ROLLER COASTER REVIEWS

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/




INTIMIDATOR

This B&M hypercoaster at Carowinds has been consistently ranked among the top steel coasters in the USA and deservedly so.  Themed after NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, it has a total capacity of 32 riders arranged in 8 rows seating 4 across, with staggered seating.  The restraints consist of a lap bar and seat belt. 

From the loading station the train ascends a 232-foot chain lift hill and drops 211 feet at a 74-degree angle.  It then navigates a 178-foot camelback hill and turns right before traveling over a second camelback hill of 151 feet.  This is followed by a U-turn and two more hills – 105 and 90 feet, respectively – before the brake run.  From there it’s another camelback hill, right turn into a diving spiral and two more, smaller camelback hills. 

The initial drop is blissfully breathtaking and the remainder of the ride does not disappoint.   The sharp turns offer ejector airtime and the numerous hills offer good floater airtime.  There is never a dull moment.  And as would be expected from this design, the ride is exceptionally smooth.


Intimidator is a world-class coaster certain to thrill anyone who rides it.  5 out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Carowinds, visit https://www.carowinds.com/


NIGHTHAWK

One of only three Vekoma Flying Dutchman coasters in existence, Nighthawk at Carowinds offers an experience that will be novel to anyone who has never ridden a coaster of this design.
                         
After riders are heavily restrained and the train is tilted backwards, the ride is dispatched and the train makes a left turn out of the loading station before ascending a 115-foot lift hill with the riders flat on their backs.  At the top is a twist which rotates the riders from a “Lie to Fly” position to a “Fly to Lie” position so that they are prone.  The train drops 103 feet and sends riders through a horseshoe curve.  Back in the “Fly to Lie” position, riders are propelled through a 66-foot vertical loop and flipped over into the “Lie to Fly”position before being catapulted through two corkscrews.  From there it’s back to the “Fly to Lie” position and riders return to the loading station the same way they left it, in a supine position.

I found this ride immensely entertaining at the same time that I found the headrests to be uncomfortable.  Other than that there was no discomfort except for what the ride is designed to make you feel – i.e., vulnerable when in the flying position because you feel as if you’re going to pitch forward.  The vertical loop and corkscrews were clearly the highlights of the ride.  And I personally find it highly enjoyable to go up the lift hill on my back.


Nighthawk is an unusual and exciting ride.  4 out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Carowinds, visit https://www.carowinds.com/


FURY 325

What’s in a number?   In this case, a lot.  325 feet is the height of this colossal B&M giga coaster which towers over Carowinds, opened in 2015 and as I write is the premier attraction.   The name Fury came about because the ride is themed to resemble the chase of a hornet.

Fury 325 operates with three trains seating four across in eight rows for a total capacity of  32 riders.  The restraints consist of a lap bar and seat belt.  From the loading station the train goes directly up the chain lift hill and the ascent is surprisingly quick.  As the train nears the top of the hill it accelerates, then decelerates before hanging over the drop and plunging 320 feet at a wicked 81-degree angle.   And what a drop!  This is floater airtime at its best.

From the initial drop the train veers slightly left and then goes up into a 190-foot right-angled barrel turn.  This is followed by a high speed S curve, overbanked curve and horseshoe turn.  The train drops into a tunnel (one of the highlights of the ride), rises into a banked curve, navigates a camelback hill, enters a helix and traverses two more camelback hills.

The speed at which Fury travels – 95mph – and the intensity of the ride is astonishing.  This coaster offers both floater and ejector airtime, the latter due to the sharp angles.  The numerous elements and relentless pace result in a thrilling ride experience.  A camelback hill near the end of the ride offers exquisite floater airtime.  It doesn’t get much better than this.

Fury 325 is, in a word, furious.  In addition, it’s a marvel of engineering which more than lives up to its advance publicity.  5 out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Carowinds, visit https://www.carowinds.com/





COLOSSUS THE FIRE DRAGON

A looping coaster operating since 1983, Colossus The Fire Dragon has three trains with seven cars arranged in two rows seating two across for a total capacity of 28 riders.  From the loading station the train goes straight up the 85-foot lift hill, turns and drops 81 feet to the right.  The initial drop is followed by two consecutive vertical loops, after which the train travels upward to the left and downward to the right before going into a right-angled upward and downward helix.


While hardly exceptional, this coaster offers a fun ride with some nice pops of airtime.  The helix is somewhat distinctive for being multi-leveled and the maximum G-force is a more than respectable 4.9.  3 out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Lagoon, visit www.lagoonpark.com/

JET STAR 2

This steel coaster first operated at the 1974 World Fair in Spokane and was relocated to Lagoon in 1976.  Seating six riders inline, Jet Star 2’s configuration is much like that of a bobsled coaster in that the two riders in each row sit one in front of the other.  Because the restraint – a seat belt – is designed to secure two riders, Lagoon’s policy prohibits single riders from riding.

Upon leaving the loading station, the train ascends to the top of the structure via an electric spiral lift.  This involves a number of right turns and gives the impression of going around in circles.  Once at the top, the train veers right and drops, banking steeply at the bottom of the drop, before turning left and going up another hill.   From there it traverses a number of drops and turns before reaching the brake run. 

The drops and turns are very nicely banked, affording some good airtime.  Jet Star 2 offers a pretty entertaining ride.  3 out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Lagoon, visit www.lagoonpark.com

ROLLER COASTER

One of the ten oldest operating wooden roller coasters in the USA (opened in 1921 and partially rebuilt – station and lift hill - after fire damage in 1953), Roller Coaster at Lagoon is a true classic.   And while the stats are hardly impressive by today’s standards, the fact that it’s still running is indeed impressive.
                           
With four cars seating two across in rows of three for a total capacity of 24 riders, the train makes a right turn out of the loading station and ascends a 62-foot lift hill.  It then descends into the first of two consecutive drops before turning left and navigating two more drops.  This is followed by another left turn leading up to two drops and yet another left turn leading into several smaller drops before the train returns to the station.

What’s remarkable about this coaster is that for a wooden coaster of such vintage, it is not at all rough.  Older wooden coasters can be punishing but this one is most decidedly not.   It’s a fun ride with some really good pops of airtime.  3 out of 5 stars.   For more information about rides at Lagoon, visit www.lagoonpark.com/


WICKED

An LSM launch coaster manufactured by Zierer, Wicked operates with six trains seating four across in two rows for a total capacity of eight riders.   Upon dispatch the train makes a left turn out of the loading station and enters a tunnel through which the riders experience first a horizontal launch and then a vertical launch up 110 feet followed by a 90-degree free fall.   The train ascends into an overbanked turn and goes into a zero-g roll, navigates a wicked curve and reaches the block brake.  From there the train floats downhill before going up into two back-to-back half-pipe elements (90-degree turns).  It enters a helix, descends into another tunnel and hits the brake run before returning to the station.
                                                                                        

Highlights of the ride include the vertical launch, free fall and zero-g roll.  The airtime is excellent and while the ride is short, it’s short and sweet.  Wicked will not disappoint those looking for a coaster that falls into the category of extreme.  4 out of 5 stars.   For more information about rides at Lagoon, visit www.lagoonpark.com/



CANNIBAL

Opened in July of 2015, Cannibal is remarkable not only for being the first coaster in the USA to feature a beyond-vertical drop but for being built in-house.  Although its creation was a collaborative endeavor involving various individuals and entities, the finished product is overwhelmingly the work of Utah contractors and Lagoon.

Cannibal looks frankly terrifying.  Housed in a massive tower from which the trains emerge before making a precipitous plunge, it features an Immelmann loop, dive loop, overbanked curve and two consecutive heartline rolls, the latter of which have been designated by the park as the “Lagoon Roll.” Cannibal operates with six trains seating four across in three rows for a total capacity of twelve riders.  The restraint is a lapbar.  One thing that impressed me immediately was the double loading – something I’d never seen at any park – and consequent speed of dispatch.   Upon dispatch the train moves forward onto an elevator lift which takes the riders up 208 feet, mostly in the dark.  At the top the train exits the tower onto a short section of track that appears to end abruptly, creating the impression that the riders are about to go off the end of a cliff.

The train comes to a standstill at the edge of the drop, adding to the considerable suspense, and without any warning plummets at a 116-degree angle during what is unquestionably the most hair-raising drop I have ever experienced on any roller coaster.  It is also the most exhilarating.  At the bottom of the drop the train dives into a tunnel and  then ascends into an Immelmann loop, followed by a dive loop and overbanked curve before it reaches the block brake.  This comes just before the Lagoon Roll, a slow-motion test of fortitude.  The double heartline roll, with the train rotating in a different direction on each one, is murderously intense.  This is followed by a 450-degree helix that ends with the train passing through another tunnel by the side of a waterfall before returning to the station.  What a ride! 

Cannibal lives up to its publicity and is well worth the trip to Utah.  It’s thrilling, unique and exceptionally smooth.   It’s also exceptionally well-themed.  Extreme?  Certainly.  Terrifying?  Possibly.  It is, in a word, AWESOME!  5 out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Lagoon, visit www.lagoonpark.com/




Monday, October 27, 2014

WILD ONE - SIX FLAGS AMERICA

Wild One, made by Dinn Corporation, is the older of the two wooden coasters at Six Flags America and has an interesting history.  Dating back to 1917, it has been through several incarnations.   Partially destroyed by fire not once by twice, it was finally restored to its original condition and acquired by Six Flags America.   Seating two across in rows of two with six cars for a total capacity of 24 riders, the train makes a left turn from the loading station and ascends a 98-foot lift hill before plunging 88 feet slightly to the right but mostly straight, reaching a maximum speed of 53mph.   This is followed by a couple of consecutive drops and right-banked turn.  The remainder of the ride is much of the same, the highlight being a series of bunny hills during which the train is really hopping!  These afford good airtime and have the riders fairly bouncing out of their seats. 
                                       

Because this coaster is a true classic, I wish that I had liked it more but found it a bit too rough for comfort.  To be fair, I would have to say that Wild One has stood the test of time and will no doubt appeal to many who enjoy a brisk, rollicking ride. 2 ½ out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Six Flags America, visit www.sixflags.com/america


ROAR - SIX FLAGS AMERICA

Built by Great Coasters International, Roar is one of two wooden roller coasters at Six Flags America.  With six cars seating two across in rows of two for a total capacity of 24 riders, the train makes a right turn from the loading station and ascends a 94.6-foot lift hill before plummeting 85 feet at a wicked right angle.   It then climbs, banks left and drops left.  From that point it’s a series of banked turns and angled drops on a 3,468-foot track that includes a 200-foot roofed tunnel.
                                                        

With a maximum speed of 50.5 mph and G-force of 3.5, this coaster is not exactly a blockbuster but because of the angles and relentless motion it is by no means lacking in thrills.  The airtime is excellent and the ride is nowhere near as rough as one would expect from a wooden coaster that’s been operating since 1998.  Roar is a gem.  4 out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Six Flags America, visit www.sixflags.com/america

JOKER'S JINX - SIX FLAGS AMERICA

Joker’s Jinx is a Premier Rides launched coaster featuring a “spaghetti bowl” track.    With six cars seating two across in rows of two for a total capacity of 24 riders, the train launches to 60 mph out of the loading station and into a tunnel.   It proceeds into a cobra roll and goes through a series of twists and turns, sidewinder and corkscrew.   Without a mid-course brake run, it passes through a series of rings which resembles a giant slinky toy.
                                      
The 2,705-foot track is contained within a remarkably compact area.   Of the four inversions, the corkscrew at the end – IMHO - is the best.  It seemed to go fast and there was perceptible airtime.  As to the launch, in the dark this is a blast!


While not exceptional, Joker’s Jinx provides a ride that is seamless, smooth and highly entertaining.  3 ½ out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Six Flags America, visit www.sixflags.com/america


BATWING - SIX FLAGS AMERICA

This Vekoma Flying Dutchman coaster at Six Flags America is notable for its custom riding position and sudden changes of direction.   The train consists of 6 cars seating 4 across, for a total capacity of 24 riders.  After being heavily – and I mean heavily – restrained, the riders are tilted backwards as the ride ops rotate the train so that riders are a degree beyond being flat on their backs.  Upon dispatch, the train makes a left turn from the loading station and ascends a 115-foot lift hill.  After a short left turn the train goes into a twist (Lie to Fly element), flipping the riders over into a flying position and sending them down the initial 103-foot drop.  This is followed by a horseshoe curve, Fly to Lie (lying down)  element going into a vertical loop and Lie to Fly element leading into a turn and two consecutive in-line twists.  Finally the train enters a helix and returns the riders to a Fly to Lie position so that they return to the station in the same position as the one in which they left it.

The highlights of the ride for me were the vertical loop in the lying position and the double in-line twist in the flying position.  The loop was awesome and being flipped over twice during the consecutive in-line twists almost blew me away.  Through much of the ride I had the sensation of flying close to the ground, perilously close to the supports, with no awareness whatsoever of the track.   I also had the sensation of being about to pitch forward into nothingness and was thankful for the tight restraints.   This was my first ride on a Flying Dutchman coaster and the only Vekoma coaster I’d ever ridden that I actually liked.


Batwing is a well-designed coaster that provides a novel and exciting ride.  4 out of 5 stars.  Note:  The author is the one with the leg tattoos in the photo taken from the loading station.  For more information about rides at Six Flags America, visit www.sixflags.com/america.



SUPERMAN - RIDE OF STEEL - SIX FLAGS AMERICA

Superman – Ride of Steel is an Intamin mega coaster and by far the tallest ride at Six Flags America, towering over the landscape.   Seating two across with a total capacity of 32 riders, the train makes a right turn from the loading station and ascends a 197-foot lift hill, at the top of which is an awesome moment of hang time if you’re sitting in the front row.  (Even from the second row you get an almost unobstructed view due to the lowness of the seats.)  It then drops 205 feet at a 68-degree angle, reaching a maximum speed of 73mph.  The initial drop is pretty spectacular, offering some good ejector airtime for those sitting in the back.  This is followed by an overbanked (90-degree) right turn and 143-foot climb to the second drop, then an upward 540-degree right helix leading up to
a smaller hill.   Next is an extended 540-degree downward left helix before the train turns right, drops left, navigates some bunny hills and comes to an abrupt stop just outside the loading station.


This coaster offers some pretty good air time, significantly more if you’re riding in the back.  However, of all the Intamin hyper/mega/giga coasters I’ve ridden, this is the only one that failed to completely blow me away.  This is for two reasons: 1) I felt that the helixes were too long; and 2) I found the restraints uncomfortable.  As to the helixes, you do get the sensation of flying along but they could easily have been made shorter.  As to the restraints, the T-shaped lap bars include T-bars with plastic shin rests connected to the tops of the bars by metal poles.   The shin rests are made of hard plastic and they hurt during moments of airtime, when the legs knock against them.  My advice when riding is to keep your legs as far away from them as possible.  That being said, Superman – Ride of Steel is a topnotch roller coaster that provides a thrilling and action-packed ride.  4 ½ out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Six Flags America, visit www.sixflags.com/america



Friday, July 4, 2014

DEMON - SIX FLAGS GREAT AMERICA

This Arrow Dynamics looper dates back to 1976 and remains in pretty good condition for its age.  Consisting of six cars seating two across in rows of two for a total capacity of 24 riders, the train leaves the loading station, travels through a short tunnel, ascends  a 103.7-foot lift hill, veers left and drops 90 feet.  It then goes through two consecutive vertical loops before entering a tunnel with special lighting effects.  From there it rises, negotiates a left turn and enters a second tunnel, finishing with a double corkscrew before returning to the station.

The ride experience is enjoyable for the first three quarters of the ride.  Although some

may disagree with me,  I found the double corkscrew brutally rough and consequently had no inclination to re-ride.  Demon is OK if you don’t mind getting banged up a bit.  2 ½ out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Six Flags Great America,  visit www.sixflags.com/greatamerica



AMERICAN EAGLE

A wooden racing coaster with an out and back layout, American Eagle bears the distinction of being the first wooden coaster designed by Intamin.   It probably holds a record for longest entryway to a ride, as it’s necessary to go up and down a number of ramps and flights of stairs to get to the loading station.  There are four trains – two red and two blue – each of which accommodates 30 riders (five cars seating two across in rows of three).   Upon leaving the station, the blue train makes a left turn and the red train makes a right turn before ascending a 127-foot lift hill.  Both trains then drop 147 feet on a straight course – but not at the same time – then travel over a couple of airtime hills and hit a set of trim brakes before entering a left-banked 560-degree helix, in which the red train has the inside track.   This is followed by more airtime hills and a second helix.  The red and blue trains are not always on the same course or going through the same elements until they hit the brake run and it’s a matter of which one crosses the finish line first.


The ride experience is excellent, not nearly as rough as would be expected for a coaster that’s been operating since 1981.  A 147-foot drop is remarkable for a wooden racing coaster; that’s 57 feet more than Hersheypark’s Lightning Racer, another outstanding wooden racing coaster!  The only thing I didn’t like about it is that it is SOOOO slow right before entering the first helix.   Otherwise it’s fine.   American Eagle is simply a delight.  4 out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Six Flags Great America,  visit www.sixflags.com/greatamerica


VIPER - SIX FLAGS GREAT AMERICA

A wooden coaster featuring a layout modeled after the Coney Island Cyclone, Viper takes it riders through a rollicking series of turns and airtime hills.   With five cars seating two across in rows of three for a total capacity of 30 riders, the train makes two left turns from the loading station and ascends a 100-foot lift hill, dropping 80 feet sharply to the left before going up into a right-banked turn followed by two consecutive drops.  It turns left and travels over two airtime hills through headchoppers, once again turning left with a double down.  Continuing its course over a series of small hills, it never lets up until hitting the brake run. 


The ride experience is, in a word, super.  Although patterned after the Cyclone, Viper has none of the Cyclone’s punishing roughness.  It is a little rough but not uncomfortably so.   I was fine sitting in the back, something I would never do on the Cyclone.    The ride features a couple of very, very good airtime hills and while the top speed is 50 mph, it gives the impression of going along at a pretty good clip.   In an age of modern wooden coasters with staggering drops, this relatively small coaster can hold its own.  Viper is a gem.  5 out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Six Flags Great America, visit www.sixflags.com/greatamerica


RAGING BULL

This Bolliger and Mabillard “hyper-twister” coaster contains many of the same elements as other B&M hyper coasters but with a different layout.  (The restraints consists of lap bars similar to those on other B&M hypers.) Seating four across in nine rows for a total capacity of 36, the train makes a left turn from the station, dips (like B&M’s Nitro) and ascends a 202-foot lift hill.  Upon reaching the top, it makes a pre-drop before plummeting 208 feet into a tunnel at 73 mph and going up into the first of two hammerhead turns.   Coming off the hammerhead turn, the train slows perceptibly in ascending the second hill.  This is because trim brakes were added since the ride first opened.   After dropping 128 feet the train passes under the lift hill and ascends to the second hammerhead turn.  The ride features a number of twists and unlike other B&M hyper coasters I’ve ridden, this one has a helix AFTER the brake run, not before.   The helix is followed by several turns and some bunny hills.


The ride experience is enjoyable and at 2 minutes 30 seconds, you get a lot of ride for your money.   The pre-drop at the top of the lift hill is fun because riders get the impression that they are about to take off, only to discover that this was just a teaser.  (Pre-drops are common – B&M’s Apollo’s Chariot has one – and designed to ease the tension on the chain pulling the train up the lift hill.)  One thing I didn’t like about the ride was the trim brakes, as I felt that they detracted from the overall ride experience and created the impression that the train was about to lose power.   All in all, however, Raging Bull gives you a ride which is definitely above average.  4 out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Six Flags Great America, visit www.sixflags.com/greatamerica

X-FLIGHT

An aviation-themed wing coaster, X-Flight soars through multiple inversions on 3000 feet of steel track.  Seating two across in eight rows on opposite sides of the track for a total capacity of 32 riders, the train loads from a station designed to resemble an airplane hangar.   After ascending a 120-foot lift hill, it goes into a 120-foot dive drop, reaching its maximum speed of 55mph.  This is followed by a zero-g roll, Immelmann loop, turn over water and second zero-g roll.  After that comes the most thrilling element of the ride, an in-line twist through a “keyhole” in a very real air control tower acquired from Chicago’s O’Hare airport.  A couple of turns later the ride is over.

 The ride is nicely themed, down to the ride ops in their flight suits.  The ride experience itself is intense from start to finish, particularly so at the point at which the train passes through the control tower.  Riders have the perception of a near collision.   I found this to be especially true when riding on the right side, because of the way the train rolls over.   It was a feeling of omigod, we’re going to hit that tower!  Even after multiple rides, I felt the same way.  X-Flight is a well-designed and highly entertaining coaster.  4 ½ out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Six Flags Great America, visit www.sixflags.com/greatamerica



GOLIATH - SIX FLAGS GREAT AMERICA

Hailed as the tallest, fastest and steepest wooden coaster in existence as of 2014, Goliath is the second record-breaking woodie built by Rocky Mountain Construction to open in two consecutive years.  (Outlaw Run was the first.)   This massive structure features 3100 feet of track contained within a fairly compact area.   Consisting of six cars seating two across in rows of two for a total capacity of 24 riders, the train makes a left turn from the loading station and ascends a 45-degree, 165-foot lift hill.   It then drops 180 feet at an 85-degree angle into a tunnel, reaching its maximum speed of 72 mph, goes up into an overbanked turn and drops again.  This is followed by a dive loop and zero-g stall.   The track is full of twists and turns and during the latter part of the ride the train travels through a second tunnel.


The ride experience is nothing short of amazing.   The first drop is spectacular, the dive loop insanely good and the zero-g stall awesome.   This is the first wooden coaster to feature a dive loop and zero-g stall.  It’s the second one from Rocky Mountain Construction to feature inversions without an overhead harness.  The restraints consist of a combination lap bar and shin guard, with nothing to hold onto, contributing to the sense of vulnerability.  I loved the restraints and everything else about this coaster.   Goliath is a marvel of engineering and an absolute delight.  5 out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Six Flags Great America, visit www.sixflags.com/greatamerica



Saturday, June 28, 2014

WILD BEAST - CANADA'S WONDERLAND

Wild Beast is the smaller of the two wooden coasters at Canada’s Wonderland manufactured by Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters.   Seating 28 riders (7 cars seating two across in two rows), the train makes a left turn out of the station, veers slightly right and ascends an 82-foot lift hill.  It then drops 78 feet to the left, traverses a small hill, makes a left turn, goes over another small hill, turns right for a couple of small hills, then left for more small hills before heading back to the station.   What struck me most about this coaster is the lateral motion.  It’s a rough ride, and the experience of repeatedly being thrown from side to side reminded me of the Coney Island Cyclone at its worst – although this is not nearly as good or thrilling a ride as the Cyclone.  2 out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Canada’s Wonderland, visit www.canadaswonderland.com