Dear Coaster Friends,
There is a familiar phrase that elicits a strong reaction from coaster enthusiasts, and it is always a version of this: “Regrettably _________ has reached the end of its useful service life.” The message is often delivered in a somber tone because parks know that whatever is coming next their guests and fans are going to mourn the ride. A great attraction will develop a character and feel that people connect with, and even though it is just an inanimate object that connection is difficult to say goodbye to. Many defunct rides fade into history and others become legends where their memory and influence seem to persist. When we hear, “Reached the end of its useful service life.” We often go through the same stages of grief we do with a friend or family member leave us.
The first stage is denial, typically this is a short stage but people will often post fictional accounts on how the park came to their decision. You may see unrealistic petitions and calls for reconsideration. The next stage is anger, some people stew to themselves, and other burst forth with impressive displays of profanity. “REACHED THE END OF ITS USEFUL SERVICE LIFE! THAT’S WHAT THEY WILL CARVE ON YOUR TOMBSTONE!” The next step is depression, this stage may sometimes last until there is a closure. “CLOSURE! CLOSURE! YOU MEAN WITH A WRECKING BALL?!” It is true some people relapse back between steps but generally we work through it. The fourth stage is bargaining, and for a coaster enthusiast this is often where healing begins because we start to think creatively again. The bargain may be a feeling that the attraction could return in a different form, or a new attraction will pay homage to it. (Calm down Kings Island Fanboys, I’m not talking about Son of Beast.) The final stage is acceptance, and this brings us back to thinking about the future and hopefully optimism towards the future.
Just today we found out that Universal has an opening date for their newest roller coaster based on Hagrid and it is located on the space previously occupied by Dragon Challenge. It is unknown if this new ride will replace the place in our hearts that those two B&M inverts left. It does look like it will be one of the most immersive and themed high thrill roller coaster ever built. Hopefully it will be a great addition and offer a brand new experience. Plus two B&Ms for one Intamin might be a fair trade.
For me I have two sentimental defunct coasters that have not lived on into legend, but I am still short of acceptance. The first is Hercules, formally at Dorney Park. I view Hercules through rose colored glasses. I rode the coaster when it was new many times and those earliest memories are the ones that persist. The part of the ride that many feel were the roughest part held the most vivid positive memories for me. That was the drop and sweeping curve over the water, the part of me that is stuck in the regret just keeps wondering what if it could have survived long enough to be RMC’d? The plot of land is currently occupied by Hydra: The Revenge, the name of the ride pays homage to Hercules, but it hasn’t filled the hole in my heart. The other is The Great American Scream Machine at Six Flags Great Adventure. The GASM felt like a right of passage for me when I was younger, I did ride it in its opening and closing year and many time in between. For a long time this ride seemed like the biggest ride you could ever conquer, for me that really lasted until Nitro was built. The plot of land is currently occupied by Green Lantern, but I still won't dignify that with an answer.
The most recent coaster to join the ranks of legend is Volcano: The Blast Coaster. This ride captured my imagination many years before I finally rode it. The fact is I feel fortunate because I just made it. My first ride on Volcano was at the passholder preview day last spring for the 2018 season. My last ride was the very next day when the park officially open for the season. I loved it and even though it was hyped up by friends it totally lived up to the hype. Those of us that got a chance to ride this one of a kind attraction know that this is a significant loss. It is unknown at this time what will take its place or if the Volcano itself will remain after the roller coaster is removed. I hope for a deserving replacement as the park will for a time feel incomplete as their fans and guests mourn the loss of this landmark attraction. For many of us we are still on the bargaining stage and not quite ready for acceptance.
This brings us to the next coaster to become defunct, Green Lantern at Six Flags Great Adventure. Hey I know that the park hasn’t said that it has reached the end of its useful service life but I can dream right? Green Lantern killed The Great American Scream Machine! I’ll dance on your grave Green Lantern, watch your back...