Dear Coaster Friends,
2020 is all set up to be a very exciting year with a large group of varied and exciting roller coasters. I wanted to look at ten of the most interesting new additions to me and compare their expected experience with ten coasters we are already familiar with. Often new coasters compete for our collective attention and praise, and I feel for now this how I am personally thinking of each one.
10. Dragon Coaster at Legoland NY may have flown under the radar for many but I am a New Yorker so this ground up park has my attention. The ride is a Ziere Force Five and it has a dark ride component at the beginning. The height will be about 50 feet and the speed will be about 35 MPH. I expect this will be an English language clone of the other versions of this ride overseas. I am purposely not looking at the dark ride portion of the ride in other parks however the outdoor sections look similar to a mine train layout. Swoops and turns with mild drops. I think the standard to put it against would be Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. I know this is a tough benchmark but the theming at the beginning and the general layout seems like it could be a very well done family ride.
9. Mako (or whatever they end up calling it) at SeaWorld San Diego isn't low on this list because I'm not impressed by dive coasters, it is mainly based on location. It is hard to say if the extra elements will allow it to compete with the taller and faster dive coasters out there. I am sure it will be a big hit for SWSD and southern California in general, however I will say that SheiKra, the OG dive coaster for the chain, is the tough one to beat.
8. Aquaman: Power Wave at Six Flags Over Texas is an odd one. It it part roller coaster and part chute the chutes ride. My first thought was to ignore the water and I thought of the Intamin impulse coasters like Possessed or Vertical Velocity. I really like these coasters even though many dismiss them as clones. To me the best part of these rides is ascending the spike backwards and the float airtime you get. Aquaman looks to be able to offer a similar experience but with an airtime hill and splashdown. As long as the launches feel strong on Aquaman I'm on board.
7. Texas Stingray at SeaWorld San Antonio is another ride I am cautiously optimistic for. I have only ridden a handful of GCIs and I consider them a mixed bag.Texas Stingray looks to have that classic twister layout that made GCI a household name for enthusiasts. However some of the newer coasters they have built like InvadR have mixed in more airtime to the formula. I am going to compare Texas Stingray to this breed of GCI . This ride looks to have fast sections with strong laterals, but I expect some airtime as well. InvadR managed to cram a lot of fun into a tight footprint, I expect Texas Stingray to do the same on a slightly larger scale. This should be a fairly easy goal to beat.
6. Ice Breaker at SeaWorld Orlando has some elements we have seen before and some interesting new ones too. The ride begins with towards and backwards launches. The twist is that the launch track has a step up and step down on either side, depending on your direction or travel. The rest of the ride looks to have a good mix of airtime and laterals, but nothing too extreme. I have a hard time identifying a direct competitor, and that makes the ride have an extra level of intrigue. I am going to throw a curve ball and line this new attraction up against Verbolten at BGW. I don't see a similarity in layout or overall experience, but I think it is aimed at the same audience. Both rides will appeal to thrill seekers who are not quite ready for inversions and extreme maneuvers. If Ice Breakers can deliver that feel of something unique, launches into and out of the step up/downs, without making children cry I would consider it a success.
5. Candymonium at Hersheypark is the hyper coaster that no one saw coming. While many were left scratching their heads about how it would fit into the park's line up with Skyrush. I think Skyrush is the exact opposite of a B&M hyper so it will not be challenging for it to stand out. Its place in the middle of this list should not be a negative, I love B&M hyper coasters. It should offer an excellent experience that may become many fans top ride at the park, but not me, “I’ll always love you best Skyrush!” The most modern and recent example of a hyper from B&M is Mako at SeaWorld Orlando. Many see Mako as the top of the food chain, so for Candymonium to be relevant and sweet in this ever expanding field of B&M hypers Mako should be the one to beat.
4. Jersey Devil at Six Flags Great Adventure is something I am extremely excited about since it will be the closest big addition to where I live. The addition of a custom single rail is certainly promising for the ride type, and shows that Six Flags is willing to pay for custom layouts. Wonder Woman down at SFFT is a very twisty layout and Jersey Devil looks like it will follow a more traditional double out and back layout. I don't think the records for tallest and fastest single rail will automatically make it the best single rail model. They layout looks fun and promising, however the two mirror image single rails have gotten positive reviews. This may be too close to call because of the variety offered.
3. Iron Gwazi at Busch Gardens Tampa is another RMC looking to break records for its type. Many people are already trying to compare it to Steel Vengeance because it will top some of its records. Iron Gwazi has had me on the hype train for the longest of any of the 2020 additions, but the one I feel I know the least about the whole layout, as no image or POV puts the entire layout on display. I feel like with what I know about Iron Gwazi right now from the partial POV and artwork it shares more similarity with Goliath at SFGAm. Both layouts were pushed to break records with the lift hills and look to have have large elements instead of many elements. I do see a divergence in the focus even though they look to share the same design language. On Goliath the overbank, dive loop and stall all focus on hang time. While Iron Gwazi looks to focus on twists and turns from the information we have right now. Only time will tell which record breaking RMC with rise to the top.
2. Pantheon at Busch Gardens Williamsburg has me really excited. I know for many reading this it may not make the number two spot, but for me it signals something I have been waiting for a long time. Longer than I have been waiting for RMC to convert Gwazi, longer than Kings Island fans have been waiting for a giga, and that is Intamin returning to North America on a signature high thrill roller coaster. This ride will feature new elements from the manufacturer including a high speed switch track. I know what you are thinking, it is an unnecessary complexity that is bound to break down. My response, "Embrace the excitement! Will it work? Probably most of the time, isn't that part of the fun?" An exotic sports car is exciting because of the maneuvers it can pull off, but also because it can be on the side of the road in a cloud of steam. That is its natural habitat. So what ride could I compare Pantheon to? Like Ice Breaker it looks very unique and I have a hard time drawing a direct parallel. Last year I used Storm Runner at Hersheypark as a benchmark for Maxx Force. Since Storm Runner is still the man in the unusual launch coaster category, it will be the benchmark for Pantheon too.
1. Orion at Kings Island is the big dog of the class. Standing at almost 300 feet tall it is sure to be a crowd favorite for the Kings Island fans, at two for one this is surely still a bargain. It is impossible for me to put a giga in any place except most anticipated if one is a choice. I know many people want to compare it to Fury 325 and point out how it won't measure up, while others will point to Leviathan and challenge Orion to feel more like a complete ride. The wisdom is to put it up against another B&M, but I am not wise. I feel the best point of comparison is also in Ohio and that is Millennium Force. Millennium Force will be twenty years old when Orion opens and will have a lot of crossover in ridership. Orion really should be able to gain as many if not more fans than Millennium Force with a more modern approach to design and ergonomics.
It is always impossible to determine how these new rides may be received and this ride class is varied. I really look forward to getting out there next year and trying a few out for myself.