It has been at least 2 or 3 years since I last stood in line for a couple of hours for a 3 minute (or 15 second) ride on a roller coaster, and I wish I had the words to express how much I miss it. Not just the frivolity and fun of amusement parks as a whole, but the camaraderie of spending 5 or 6 hours in a car with your friends, driving out to some jerkwater berg simply for the cause of scaring yourself half to death. Walking the midway…joking and laughing…sweating and baking in the hot summer sun. The smell of Bavarian Nuts in the air and the feeling of 4 or 5 funnel cakes churning your blood into a semi-solid. Overweight children in wrestling t-shirts as far as the eye can see…yes…I miss Cedar Point.
Realizing, though, that I now have a child of my own, I have decided to compile a list of the 5 coasters I absolutely must ride before I die. That way, when our little one is tall enough to ride this ride, I can use this list as an excuse to travel the country (and the world) to take her to the parks and coasters that I have always admired from afar…even though that these rides will probably be decidedly lame by the standards to be set by the mega-hyper-extreme coasters to come in the future.
At a time when the roller coaster arms race centered entirely on speed and height, the people at Arrow Dynamics came up with an idea that they hoped would revolutionize they way people design, build and think about roller coasters. Labeled as a “4th Dimension” coaster, the special designed cars of X rotate on a central axis that changes the position the rider is facing throughout the entire ride, giving you a different visual perspective of every element of the coaster.
Unfortunately, this design may have been a little too far ahead of it’s time, as it has mired with an overwhelming amount of problems and closures since it opened, which was a turn off to other manufacturers and parks, as noone else has since commissioned another “4D” coaster. The ride ended up bankrupting Arrow who was bought out by Stan Checkett’s S&S Power, but their effort and vision did not go unnoticed, as X is still a hit at Magic Mountain.
Speed: 76 mph
Max Vertical Angle: 88.5 Degrees
Not the tallest and not the fastest, but what it lacks in size speed it makes up for in the aesthetic beauty of dipping and diving through the trees of the German countryside. I have always been a fan of Intamin AG and their penchant for g-force manipulation, and this tight twister seems to pack all the punch of it’s big brother Millennium Force in less than half the time and almost 2600 fewer feet of track. Add this to the long list of reasons to visit Germany.
Length: 4002′ 7″
Height: 173′ 11″
Speed: 74.6 mph
Max Vertical Angle: 82 Degrees
The first Bollinger & Mabillard inverted coaster I ever had the misfortune of riding was Batman The Ride at Six Flags Great America in (relatively) nearby Gurnee, Illinois. Batman is probably one of my least favorite coasters ever. No matter where I sit on that ride, I black out at least 2 or 3 times, which is not acceptable for a ride that only lasts about 90 seconds. I had a bad taste in my mouth about B&M inverted coasters the first time I went to Cedar Point, too. Raptor’s lovely purple and green color scheme did not do woo me either, but I gave it a shot and happened to completely fall in love with it. Unlike it’s rough, uncomfortable and wild riding counterpart at SFGAm, Raptor offered a smooth, ride with proper flow and spacing between elements.
Ever since Raptor won me over, I have craved more and more B&M inverts, and Alpengeist appears to be one of the best out there. Themed as an avalanched mountain adventure (clever theming for a park in Virginia), Alpengeist is a nice blend of size, speed and sprawl as it makes it’s way through the wooded areas of Busch Gardens. Silky smooth transitions and the fun theme is what makes this coaster so appealing to me.
Speed: 67 mph
This may very well be the most aptly named roller coaster in the world. Aside from the staggering heights, speeds and length of this ride, there is the little matter of it taking you out back into the woods. Not like some of the others I have mentioned, though. Not through an undeveloped area of the park…no no…not Beast…think Deliverance. From the time you emerge from the tunnel at the bottom of the first drop, the track takes you on a tour through a thickly wooded area that seems like it would be terrifying to lost in if the ride happened to break down…particularly if it were the middle of the night. With no visual landmarks, other than trees, it must feel like you have been whisked completely away from the park…and in effect…you have been.
With almost 7400 feet of track, this coaster has held the record for longest wooden coaster since it opened up in 1979. It features 3 long, dark tunnels and a second lift hill and drop haflway through the ride. There have been complaints that Beast has been tamed a bit over time, as back in ’79 safety requirements and concerns were not what they are today, but my thoughts are that gravity will always be around to make this woodie a legend in it’s own right.
Speed: 64.8 mph
Max Vertical Angle: 45 Degrees
To put it quite simply, this coaster appears to be absolutely perfect. I don’t know what else to say about it. Nemesis bleeds awesomosity out of it’s every pore and has long be atop my “To Ride” list.
Perfect. Just watch the video (although turn the sound down…let that is your official P.O.D. “Boom!” disclaimer).
Height: 42′ 8″
Speed: 50 mph