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.
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.
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.
Goliath, no not that Goliath the other Goliath. You know, the best Goliath...Please enjoy my phone's current lockscreen of Goliath. The picture was taken during the COASTER-net patreon meet-up last summer when I was introduced to this awesome RMC woodie. I couldn't get enough of this ride and now I see it every time I take out my phone. Feel free to make it yours too.
In 2018, at IAAPA, GCI unveiled a very interesting model that showed a dueling hybrid coaster with inversions. With it they introduced the Infinity Flyer, a next generation train that could handle more extreme forces and tighter maneuvers. A year has passed but there was no news about this new concept, however off the trade show floor at Fun Spot Orlando after IAAPA 2019, GCI unveiled their version of steel track. The fact that it is not in their product catalogue and not unveiled at the IAAPA trade show may signal that this is not a product that they are ready to sell, but like many of you I am already interested.
At first look of the track it looks very similar to the Iron Horse track system RMC produced, it is steel, a shape beam, and most importantly flat. The flat track that RMC has been using has been widely praised by riders for the smooth yet intense rides. The GCI track has some unique details that sets it apart. The track system that GCI showed off contained no welds, everything was riveted and bolted together. GCI has been very proactive about assisting customers with maintenance work, and providing retracking services even to parks who do not have GCI coasters. GCI did extensive work in the past on the Dragon Coaster at Playland Park, Legend at Holiday World and Ghostrider at Knotts. A steel track that isn’t welded together to create a seamless and continuous track could change how aging coasters are maintained, even leaving open the possibility of retracting elements to restore them. The other detail that stuck out about their construction was that the surface where the road and guide wheels would touch are removable and replaceable. (I did not attend the event and am basing my impressions on images and video I have seen. I do not know if the upstop wheels have a removable surface as well, however it is likely) This would also lend itself to simplifying maintenance and of course creating a replacement part that is proprietary, unlike wood.
While we do know the new track and Infinity Flyers will offer new possibilities that GCI could not offer with their Millenium Flyers and traditional wood track, we do not know how versatile this new track system may be to GCI’s business. The impressive model that was unveiled at the GCI booth last year was back this year and shows that they want to create ground up coasters with this new technology that would push boundaries. However this new track system could advance their restoration business as well. GCI has re-tracked coasters and replaced old PTC trains with their Millenium Flyers, with mixed results. Ghostrider’s renovation has been enthusiastically praised by those who have visited, however the heavier trains have been blamed for making the ride on other projects worse. Since the trains are heavier the span the laminated track covers between bents, or structural supports deflects. This deflection creates movement that was not part of the original design and basically created a bouncy rough experience that devolves into jackhammering. If the steel track was used to re-track a ride that was going to receive modern trains this issue would be eliminated and the track system would be rigid, and not susceptible to deflection between supports. There is another more exciting possibility. Could GCI be looking at edging into RMC’s Iron Horse conversion business? Could GCI reimagine an existing coaster’s layout and add elements like inversions to create a new experience? This is a truly dynamic shifting possibility. Even though RMC was the innovator and pioneer they have created the roadmap and example. While some of RMC’s crazy elements have influenced the competition this would be a step farther if a competitor was to be moving into this unique space RMC created. So the question stands, when will the first RMC be GCI’d?
I know many of you are unaware, but our own Danny Miller went on a European trip over the summer. Here is a wallpaper made from one of the pictures he sent back.
The temperatures are dropping, you never know when it is about to fall. Enjoy this Yukon Striker lock screen formatted to fit your phone.
Dear Coaster Friends,
The 2019 season has come to a close for most seasonal parks, and I already have the off-season blues. So many great memories and thrills are in the books and lots of fun to look forward to soon. I had a great 2019 and was able to fit in a few new parks and revisit some of my old favorites. I wanted to take a quick look back especially of the three new for 2019 rides I managed to visit.
The first new stop of the year for me was an early season trip to Carowinds with my wife. We both absolutely loved Fury 325 as that was the main reason for the trip. The park as a whole was good, but the gap in quality after their three B&Ms and Mach multi-launch was wide. We both agreed when we left that Fury was worth the trip, and that a return trip would be welcome just to have another shot at Fury.
The next new park for me was Six Flags Great America with Coaster-net. This was more than the draw of the rides; there was also pizza, and of course the great community from Coaster-net. I had an absolute blast and despite going into the park having gone on clones of five of their coasters, six if you count Viper, the park offered tons of new experiences for me. Great America offers a great mix of classic and modern rides. To me Goliath, Raging Bull, and Maxx Force were all standouts that kept calling me back for more laps. While still offering up unique surprises on X-Flight, my first B&M wing coaster & Whizzer a surprisingly fun Schwarzkopf classic.
The final new stop for me in 2019, probably, was Kennywood. This park was on my radar because of Phantom’s Revenge, and it didn’t disappoint. However it was Steel Curtain that moved my wife and I to head over across Pennsylvania for the visit. Steel Curtain and Phantom’s Revenge were both awesome and had two very unique ride experiences. They are both rides I want to revisit and hold up as special. The three classic wooden coasters each offered something fun and special too, they really added variety to the day and gave the park something that could not be offered anywhere else because of the terrain.
There is one more place I may be able to visit before the end of the year and that is the newly opened Nickelodeon Universe at the American Dream Mall. It just opened last week and it is certainly in my area. The fact that it is indoors gives me a lot of flexibility to check it out during the winter months. I am very much interested in the Takabisha clone that I can ride without having to travel all the way to Japan, and the compact Intamin multi launch coaster that has yet to open. They may become my last rides of 2019 or the first on 2020 depending on when I can make time to head out there.
The three new for 2019 rides I was able to try were at my three new parks. I would have to say that Steel Curtain was the hit, it really exceeded expectations. I was concerned that the record breaking inversions would leave me dizzy and kill the re-ride ability. I was wrong, it was exciting, comfortable, and we took many laps on Steel Curtain, I loved every one. Maxx Force was a really fun ride and I would say it met expectations. I really love hydraulic launch coasters, and was looking forward to checking out the pneumatic launch to see if it was comparable. I would say that it was, and the inversions all had a good feel to them. I think between Steel Curtain and Maxx Force S&S really deserves praise, because I was very skeptical of them going in. The last new ride was Copperhead Strike, and while I think it is a pretty good ride, this is the one that left me underwhelmed. I was underwhelmed with the preshow, the launch, and the pacing. It did have great hang time in the inversions and a well designed layout, but I got off the ride unimpressed. It did break down for the rest of the day, so I didn’t get to give it another try, but I plan to give it another chance in the future. Now that the off-season has officially begun it is time to get my rankings sorted out for the RWCA and Thrilling 32. I of course I now have plenty of time to daydream about where I will be heading in 2020.
The hair of the affrighted pedagogue rose upon his head with terror. What was to be done? To turn and fly was now too late; and besides, what chance was there of escaping ghost or goblin, if such it was, which could ride upon the wings of the wind? Summoning up, therefore, a show of courage, he demanded in stammering accents, “Who are you?” He received no reply. He repeated his demand in a still more agitated voice. Still there was no answer. Once more he cudgelled the sides of the inflexible Gunpowder, and, shutting his eyes, broke forth with involuntary fervor into a psalm tune. Just then the shadowy object of alarm put itself in motion, and with a scramble and a bound stood at once in the middle of the road. Though the night was dark and dismal, yet the form of the unknown might now in some degree be ascertained. He appeared to be a horseman of large dimensions, and mounted on a black horse of powerful frame. He made no offer of molestation or sociability, but kept aloof on one side of the road, jogging along on the blind side of old Gunpowder, who had now got over his fright and waywardness.
Ichabod, who had no relish for this strange midnight companion, and bethought himself of the adventure of Brom Bones with the Galloping Hessian, now quickened his steed in hopes of leaving him behind. The stranger, however, quickened his horse to an equal pace. Ichabod pulled up, and fell into a walk, thinking to lag behind,—the other did the same. His heart began to sink within him; he endeavored to resume his psalm tune, but his parched tongue clove to the roof of his mouth, and he could not utter a stave. There was something in the moody and dogged silence of this pertinacious companion that was mysterious and appalling. It was soon fearfully accounted for. On mounting a rising ground, which brought the figure of his fellow-traveller in relief against the sky, gigantic in height, and muffled in a cloak, Ichabod was horror-struck on perceiving that he was headless!—but his horror was still more increased on observing that the head, which should have rested on his shoulders, was carried before him on the pommel of his saddle! His terror rose to desperation; he rained a shower of kicks and blows upon Gunpowder, hoping by a sudden movement to give his companion the slip; but the spectre started full jump with him. Away, then, they dashed through thick and thin; stones flying and sparks flashing at every bound. Ichabod’s flimsy garments fluttered in the air, as he stretched his long lank body away over his horse’s head, in the eagerness of his flight.
They had now reached the road which turns off to Sleepy Hollow; but Gunpowder, who seemed possessed with a demon, instead of keeping up it, made an opposite turn, and plunged headlong downhill to the left. This road leads through a sandy hollow shaded by trees for about a quarter of a mile, where it crosses the bridge famous in goblin story; and just beyond swells the green knoll on which stands the whitewashed church.
As yet the panic of the steed had given his unskilful rider an apparent advantage in the chase, but just as he had got half way through the hollow, the girths of the saddle gave way, and he felt it slipping from under him. He seized it by the pommel, and endeavored to hold it firm, but in vain; and had just time to save himself by clasping old Gunpowder round the neck, when the saddle fell to the earth, and he heard it trampled under foot by his pursuer. For a moment the terror of Hans Van Ripper’s wrath passed across his mind,—for it was his Sunday saddle; but this was no time for petty fears; the goblin was hard on his haunches; and (unskilful rider that he was!) he had much ado to maintain his seat; sometimes slipping on one side, sometimes on another, and sometimes jolted on the high ridge of his horse’s backbone, with a violence that he verily feared would cleave him asunder.
An opening in the trees now cheered him with the hopes that the church bridge was at hand. The wavering reflection of a silver star in the bosom of the brook told him that he was not mistaken. He saw the walls of the church dimly glaring under the trees beyond. He recollected the place where Brom Bones’s ghostly competitor had disappeared. “If I can but reach that bridge,” thought Ichabod, “I am safe.” Just then he heard the black steed panting and blowing close behind him; he even fancied that he felt his hot breath. Another convulsive kick in the ribs, and old Gunpowder sprang upon the bridge; he thundered over the resounding planks; he gained the opposite side; and now Ichabod cast a look behind to see if his pursuer should vanish, according to rule, in a flash of fire and brimstone. Just then he saw the goblin rising in his stirrups, and in the very act of hurling his head at him. Ichabod endeavored to dodge the horrible missile, but too late. It encountered his cranium with a tremendous crash,—he was tumbled headlong into the dust, and Gunpowder, the black steed, and the goblin rider, passed by like a whirlwind.
PIGEON FORGE, TN
A must see which will entertain the entire family is the Great Pumpkin LumiNights at Dollywood. Guests are awestruck by the intricate pumpkin carvings and fall themed art adorning the walkways.
The Plaza at Wilderness Pass boasts of a 40 ft. tall pumpkin tree consisting of an assortment of carved pumpkins.
As dusk approaches, the lights come on as guests jam to the music throughout the park. USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice travel awards named it the country’s Best Theme Park Halloween Event The 2019.
Recently opened Wildwood Grove offers new attractions around The Wildwood Tree.Dollywood’s Harvest Festival runs now – Nov. 2(closed Tuesday, Oct. 22 & Tuesday, Oct. 29) with park operating hours each day from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m., providing guests more time to enjoy harvest time in the Smokies.