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The Top Seven First Drops

When I was writing my post about my single favorite ride on a coaster I got to thinking about how great that ride’s first drop was. I also thought about what other first drops had taken my breath away. Here’s a list of my top seven favorite first drops.

#7: Fahrenheit at Hersheypark

Fahrenheit’s first drop happens to be the steepest on this list at ninety-seven degrees. A vertical climb takes us up to the top of the ride’s one hundred twenty-one foot lift. The drop provides surprising amounts of airtime. This first drop helped Fahrenheit to become my favorite coaster at Hersheypark.

#6: Maverick at Cedar Point

Maverick’s drop is unique in that the trains are launched into it. The 105 foot lift hill is more like a launch, it uses LSMs to boost the trains to the top. Once there, the coaster drops riders down at ninety-five degrees. The rest of the ride is pretty intense too.

#5: SheiKra at Busch Garden’s Tampa

For some reason, SheiKra’s drop seemed more intense than Griffon’s, even though Griffon is a bit taller. The thing that makes this drop so great is that there is a brake at the top that slowly tilts riders out over the edge of the two hundred foot drop. Ah yes, did I mention that it is floorless?

#4: X2 at Six Flags Magic Mountain

By far the most unique coaster on this list, X2 is a 4th Dimension Coaster. This means that the seats can freely rotate three hundred and sixty degrees forward and backward. Imagine that plus a 215 foot vertical drop and you’ve got X2. At the top the seats rotate so that riders are facing straight down before the track even starts falling. Then the riders are flipped upside-down for the actual free fall.

#3: Skyrush at Hersheypark

The newest addition to this list, Skyrush opened in 2012. Despite having painful restraints, the ride’s first drop is excellent. The ride uses a cable lift to pull the trains to the top, they reach the two hundred foot apex in less than ten seconds. The first drop is at eighty-five degrees. The airtime is excellent all over the train.

#2: El Toro at Six Flags Great Adventure

As the coaster that inspired this list, El Toro should be placed near the top. In fact, it almost was number 1. The trains are so long that the back seats are yanked down the one hundred seventy-six foot drop. The airtime here is simply the strongest that I’ve ever felt.

#1: Millennium Force at Cedar Point

The tallest coaster on this list, Millennium Force deserves the #1 spot. The drop is taken at eighty degrees, that isn’t that steep compared to some of the other rides on the list so why is it the best? First, it is on the shores of Lake Erie so it’s very picturesque and you feel like you’re about to fall into the water. Second, it has two full seconds of weightlessness, that’s about the longest that I’ve ever felt on a coaster. Finally, it is three hundred feet from top to bottom. Overall it is the best.

So pretty much my top three coasters have cable lift hills. There really need to be more rides with this feature since it is fast and quiet.

What do you think? Which coasters do you think have the best first drops? Please comment. Thanks for reading! πŸ™‚



My Single Favorite Ride on a Coaster this Year

A few weeks ago The Coaster Critic, Dillon from Theme Park Rides, and I decided to all post articles on the single most memorable ride of 2012. Check out the links at the bottom of this post to check out their favorites!

Most years this would be a difficult topic to write about but for 2012 I know exactly what my answer will be. My single favorite ride on a coaster this year was my very first ride on El Toro at Six Flags Great Adventure. The hype for this ride was huge. Everyone seemed to agree on two things, it was very smooth, and it had possibly the best airtime of any coaster.

The first ride that I took on El Toro was in the very back seat on the left side. At the first drop, the train dives towards the ground at an insane seventy-six degrees. When this happens, the back seat gets pulled down by the rest of the train. I can say without a doubt, that is one of the most intense first drops ever (it’s even better if you hold your hands up!)

The airtime on the ride was not exaggerated at all. This ride literally feels like it wants to throw you out of the park on every hill. I was speechless when my train finally reached the bake run. You know a ride is special when that happens.

Here’s a video (The POV starts at 1:13):

Check out what other people’s favorites were!

Best Single Ride Experience of 2012

Theme Park Rides’ Favorite Ride of the Year

The Coaster Critic’s Favorite Ride of the Year

The Coaster Guy’s Favorite Ride of the Year

Coaster101’s Favorite Ride of the Year

What do you think? What was your single favorite ride this year? Please comment. Thanks for reading! πŸ™‚

The Top Ten Rivalries Within Theme Parks

Theme parks have always been in competition with each other. This is a list of the top ten most debated rivalries that have something to do with theme parks.

10. New Rides vs. Old Rides

The question is this: should a park remove a classic attraction to make room for a new one that will attract visitors? This is a big one for parks that can’t expand in area such as Cedar Point (on a peninsula) or Knott’s Berry Farm (surrounded by suburbs.) One example of a park choosing the new is when Cedar Point removed Space Needle being removed to make way for Gatekeeper.

9. Family Rides vs. Extreme Machines

Should a park build a family ride to be enjoyed by younger visitors, or should it create a scream-inducing roller coaster? Of course, most coaster enthusiasts would take the latter option any day. However, parks want to attract visitors of all ages so a balance is needed. A good example of a park choosing the family ride is Holiday World when they opened Mammoth instead of a steel coaster.

8. The Voyage vs. El Toro

The Voyage is a gravity Group coaster at Holiday world. El Toro is an Intaman woodie at Six Flags reat Adventure. Both coasters opened the same year. Both are woodies yet are disputed as actually being in this category. Both coasters also offer insane amounts of airtime over several hills. Since they opened in 2006, each ride has won the Golden Ticket Award for Best Wooden Roller coaster and come in first on the internet coaster poll. Each ride has its own group of fans.

7. Theming vs. Thrill

Many people’s main problem with Disney is that they don’t have many thrill rides. That may be true however, they are unmatched in their quality of theming. Parks generally don’t spend a tremendous amount of money theming huge coasters because you’d only see the scenery for a split-second before it is gone. As with most items on this list, there is a group of fans who back each side.

6. Bolliger and Mabillard vs. Intamin

Bolliger and Mabillard and Intamin are the top two steel coaster manufacturers in the world. Intamin has been known for building extreme rides, they currently hold the record for tallest and fastest coasters. B&M has been known for their quality, their coasters are smooth and comfortable. Both companies build great rides so I am hopeful that they will continue to build coasters for years to come.

5. Top Thrill Dragster vs. Kingda Ka

Here they are, the two tallest coasters on earth. Top Thrill Dragster is Cedar Point’s 420 foot leviathan. Six Flags Great Adventure’s Kingda Ka beats TTD for height at 456 feet however it is generally rougher. Because Cedar Point is located on a peninsula, the view from Top Thrill is excellent, the ride also only uses lap bars. Kingda Ka, aside from being taller, includes an airtime hill at the end and a slightly faster launch at 128 mph.

4. Millennium Force vs. Bizarro (Superman: Ride of Steel)

The similarities between these two rides are undeniable. Both opened in the same year. Both are made by Intamin. Both are located next to a body of water. Most importantly though, both have won the Golden Ticket Award for Best Steel Coaster at least five times in the past twelve years. Cedar Point’s Millennium Force was the first coaster to break the 300 foot height. Six Flags New England’s Bizarro is widely known to have insane amounts of airtime. Both rides have gargantuan fan bases so it is unlikely that this rivalry will end anytime soon. In general, fans of one coaster aren’t impressed with the other.

3. Disney World vs. Every Other Park in Orlando

Orlando is sort of like heaven for theme park enthusiasts. On one hand you have Disney World, a gigantic resort that includes four theme parks, two water parks, and over thirty hotels. On the other you have Universal Orlando, Sea World Orlando, plus dozens of smaller attractions in the area. The only park that possibly surpasses Disney in theming and ride quality is Islands of Adventure at Universal.

2. Cedar Point vs. Six Flags Magic Mountain

Undoubtedly the most famous rivalry between two parks, Cedar point and Six Flags Magic Mountain are the most thrill packed parks on the planet. Cedar Point has called itself the roller coaster capital of the world for years, they are actually second with 16. Six Flags Magic Mountain has more coasters than Cedar Point right now with 18 coasters.

1. Wood Coasters vs. Steel Coasters

The ultimate rivalry within theme parks is wood vs. Steel. Many fans love woodies for their out-of-control feeling and airtime. Steel coasters however can navigate more insane elements including inversions. Usually, parks try to have a good balance of wood and steel to attract the most visitors. Pretty much, everyone has an opinion on which is better.

What do you think? Are there any that I left out? Please comment. Thanks for reading! πŸ™‚


Batman: The Dark Knight at Six Flags New England

Hey everyone, sorry for not having written much of anything in the last month. I’ve been busy and that there haven’t been many interesting news stories. Hopefully I’ll be posting more often from now on.

Batman: The Dark Knight is a coaster at Six Flags New England in Massachusetts. It is one of the smallest B&M floorless rides out there.

I requested a seat in the front row but the ride attendant made me sit in the back row. The reason that I mention this is that floorless coasters can have vastly different ride experiences depending on where one sits. Generally they are smoother up front.

The ride starts with a quickly ascended lift hill. A curving drop leads into the first inversion. The first few inversions are pretty standard for a floorless ride, a vertical loop and a dive loop. Next comes a curve that flies through the center of the first loop. After that comes a zero-g roll. There is a pair of interlocked corkscrews before the brakes.

While Batman: The Dark Knight was fun, it was very short and not exactly smooth. I am giving it a 7 out of 10.


Have you ridden Batman: The Dark Knight? What do you think? Please comment. Thanks for reading! πŸ™‚




S&S’s New Ride Concepts

The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Convention (IAAPA for short) is this week. It is a massive conference where different ride manufacturers and parks show off their new attraction concepts. Some of the amusement ride titans such as B&M, Intamin, and GCI have booths at the convention. IAAPA also allows up-and-coming designers to get their product ideas out there.

S&S Worldwide, the creators of the Thrust Air and El Loco coasters, have unveiled a whole boatload of new ride concepts this year.


First up is the new type of 4th Dimension coaster. It looks a lot like the Intamin Zac Spins at first but it turns out that the coaster will use magnets to flip the cars instead of the vehicles being completely free spinning. That’s one thing that I’ve heard about the Intamin 4th Dimension coasters, they don’t flip enough. This new model should help with that problem.


The next concept is a continuation of the Free Fly rides. The seats can flip sideways. It seems kind of close to, though not quite as insane as, the 6th Dimension Coaster that I posted about a while ago. Each car will have eight total seats, four on each side, two on each side facing forwards, and two on each side facing backwards. The Free Flys have low capacity so S&S is hoping to get the number of riders up with this new concept.

Yet another new form of attraction that the company has invented is an observation tower that is multiple rides in one structure. Because many parks are tight on space, they don’t have the room to build a full-scale roller coaster. These towers would only take up the small ground space of a carousel.One that they’ve come up with is called the Polar Coaster. It is a tower that could hold an observation deck or dark ride at the top (serviced by two glass elevators) with an El Loco coaster spiraling down and around the outside.

Other than that Kevin Rowher, the CEO of S&S hinted at a new coaster in the works that would break the speed record!

You can watch Theme Park Review’s coverage of IAAPA below, the first eleven minutes is an interview with S&S. After that they talk to the CEO of Herschend Entertainment (the owners of Silver Dollar City), Rocky Mountain coasters and more!

What do you think? Which new ride design do you think looks like the best? Please comment. Thanks for reading! πŸ™‚



In 2013 Hades Will Become Hades 360

Hades is a wooden coaster that opened in 2005 at Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park in Wisconsin. In 2013 the Gravity Group (the folks who made Hades) will add a new element onto the ride, a zero-g-roll. So far this is the third “wooden” coaster to be opening with an inversion next year. Outlaw Run and Iron Rattler are the other two that have been announced. OK, Iron Rattler will technically be a steel coaster but I’m counting it because it used to be wooden and will still have wood supports.

The zero-g-roll on Hades 360 will be located right after the world’s longest coaster tunnel. Right now there is an airtime hill in that spot but it will be removed for the inversion.

Mt. Olympus is promoting the ride as the world’s first full wooden coaster. Already some are disputing about whether or not this claim is true. Outlaw Run is being marketed as a woodie yet has steel topper track. It is still officially a wooden coaster though.

Here is a promotional video (sorry, no POV yet):

What do you think? How does Hades 360 compare with the other looping woodies? Please comment. Thanks for reading! πŸ™‚




In 2005 Busch Gardens Tampa opened a B&M Dive Coaster named SheiKra. The ride was so successful that, two years later, they opened up another version at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Dive coasters are famous for their 90 degree drops. Griffon is not only taller than SheiKra, it features two inversions instead of one. There is a huge debate over which ride is better, I was exited to see which ride would be the best.

Griffon is 205 feet tall. All the way up the lift you can see the vertical drop, sitting there, waiting for you. At the top the track turns slowly to the right. The drop is so steep that from the front seat it seems as if the track just disappears down the drop. The screams start as the train reaches the edge…

The ride stops.

Griffon leaves you hanging off the edge of the cliff for what may be the longest five seconds of your life. Then, you drop. The airtime on the drop is nice and there is even a head-chopper at the bottom when the ride dives underneath a bridge. The first Immelmann is nice, then the train rises up to the trim brake run.

Waiting for you is another vertical drop, this leads into yet another Immelmann over a river. There is a small bunny hop that provides decent airtime before the splashdown. This feature, as with SheiKra, is mostly for non-riders. The rides circles around onto the final brake run. Have I mentioned that Griffon is floorless?

Thanks to Ultimate Roller Coaster for both pictures!

Griffon was a fun ride. The drops were intense and the Immelmanns were fun, it was a bit short though. I am giving it an 8 out of 10.

So how does Griffon compare to SheiKra? Well, you’ll have to either read my SheiKra review to find its rating or wait for my coaster competition to find out!

Have you ridden Griffon? What do you think? Please comment. Thanks for reading! πŸ™‚


Bad Roller Coasters: Goudurix

Bad Roller Coasters is a new type of post about, you guessed it, bad roller coasters.Β  Each post I will showcase one coaster that has an awful reputation. I thought I’d do this first post on Goudurix at Parc AstΓ©rix in Friance.

The Ride:

Goudurix was the world’s first roller coaster to flip riders upside down seven times. The ride’s lift hill is 118 feet high with a drop of 108 feet. The first two inversions are both part of a butterfly double inversion, so far there have only been two roller coasters with this element: Goudurix and Ninja at Six Flags over Georgia. Next is a Batwing, this type of double inversion is more common, found on coasters like Montu. After that is a vertical loop. To finish off the ride there is a set of double corkscrews.

Why is it Bad?

Goudurix is known for being a very rough ride. In fact, I’ve heard some call it the roughest roller coaster in the world. This extreme headbanging is most likely caused from the rides inversions. Look at that butterfly (pictured above) does it appear to be an element that was made for humans? It also looks like something was done wrong with the Batwing inversions (pictured below.)

I hadn’t noticed all the similarities between Goudurix and Ninja before. Some features that both rides have in common are:

  • They are both situated over water.
  • They both have a Butterfly element.
  • They are both made by Vekoma.
  • They both opened the same year.

Ninja happens to be my least favorite coaster so, with all these similarities, I’ll believe that Goudurix is painful.

What do you think? What are some other bad coasters? Please comment. Thanks for reading! πŸ™‚

Outlaw Run Update

Outlaw Run will be a wooden coaster opening at Silver Dollar City in 2013. I wrote about the details in my announcement post. Much has happened since the ride was announced so I thought I’d do a construction update.

It’s old news now but the last piece of track was installed about a month ago, here are a few pictures of the layout:

That first drop looks amazing, there should be some great airtime in the back seat!

Silver Dollar City 10.21.12 185.JPG

As the first of three inversions, the outside banked turn looks awesome.

An oberbanked turn under the lift hill should keep the thrills coming.

Yet another insane element, this wave turn will lead up to the final climaxing moments of the ride.

This is the element that everyone’s talking about, the double barrel roll at the end.

The park has also released a few images of what the trains, or stagecoaches, will look like:

Finally, CoasterForce has taken a video of a behind the scenes tour. It’s rather long but very informative:

The ride looks like it’ll certainly be one of the best, if not the best coaster opening up next year.

What do you think? Please comment. Thanks for reading! πŸ™‚



Theme Park Competition: Busch Gardens Tampa vs. Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Theme Park Competitions are a new type of post where I compare and contrast two theme parks. They are a lot like my Coaster Competitions but on a larger scale. For this post, two of the most acclaimed theme parks will battle it out for the title of the best Busch Gardens park. Busch Gardens Tampa is known for its wonderful ability to combine a zoo with a theme park. Busch Gardens Williamsburg is known for its incredible landscaping, its rides are very highly rated too.


Busch Gardens Tampa is situated in the middle of a suburban area. From inside the park it is impossible to tell because of all the landscaping. Busch Gardens Williamsburg is located in the hills of Virginia. There are several rivers that run through the park. The winner here is Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

Family Friendliness:

Last time I had a theming section but I thought that a park being family friendly would be more important that its theming. Busch Gardens Williamsburg features a few family rides. The most notable is The Curse of DarKastle, its the same ride type as the Amazing Adventures of Spiderman at Islands of Adventure but with a medieval theme. There are also three children’s areas, each for a different age group. Busch Gardens Tampa also has a few family rides, the most notable would be the Jungala area. There is another family area as well as a few other attractions. It’s a tough choice but I’ll have to say that Busch Gardens Williamsburg wins this round too.


By far the most important aspects of a park, roller coasters are the things that people travel from all over the world to ride. I’ll list out each park’s coasters (kiddie coasters don’t count) and list them as I would probably rate them on a scale of 1 to 10.

Busch Gardens Tampa

  • Cheetah Hunt – 8
  • Gwazi – 6
  • Kumba – 8
  • Montu – 9
  • Sand Serpent – 4
  • Scorpion – 6
  • SheiKra – 9

Total for Busch Gardens Tampa: 50

Average for Busch Gardens Tampa: 7.14

Busch Gardens Williamsburg

  • Alpengeist – 9
  • Apollo’s Chariot – 10
  • Griffon – 8
  • Loch Ness Monster – 5
  • Verbolten – 7

Total for Busch Gardens Williamsburg: 39

Average for Busch Gardens Williamsburg: 7.8

Wow, I wasn’t expecting Busch Gardens Williamsburg to beat Busch Gardens Tampa in every category (that is, if you are looking for average coaster rating not the total) I honestly don’t know which park was my favorite, they are both excellent parks that are worth multiple visits.

What do you think? Which park should have won? Please comment. Thanks for reading! πŸ™‚


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