this project other than it will open in 2020 or 2021, park officials are very vague with the details so anything is possible.
We also speculate that Mack has an unannounced project at Six Flags Over Texas. This rumor was stated when shipping records were uncovered and point to the possibility that they may have purchased a PowerSplash. Mack has two other projects in Europe for 2020 and a whopping five more in 2021. It is safe to assume that their dance card is pretty full. So who still needs a date in 2020? S&S has one project in Asia, so they could be a possible manufacturer for an unknown attraction. GCI has nothing announced at this time so they could be a possibility too. Gerstlauer has had a very busy 2019 and only one project for 2020 overseas so it is hard to say if they are looking likely for next season. Premier Rides is the last likely player who also has nothing announced for 2020, but it isn't unusual for them to do one project at a time and I believe they will have work in Orlando.
While we did know that several large projects were in the works for 2020 for a while now I see the potential for a few surprises that could present themselves especially with the Cedar Fair and Six Flags announcements. I would guess each brand will have at least two projects each and we only know about one. If that isn't enough Universal Island of Adventure has a velociraptor themed coaster in the works as well. So who is getting what?
Today Busch Gardens Williamsburg announced their 2020 addition. It will be a large multi launch roller coaster called Pantheon. Pantheon means all the Gods and BGW is using five of those Gods as part of the theme for this coaster: Jupiter, Pluto, Neptune, Minererva, and Mercury. Each God is related back to the announced stats and elements. Most people I have noticed have jumped straight to the building in Rome, but the Pantheon is more of a nickname than a formal name for the building. The layout is presented as simple artwork on the Busch Gardens Williamsburg website, but a full POV has not been shared yet.
It is presumed that the manufacturer is Intamin and that is a very exciting thing to look forward to. For years Intamin has been absent from the North American thrill coaster market. They have done some drop rides, family coasters and water rides. However Skyrush was their last proper thrill coaster in North America, and the void they left is hard to ignore. I think if you are reading this you probably have a list of reasons why parks stopped working with Intamin on larger projects from rocky opening seasons, to redesigns after installation, to downtime. I often compare Intamin to an Italian sports car. You want to ride in one because it is exciting, not because it is reliable. The natural habitat for an Italian sports car is on the side of the road in a cloud of steam.
Pantheon will feature multiple launches both forward and backwards, the fastest launch will propel the train to its top speed of 72 MPH. The ride will have a maximum height of 178 feet, and dive back down to Earth at a beyond vertical 95 degree drop. As the train rips through the course it will negotiate two inversions. This all sounds good to me but I don't feel like I know entirely what to expect until I either see a more detailed drawing of the layout or a full rendering of an entire ride cycle. Busch Gardens Williamsburg is claiming a record for the fastest multiple launch coaster. I always feel that if you need to disclude all of the coasters that have better stats as part of your record then it is a marketing record. The main appeal of this practice is that it often confuse specifics of the record. The GP and often the traditional local news outlets who may help promote the ride get excited and confuse it as an actual record breaker.
I am really looking forward to learning more about Pantheon, and just on the strength of the info I have right now I think I would like to visit BGW again next season to check out this new addition. There is something missing, from this announcement. It isn't from the park it is from the enthusiasts...it's the hate. Where is all the complaining, I am used to may more dissatisfied thoosies. I am already hearing people speculate if it will be a favorite coaster. The reception for the ride if not the name has been overwhelmingly positive, everyone I have talked to is excited about BGW. Except the Kings Island fans they are scanning some QRC Code they found on a wooden fence. Why has no one pointed out that it is essentially the same speed Volcano was? No one is complaining that it does the same thing as Twisted Colossus and Full Throttle in the very same park? Sorry, I meant Verbolten and Tempesto. It is probably because it has five flags instead of six and is surrounded by flowers.
Wallpaper Weekend: This Batman: The Ride desktop wallpaper was created last year for our loyal Patreons. One of their many rewards are that they get early access exclusive digitalt digital art like desktop, tablet, and phone background wallpapers. Since we have a supply of these images I wanted to start sharing some of them with our community.
Batman: The Ride often gets overlooked because it is a clone and available at many parks all over the world, however to me it is a classic. I grew up going to Great Adventure and in the summer of 93’ I was 14 and had never experienced a B&M or a coaster where your feet could dangle. This was such a dynamic shift it was totally insane. I remember the first time I stepped on line it was over two hours long and when I stepped off I got right back on line, I probably spent most of my time on this visit back in the summer of 1993 on line for Batman. If you are reading this you have most likely ridden a Batman no matter where you live. The ride quality was so different from everything else, and the ROAR! That sound that the box beam above the track and ride vehicle created was shocking and different. Before I road it waiting in the highly themed queue that sound was dare I say it, intimidating. Unfortunately most of the queue scenery has been removed, but thankfully the ride quality has really maintained for so many years. I can hop on that ride 25 years later and have a great time. This summer I had the pleasure of riding the original Batman: The Ride when the Coaster-net staff and their Giga level Patreons descended on Six Flags Great America. Please enjoy this OG Batman: The Ride desktop wallpaper.
The internet is a tricky place full of the most up to date information available to only those who search, and the most unreliable information on the planet. It is too early to know what category this rumor fits into, but a shipping manifest was discovered that suggests Carowinds is getting a shipment from Zamperla. The shipment record states it is packed in four packages and weights 1,602 kg, that is approximately the weight of a minivan for those unfamiliar with the metric system. That is not a very heavy shipment, so this could simply be parts for something Carowinds already owns, or perhaps it is only the weight of a single package and the four combined shipments are a new attraction.
If this is a new attraction what may be in store for Carowinds 2020, and where could it go? This year Copperhead Strike was the anchor for their new Blue Ridge Junction. However there is only one other flat in the area, Mountain Gliders, a flying scooter ride relocated and rethemed from Planet Snoopy. If they wanted to continue to develop this area they could install a super air race model. This is a fairly small footprint and it could be in the general area between the locker area and the Copperhead Strike entrance. They could theme it to a drunken crop duster to fit in with the moonshine theme of Granny's Farm.
Another possibility could be a more family oriented ride, since they did add a thrilling attraction this year. The Rip Roarin’ Rapids was retired and removed the last water attraction in the dry side of the park, so the only option for guests who wanted to get wet and cool off was to go over to the waterpark. They could install a Watermania or a Water Fight attraction. Both of these rides feature interaction with other guests and of course water. The two attractions have water cannons that guests can spray at the other ride vehicles. Both of these options could offer a great way to cool off for kids in the dry park. We will have to kick back and wait to see what Carowinds has in store for 2020.
Dear Coaster Friends,
When people are passionate about a topic, they feel invested in the success or failure of their interest. It doesn't matter if the topic is politics, sports, or being a fan of something specific. I find there are two reactions to bad news from a community who feels passionately about something. The first is critical examination and often a call for improvement. I feel like I fit into this group most of the time. The negative side effect, is the perception that I am dissatisfied with something I am passionate about. I am often critical of things I love because I want to see them constantly improve. I also think I am naturally wired to brainstorm solutions to problems. The second large group is all about defense. They tend to defend their love, no matter the opposition. However, at their worst, they lash out at ones being critical. Both groups have something in common: they love the same thing - in our case, the amusement industry.
There were a few news articles I posted over the time that I have worked on the Coaster-net team that I knew would amp up people's emotions and could upset some of our community. Our collective passion is our strength and commonality, but as individuals we express it differently. However, our news section is for relevant news, and I made the decision to put them out there so we could be better informed. There was an article recently that illustrated the diversity of our reaction even though we share a common love.
Kings Island is facing a lawsuit from one of their female team members. The accusations are detailed and very specific. The allegations seemed to be contained inside of a single department, and I am sure Kings Island and Cedar Fair will make sure that the issue is addressed now that the story is out there. We do not know if the allegations are credible; it is not something we cannot determine as outside observers. However, the reaction from our community is something we can observe. Most of the reactions were shock and sympathy from our community to the woman who was allegedly a victim at her workplace. Yet that wasn't the only reaction; some people reacted without empathy for these allegations. They defended the park, saying she was trying to get money. While others were concerned that the alleged perpetrator and direct superior she made aware of the situation were at risk of having their reputation damaged.
I was disappointed. I was disappointed that this woman felt so helpless at work she had to go public with her story. I was disappointed that Kings Island didn't address this problem themselves when she brought it to the attention of a superior, but I was very disappointed that some members of our community didn't treat these allegations seriously. No one was calling for action against the park, no boycott was suggested; a lawsuit against the park will not take away your giga. Right now, we don't know if these allegations against the park are fair. We don't know if they are actually worse than the news outlet felt comfortable publishing. I feel until we know otherwise compassion should be shown towards the victim. That doesn't mean that Kings Island fans shouldn't love the park too, and shouldn't enjoy every visit. I think what it means is that Kings Island has the opportunity to be a leader through action. We are a community that celebrates charity, when it boosts our fun. I feel we should also be a community that cares about the team members who facilitate our fun as much as we care about the health of the larger organizations that we give our hard earned dollars to. Hopefully this story is the result of two peoples poor behavior, and not a systemic problem with the park's work culture. If the story gets updated I will post those updates in our news section. I look forward to seeing this matter resolved in a fair way, and I look forward to visiting next season when they introduce something that appears to be out of this world.