Dear Coaster Friends,
Since it is both the end of the year, I just completed my Thrilling 32 rankings, and Friday the 13th. I thought it would be fun to look at the most “unlucky” of my coasters in both wood and steel. These aren’t cursed or haunted coasters just the ones that occupy the 13th place on my rankings for 2019. Since 13 is a pretty good spot just outside my top 10 these are both coasters that I fully enjoy and hope to see on the Thrilling 32 when the bracket is released.
My 13th wood coaster has been in the bracket before, however it may be a long shot this year. It is Wooden Warrior from Quassy. This junior wooden coaster from the Gravity Group was the smallest project they had ever done when it was completed in 2011, but it delivered full size fun. The Wooden Warrior would end up being very influential in North America and four of these family focused wooden coasters have been developed. It really showcased how fun the ride could be if it was just built right, and while it isn’t that fast or that tall it is more fun than rides that are taller and faster. I feel like it also made rides like Switchback and Mineblower easier to sell as high thrill rides since they were able to show off how they could deliver a solid experience in a smaller than expected package.
My thirteenth steel coaster is Wicked Cyclone from Six Flags New England. This was the first Iron Horse conversion on the east coast and my first taste of what RMC could do. I love this ride and as a frequent visitor to SFNE feel like I know this ride really well. I find it has a similarity with Wooden Warrior, not only geographically, but in stature. The ride stats do not accurately describe the experience. The smooth ride is full of a varied bunch of stalls, drops, airtime hills, and rolls. RMC really packed a lot of variety into a very compact footprint, and I always get off each ride feeling like I survived a storm.
Both of these “unlucky” rides happen to be close in proximity, and can easily be visited in the same day. They both deliver excellent rides and maybe are undervalued because of their stats. These two current residents of my 13th place may not be ranked 13 next year two, but luck has a way of surprising you. What is your “unlucky” 13th coaster?
For the last several seasons SeaWorld has been making waves in the amusement industry. However, it isn’t their signature sea life exhibits that have been leading the brand it is the attractions that have been added and planned. They have gone through a number of leadership changes during this time and the rides have been added more aggressively during these last few years. They started out with a series of Skyrocket II models from Premier, a junior wooden coaster from Gravity Group, a small GCI woodie, a Skywarp from Skyline attractions, and a smaller scale launch coaster from Intamin. None of these additions by themselves are that impressive, however as a group they represent a significant change. They have also earmarked 2020 as a major construction year building much larger rides at all major parks. They are building a full size GCI woodie, a large multi launch coaster from Intamin, a larger Premier multi launch coaster, a B&M dive coaster, and an RMC Iron Horse conversion. Some parks are even getting back to back coasters. The real question is if this is the exclamation point on their building boom or are they just getting warmed up?
It is starting to look like their may be more construction planned across the chain from planning documents that are being revealed for 2021 and perhaps even beyond. Let us look at the left coast first. SeaWorld San Diego is one of the parks getting back to back coasters. In 2019 they got Tidal Twister from Skyline and next year they will be adding Emperor from B&M. The rumors are already starting to churn for a possibility of a third coaster in as many years. Behind The Thrills have uncovered planning documents and a preliminary layout that they have published on their site. The rumor suggests an arctic themed multi launched family coaster where the Wild Arctic simulator ride currently is. Their information suggests the ride will be about thirty feet tall, have four launches and a top speed of around 42 MPH. SeaWorld San Diego is currently building their fifth coaster so another one would be more than welcome, but I was initially confused when I saw the stats. Manta was installed in 2012 by Mach Rides and is a multi launch coaster with a thirty foot height and a max speed of 43 MPH. These similarities make me feel that something is missing with this rumor that will better differentiate these two coasters or has SeaWorld gone off the deep end? Maybe let’s head over to Busch Gardens Williamsburg next.
BGWfans has long been tracking another large project they feel is in the works at Busch Gardens Williamsburg for 2021 as well. They have a drawing and a very detailed article on their site. The 2020 coaster for BGW is a multi launch coaster called Pantheon, their 3rd, that looks very exciting. The 2021 rumor right now points to a launch coaster as well. So on the surface this 2021 rumor seems redundant as well. Since we know limited details of both coasters and the plans could change, and the information could be incorrect it is hard to say but the fact that they both have me scratching my head is a funny coincidence. The BGW project is rumored to reuse the old Drachen Fire station, it has an FAA height clearance of 355 feet, and it will be placed in an area too small for a traditional lift hill.
So how could these two rumored coasters differentiate themselves? The other similar coasters at the parks could be clouding our perspective. In San Diego they have a building to start with, perhaps this could be a ride more similar to Verbolten at BGW than Manta that they currently have. The ride could feature dark ride portions at the beginning, maybe even going in and out of a new show building at the far side of the layout. With four launches the ride can also be slowed to look at show elements during the ride and then the speed can be restored the same way Hagrid’s at Universal handled show scenes. At Williamsburg they have to get a train over 300 feet, so perhaps the launch will be the central element like Kingda Ka or Red Force. While they do have several launch coasters none of them focus on the launch. If it isn’t a launch coaster perhaps it is a new generation of vertical lift coasters. If the manufacturer is Intamin they have said that it could be done with LIM instead of a traditional chain. While we have not seen this technology used in this fashion yet it would be consistent with their claims from the polar coaster concept.
It is fun to think that with all of the construction planned for 2020 it may be the beginning of a larger plan. The fact that we are again seeing rumors very far in advance, it shows that they are working on projects that require more than one season to plan out and complete. I don’t know about you, but I have my fingers crossed that Sesame Place builds a Giga in 2022. Big Bird deserves it.
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The Thrilling 32 and Ride Warrior Choice Awards voting has commenced, and I have sent in my ballot. (Please don't forget to vote!!) After talking with some fellow enthusiasts who I know voted. I was fascinated at how different our rankings were on common coasters that we have ridden. And we have had some fun and spirited debates over them. At the Ride Warrior Discord (Shameless plug.)
However, I have also noticed that when enthusiasts start talking about rankings, or coasters in general. It can turn toxic quickly "Are you brain dead how can you have Skyrush ranked higher than Steel Vengeance!" That is just one example. And I started to think, why is that wrong? Other than it is not my opinion.
I have a friend, and he is blessed to have ridden hundreds of coasters in multiple countries. We have had many conversations on the Ride Warrior Discord, (Shameless plug #2.) I respect his opinion, and he has helped me look at critiquing coasters in ways that never crossed my mind.
At Holiwood Nights 2019, we finally had a chance to meet up. We rode The Voyage several times. (Trimless Voyage is a near-religious experience.) Afterward, he asked, "So is Steel Vengeance this good?" As well-traveled as he is, he had not yet been on Steel Vengeance. I replied, "I think it is better, but if you tell me that trimless Voyage is better, I won't say you're wrong."
Now my friend was on a big North America coaster trip last Summer, and he would be at Cedar Point a couple of weeks later. He was keeping us up to date on Discord(Shameless plug #3), and when he finally arrived at Cedar Point, we were all interested in how he would rank Steel Vengeance. I was confident that, at worst, it would be a new top five coaster.
To all of our astonishment, Steel Vengeance was not his new #1. It was not in his top 5. Fantastical absurdity, you say. Heck, it was not even in his top 10!!!! Steel Vengeance, the overwhelming #1 coaster in multiple polls, was #14 in his ranking. No that was not a typo #14
Now some intense conversations started to happen, to put it lightly. Some thought he was trolling, and others thought that his love of Intamin was blinding him. A few felt that his disdain for all of the obnoxiousness of the RMC fanboys. Made him rank it lower than it should.
For myself well, while I had some of those same thoughts, I was curious as to why? So with an open mind, I talked to him when he got home. Now we don't have time to go over the whole conversation. I will tell you there was a lot of back and forth dialog. But in the end, although I did not agree with all of his reasoning. I understood where he was coming from, and I have no problem with his ranking.
Looking at my own experiences, I know there are few surprises. For instance, I like Magnum more than Millennium Force. I have Shivering Timbers higher than Mystic Timbers, and X-Flight over Gate Keeper. I am positive that it is just the beginning.
I mean, what does it matter that person (A) likes/doesn't like Steel Vengeance more than person (B). Are we so obsessed that our opinion is the right one? Does our arrogance blind us so much that we cannot allow other views to help us form ours? Or Heaven forbid have to admit we may be wrong?
Our coaster rankings made with subjective logic are exactly that ours. And guess what they are all equally right. You spent the time to go to the park. You made an effort to ride. You are the one that criticized/praised and ranked the coasters you have ridden. YOUR rankings are the correct ones!!!
Now comes the hard part to digest. My rankings are the correct ones, as well. And I have a strong feeling they look nothing like yours. We, as a community, have to able to start accepting that. And instead of attacking someone's rankings, ASK, LISTEN, UNDERSTAND someone's rankings.
This doesn't mean you have to agree, heck you can strongly disagree. But you might look at your rankings a little differently. And maybe, just maybe, there will be a slight tweaking to them.