ROLLER COASTER REVIEWS

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

THI3TEEN

Thi3teen is a roller coaster/dark ride with some innovative elements.  With five cars seating two across in two rows for a total capacity of 20 riders, the train makes a turn out of the loading station before ascending a 60-foot lift hill and navigating a series of small twisty airtime hills.  It then ascends a second lift hill which leads to the “Crypt,” in which riders are in for quite a surprise.  Shrouded in darkness, riders see flashing lights and other visual effects.  The train suddenly and unexpectedly drops, not once but twice.  It then propels the riders backwards out of the crypt while traversing a backwards helix before returning to the station.


While the size of the drops and speed of the ride are quite modest and unremarkable, the entry to and exit from the crypt are indeed remarkable.  When the train dropped in the crypt, my reaction was yikes!  The experience of being propelled out of the crypt backwards was delightful and somewhat awesome.  While Thi3teen is not an extreme thrill ride by any stretch of the imagination, it gets high marks for it uniqueness.  4 out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Alton Towers, visit https://www.altontowers.com  Video courtesy of East Coaster General.

WOODEN WARRIOR

This wooden family coaster at Quassy Amusement Park is deceptive in that it delivers more thrills than its modest proportions would suggest.  Built by The Gravity Group (The Voyage, Ravine Flyer II), it was the first coaster to feature Timberliner trains.  With six cars per train seating two across for a total capacity of 12 riders, the train veers slightly right and ascends a small lift hill before making a right turn and dropping 36 feet.  It then ascends and drops several more times before entering a tunnel that leads to the turnaround.  Once out of the tunnel the train navigates a succession of short drops before returning to the loading station.


OK, so it’s not a blockbuster but it happens to be very good.  The airtime is phenomenal!  If you’re looking for a good roller coaster ride, this is it.  Wooden Warrior is a shining example of why bigger is not necessarily better.  I’m only sorry that the ride is so short.  Of note is that the restraint is markedly different from anything I’d previously encountered.  It’s a pivoting lap bar that extends outside the train and swings back inward over the rider before locking in place.  Wooden Warrior gets 4 out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Quassy Amusement Park, visit www. Quassy.com/


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

WICKED CYCLONE

Wicked Cyclone is Rocky Mountain Construction’s makeover of Riverside Cyclone at Six Flags New England.  What RMC did was to transform a boring, moribund coaster into something exciting and vital.  With two trains comprised of 6 cars seating two across for a total of 24 riders, the ride begins with a right turn out of the loading station and ascent of a 109-foot chain lift hill.  The train then plummets at a 78-degree angle and goes up into a 120-degree left overbanked turn.  This leads into a bunny hop and 200-degree zero-g stall.  The remainder of the ride consists of several more overbanked turns, a double down, two zero-g rolls and the first ever double reversing bank airtime hill.   These elements are interspersed with a number of small airtime hills.

The three inversions are awesome – pretty intense -  and the small hills offer great ejector airtime.  From start to finish there is not a dull moment.  This coaster races through the elements in such a way as to leave the riders breathless and euphoric. And I really liked the restraints, consisting of only a lap bar and shin guard, which resulted in a glorious feeling of freedom. Wicked Cyclone is both novel and fabulous. 5 out of 5 stars. Video courtesy of Six Flags New England.  For more information about rides at Six Flags New England, visit  https://www.sixflags.com/newengland Video courtesy of Six Flags New England.


THI3TEEN

Thi3teen is a roller coaster/dark ride with some innovative elements.  With five cars seating two across in two rows for a total capacity of 20 riders, the train makes a turn out of the loading station before ascending a 60-foot lift hill and navigating a series of small twisty airtime hills.  It then ascends a second lift hill which leads to the “Crypt,” in which riders are in for quite a surprise.  Shrouded in darkness, riders see flashing lights and other visual effects.  The train suddenly and unexpectedly drops, not once but twice. (These are the first freefalls of this type to be included on any roller coaster.)  It then propels the riders backwards out of the crypt while traversing a backwards helix before returning to the station.


While the size of the drops and speed of the ride are quite modest and unremarkable, the entry to and exit from the crypt are indeed remarkable.  When the train dropped in the crypt, my reaction was yikes!  The experience of being propelled out of the crypt backwards was delightful and somewhat awesome.  While Thi3teen is not an extreme thrill ride by any stretch of the imagination, it gets high marks for it uniqueness.  4 out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Alton Towers, visit https://www.altontowers.com  Photos courtesy of Alton Towers.


RITA

Rita is an Intamin accelerator coaster located in the Dark Forest section of AltonTowers theme park.  With five cars per train seating two across for a total of 20 riders, it features a hydraulic launch and is themed as an abandoned drag racer.  Upon dispatch – after a recording saying “Hold on tight, you must escape!” -  it accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds.  The train proceeds to navigate a series of sharp turns – right, right, left, left, right, left – and small airtime hills before hitting the brake run and returning to the station. 


Of note is the fact that Rita’s track is red in some spots and green in others.  This is because the green sections of track blend in with the trees.  (Zoning regulations at Alton Towers, which is heavily wooded, prohibit the erection of attractions visible above the tree line.)  I found this to be a really fun ride, especially the launch, but nothing exceptional. 3 out of 5 stars.  .  For more information about rides at Alton Towers, visit https://www.altontowers.com



NEMESIS - ALTON TOWERS

Nemesis at Alton Towers is an inverted coaster manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard.  It consists of two trains with eight cars seating four across, for a total of 32 riders.  Upon dispatch the train veers slightly right out of the station before ascending the chain lift hill and plunging 104 feet to the left into a corkscrew.  It then enters a downward helix and goes up into a zero-g roll.  This is followed by a vertical loop and corkscrew.  It traverses what might best be described as a horseshoe configuration before entering the vertical loop.  After the final corkscrew the train speeds through an underground tunnel before returning to the station.

While limited as to the number of elements, Nemesis offers a very intense ride.  The inversions flow nicely and don’t give the riders much of an opportunity to catch their breath.  And although rough in spots, Nemesis is enjoyable enough to merit repeat rides.  4 out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Alton Towers, visit https://www.altontowers.com



THE SMILER

As of 2017, The Smiler at Alton Towers holds the world record for most inversions on a roller coaster.  A Gerstlauer Infinity coaster, it features four trains with four cars seating four across for a total of 16 riders.    The restraint is an over the shoulder harness.  The queue leading up to the loading station is ominously dark although the loading station itself is brightly lit.

Upon dispatch the train takes a 180-degree left turn and propels the riders through a heartline roll in the dark before emerging from the station and ascending the first of two chain lift hills. From the top the train veers to the right and downward, entering a corkscrew followed by three consecutive dive loops.   It then ascends into a sidewinder and traverses a corkscrew, coming to a stop at the second lift hill. 

There is a about a 10-second pause at the bottom of the second lift hill, an opportunity for riders to catch their breath.  The lift hill is a vertical one and after reaching the top of the hill the ride really kicks into high gear, going through a corkscrew, sea serpent inversion, cobra roll and two corkscrews before returning to the station.


The inversions themselves are nothing unusual but the sheer number of them is rather amazing and results in a pretty awesome ride experience.   Prior to riding The Smiler, the maximum number of inversions I had experienced on a coaster was 7. I did wonder whether 14 inversions might be a bit much, but it works and is easily doable.  Of all the roller coaster inversions I’ve experienced, a heartline roll is undoubtedly the most intense.  For The Smiler to feature a heartline roll prior to reaching the lift hill made for a great start.  (I’d ridden only one other coaster with a heartline roll before the lift hill, Hydra at Dorney Park.)   The vertical lift hill is a great way to start the second half of the ride and the inversions that followed were pretty intense, particularly the combination of cobra roll and sea serpent.  While rough in spots, The Smiler proved to be enjoyable enough to merit repeat rides.  And it should be noted that Smiler has a single rider queue, which enabled me to get on in less than 10 minutes.  4 out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Alton Towers, visit https://www.altontowers.com/



OBLIVION

Oblivion at Alton Towers has the distinction of being the first dive coaster ever built.  Manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard (as is the case with all existing dive coasters), it stands 65 feet tall at ground level.  The train consists of two rows seating 8 across for a total of 16 riders.  Prior to dispatch, the riders see a video designed to scarify.   The train ascends a 65-foot chain lift hill and upon reaching the drop, hangs over the drop for about five seconds before plunging 180 feet at a an 89-degree angle into an underground tunnel.  From there it rises up into a right overbanked turn before returning to the station.


The ride is short but sweet.   The drop is awesome although I would have welcomed a second drop with hang time such as can be enjoyed on later B&M dive machines.  However, considering that Oblivion was innovative and the first of its kind, I can’t complain.  Also, it features a single rider queue, which enabled me to get on quickly.  4 out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Alton Towers, visit https://www.altontowers.com/



GALACTICA

The space-themed Galactica, formerly known as Air, enjoys the distinction of being the first flying coaster to be manufactured by B&M (Bolliger & Mabillard).  It operates with 3 trains containing 7 cars seating 4 across for a total capacity of 28 riders.  There are 2 ride queues so that riders can board from either side of the loading platform.  Once the riders are harnessed in (with over the shoulder restraints and restraints to hold the ankles in place) the train is pronated so that riders are positioned face down.  Upon dispatch the train makes a right turn and ascends a chain lift hill before dropping to the right, racing ahead and flipping the riders over onto their backs.  This is followed by an upward turn – after which riders are once again in a face down position – flight under a bridge and 360-degree in-line twist.


Air was renamed Galactica after VR (virtual reality) headsets were added to the ride.  This would have been interesting to experience but the VR gear was not operating during my visit to Alton Towers so I rode Galactica without any enhancements – not that it needs any.  The fly-to-lie and lie-to-fly transitions were seamless, very smooth, and overall the ride was delightful.  4 out of 5 stars. .  For more information about rides at Alton Towers, visit https://www.altontowers.com


GOLIATH - SIX FLAGS NEW ENGLAND

A giant inverted boomerang, Goliath is an imposing sight with its twin towers that stand 191.6 feet tall.  The ride begins with the train being pulled up a vertical lift hill, almost to the top of the first tower, before plummeting 177 feet through the loading station and ascending into a 110-foot cobra roll.  This is followed by a 102-foot vertical loop and ascent up the second tower.  As is the case with other Vekoma boomerangs, the train then repeats the ride in reverse, once again ascending the first tower before dropping into the station.

Boomerangs are notorious for giving riders the sensation of being about to pitch forward into nothingness during the initial ascent, and the fact that this one features a vertical lift makes it more forceful than most.  I found the vertical lift unnerving and held onto the restraints for dear life.  This was pretty intense stuff.  Otherwise the ride was unremarkable, a case of been there done that.  Goliath gets 3 out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Six Flags New England, visit https://www.sixflags.com/newengland


Thursday, November 3, 2016

SIDEWINDER HERSHEYPARK

This Vekoma boomerang has been operating since 1991.  With 7 cars seating 2 across in 2 rows for a total capacity of 28 riders, the train is pulled up a 116-foot catch car lift hill before being released and propelled through the loading station and up into a cobra roll followed up a vertical loop.  It then ascends a second lift hill and goes through the course in reverse.

As all Vekoma boomerangs feature the same three inversions, I can’t say that this one is in any way novel or remarkable.  What I can say is that whereas I would have expected a coaster of this vintage to be rough, the ride was much smoother than anticipated.  Also the soft restraints were welcome although a bit heavy.   And at 5.2 the maximum G-force is pretty good.  Sidewinder offers an enjoyable enough ride.  2 ½ out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Hersheypark, visit www.hersheypark.com


Thursday, October 27, 2016

TEMPESTO

This LSM coaster from Premier Rides necessarily has a one-train operation, as the train is launched backwards and forward from the station.  With a total capacity of 18 riders (3 cars seating 2 across in 3 rows), the train is launched forward at the beginning of the ride and rises just short of the twist at the top.  It then zooms backwards and ascends before being propelled forward and navigating a twist.  This is followed by a heartline roll.  The train banks right and goes through a non-inverting loop before once again racing forward through the loading area and rolling backwards.  It reaches a maximum speed of 62 mph.


I must admit that I didn’t have high expectations of this ride but it certainly exceeded my expectations.  The launch was a blast and the layout of the track resulted in some interesting surprises.  The reversals of direction were somewhat disconcerting in a good way; the heartline roll was fabulous.  Tempesto is a welcome addition to Busch Gardens Williamsburg.  The ride is short but sweet. 4 out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at BGW, visit https://seaworldparks.com/en/buschgardens-williamsburg/  Video courtesy of Busch Gardens.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

LOCH NESS MONSTER

This coaster from Arrow Dynamics is the only operating coaster to feature two interlocking vertical loops.  It has a long train although I didn’t count the number of rows and the stats are not available on rcdb.  The restraint consists of an overhead harness.  Upon departing the loading station, the train ascends a 130-foot lift hill, with the chain clanking away, before turning right and dropping 114 feet to Busch Garden’s Rhine River, then rising up into the first of the loops.  It then races into a downward spiraling tunnel, from which it travels up a second lift hill before again turning right and entering the second loop.  The ride comes to an end shortly after the second loop.

Considering the fact that this ride dates back to 1978, it has stood the test of time very well.  I was expecting a headbanger but this is not the case. It’s remarkably smooth and the initial drop is sizeable for the time at which this coaster was built.  Among the highlights of the ride is the tunnel, longer than I had anticipated and a very enjoyable element.  The Loch Ness Monster is a lot of fun.  4 out of 5 stars.  From more information about rides at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, visit https://seaworldparks.com/en/buschgardens-williamsburg/





Friday, October 14, 2016

JUDGE ROY SCREAM

This wooden coaster from William Cobb & Associates dates back to 1980 and features an out and back layout.  Seating two across in three rows with four cars for a total capacity of 24 riders, the train makes a right turn from the loading station and ascends a 71-foot lift hill.  Once at the top it drops 65 feet and continues its course over several more consecutive drops.  This is followed by a right turn, after which the train traverses a series of dips on its way back to the station.  The maximum speed is 53 mph.
                                                                                                  

The ride is surprisingly smooth for a wooden coaster 36 years old at the time of my writing this.   There was none of the roughness that I had anticipated.  While hardly a high thrill ride, Judge Roy Scream is an enjoyable and fun ride.  3 out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Six Flags Over Texas, visit www.sixflags.com/overtexas.  


CAROLINA COBRA

Carolina Cobra is a Vekoma boomerang that features the same elements as every other Vekoma boomerang I’ve ridden: cobra roll and vertical loop.  This one, however, has an interesting history, in that it was moved from Geauga Lake (where it was called Mind Eraser) purchased by Cedar Fair and moved to Carowinds.  Seating 2 across in 7 rows with 7 cars for a total capacity of 28 riders, the train is pulled backwards up a 125-foot lift hill before dropping 120 feet through the loading station and ascending into a cobra roll, followed by a 360-degree vertical loop.  It then goes up another 125-foot lift hill and repeats the elements in reverse.                          

As boomerangs go, this one is pretty good.  I’ve been on some that were real headbangers and that is not the case here.  The ride was comfortable and enjoyable.  Also, at 5.2, the G-force is very good.  3 out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Carowinds, visit www.carowinds.com.

ROADRUNNER EXPRESS

The last mine train to be built by Arrow Dynamics at a Six Flags park, Roadrunner Express is an intermediate coaster with appeal to a wide demographic.  It’s situated next to Iron Rattler and in fact passes under Iron Rattler; this undoubtedly adds to its appeal.  Featuring two trains with six cars seating two across in three rows for a total capacity of 36 riders, it goes directly from the loading station up a 73-foot lift hill before dropping 45 feet, veering to the right twice and to the left twice.  It then ascends a second, 38-foot lift hill before dropping again and swerving right, right, left and left.  The turns are sharp enough to add an edge to the ride and it feels as if the rider is entering a small helix.


While the height and other stats are hardly impressive, Roadrunner Express does manage to pack a punch.  Hardly an extreme thrill ride, it’s nevertheless quite enjoyable.  I rode this coaster a couple of times between rides on Iron Rattler and got a kick out of it.  3 out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, visit www. sixflags.com/fiestatexas

TITAN

This hypercoaster from Giovanola is the tallest and fastest coaster at Six Flags Over Texas.  It boasts a height of 245 feet and top speed of 85 mph.  The restraint consists of a lap bar and seat belt. Seating two across with five cars in rows of three for a total capacity of 30 riders, the train makes a U-turn from the loading station before ascending a 245-foot chain lift hill.  It then drops a whopping 255 feet at a 65-degree angle into a tunnel before rising into a turnaround which resembles a shortened version of the hammerhead turns for which B&M coasters are famous.  From that point it goes into a camelback followed by a 540-degree helix.  This comes just before the mid-course brake run, after which riders negotiate an overbanked left turn and enter a second helix.  More overbanked turns follow as the train runs its course through a layout somewhat atypical in that it’s a combination out and back/twister.  There’s a lot of lateral motion before the train hits the final brake run.


I expected to like this coaster a lot more than I did. (I didn’t dislike it; it just failed to wow me.) The first drop was pretty astonishing and the ride has some nice elements but there were a few things that I felt detracted from the overall ride experience.   First of all, the location of the mid-course brake run struck me as odd, as it isn’t on a straight section of track but rather on the approach to an overbanked turn.  Secondly, the two helices struck me as overkill.  Thirdly and finally, the sensation of going around in circles was somewhat dizzying.  However, I suspect that most riders will enjoy this ride more than I did.  Titan offers a comparatively long ride replete with thrills and intensity. 4 out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Six Flags Over Texas, visit www.sixflags.com/overtexas


MR. FREEZE REVERSE BLAST - SIX FLAGS OVER TEXAS

A launched LIM shuttle coaster from Premier Rides, Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast is aptly named.   Seating two across with five cars for a total capacity of 20 riders, the train is shuffled sideways from the loading platform to the point of dispatch before the ride begins.   The riders, restrained by only a lap bar with a short seat belt that hooks onto the side, are launched out of the station backward, through a tunnel, at 70 mph. Catapulted through an inverted top hat, riders go through an overbanked turn before being sent backward up a 218-foot vertical spike.  (The train does not go all the way to the top of the spike but does take riders to a considerable height.)  After being held briefly on the spike at a 90-degree angle, riders plummet down and finish the course facing forward.   Although there is only one inversion, riders go through it twice.


The ride is nicely themed to resemble an abandoned snow cone factory.  As to the ride experience, being launched through the tunnel backward was indeed a blast.  The reversals of direction made it difficult to keep track of which end was up and this served to enhance the ride experience.  The scariest part was being suspended on the steep vertical spike.  Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast is a very short ride but an unusual and fun one.  4 out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Six Flags Over Texas, visit www.sixflags.com/overtexas


SHOCK WAVE

Opened in 1978, this double-looping coaster from Schwartzkopf remains one of the premier attractions at Six Flags Over Texas.  It travels at a maximum speed of 60 mph and features some nice elements.  Seating two across in two rows with 7 cars for a total capacity of 28 riders, the train goes straight from the loading station up a 116-foot chain lift hill.  Once at the top, it makes a U-turn and traverses a small incline while approaching the first drop.  It then drops 105 feet at a 46-degree angle.  This is followed by two consecutive vertical loops, small hill and mid-course brake run.  From that point it makes a right turn, drops and veers left before dropping again.  The ride finishes with an additional hill leading into a helix. 

      This coaster has stood the test of time well.  It’s not at all rough and with a maximum G-force of         5.9, it’s a force to be reckoned with.  Although I wouldn’t rate it extremely high on the thrill               scale, it does offer a lively ride with some very nice pops of airtime.  Shock Wave is easily re-             rideable and a lot of fun.  3 ½ out of 5 stars. For more information about rides at Six Flags Over        Texas, visit www.sixflags.com/overtexas




NEW TEXAS GIANT

What do you get when you take a lumbering wooden coaster, replace the track with steel and make numerous other modifications?  In this case you get the New Texas Giant, a Rocky Mountain Construction makeover featuring that company’s famed I-Box track.  You also get a ride that’s as smooth as it is exhilarating.

With six cars seating two across for a total capacity of 24 riders, the train makes a right turn out of the loading station and ascends a 153-foot chain lift hill before dropping 147 feet at a wicked 79-degree angle.  This is followed by a double up into a 90-degree overbanked turn, drop and ascent into another overbanked turn, then guess what? - drop with ascension into a 115-degree overbanked turn.   This leads into a small hill before the mid-course brake run.  From that point the train drops sharply to the left, traverses a series of hills, speeds around turns and races through three tunnels – all of this at a maximum speed of 65 mph which feels faster - before hitting the final brake run.

From start to finish the ride is absolutely amazing.  The restraints – which consist of a lap bar and seat belt – are supremely comfortable although there’s nothing to hold onto, baby!  As if the initial drop weren’t awesome enough, the overbanked turns make for a thrilling ride.  The ride features numerous airtime hills and the airtime is glorious!  One memorable moment occurred while going into a left turn during the latter part of the ride.  I found myself fairly bouncing out of my seat.   The tunnels near the end of the ride are a blast, with small dips affording more airtime.  The New Texas Giant gives about as good a ride as I’ve had on any coaster.  5 out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Six Flags Over Texas, visit www.sixflags.com/overtexas





IRON RATTLER

Considering the fabulous job that Rocky Mountain Construction did with New Texas Giant – see my review - I was eager to experience Iron Rattler.  Featuring RMC’s signature I-Box track and outstanding topography (it was built over a limestone quarry), this coaster is a marvel of engineering.  It operates with two Gerstlauer trains of six cars seating two across in two rows for a total capacity of 24 riders.   The restraint consists of a lap bar (with almost nothing to hold onto) and seat belt.  Upon dispatch, the train makes a right turn out of the loading station and picks up speed, almost as a tease, before slowing down and ascending the 179-foot chain lift hill.  For those riding in the front, it  seems to stop dead in its tracks at the crest of the hill, hanging over the drop; for those riding in the back, it likewise comes to a near standstill - and on one of my rides it almost felt as if the train was going to roll backwards.  After several seconds of suspense, the train plummets 171 feet slightly to the left at an 81-degree angle.  What a drop! 

From the initial drop the train ascends and takes the riders through a rollicking, wild ride as it navigates a 110-degree overbanked turn to the right followed by a 95-degree overbanked turn.  It veers slightly left and goes into a barrel roll.  This is followed by a 98-degree overbanked turn and 93-degree overbanked turn.  During the latter part of the course the train swerves to the right and zooms into a tunnel before hitting the brake run and returning to the station.

The terrain is spectacular and the elements are wonderful.  Highlights would undoubtedly be the steep drop, barrel roll and tunnel.  Riding this coaster at night proved to be a pretty amazing experience, as the track is not illuminated and the tunnel was pitch black.  (Although at one point the tunnel featured special effects, this was not the case when I rode; because of the total darkness, going through the tunnel was both eerie and electrifying.)  Iron Rattler is an extreme thrill ride which is also nicely themed, with a rattlesnake head at the front of the trains and a sign saying “World’s Longest Rattlesnake” in the winding queue leading to the loading station (Indeed, it features 3,266 feet of track.)  Totally awesome!  5 out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, visit www.sixflags.com/fiestatexas





Thursday, October 22, 2015

HURLER - CAROWINDS

This triple out and back woodie from International Coasters, Inc. is situated a short distance from the daunting Fury 325.  Seating two across in 14 rows for a total ride capacity of 28, the train makes a slight right turn from the loading station, ascends an 83-foot lift hill, makes a wider right turn and drops 80 feet.  This is followed by two consecutive drops, another right banked turn, two more drops, yet another right turn, drop and right turn.  It features a suberabundance of right turns.

The ride experience is essentially as could be anticipated from a coaster of this design.  There are some decent pops of airtime and although the maximum speed is only 50mph, it feels as if it’s going along at a pretty good clip.  And yes, it’s a bit rough in spots.  However, interestingly enough, it is not as rough as Hurler at Kings Dominion despite the fact that both coasters are identical in layout and manufacture.


Hurler is an OK intermediate coaster for those who would prefer not to take on the challenge of aggressive thrill rides such as Fury 325 and Intimidator.  2 ½ out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Carowinds, visit https://www.carowinds.com/

THUNDERBOLT - LUNA PARK

Opened in 2014, this coaster from Zamperla changed the landscape of Luna Park by being the tallest and most state-of-the art ride at Coney Island.  Seating three across in three rows for a total capacity of nine riders – with three trains operating – it features a vertical chain lift hill and four inversions.  The restraint consists of an over-the-shoulder harness and heavy lap bar.

Upon dispatch, the train makes a left turn out of the loading station, travels a short distance and pauses briefly before proceeding up the 114.8-foot vertical lift hill.  Vertical lift hills can be somewhat unnerving – this was my third such experience – but the train made it to the top fairly quickly. Once there, it plummeted at a 90-degree angle and then ascended into a 98.4-foot vertical loop.  The next element was a zero-g roll, followed by an overbanked turn, dive loop and corkscrew.  On the way back to the station the train navigated a couple of bunny hills.

The initial drop, essentially a freefall, was thrilling and the loop did not disappoint.  Neither did the zero-g roll.  However, as the ride progressed the inversions became progressively rough and the lap bar became punishing.  This restraint exerted extreme pressure on the legs, to the extent of being painful.  The force of the lap bar was particularly noticeable on the bunny hills at the end of the ride.

Thunderbolt is essentially a very solid, exciting coaster but would be better if the inversions were less rough and the lap bar were less forceful.  3 ½ out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Luna Park, visit lunaparknyc.com




Wednesday, October 21, 2015

CAROLINA CYCLONE

This Arrow Dynamics steel looping coaster has been operating since 1980 and I would be tempted to say that it’s showing its age were it not for the fact that I didn’t ride it 35 years ago and therefore have no basis for comparison.

Seating two across in 14 rows for a total capacity of 28 riders, the train turns left from the loading station and ascends a 95-foot lift hill before making another left turn and descending 65 feet.   It then travels through two consecutive vertical loops, traverses a small hill, turns and sends the riders through two consecutive corkscrews.   This is followed by a short helix and brake run.  And that’s all she wrote.

The layout of the track is actually pretty good.  I liked the fact that the two loops came up one right after the other, with no break in the action, as did the corkscrews.  What I didn’t like was the roughness of the ride.  The loops were fine but the corkscrews were another story altogether.  I found myself getting banged up – on the elbows - during these two elements.  At least it’s not a headbanger.

Carolina Cyclone can be appreciated for what it is:  a mostly enjoyable coaster offering moderate thrills.  2 ½ out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Carowinds, visit https://www.carowinds.com/


AFTERBURN

An inverted B&M coaster at Carowinds, Afterburn is classified by RCDB (Roller Coaster Database) as extreme.  Considering the six inversions, I would have to agree that this is an accurate assessment.

Featuring two trains with 8 rows seating 4 across for a total capacity of 32 riders and an over-the shoulder harness with attached seat belt as a restraint, the ride begins with an ascent up a 113-foot lift hill.   Dropping to the right, the train soars into a vertical loop, dips deliciously close to the ground and goes up into an Immelmann loop, once again dropping before propelling riders into a zero-g roll.  This is followed by a Batwing element and corkscrew. 

Highlights of the ride include the Batwing and passage through a concrete tunnel.  The elements flow very smoothly and take the riders on a journey which is as startling as it is intense.  I found this coaster to be a blast from beginning to end and ended up riding it twice in succession.  The pace was such that the ride seemed almost too short and I could hardly believe that we were already back at the station.

Afterburn is, in a word, awesome.  It’s one of those coasters on which you are likely to feel that you didn’t get enough and will be screaming for more.  5 out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Carowinds, visit https://www.carowinds.com/