Dear Coaster Friends,
Who is ready to crank up the tunes and head out on a road trip? I know I am, I am a real music lover and I lead a busy life. Long stretches in the car is where I can really listen to music and usually my long car trips lead me to the amusement parks. I know you cannot safely have headphones on when riding roller coasters, but I wish they could have a soundtrack. I do not want more on board audio, I just wish I could wear my headphones on a roller coaster in a safe way without violating park rule. If I could what song would each roller coaster be?
Maxx Force the new roller coaster being installed at Six Flags Great America is a brand new track, but I think it will be compared to other intense launch coasters. The one I thought of when I first saw the reveal animation was Storm Runner at Hershey Park. These rides are pure punk rock, maybe The Descendants or Black Flag? The extreme acceleration is the drum roll leading in, then it is just pure relentless energy. The launch coasters are sort of a counterculture movement too, “HEY MAN WE DON’T NEED YOUR RULES OR CHAIN LIFTS!” Of course like all punk rock it is over fast and you are left breathless, but ready for more.
Yukon Striker at Canada’s Wonderland I thought was the safest bet for a good time, but I have been surprised how unenthusiastic people have been about the prospect of the longest, tallest, and fastest dive coaster. What I speculated was that this could be a Cedar Fair trend, and dive coasters could get dropped across the chain. Why the lackluster reception? Why call these dive machines general public additions? I think you are embarrassed to admit you like it, why else would you turn your nose up at a 200 plus foot drop straight down? That must mean they are dance music like Lady GAGA or the freshest boy band. A big drop and then repetition on a theme, all the while your feet are moving about freely. Those new vest restraints must be like autotune, something that is supposed to make it better but it ends up just getting in the way.
West Coast Racers at Magic Mountain and Copperhead Strike at Carowinds don’t have that same look of being all about the launch. They both look like they will deliver different experiences but at the same time I want to look at them together. You will be able to enjoy each ride for a solid duration, and the pace of the ride changes throughout. These must be the prog rock tracks, maybe Yes or Genesis? The variety, the uniqueness, they even look polarizing. Also they are both coming from Europe and have the potential to be temperamental.
Another ride I am not hearing a lot of enthusiasts clamoring for it Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. This has less to do with the details of the new track as no preview has really dropped, and more to do with Dragon’s Challenge. Dragon’s must have been a pure power ballad, solid, heavy, and as with any song about love, it contained two paths. I think that many feared that Universal was replacing Whitesnake with The Wiggles, but we don’t really know what to expect just yet. Hopefully it will end up being more of a singer/songwriter track like Jack Johnson or Paul Simon. I am looking for a good rhythm and a story I can connect with.
Kennywood has been working on a daring track that is going to set a new trend or leave everyone throwing up in the station with Steel Curtain. Steel Curtain is heavy metal, when I look at it I think Pantera or Alice Cooper. The quick changes in direction, the shear number of inversions, it even has a bridge! I can almost hear the screaming riders as the guitar solo. It is extreme, intimidating, and aggressive. I am sure many will stare at it from the ground thinking that anyone enjoying themselves on it must be possessed, and there is a potential for headbanging on this unknown chassis.
With all of these new tracks we have a lot of fun just around the corner, and I am ready to rock. I wonder though, if we loaded all these tracks into a jukebox and I gave you each one quarter what track would get the most play? I just can’t wait to hear the click clack of the anti roll back, the perfect intro to my favorite tune.
Dear Coaster Friends,
I have been riding roller coasters since I hit the height requirement, all without encouragement. My parents and my sister hate roller coasters, so no help there. Roller coasters, especially while on vacation, were a big part of my youth and I love that they have become a major interest of mine as I navigate each stage of my life. Even though there are plenty of old roller coasters out there the riders are mostly teenagers, but I am not. I’m actually not even close but I’m in pretty good company I was born the same year Gemini at Cedar Point, Loch Ness Monster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and Shockwave at Six Flags Over Texas were introduced. My age has let me experience different rides that aren’t easy to find anymore like Dinn woodies, Arrow shuttle loops, and some of the first true launch coasters. In total I have ridden about 20 defunct coasters that were either scrapped or have been reimagined by RMC. Even though roller coasters will eventually get to a point where they will break down, I don’t want to suffer the same fate.
When you get older you see your friends fade away sometimes; I have written about some of my favorites in the past like Hercules, The Great American Scream Machine, and Batman & Robin: The Chiller. However the rides aren’t the only thing getting rough I am too, I even have had to have spare parts installed. While rides like Batman: The Ride seems to never age other coasters once loved you find yourself bracing yourself for now, like the Predator. I have to be an adult, but I want to have carefree fun like when I was a kid. How do I strike a balance? A little planning and self control can help you really enjoy the day, but as you get older these might become more and more of a necessity. So if you used to charge up the steps into the station and now you pull yourself up asking your riding partners, “Did it always have this many stairs?” this is for you.
The first thing I learned was the sun is strong, stronger than anyone young or old. The longer you sit out and fry in it the earlier in the day you are going to run out of energy. Wearing a hat is a simple way to fight back against the sun, but the best way is to stay hydrated. I know many of us have a souvenir cup for soda, but that isn’t really helping us. You need to drink water, staying hydrated will obviously give you more energy and prevent heat exhaustion. Most parks have a policy that if you ask for water at a location that sells food they will give you a small free cup of water, take advantage of this policy. If you are prone to headaches or feeling nauseous the problem could be dehydration or heat exhaustion. Sipping a nice cold drink out of the sun is a great way to recharge. I also personally like to ride attractions that create their own shade around 2:30 when the sun is really strong. So maybe hop on the train for a lap, ferris wheels with covered seats, and skyrides often offer a nice breeze and a shady seat too.
Be active, not just at the park, just be active. If you sit around wearing an ass groove into your couch all year and expect to pop up and spend a majority of the day on your feet walking around that isn’t a realistic expectation. My wife and I wear fitness trackers so I have a general idea of how far I walk per day, but when we spend a day at an amusement park we add a lot of steps compared to the norm. So instead of listening to that podcast about roller coasters on your couch pop on a pair of headphones and take a walk, it won’t be a shock to the system if it is a regular part of your life. Most parks have a normal traffic flow but if you do a walk from one side to the other you could be going about a mile, if you navigate that path a few times those miles will add up. I know that we typically walk three to four times the distance of a normal full day in just a few hours at a park.
Always be prepared, ok I got that from the Boy Scouts but it applies. Know the locations of water fountains, dress in comfortable clothes for the time of year, have shoes that are easy to walk in. I know this seems like common sense, but sometimes it's best to not assume. Visiting the parks as you get older isn’t a chore or an endurance trial unless you make it one. Visiting the parks when you are older is a treat and the best treat is being the host and sharing the experience.
We have already established that we are no longer teenages, so you might be the parent. Some of that planning ahead may need to be aimed at the kids no matter what their age. Make sure they are following the same advice and that you are setting them up for success. Otherwise your lack of a plan will end with you dragging a half dead walking zombie of a child back to the car. Hopefully they haven’t puked on themselves or you. Motion sickness isn’t a problem that develops when you are old, in fact the people who are most affected by surprise motion sickness fall between the ages of 2 and 12. I have a toddler and I get really excited at the parks to ride the roller coasters, but when I am taking a young child I need to slow down to their speed. The day is really their day to have the experience, and you may not be able to do your normal thing marathoning your favorite rides. I also have a niece that I take to the park and she is a teen, and the park is really built for her so my task is to step it up and keep up with her. Sometimes you have to know yourself and suck it up and wait on line with the kid and help them get pumped only to step through to not over do it and end their day. As the adult you may take a bit longer to recover from the dip, turns, and inversions compared to a teenager.
There are advantages to not being a teenager, you can decide the budget. I know the fast lane systems are sometimes a controversial topic, but they are widely available at different parks across the country. They do all work differently but the idea is the same, pay for the experience you want to have. I enjoy having the option to buy fast pass because it allows me more time to be leisurely, I don’t skip taking care of myself, and most importantly I am not stuck in a cramped uncomfortable queue. While you have that credit card out think about booking a hotel close to the park so you can take a break in the middle of the day, or just not have to travel home. Bonus points if you book one with a hot tub, that is my favorite way to unwind and recover after a day at the park. The goal is always longevity for me personally, and that doesn’t matter if we are talking about the day, the season, or my lifetime. I said at the beginning I was happy to have roller coasters in every stage of life and that is what I am looking forward to. Heading out to the parks with my daughter when she is ready for thrill rides. Enjoying the flexibility of retirement and choosing the best time to visit. And, dare I say it? Bringing grandchildren to the park?
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A few days ago an enthusiast posted a comment to Tony Clark of Cedar point via Twitter. Her statement was “Someone just told me that, Steel Vengeance is overrated…” Tony’s response really got me to thinking about amusement parks, roller coasters, and enthusiasts. Tony replied, “You know, I think we should all go to parks and enjoy them as a place of fun and happiness. So much nasty out there.”
I wondered, “Have enthusiast become our own worst enemy? Have “we” taken the fun out of amusement parks and roller coasters?” To me this is a double-edged sword. On one hand I think that there is fun to be had by riding, evaluating, and ranking the quality of the attraction. On the other hand, I look back fondly to my days as a non-enthusiast. Those days where I went to a park, rode the rides, and enjoyed the total package that was an amusement park without the distraction of being an enthusiast.
To give this some perspective, I am a middle-aged male with only about 65 credits. Those credits I have collected over the course of the last 30 years of my life, and most are now defunct. Until very recently I was that dreaded “GP guy”. Over the course of the last few years, I began giving in to this desire to think more in-depth about what I had experienced. Like the rest of the community I began comparing and contrasting these rides with other coasters I had been on and then ranking them accordingly. Along with this typical enthusiast behavior, I also joined several online coaster groups and began attempting to more finely tune my love of roller coasters and connecting with more “experienced” enthusiasts. This attempt was both frustrating and fulfilling. I found it fun and enjoyable when I could find an enthusiast that didn’t look down his/her nose at my low coaster count. I also found this attempt at broadening my knowledge and friend base to be very frustrating. I felt defeated and scorned by some who felt that they were above talking to someone with less knowledge and experience.
My experiences in the enthusiast community has been mostly positive. Apart from a few elitist enthusiasts, most have been very welcoming and open to the opinion of others. However, It became obvious to me early on that the community at large tends to eat its young. Honestly, if it wasn’t for persistence in seeking out a group that was open to all thoughts, opinion, and differences in personalities, I would have probably given up. It makes me wonder how many budding enthusiasts have been run off. We forget that we all are an enthusiast because of a common enjoyment of the experience. It should not matter if you have ridden 1 or 1,000+ coasters. Something the elitist should remember is we all love them the same, and all started with 1 credit.
I see an alarming trend in the enthusiast community. With all the coaster related activities such as ranking lists, coaster counts, YouTube content, near constant speculation of the newest and greatest to come, coaster and park awards, forums, Discord servers, and enthusiast groups, I think we are losing sight of what brought us all together in the first place. The love of a fun and exciting ride. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy that other stuff too. To me, it adds to the experience. However, there is the danger of becoming so wrapped up in which coaster is better than another coaster for varying reasons that we lose the innocence of just enjoying the ride. I have heard some imply if a coaster isn’t a top 10 coaster that it isn’t worth their time. This is bunk! Coasters are FUN, whether they are elite rides or more common fare they are fun. At other times, I feel we get so lost in what is next that we fail to enjoy the great ride that is right in front of us. I think when we do this we risk forgetting why we all fell in love with amusement parks and roller coasters to begin with.
THE FUN OF IT ALL!!
To answer the question posed in the title. The answer is a mixed bag. At the moment the answer is “No,” I feel enthusiasts enhance the coasterverse. However, If we aren’t careful, if we don’t consider our behavior and the consequences it can have, then the answer could very well be “Yes.”
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...
Arms down, head back, hold on….AHHHHHHH! Amusement Park operators are always looking for the biggest, fastest, and most intense experiences for their guests. Many enthusiasts will point to Magnum XL-200 at Cedar Point for kicking off a golden age of construction, By starting a roller coaster war where record setting attractions was every park’s ammunition. Magnum XL-200 opened in 1989, as the first hyper coaster breaking the 200 foot barrier, and forever changing the skyline of amusement parks around the world. Previously parks were asking for manufacturers to add more inversions, but the success of Magnum XL-200 showed how ditching the inversions for height and speed records could widen the audience and ultimately be better for the park’s business. In the US the inversion record up till now stalled at seven right as Magnum XL-200 changed the dynamics of success in 1989. While Asia and Europe kept increasing inversions the North American coasters were growing bigger and faster.
Eventually these records became harder and harder to capture as the complex task of building bigger and faster became cost prohibitive. However at the same time the capacity to build more dynamic rides became increasingly profitable. The manufacturers started to change the roller coaster itself to change the experience. They created new chassis that created new ride positions, created motion on the train itself as the coaster traversed the track, and experimented with different technologies for a more immersive experience. Instead of pushing the limits of height and speed designers were enclosing coasters, adding special effects, drop tracks, scenery, and even adding VR to existing coasters to change the experience. The coaster wars may have slowed, or stopped depending on who you talk to but another effect of this shift was marketing.
The public was enthralled with the record breaking and innovations that were being introduced. They got used to hearing that every new roller coaster installation was a superlative or a first to use a specific chassis or technology. This expectation, devolved into a laundry list of records that were released with each new thrill coaster. I would say for about the last decade the amount of silly, region specific, and the narrowness of the records has made many of them insignificant. When a park has to qualify each record by limiting its scope to exclude all of the other roller coasters that exceed the record they should be looking at marketing the ride in a way that appeals to their core customer base, their pass holders.
I don’t want to say the only room for innovation in the last decade is deceptive marketing. Better manufacturing techniques have allowed ride manufacturers to give us new experiences and a variety of new elements. While new elements alone don’t break records, just like the new chassis designs they create new experiences. From the snappy low to the ground twists of Maverick we got rides like Intimidator 305 & Skyrush. When RMC started converting old wooden coasters into steel hybrids parks had a new experience to provide for their guests, and a new category to set records in. Wooden coaster manufacturers weren’t left out as old technology, they showed that they can still be innovative. The modern wooden roller coaster has been successfully reinvented as they started installing wooden coasters with inversions, another new record and innovation.
So where is the future leading us? Hopefully into another large building boom, but let’s take a step back first to take a look. Last year Steel Vengeance at Cedar Point opened with a marketing campaign with ten world records. Nine of those records were conditional on the hybrid style of the ride, but one was a really big deal and something of extreme significance. This roller coaster offered 27.2 seconds of airtime, a new world record worth keeping track of, bragging about, and breaking in the future. The 2019 season will have a few records of note being toppled as well. Kennywood will be introducing Steel Curtain, a coaster by S&S themed to their local football team the Steelers. Kennywood is of course offering a slew of local and regional records to help market this coaster but they are grabbing two solid records for the park. Steel Curtain will have the most inversions in North America at nine, and it will have the tallest inversion in the world at 197 feet. Six Flags Great America is also claiming some records in 2019 with Maxx Force. Maxx Force will launch 0-70 in under 2 seconds making it the fastest acceleration on any coaster in the world. It will also maneuver through the fastest inversion in the world too. There is also a new kid on the block, in the under construction American Dream Mall, where Nickelodeon Universe will be installing the world’s steepest coaster called TMNT Shellraiser.
With all these records being broken in North America next year there are a few that are seemingly out of reach. Speed is the most obvious, Formula Rossa at Ferrari World has a top speed of 149.1 MPH and took the record from Kingda Ka(128 MPH) at Six Flags Great Adventure in 2010. However Kingda Ka is still the tallest roller coaster in the world at 456 feet since 2005. Speed and height often go together and to build a roller coaster that can exceed 150 MPH is difficult to imagine, but that record could one day fall to another launched coaster as the speed Formula Rossa achieved is hard to imagine even today. There has been plans and concepts to shatter the height record with what most are calling a polercoaster, a roller coaster built onto an observation tower that can provide a structure that is cost feasible to break the 500 foot barrier. This project is stalled in the planning stage right now, and no schedules have been revealed to start construction.
The real question going forward, is the war back on? I say it doesn’t matter, because a new building boom and period of investment is on. Many theme and amusement park operators are signaling that investments are planned for years to come. This a great indicator that we have a lot to look forward to. The pace of news and the length of time into the future we are able to see is an indicator that the plans are becoming more ambitious, the major manufacturers have been busy, and maybe even Dorney could be getting a new coaster. The time when it was all B&M or Intamin in North America is over. B&M and Intamin will continue to build great coasters moving forward for sure. They will have to continue to innovate and offer riders and parks something they want because competition is the new coaster war. Mack has a growing footprint in the US market branching off from their smaller scale rides, and building larger thrill rides. RMC has been a rising star that is offering new products for wood and steel. RMC might be best known for their Iron Horse conversions, but they are pivoting to new installations and their influence is beginning to be emulated by the “old guard”. S&S is stepping up to the plate with two large installations this year that will grab a few records. S&S has been working hard in Asia, but their work in North America has been smaller, however they are now creating signature attractions. There are plenty of other players who are hard at work too with rides opening this year in North America like; Chance, Gerstlauer, Premier Rides, Gravity Group, SBF Visa, Zamperla, Zierer, Skyline Attractions, and Larson? With so much variety on our plate the future should be powered by competition and good luck to all the players, when you do well we all win.
Dear Coaster Friends,
Living in a long distance relationship is tough, but at times it is necessary. My wife and I lived in two different cities for a period of time while we were still dating. Long drives, different time zones, and separate lives can all be difficult to deal with and can cause strain, but it makes being reunited even sweeter. During this off season while you are separated from your number one, how do you deal? Do you think about the good times in the past? Are you worried and jealous she is out there giving rides to others?!
Will you think about opening day? Many parks have already published their 2019 calendar, it is already marked on my calendar when we can can be reunited again. Have you been thinking of her sitting out in the cold, alone, maybe even rusting? Is she getting ready for you with a fresh coat of paint, rebuilt trains, or some trackwork to bring out those curves?
Do not let your mind wander to warmer ports. You could go to Florida to be with Montu, or California to be with X2… But they aren’t your number one. Every year there are new roller coasters tempting you to fall in love with them, and it is tempting. Steel Vengeance was out there collecting numbers last season, changing people’s hearts. Maybe I should look her up. There is just about a month and a half before it will be time to slide into that train once more and finally be reunited with my number one, El Toro.
P.S. Please don’t tell my wife I compared our relationship to a roller coaster.
Dear Coaster Friends,
As most of us are dealing with cold weather, and waiting for the thaw of spring I have been thinking about what might be on the horizon for next season and I started looking for what new rides I will possibly experience for the first time. When I say new I don’t necessarily mean new for 2019, but new for me. If you are thinking of ride type or category you might first let your mind wander to B&M. This manufacturer has made a name for itself with that familiar box beam spine on their tracks, but perhaps they are best known for their variety of chassis designs that change the riders’ position and experience.
B&M is often credited for their innovation by shifting the paradigm that a roller coaster train is meant to be sat in, as it had been for over a hundred years. They created stand-ups, inverts, and flyers that change the riders, position. They also created floorless trains, dive coasters, and wing riders that allow the designers to change the riders’ interaction with the track itself. With all of these innovations they are often criticised for being too formulaic, sticking to a script and just providing a very similar experience over and over again in a different location. I hear from enthusiasts that they want B&M to take chances and break the mold. Enthusiasts crave new experiences and say they want B&M to design layouts with more variety for their respective types. I do think that B&M has done just that in the past and as a result has been giving the people what they want, even if it isn’t what they are asking for.
My favorite type of B&M coaster is the invert, and one of them sticks out to me as different Great Bear at Hersheypark. Great Bear rides different from the other inverts I have experienced and it is a fun one too. However I have never heard anyone say it is their favorite, and it often gets lost in the discussion since it does have some major differences. The most obvious and visible difference is the first drop. The drop on most inverts is steep and banked hard to the right or left. This banking adds positive G’s and changes the direction, while keeping the track out of view for the passengers. Great Bear has a helix at the top of the lift that pops you out of your seat, and gives a brief panoramic view before dropping into a fairly straightforward drawn out descent. The inversions on Great Bear are more graceful, especially the Zero-G Roll, where the common sensations on the other inverts is intense positive G’s. Great Bear has a soaring sensation with moments of floating out of the inversions, while other inverts really pin you down.
Our next example is Raging Bull at Six Flags Great America, B&M’s twister style hypercoaster. Hypercoasters are large investments at a park both in real estate and cost. Six Flags Great America created something different from the norm, but they weren’t rewarded with praise from the community. Raging Bull is often called by enthusiasts, their least favorite B&M hyper. This is funny to me since Intimidator, Behemoth, Nitro, Goliath (no the other Goliath), and of course Goliath are often praised for their airtime and experience, but criticized for being rehashed versions of the same thing. Raging Bull changes the dynamic of a hyper being an out and back and creates a twister layout that can only be found in Chicago.
The floorless coasters offer a bit more variety, but again one stands out for being more different. Hydra the Revenge at Dorney Park suffers the same fate as its neighbor Great Bear. It rides with a different feel, has unique elements, and interacts with the terrain while most are built on flat ground. Hydra has the JoJo Roll out of the station, and that is usually where the conversation ends. Hydra does have another very rare element the inclined dive loop, and some odd pairings as well. Hydra has a Zero-G Roll that goes right into a Corkscrew in the opposite direction. The B&M formula typically calls for a layout with two Corkscrews to be back to back or interlocking, but on Hydra the two corkscrews are very separate and stand apart from each other. While I feel there is less consensus on the which floorless is best, I feel most people feel that Hydra is not in the conversation.
Next year we will see if Yukon Striker suffers the same fate as it does look to be the most different dive coaster that B&M has built yet. Will it be touted as the best of its type, or will people prefer Griffin & SheiKra? I don’t want to hate on B&M or the roller coaster enthusiast community. I just want to take a step back and think about what we ask for and how we react when we get it. Maybe the old saying,”If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is the best business strategy. I don’t think it should be though, because when engineers try something new it is a risk. I don’t mean it is a risk as in danger, but they are taking a chance on how people will react to it. I personally want to see fun rides, if the new yet to be named Hersheypark hypercoaster offers the same ride experience as their others I think that is great, because B&M hypers are really fun. If B&M wants to try something new and stray from their formula I think that is great too because I want to see innovation. I know everyone’s opinion is going to be different, everyone reacts differently to different rides, and for different reasons. However I want to end with consensus, Rougarou is the best stand-up coaster.
Dear Coaster Friends,
The 2019 season has not even begun, and it is looking to be an exciting year. Major roller coasters are planned at many destination parks including a few notable record breakers. The fastest launch acceleration, steepest drop, most inversions, and tallest inversions are all coming to North America next season. There is a very immersive themed coaster being built at Islands of Adventure, the tallest dive coaster, a few family coasters that are going to be scattered about, two very interesting launched coasters for the east & west coast, and of course many clones to round out the year. Looking forward to this year is easy to do with so many notable attractions to check out, but there is something else that has been looming on the horizon for months already, 2020.
The next two seasons are going to be introducing many new rides, and notable park expansions that we know of from Dollywood, Disney, Universal, Carowinds, and Hersheypark. We also know that all of the Seaworld and Busch parks are getting roller coasters in 2020. My friends, this is the beginning of a building boom. There are 2020 rides that have been formally announced, like the recently announced Goliath, I mean Maco at Seaworld San Diego. Other rides have not been announced but we are already making plans to ride, like Busch Gardens Tampa’s RMC Gwazi. And others where there is evidence, but no announcement like permits filed by Kings Island to work with B&M on a construction project. This could be anything from a giga to B&M’s first antique cars installation. I heard from the blue ice cream vendor that it might be the giga many of their fans have been foaming at the mouth for. Also in confirmed B&M news Hersheypark will be adding a hypercoaster to their line up.
Even though there is limited info from the other Seaworld parks the company has stated their intentions to expand their ride selections and Busch Gardens Williamsburg was one of the first places that rumors and speculation swirled around. At first it seemed like they might be installing a giga to rival their neighbors at Kings Dominion, it now appears that they will be getting a large launch coaster. Then there is of course the elephant in the room, a certain park is poised to get a coaster in 2020. A park that just feels like it is the perfect timing for, not so fast Dorney & Worlds of Fun, I am of course referring to Cedar Point.
Cedar Point is celebrating its 150th season in 2020 and such an auspicious occasion just screams roller coaster. While it isn’t confirmed, or teased by the park it just seems like they could possibly be making room for a large project to coincide with this anniversary. The dorms are being demolished, land has been bought off the peninsula, the 2019 attraction has a temporary feel to it, and everyone has been keeping an eye on the beach. I am sure the excitement at winter chill out will be reaching a new level with their dedicated fans looking for any evidence of what might be in the works for 2020.
Last year every rumor was met with the speculation that it will be a Mach, depending on how Maxx Force & Steel Curtain are received maybe the new trend will be to think every new rumor will be an S&S. However I want to believe in something else, it will be an Intamin. Wood, steel, family, or extreme I don’t care I’m calling all unconfirmed rides for 2020 Intamin, it is time for them to do something big in North America. So forget about Mach with their malfunctioning tails, let RMC spread their wings and go to Europe & Asia, and let's have a really unpredictable, and possibly in need of a redesign, year with Intamin in 2020!
- Jeff Goodman
Dear Coaster Friends,
It is that time of year again to reflect on ourselves and make resolutions to improve. But as enthusiasts how can we resolve to make next season better for roller coasters? Is taking every drop hands up making me a better person? Is that what we should be striving for, or finding a longer lasting deodorant to not offend other riders? Any self improvement I make or bad habit I break is surely not going to have an impact on the coasters I will ride. If I am more polite and patient the ride will not be smoother. If I adopt a healthier lifestyle it won't turn those OTSRs into lap bars. If I am more charitable the ride ops won't improve. So what is my coaster resolution?
Maybe I should identify my poor theme park habits first. I am very impatient, I go crazy in long lines and once I yelled at a line cutter and almost started a scene with a teen pushing his way through the queue to, “meet his friends”. His behavior was wrong but so was my response. That kid got the brunt of all my frustrating encounters with line cutters not just that one. Plus the little jerk still cut everyone so all I did was rile up the line. How could I improve on this? Should I cut others to get ahead? Physically stand up for myself and take a stand against all line cutters if they be child or adult? Fast pass? Actually fast pass sounds the best, but that is more of a treat than a self improvement.
Would new ride experiences or a new milestone on my track record be my resolution? We all knew that is where this was leading anyways. I resolve to enjoy my park days as a privilege and enjoy my leisure time. I also resolve to go to a new park, ride a new for 2019 roller coaster, and treat someone else to a day of coasters and fun. Thanks I feel better now.
As the holiday season draws near some people think of giving, others look forward to time off with family, a few days off from work, but I am going to be selfish. I want to make a Christmas list for the some of the parks that I frequent the most. Even though the park would be the recipient, let's be real these are for me. Even though we know what is in the works for 2019, and in some cases 2020 I will make some picks that works around what we collectively already know.
I’ll be giving to Busch Gardens Tampa first, and this is an easy one, FIX GWAZI! I know there has been rumors that RMC will be giving Gwazi the Iron Horse treatment, but since it is still a leak or rumor I still consider it unofficial. I would like to see the two tracks remain separate and for the near head on collisions to be retained. Unlike Twisted Colossus where the original layout was a simple racer this layout already has a dueling element, and it could run four trains with the two tracks separated. This high capacity set up would be great for this busy destination park since their next addition will be a low capacity Skyrocket II model. Busch Gardens Tampa is also a twelve month park they could, in theory keep one side open during maintenance cycles by alternating to allow the attraction to remain open more.
The next park I’m putting on my gift list is Dorney Park, Santa has passed them over so many times. They also have two newly vacated adjacent areas to possibly build their next attraction. I know the consensus pick there is a GCI woody, but think that they could be part of a new trend. Dorney park has a variety of different experiences, but none of their roller coasters have a great first drop. I think Dorney should get a B&M dive coaster; it is a compact layout with a big feel, and a great first drop. This would be sure to add to the skyline and deliver a very unique experience for the region. It would be totally different from anything at at nearby Hersheypark, Kennywood, or Six Flags Great Adventure.
The last park up for a new coaster is Lake Compounce. This small park in Connecticut has room to grow, as they have plenty of undeveloped land to build new attractions. This park needs to finally install a signature steel coaster. The best place to build a station, I think could be by the former sky ride. A lift hill could run along the cliff face heading away from Boulder Dash’s turnaround. It would be cool to use the natural terrain for support, and to use the mountain to both reduce cost and add excitement. This shouldn’t be a steel Boulder Dash, I think the layout should include at least three inversions, a drop of over 150 feet, and at least 70 MPH. I think a ride like that could expand their footprint of passholders and draw people from a bit further away to check them out.
I could keep going, but hopefully Santa will put me on the nice list for not overdoing it. I will be sending my list first class so it will be delivered to the North Pole in time. If you see him at the mall in the meantime please put in a good word for me.