I've been seeing a lot of angry people the last couple days over the new "no phones in the queue line" policy for Steel Vengeance. There are similar policies for some other really popular rides as well and most of the discussion has been around money (the parks' potential loss of a lawsuit versus their potential profits from locker rentals).
Let's put aside that particular topic for a minute and have a conversation about having a "queue line conversation." This is something that those of us that grew up without cell phones (especially smart phones) are probably used to. In fact, it's often how I made new friends in the park and found my "riding buddy" for the day or at least for a couple hours.
For some backstory, I grew up in the 80's and was the youngest of three kids. My parents were older when I was going to Cedar Point and Geauga Lake and other random parks as we traveled the country. Most of this time, my parents had issues with arthritic knees or back issues and didn't want to ride many of the more extreme coasters, so if my sisters didn't want to ride with me, I'd have to ride as a "single rider" and hope to meet someone in the queue line that was also a single rider and wanted to ride together.
It can sometimes be tricky to start a conversation with a random stranger, so start with something you have in common...you're both there to ride the ride that you're in line for. Start by asking the person if they've ever ridden the ride before. If they have not, don't ruin anything for them or scare them to death or lie to them, but assure them that there's nothing to worry about and that it's perfectly safe if you've ridden it before. If neither of you have ridden it before, then you already instantly have a bond and you can say something like, It's my first time too, I'd love to hear what you think about it after we've ridden it."
If you find that the person is knowledgeable about the current ride, you may want to start talking to them about the park that you're in and see how much of an "expert" they are (you never know, you may have just run into someone like Andy or Danny, or even Devin Olson, the founder of COASTER-net and Devin Olson Media). From there you may be able to start a conversation about how well-traveled they are and compare and contrast favorites...this might be a great time to invite such a person to our COASTER-net Poll and Thrilling 32 Bracket Challenge. More information about this can be found at ridewarriorchoiceawards.weebly.com.
The conversation then may switch to what communities you are a part of. Exchange information about what clubs or forums you are a part of and encourage them to check out our YouTube channel, Facebook, and/or Twitter to connect with us. I know this is usually easier if they can have their phone with them. As an admin for the site, I usually carry business cards around with me that have this information on them to easily share with people in the queue line. We also sell T-shirts with some of this information on them and these too are great conversation starters, especially if people are already familiar with the site or our YouTube shows.
Now, if you're already in a group of friends, you may not be extremely interested in meeting new friends, but you still may need some ideas on how to pass the time. Hopefully you feel comfortable enough to talk to your friends in person, but sometimes it may be the first time meeting someone in-person--especially if you're at some kind of meet-up or club event. Here are some ideas on "ice breakers" that work in theme parks just as well as they work at any party:
1) Ask everyone to tell their name and something about themselves that they think people don't know. Be careful to not "over-share" here.
2) Play a game like "Never Have I Ever" or "Two Truths and a Lie" where you have to guess from what you know about the person whether the person is telling the truth or faking it.
3) If you're really bored in a line because of something like a mechanical failure, you might want to try a game with the people around you like getting people to name a coaster that starts with the letter 'A,' then the next person has to pick a coaster starting with the letter 'B' and so on. People will learn of how many coasters the other people know about that they don't even know.. It's not a bad idea to say where the coaster is located in case it's one you've never been on. I try to stick with coasters that are operational when I play this game because I feel like the point of it is to encourage people to go new places and try out rides they've never experienced, not to tell people how much more I know about coaster history.
These are just a few ideas that I've learned from my friend Devin Olson who was the founder of COASTER-net.com and my best friend while I was at college at Liberty University. I hope some of these ideas are valuable to you as you visit your favorite amusement parks, theme parks, and water parks, and maybe even some of your favorite theme park haunts this fall (I hear the lines for the houses can get pretty long there too). If you have other ideas that you'd like to share with others, feel free to look for this post on our Facebook or Twitter pages and share your thoughts there.
Hello coaster friends,
We are deep in the heart of speculation season. Parks have all been open for awhile, the new for 2018 rides have been unveiled, and a lot of energy and imagination switched gears towards the future. Enthusiasts are watching for teaser campaigns, survey markers, construction fences, and other rumblings that may foreshadow something to come. Is that spray paint dot that wasn’t here last week a mark for a new roller coaster, or a water fountain? And if you are at Kings Island, no it is 100% not for a giga coaster!
The next part of that speculation turns to what type of coaster is going to be built and by whom? When I was a kid Arrow was the go to answer for getting people's’ excitement level up. They were promptly replaced by B&M. Premier Rides had a moment in the sun, but then Intamin started getting the contracts for some really serious rides. For a long time it was all Intamin or B&M and those were the only two flavors out there. Then Intamin faded away and a new kid on the street RMC stepped forward and became the flavor of the day.
Now as enthusiasts focus on the 2019 season and beyond what is the flavor that is making people drool? It seems to be Mack, according to people I talk to, social media, comment sections, and message boards, Mack has got to be working on the *insert your favorite park here* project. That is quite a bit of work for a company that is just starting to develop a foothold in the North American market. There are already seven confirmed projects being built in North America and several more speculated to be announced in the coming months. So how many Mack coasters do you want?
One thing that has fueled this desire is that we, coaster enthusiasts, want a new experience. We have been watching from afar as Mack rides have been gaining praise in Europe and Asia. Let’s just admit it… We are jealous! We want to taste the Mack flavors! If you comment Wild Mouse we aren’t friends any more! But before you get disappointed that Mack isn’t announced to be working the project you have been speculating on don’t forget about what else is out there. B&M is sweet and always pleases. Gerstlauer has become an acquired taste that gets more and more praise for their newer projects. Vekoma is new and improved now with a new formula. RMC is like sriracha just put it on anything and it makes it better. Intamin is spicy, it is bound to surprise and leave you trying to catch your breath. My point is if everything is just one thing we lose the variety that we all say we like.
The cold and snow of early spring was not going to stop Twisted Timbers from making an impact this year. I arrived nice and early at Kings Dominion in Doswell, Virginia with our fearless leader Daniel Westfall to register with the park and be escorted to the Media/VIP Event. There was an eager crowd gathered, despite the cold weather and travel disruptions, that were all talking and excited for this unveiling, the first RMC Iron Horse Conversion in the Cedar Fair chain. The park opened the gates and guided us down to the Candy Apple Grove Section of the park. A stage with projection screen was set up in front of Windseeker, and Snoopy and Charlie Brown were on hand to dance and get the group warmed up for the opening ceremony. The ceremony started with a greeting from Maggie Sellers, the park’s PR/Communications Manager. We also heard from the park’s new GM Tony Johnson and Cedar Fair’s VP of Design and Planning Rob Decker. The final word was from Scott Clemons, the park’s Director of Marketing. As part of the presentation we were treated to some behind the scenes production movies that included a timelapse of the demolition of Hurler and transformation into Twisted Timbers and a closer look from the RMC team about how their technology was being applied to create a new dynamic ride experience for guests at Kings Dominion.
After the presentation, the ride was opened up for the preview. This gave riders a first hand look at the ride layout up close, along with some of the scenery that helps explain the story of the Hanover Hills Orchard and this mysterious force that afflicted the area and caused it to become off limits. When thrill seekers approach the ride, you will see a large brick and iron gate with the Twisted Timbers logo on top off an old Hanover Hills Orchard sign. However, the bolder symbol of the ride is a large leafless twisted tree, complete with track wrapped around it by some powerful force. Once you enter the queue you pass underneath the track and enter the infield of the ride. Most of the layout is hidden from view in the plaza outside, so this will be your first glimpse of the ride’s elements. There is a grove of apple trees at the far side of the layout, and there is other evidence of a working orchard as well. There are work trucks, tractors, and covered areas that are labeled as orchard sheds. There are also some mysterious scenes; there is an object that appears to be a meteor that glows in the dark, a tractor that has been lifted and is stuck in the structure of the station, and the station itself seems to have been damaged by this mysterious force. While riders explore this area and wait for their turn, the coaster is darting around them and roaring by adding to the anticipation and excitement.
I was able to ride this coaster about a dozen times over the two days I was there, and I tried to ride in as many different areas on the train as possible. I did find that the experience can change based on where you sit, but you will have a great experience no matter where you sit. Riders board either a blue or green train themed to a fifties style pickup truck. The trains are really nice looking and have the patina of being used for work many years ago. The restraints are familiar to other RMC trains but they have added a handle grip on each side for guests who feel they need to hang on to something.
The ride begins with a gentle right hand turn out of the station to line the train up with the 111 foot tall lift hill. The lift chain grabs the train and the loud clang of the chain and the anti roll back give this the familiar feel of a traditional wooden coaster. At the top of the hill, there is a quick dip and banked turnaround to gain a bit of momentum, followed by the barrel roll drop. At this moment, it is clear there is nothing traditional about this ride. The barrel roll drop is a great way to kick off the action; you hang out of your seat and then drop straight down to the ground. At the bottom there is a small bunny hill that jolts you up before soaring past the station in a high banked turn at 54 MPH. At the exit of the turn there is another small hop that jolts you up again. The next section is all about airtime, and this ride delivers. They built up three camelback airtime hills that offer a traditional sequence you would get on a wooden coaster, but then you get flipped upside down in a cutback turnaround, and you are back into RMC country. This is where the ride becomes unhinged and twisted. The next series of airtime hills are twisted to give you lateral airtime back and forth, then a trick track pitching the train first to the right and then to the left. Then, without warning, the track suddenly drops out from under you all the way to the ground. It jumps back up into an airtime hill thought the lift structure providing a great head chopper. The track rises through the structure and pitches left, but makes a sudden right hand turn and drops. The train bounds over another bunny hop to get you out of your seat and then into the final inversion, a zero-G roll. As you exit you hit an over banked turn that puts you on your side, and one more to turn you back towards the station. There are two more pops of airtime, and you are up on the brake run.
After riding the ride many time and in different seats, I will say there is no bad seat on these trains. I enjoyed my front seat and back seat rides more than the middle but you would expect that. I was also surprised to find I did have a left vs right preference. This ride only makes right hand turns since it follows Hurlers triple out and back footprint, so I found the left seat more enjoyable as you get a bit of extra whip around some elements. Because both rides have a barrel roll drop there is a desire by many to compare the ride to Storm Chaser, but they have different profile and feel. According to ride designer Alan Schilke, the barrel roll drop is steeper on Twisted Timber than on Storm Chaser. Twisted Timbers is more focused on straight airtime than turning and laterals, as he intended for Storm Chaser. Twisted Timbers is very well planned to have the sensation of speed and to maintain excitement throughout. All of the instances where the ride cuts though supports or structure are towards the end of the ride when it is carrying less energy, but these near misses enhance that feeling of speed and keep riders on their toes. The two overbanked turns at the end to me are not the finale. To me, the zero-G roll is the finale; you storm into the first over bank, and it controls a lot of the leftover speed and inertia. I see this final sequence as part of the brakes, a way to control the ride and get it under control in a fun way. It still hits the brakes with some speed and feels fast throughout the whole ride. So I know the long and the short of it...Is it a must ride? Well yeah it is, unless you don’t like fun. Because it is a fun ride. Based on my rides on Wicked Cyclone and Twisted Timbers, I think that all of the work RMC has been doing is probably worth checking out. So is it now the best ride in the park?
Nope … GENTLEMEN, START YOUR ENGINE!
Author: Dwain Sponseller
As I was perusing social media this afternoon, I came across someone who asked a question to a group of coaster enthusiasts. The questions read: “Does Mystic Timbers have the worst ending to a coaster in all of the American parks?” After reading the comments of those who answered the question and the sheer fact that the original author of the post completely agreed that the answer is yes, I decided that I cannot take any more of the nonsense and write a blog about the situation. The title of this blog might surprise you because it might seem as though I agree, but let me tell you that is the farthest thing from the truth.
As Mystic Timbers was announced last year and we had the instant marketing of #whatsintheshed? The coaster universe began to speculate about what exactly could be in the shed. Animations of the ride came out and ride renderings that showed the shed and what it looked like allowed for a plethora of ideas to surface about what could be in there. There were extreme ideas like a drop track similar to Verbolten, but if anyone was following the news closely, GCI had mentioned they had nothing to do with the shed, therefore nothing could be done with track because the design team and manufacturer would have to know about it. Another wild idea was that there would be a barrel roll in the shed and once again, anything with track would be far-fetched. Please understand that any and all ideas were good ones when the shed was being built and people were speculating. Every one of us who considers themselves an enthusiast had an opinion of what was in there. Looking at the theme, I was convinced we were going to have an animatronic saw blade that was going to come down and look as though it was going to cut the train in half. Other administrators on this site had similar ideas such as an animatronic tree to something reminiscent of a haunted room.
This past week, the public found out exactly what was in the shed, and immediately the backlash started. There has been a constant barrage of idiocy on the internet amongst everyone about how disappointed they are about what is in the shed. Everyone had expectations way too high and the way that people are bashing the park and the designers is absolutely absurd. The use of the video screens and the images and animations that are used is a perfect way to end the story line that begins when you hit the entrance. Seeing the truck that is wrecked against the entrance pole just begins an immersive story which you do not typically get with a Cedar Fair roller coaster. The train is supposed to signify the truck as it busts out of the shed because of what is in the shed. The train takes you on a wild ride through the woods only to get back to the shed where you are warned not to enter. Inside of the shed you have the music and the video screens that showcase multiple scenes which makes multiple rides on the coaster a must.
After riding the coaster a few times and seeing the animations on the screens, it dawned on us that the images are paying homage to one of two things. They are using current roller coasters and their symbols in the park in the scenes or it could even be coasters that are now extinct from the park. One of the scenes shows a snake which could be for Diamondback or King Cobra. Another scene shows bats and of course we had the old Bat and the new Bat. The third scene is of course the tree that represents Mystic Timbers and then my favorite of course is the very rare Beast scene.
The more I looked at the question that was on social media the more absurd it looked. They were comparing this ending to Adventure Express and saying that it was a worse ending. The idea of putting this shed where it is located is brilliant. One of the worst things about roller coasters especially at a park like Kings Island is sitting on the transfer track and the brake run waiting on trains to unload in front of you. The park took this into account and must have said something like, "What can we do to make the worst part of a ride something that still allows for some suspense and thrill?" The shed delivers exactly as it is supposed to. After taking a ride on one of the best wooden coasters in the country, you then get the anticipation of what is going to be in the shed. With the fact that the animations can change at any time, your experience on the ride will be different every time. I do not know many coasters that can say that. Most of the time I find myself enjoying the roller coaster and then dreading the pressure of restraints while sitting on the transfer track. With the shed, it allows me one more thrill on the worst part of a coaster.
In closing I want to say that for everyone who is complaining about how disappointed they are in the shed, I think you fell into the trap of marketing and never really thought it through what could really be in the shed. The shed is exactly what it is meant to be and I believe that it is something that we can enjoy for years to come. Besides, the shed is just icing as the ride itself is out of this world!
May The Queue Lines Be Ever In Your Favor
by Andrew Rybarczyk
It's no secret that Dick Kinzel is by far my favorite person in the amusement industry. I can remember clearly the first time I met him at the 2009 First Rider Auction of Shoot the Rapids. Since then I've become fascinated with not only his history with Cedar Fair but also with his leadership style and pivotal decisions. When I discovered that there was an official biography written about his life, it was with great enthusiasm I purchased the book.
If you are looking for a quick look into his life, Dick Kinzel: Roller Coaster King of Cedar Point Amusement Park provides the reader with that and more. Everything from his coaster creations, to his career in the industry, through his life after retirement is chronicled. Each focal point is highlighted by a number of quotes and recollections from Dick himself. Too see his perspective on many of the stories I had already known was insightful to say the least.
The book has a number of major themes but the one that comes through the most is Dick's love of Cedar Point and amusement parks. His philosophy is made abundantly clear through these pages: bring the guests in with huge steel thrill rides and do whatever you can to keep them happy from the time they enter the park until the time they leave. It is this belief that I believe has made Cedar Point into the greatest amusement park in the world. The constant innovation and creation of the biggest and best rides on the planet drew me to Cedar Point each season, but it is the customer service that makes me want to go back multiple times each year. The book also delivers some information that hasn't been widely known. First, the revelation that he had planned another Giga coaster for Cedar Point floored me. In numerous conversations with friends and during episodes of Uncut, I always asked "where's Dicks big goodbye to Cedar Point?" Maverick was great when opened in 2007, but I always thought there was to be one more. This revelation at least put my mind to rest on that question if also being a bit disheartening.
The book also chronicles Dick's dark last few years. It was also a surprise of how much a toll a number of situations took on Mr. Kinzel. I understand business is business, but after dedicating his entire life to the park and chain, it seemed that his last few years were a bit much for anyone to bear. At the very least, the park gave him a huge send off in the classic grand dance hall of the Coliseum in the place he had become so connected to.
It was fun to get insight into Dick's personality and life. The author does a fine job of capturing the many facets of his life including his personality, his work ethic and his commitment to God. It was also fun to find out that he had an obsession with finding the perfect trash can, which we all know are quite ubiquitous at Cedar Fair parks. In all, this book solidified my belief that there will never be another CEO of Cedar Fair like Dick Kinzel. His impact on all of our lives is unquestionable and in fact none of us would be reading this article if not for his vision and desire to push the limits of roller coasters. He is also responsible for so many good memories of friends and family that I have. I greatly enjoyed reading about his successes and troubles and I'm sure you will as well.
Valravn has been a fairly controversial topic of discussion for the past couple of months. The new Cedar Point addition breaks multiple records, including the tallest, fastest, and longest dive coaster in the world. Valravn will tower at 223 feet tall, drop down 214 feet at a speed of 75 miles per hour. The statistics certainly sound great for any coaster, so why would someone not be anticipating this coaster? Let us take a look at some of the points of criticism.
Cedar Point has had a long history of breaking records. Gemini, Magnum XL 200, Millennium Force, and Top Thrill Dragster all opened as the tallest and fastest roller coasters in the world. Other Cedar Point coasters broke records for the type of coaster they are, like Corkscrew, Mean Streak, Raptor, Mantis (now called Rougarou), and Gatekeeper. In September of 2015, Cedar Point unveiled their new attraction for 2016, called Valravn. Valravn will be joining the second list being that it will break all dive coaster records. Some are arguing how Valravn is barely edging other the other record holders. As of 2015, the tallest dive coaster is Diving Coaster in Happy Valley. Diving Coaster stands at a height of 213.3 feet and it is a clone of Sheikra. However, it is not the fastest dive machine. Griffon at Busch Gardens Williamsburg narrowly edges out Diving Coaster with a top speed of 71 miles per hour. It is easy to see that the records are not being "shattered," but Valravn will still stand as the 3rd tallest coaster in the park. By no means is this dive machine to be considered small. There will be spectacular views of the park, Lake Erie, and the Sandusky Bay from the top of the lift hill. Another aspect of Valravn that people tend to criticize is the layout. Valravn's layout consists of an immelmann, mid-course break run 131 feet tall, a dive loop, a 270-degree roll, and an airtime hill. When comparing this layout to the other large dive machines, a notable absence is a splashdown. It is understandable that the lack of a splashdown could be disappointing, but an additional inversion and airtime hill will be a great substitute.
Valravn is more than worthy to belong among the untouchable coaster collection of Cedar Point. Dive machines are rare to come by, being that there are only two in the U.S. and 11 in the world. While some enthusiasts are still anticipating the 500ft. terra-coaster, the rest of us are more than happy to ride Valravn. It is certainly lining up to be a noteworthy addition to Cedar Point's lineup.
by Andrew Rybarczyk
I've always wanted to experience the differences between the Hollywood and Orlando versions of Halloween Horror Nights. After having the opportunity to go to Orlando for my first HHN last year, I didn't ever expect to go to Hollywood so soon. However two things changed that very quickly. First, COASTER-net was afforded the opportunity to attend HHN Hollywood at this year's very prestigious media event. As one would expect, the Hollywood event is filled with celebrities, red carpets and the all of the haunts people have come to expect to be some of the best in the business. Attending any HHN media event has always been a dream of mine and getting the opportunity to go was one that I just couldn't pass up. However, what sealed the deal was finding out that AvP would be returning for a unprecedented second year. Now if you recall, AvP was the impetus for my attending Orlando last year. The thought of getting to experience the sister haunt especially being able to see the exclusive Alien Queen had me so excited that I booked my flight within the hour of the announcement.
This past weekend was my inaugural trip to Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood. Overall the Hollywood version is definitely one of the best theme park Halloween events anywhere. There are three distinct types of haunts at Hollywood: scare zones, traditional haunted houses and the Terror Tram which is really so unique that I believe it should be put separately. Here are my thoughts on each:
Going into this event, many of these houses had me more intrigued, more so than even the first leaked list from Orlando. AvP, Crimson Peak and This Is the End were at the top of my list. I was also excited to see what the Hollywood crew would do with Halloween. The lineup rounded out with The Walking Dead and Insidious. I'm very happy to say that the three I was most excited about actually came in as my top 3 mazes for the event.
The best house at this event was by far Crimson Peak. The amount of detail poured into this house would put most other haunts to shame. Although I was unfamiliar with the story of this house, I was so impressed that it makes me want to check out this movie when released. This house excelled in the way that it used a variety of ways to scare you. Classic scare techniques put a smile on my face while at the same time mechanical props added to the human scareactors. By far this was the most well balanced house and the attention to detail is what jumped this to my #1 spot.
Second on my list was This Is the End. I know a lot of people rolled their eyes when this was announced, but being one of my favorite movies of the last few years this was one I was very excited to check out. It's done in the classic 3D neon. To be honest the 3D was almost not needed, but just a little something extra. I went through both with and without the glasses and had a good time both trips. The story does recreate classic scenes from the film and by far the Jonah Hill scenes were the best. I also appreciated clips of the real actors during trasitions to try to bring you more into that world. One criticism is that other transition pieces with the demons does get a bit repetitive but the demons look so good, I didn't mind too much. The ending of this house may be one of the best effects and sequences ever done in a haunt. It combines scares and hilarity and will have you walking out very pleased.
Even though AvP could not ever match the perfection of last year's house in Orlando, this iteration gave Orlando a pretty good run for its money. The sets were well done especially the Predator Chamber scene which was just outstanding. This version took a bit different take on the story that followed AvP: Requiem more closely. It featured many Earth based scenes, whereas Orlando's environments were more space based and futuristic. Throughout the maze, there were various interactions with both classic icons, however I wished there were more iconic Predator scenes. The Alien scenes though ruled this house and were so well done that it jumped this house to my top three.
Halloween was tough for me to judge. I was surprised at how similar it was to Orlando's version last year. I can't blame them because of how well received that house was. Most of the scenes were tweaked a bit for space and some were even a bit stronger. The phone cord choking was much more effective with live actors. It was fun to relive this haunt for a second year and people who haven't ever experienced it will undoubtedly love it.
I was really not expecting much from the Hollywood scarezones because I felt that Orlando's are kind of just added in and are either small or designed for photo ops. Wow, I couldn't have been more wrong on this. All three scarezones are the best I've ever been through. I was shocked by the amount of props and scenery used throughout all three. Corps and Exterminatorz both had really energetic scareactors that really worked together to get people. Exterminatorz used some props that absolutely shocked me but thought it was brilliant. Another note was that the amount of fog used was perfect. It obscured forward vision perfectly and really allowed for maximum scareactor effect.
The standout among the three was Dark Christmas. Here the holiday theme was evident from start to finish. The props were just so detailed and the costumes so perfect. The holiday music just topped off a perfect scarezone. This is how it's done folks, I wish other parks would go to learn.
By far the highlight of the event was another that took me a little by surprise. Now I love The Purge. The concept captivated me from the announcement of the first movie. Last year's Purge scarezone was one of the highlights of the event for me. Having not ever been on a Terror Tram, I was never quite clear what it was all about. Let me say the concept of a tram taking you to a location, dropping you off through a scarezone and then picking you back up is an absolutely awesome concept. The story presented on the tram portion was just perfect and really set up the whole experience. The scarezone on the tram and into the backlot were just awesome and combined elements from both films. It just felt like the awesomeness went on forever. This experienced might actually rival AvP for my favorite haunt experience. I should also note that a special touch was the female auctioneer coming back as a greeter for when you are entering the Tram. She added a good deal of tongue in cheek humor that really put you into the world of The Purge.
Overall, my first Hollywood HHN experience was amazing. There's no way Hollywood can compete with the budget and space Orlando has. However, John Murdy and crew really do a great job with working with what they do have. Creativity and ingenuity rule the day here. Going through Orlando last year I sometimes got a very corporate feel that sometimes became a bit formulaic and overly rehearsed. Granted, those elements also are the reason for why it's by far the number 1 Halloween event anywhere. Hollywood though, still has that a bit, but I feel they also have a bit more freedom and push the envelope just a little further. The pieces that were great like The Terror Tram and scarezones were better than anything else out there. I can't wait to be able to go back next year to this event and I'm looking forward to seeing what they can conjure up to keep raising the bar.
Wicked Cyclone is a roller coaster that had possibly the highest anticipation in the enthusiast community after its announcement in years. Well, it not only lives up to the hype but even exceeds expectations. RMC and Alan Schilke are going to go down as legends in the roller coaster community with this coaster on its resume. The fact that they can continuously convert older wooden roller coasters into world class steel roller coasters is astounding.
Wicked Cyclone may have started out as the most anticipated coaster of this year but in April, it started to get overshadowed by Fury 325 and even Twisted Colossus. Reasons for this were because of the love being expressed for Fury as well as some people being underwhelmed by the latest POV for Wicked Cyclone. Others began to jump on the Twisted Colossus bandwagon because of this as well which caused Wicked Cyclone to be almost forgotten about by some as media day approached.
I went into the day having only one RMC roller coaster under my belt in Outlaw Run. Admittedly, I went in expecting this to be a top 10 ride. I was able to get three chances in the last row, tenth row, and ninth row to see if that's where this coaster would end up on my list. Well, on a cold morning in the middle of May, Wicked Cyclone showed up to the riders and made a statement that it was going to be legendary. But what is it about this ride that makes it one of the world's best some people may ask?
Let's start with the fact that it has a little sense of tradition connected with the past versions of this roller coaster. One staple of the Riverside Cyclone and the Cyclone was the catapult first drop. Wicked Cyclone doesn't skip a beat with its 78 degree first drop that gives you the sensation that you're being launched out of your seat.
One big statistic Six Flags promoted with this coaster was the fact there were 14 airtime hills. Most people probably thought only a couple of these would be forceful and memorable. When you're riding this coaster, you feel the presence of every single one of those 14 airtime hills as each one has unbelievable ejector airtime. Think of airtime hills on El Toro and Skyrush and then imagine having double the amount of those. This coaster truly lives up to the pre-opening reputation of being an airtime machine.
The Zero-G-Rolls and Zero-G-Stall are also a very impressive features of this coaster. The hangtime offered on both of these are ridiculous and really allow you the sensation of falling out of your seat and being upside down while having time to appreciate it. These are also spaced out well and aren't overkill like Outlaw Run's double barrel roll. For a 55 mph roller coaster, this feels faster than you might expect. Most world class coasters are at least 70 mph but Wicked Cyclone does a great job of keeping a solid speed once it warms up. There's also a feeling of comfort on this ride with the restraints which you don't have as much of on other airtime machines. The biggest compliment of all is that it is one of the smoothest roller coasters out there. You can tell the track is brand new as it's a pleasure to ride on and feels like glass.
With all of that said, Wicked Cyclone is the complete package. You have everything you could possibly want in a world-class coaster with no negatives. That is not a distinction a lot of roller coasters get. From the catapult first drop, the ridiculous amount of ejector airtime, smoothness, comfort, and hangtime, Wicked Cyclone has it all. Some would consider this a perfect roller coaster. I am one of those people and I've only said that about two or three other roller coasters.
This roller coaster is going to be a game-changer. It's going to confirm that RMC's game is as strong as ever and is also going to make Six Flags New England a destination for enthusiasts. There are now two world-class coasters in the park which raises the park to another level. Six Flags New England is also going to have a change in the guards for the first time in 15 years. Bizarro has been the draw coaster for the park ever since its arrival. Now it looks like Wicked Cyclone is going to take over the role of headliner with its new innovation and very positive reviews. New England has a winner on its hands that should be very popular for years to come.
by Andrew Rybarczyk
This week much has been discussed about the new trademark filing, Valravn for Cedar fair. It has led to a fury of discussion and debate about what the name might be used for if anything at all. First, let’s look at what a “valravn” actually is. The term originates from Danish folklore and is described as a raven that scours a battlefield consuming the bodies of fallen knights and soldiers. Another cool aspect of the mythology is that a valravn can actually assume the form of a knight after consuming the heart of a child. Pretty graphic right? It can also take other forms such as a half wolf creature. Overall, I think it’s a pretty cool name, but what is it going to be used for? I’ve compiled a list of possibilities, some far-fetched, some a more of a possibility. So let’s take a look at what this might be
Cedar Fair over the last few years has been transforming the front gates of its parks. Cedar Point was first with the amazing GateKeeper flyover. This year, it was Fury 325 with the dive under the new entrance. Valravn could do this for another park but would probably have to be unique. We know that a dive coaster is rumored for Cedar Point, but what if it’s not for Cedar Point but rather its neighbor to the north, Canada’s Wonderland? A dive coaster into the center of the plaza would be a spectacle for sure. Now this by itself might not be a longshot, but what if last year’s hot rumor of Centurion actually comes true? What if Canada’s Wonderland not only gets one coaster but two? A Centurion vs Valravn dueling coaster that interacts would really up the ante for a park that has a lot of coasters but only a few really top notch coasters. A new wing coaster and a new dive coaster with interactive elements could make Canada’s Wonderland the top park in North America.
Dark rides are all the rage at Cedar Fair with Matt Ouimet stating that all the parks would be getting a dark ride sometime in the future. Every one of the dark rides thus far have a central enemy such as the Dragon at Wonder Mountain or the steampunk octopus in Voyage to the Iron Reef. The valravn described in mythology fits this description as a pretty cool baddy. The question is what park might it fit in? My first thoughts go to Kings Island or Kings Dominion. Drawing of the medieval feel of the story could fit with the parks name. Yes, I know it’s a bit of a stretch but is it any more of stretch than Voyage to the Iron Reef? A medieval theme for a dark ride could be a really fun topic to explore.
Even though most people are focusing on the possibility of a coaster, it could also be used for haunt. This is less likely due to the language of the filed trademark that states for amusement rides, but also for various merchandise. The valravn and battlefield theme could work as a pretty cool haunt. Imagine an ancient warzone with raven screeches and special effect attacks. You could also pull in the various incarnations of the valravn including the knight and wolf as the haunt progresses.
The easiest answer is that Valravn will be connected to the oft rumored Cedar Point dive coaster. The imagery created by the valravn diving to the battlefield to eat the bodies of the fallen is perfect for a B&M dive coaster. The minute I heard the name and read what it was, Sheikra at Busch Gardens Tampa immediately came to mind. If placed at Cedar Point, Valravn would fit nicely with not only the area but the recent additions. Two years ago, GateKeeper introduced the character of the guardian that has been thoroughly promoted and merchandised. Rougarou this year introduced another new mythical character into the Cedar Point lineup. Valravn would continue this trend. The area also provides an interesting situation as well with the coaster being placed right next to the old bird, Raptor. One would assume that the entrance to the new dive coaster would be located right next to the iconic Cobra Roll of Raptor. In addition, if painted the right color, Valravn and Raptor could be a great complement to each other. A black and purple color scheme would be striking next to the green Raptor. Add in a few grave stones or battlefield landscapes and you could have a very awesome experience. On top of that, you could even add the old Fear Faire haunt to travel under Valravn and have theming that can be kept up all year and heavily utilized during the haunt season. I was skeptical at first of the idea of a dive coaster but if themed correctly it could be a real hit for the park.
So those are my major ideas of what Valravn could be. Obviously its pure speculation at this point and there could be a number of different other possibilities. In fact, it might just be a red herring that is never acted upon by anyone. Overall, I think Valravn is a pretty cool name with a backstory that could lead to some pretty interesting concepts being integrated. Hopefully, when we finally find out what Valravn is, it’s just as good if not better than what we are currently envisioning.
By Dwain Sponseller
I have always imagined what it would have been like to travel the high seas on a ship made from just the timbers of an oak tree in the 1600s. We may have the modern technologies today, but a trip to Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana can get you pretty close in a modernistic fashion. This weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Thunderbird Media Day Preview and I want to tell you a little bit about the day.
Hundreds of media and coaster enthusiasts arrived at the park around 6:00am on Thursday morning. I had decided to travel to Louisville and stay the night and get up early Thursday and arrive at the park. For the second year in a row, media day turns out to be one of the coldest mornings of the spring. At a temperature of 35 degrees, I was happy I had brought my jacket alongside. We arrived at the gate where they had us alphabetized. The ride auction winners were escorted back first and then they escorted the rest of us back. The three woodies were quiet and greeting us on this beautiful Indiana morning. After the long trek to the back of the park, we finally arrived at the magnificent orange colored track and elegant ride station. There were park employees there to greet us and breakfast was laid out for us to partake in. (I will get back to the food later in this blog) We began the festivities with an opening ceremony from Koch family and the president. We counted down the launch to the first ride and watched as she sped down the first piece of track.
The ride was then opened for everyone to ride and we took our first rides on the first ever launched wing coaster in the country. This seems like a good place to give my review of the ride. Let me first state that the queue line and ride station is excellent. The station is made to look old and barn like which fits in with the cornfield landscape of the area. There is a silo on the outside of the station that is actually the elevator for the ride. When boarding a train, the train in front prepares for launch and the sound effects of thunder and the flashing lights make it feel like a thunderstorm. The train creeps out to the launch pad and then the fog surrounds and out you go. The ride is short but powerful. My favorite part of this coaster is the launch. This is by far the smoothest wing coaster I have ridden. The transitions are flawless and the coaster is one that you can re-ride over and over again. The restraints are your normal B&M wing type and the greatest thing is the harness does not lock. After riding the coaster in every seat, my favorite seat is the front right outside seat, but many like the left side for the near miss effects in the ride interaction building. Overall this coaster ranks very high on my list because of the overall smoothness and re-ridabilty.
I want to now take this time to truly thank the people of Holiday World for the hospitality and kindness throughout the entire day. They went above and beyond to make everyone at media day feel welcome and satisfied. I want to take this time as well to talk about the food and things were given throughout the entire day. Unlike many media days that last just a couple of hours, this media day lasted all day and was ripe full of activities for everyone. When we arrived at the ride, they had laid out a breakfast that was fit for a king. They had orange juice and all the fountain drinks that we are accustomed to all day long at Holiday World. They had fresh cinnamon rolls with crème cheese icing that was to die for. They also had in house made breakfast sandwiches that were piping hot. They wheeled out coffee and hot chocolate for everyone as well and this was only the beginning. Thunderbird and Voyage were open all morning and you could ride as many times as you wanted on both world class coasters.
When it was lunch time, we were treated to an unbelievable feast of BBQ pulled pork, country fried steak, and all the fixens. There was even a delectable pecan cobbler for dessert. After lunch, the park resumed rides on Thunderbird and the backstage tours of the ride began. We were able to go into the belly of the ride and get pictures and video from different angles that aren’t normally allowed. One of the best moments of the trip was the opening of the Raven and Legend roller coasters as now we were able to experience the entire plethora of wood and steel the park had to offer. Normally the media day would end here, but not at Holiday World. They kept Thunderbird open until everyone was tired of the ride. We were offered a dinner inside of the Plymouth Rock Café that consisted of Pizza and dinner wraps. We also were able to sample the new Thunderbird ice cream throughout the day.
In closing I just want to say once again how thankful I am for this opportunity to represent COASTER-net at Thunderbird Media Day. The people at Holiday World are world class and their park is evidence of that. The park was able to raise a ton of money for Give Kids the World and it was great to be a part of that as always. If you are preparing for a trip to a world class place with world class coasters…make sure you add Holiday World to your list. May the Queue Lines Be Ever In Your Favor!