by Danny Miller
There have been a lot of rides around the country and around the world that have made their debuts in the 2012 operating season. I have been lucky enough to experience a great number of these, but I also missed out on many by just a few weeks. Three different attractions that I missed out on while in California are the Radiator Springs Racers ride and Cars Land, Lex Luthor Drop Of Doom at Six Flags Magic Mountain, and Superman: Ultimate Flight at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, each of which opened mere weeks after my trip.
On top of that, each park on that trip with the exception of the Santa Monica Pier has announced or is expected to announce major attractions for 2013, so I am already eager to get back to the west coast. What I will talk about here is each of the major 2012 attractions that I experienced this season, and what I think of each one.
STINGER @ Dorney Park – I’ll start off with my home park. Stinger is a good ride for Dorney Park and it fits in well for a park of Dorney’s size that doesn’t see major lines, so capacity is rarely an issue. It also gives Dorney the right to claim a pretty obscure record with three true inverted roller coasters. It is somewhat odd to see an Invertigo model right next to an Intamin Impulse coaster, but they are both decent rides. In the future however, the ride will have to have a better maintenance record. Yes it has a new control system, but guests have noticed that the ride is down fairly often, so for it to really do well for the park, it will have to be open more consistently.
DINOSAURS ALIVE! @ Dorney Park – Ok so it’s not a major attraction, but it is a new attraction that I will share my thoughts on. Dinosaurs Alive! is something that almost all of the Cedar Fair parks have or will have by next season, so it obviously is making money for the parks. The issue I think is that it won’t be a moneymaker long term. The Dinosaurs Alive! at Dorney is the smallest one as of right now, so I can’t see many people making multiple trips to it, so while it is neat to see once, I can’t see it lasting more that three to five years.
GOLIATH @ Six Flags New England – Much like Stinger, this is simply a relocated ride from one park to another within a big corporate chain. Also like Stinger, this ride has seen its ups and downs maintenance wise this season. I will admit that I was impressed with the smoothness of the ride, and it was actually much more fun than I expected it to be, just don’t expect to hit it as a walk on, because like the standard Boomerang model across the midway, Goliath suffers from extremely long lines.
SKYRUSH @ Hersheypark – This coaster is perhaps one of the most controversial coasters ever built. There are people like myself who absolutely love it and have it near the top of their favorite coaster list, and there are people who found it extremely painful and refuse to ride it again unless the restraints are changed. Like I said, I am in the camp that thinks this is an incredible ride. It is fast, intense, smooth, and just a ton of fun. The airtime is incredible, and I personally found the restraints to be almost no issue at all. I think that with a few slight modifications, this could become a major player in the steel coaster category.
LEVIATHAN @ Canada’s Wonderland – Bolliger & Mabillard made great strides in 2012, building their first ever giga coaster in Toronto, Ontario at this fabulous park. Leviathan absolutely smashes the Canadian height and speed records that its older (yet smaller) brother Behemoth has held across the park since 2008. Many were worried that Leviathan would just be a bigger Behemoth, but unlike Behemoth, Leviathan focuses on blistering speed while still throwing airtime every bit as good as Behemoth’s into the mix. This coaster has what may be the best first drop of any coaster in the world, and compliments Behemoth perfectly, keeping its best features, yet being different enough to make you want to ride both over and over again. Like Behemoth, Leviathan is an exceptional ride, yet they offer completely different, but exhilarating rides.
WILD EAGLE @ Dollywood – B&M didn’t just break their barriers with height this season, they did it with style, constructing three of their new wing coasters, two of which were built in the United States. Wild Eagle was the first to open back in March, and it has impressed guests at Dollywood all season long. Wild Eagle takes a somewhat “normal” track layout from B&M, and makes it much more exciting by sticking you on the wings of an eagle…literally. Fantastic surroundings offer great head and feet chopper effects with the natural foliage. Wild Eagle may not break in to my personal top ten list, but it is indeed an exceptional ride that has put Dollywood on the map in a big way.
VERBOLTEN @ Busch Gardens Williamsburg – While I still would put Skyrush and Leviathan higher on my coaster rankings (albeit not by much), I stand by my opinion that Verbolten may very well be the best new RIDE of 2012. Unlike Skyrush, Leviathan, and Wild Eagle, Verbolten is a complete ride experience that immerses riders in a theme. The others are simply roller coasters that may have nice surroundings and nice stations, but in the grand scheme of it they are purely thrill rides, not themed rides. Verbolten is not only a tremendously themed ride that everyone can enjoy, it is also a high thrills, intense roller coaster that perfectly fits the bill for Busch Gardens to replace the Big Bad Wolf. I say this is probably the ride that was most brilliantly executed by the designers.
So there you have a very brief overview of what I thought of the major 2012 attractions I got to experience this season. If you haven’t checked them out yet, be sure to, and look out for all the new rides for 2013, because some of them have a whole bunch of hype to live up to.