Holiday World has topped off the highest point of Thunderbird, a 140-foot Immelmann loop, with a 165-foot tall crane. Bolliger and Mabillard’s first launched wing coaster and Holiday World’s first adult steel coaster, Thunderbird is on track to open for the 2015 season, with 21 of the 77 track pieces now in place. Photograph courtesy of Holiday World.
Cedar Point’s standup coaster will go for its last ride on Sunday, October 19. This long-standing coaster, featuring three loops and a corkscrew, will be “squashed” and converted to a floorless coaster, Rougarou, for the 2015 season. Rougarou will operate on the Mantis track but will offer a totally new ride experience with special effects. It’s about time Cedar Point got a floorless coaster. Video courtesy of Cedar Point.
During work on the recently closed Colossus, a work in progress – to be reincarnated as Twisted Colossus for the 2015 season – the top of the lift hill caught fire, resulting in a total collapse of the lift hill. The cause remains under investigation although is rumoured to involve welding. No injuries were reported and no delay is expected in transforming this coaster into a hybrid. Video courtesy of Theme Park Review.
After an extended delay due to “manufacturing issues,” Falcon’s Fury officially opened on September 2. At 335 feet, this is the tallest free-standing drop tower in the world. What makes this ride even more unique is that it pivots riders 90 degrees so that they are plunging to the ground head first like a diving falcon. Awesome! Video courtesy of Busch Gardens Tampa.
Six Flags New England has announced that Wicked Cyclone, a hybrid coaster, will open in 2015. This is yet another coaster being revamped by the awesome Rocky Mountain Construction. And again, there’s a new twist. Wicked Cyclone will feature a 200-degree stall, 14 negative-g hills and not one but two zero-g rolls. At 10 storeys tall, it will not be a massive coaster but judging by the video animation, it will be a good one. Video from SFNE website.
The recently closed iconic coaster Colossus will undergo the Iron Horse treatment by the amazing Rocky Mountain Construction and reopen as Twisted Colossus in 2015. The world’s longest hybrid coaster, this one will be another record breaker. The ride will feature two lift hills, a “top gun stall” (an inversion in which the train slows while the riders are upside down), “high five” (overbanked turn through which two trains pass close enough that riders feel as if they could high five one another), zero-g roll and 18 (???) airtime hills. This should be something to see - and ride, ride ride! Video courtesy of Six Flags Magic Mountain.
Six Flags Fiesta Texas has announced that Batman: The Ride (couldn’t they have come up with another name?), a 4D wing coaster, will open in 2015. According to the park’s press release, this coaster will be one of a kind. The ride will feature a vertical 120-foot elevator cable lift hill, a “free-fly” position in which riders are face to face, two “beyond-vertical” free fall drops and six head over heels flips. This looks pretty exciting. Video courtesy of Coaster Studios.
Six Flags Great Adventure has announced its thirteenth coaster, Looping Dragon, scheduled to open in 2015. According to the park’s press release, “Twenty-four riders sitting in “face-off” seats rocket forward and backward pendulum style until the train gains enough momentum to complete a full revolution seven stories in the air. The coaster then kicks into high gear, completing full revolutions until it stops momentarily with riders suspended upside down, and then reverses direction for even more thrills.” Looping Dragon will be located in the Golden Kingdom, habitat of Kingda Ka and the recently opened Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom. This would appear to be a moderate to high thrill ride – as opposed to an aggressive thrill ride – which will appeal to a wide range of park guests. Video courtesy of Six Flags Great Adventure.
Carowinds has announced that the new attraction for 2015 will be Fury 325, a B&M giga coaster. Appropriately enough, the coaster will be 325 feet tall, making it the tallest – and at 95 mph, fastest - giga coaster in existence. Intended to simulate the flight of a “furious hornet,” the coaster will drop riders at an 81-degree angle and feature 6,602 feet of track with a 190-foot barrel turn, high-banked curve, dive under a pedestrian bridge and double helix among other elements. The ride duration will be nearly three and a half minutes, making this one of the longest rides at any park. In fact the only one with a longer ride time that immediately comes to mind is The Beast at Kings Island. Video courtesy of Attractions Magazine.
Hersheypark has announced that Laff Trakk, an indoor spinning glow-coaster, will open in May of 2015. The ride will feature fun house elements, high-banked curves and an Immelmann loop. Because it’s a spinning coaster, no two rides will be identical. The park’s 13th coaster, Laff Trakk is a Maurer Sohne creation. Video courtesy of Hersheypark.
Riders on Joker’s Jinx at Six Flags America survived a gruelling four-hour ordeal when a malfunction of the ride resulted in their being stranded on the train 75 feet in the air, in the sun and heat. Evacuation was a slow and arduous process but everyone got off safely. The park issued a statement to the effect that "While we are not yet sure what caused the stoppage, the ride performed as it is designed to." Joker’s Jinx will remain closed pending further investigation. This is the second roller coaster incident at a Six Flags park in a little over a month. Video courtesy of ABC7 WJLA.
Another legendary wooden coaster bites the dust. Colossus will go for its last ride on August 16, 2014. Radio station ALT 98.7 threw a farewell party for Colossus on Saturday, July 26 from 11pm to 3am. Operating since 1978, this coaster was hailed as the tallest and fastest in the world when it opened and was featured in both films and TV shows. Of course, that record was subsequently broken many times over and Colossus is well past its glory days. Still, it’s sad to see it go. Video courtesy of CoasterForce.
The suspense is finally over. Holiday World has announced that the new attraction for 2015 will be Thunderbird, the first launched wing coaster in the USA. The coaster will launch from zero to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and feature a 14-storey Immelmann loop, zero-g roll, barrel roll and 125-foot loop. It will also create the illusion of near misses with keyhole elements (presumably similar to the one on X-Flight at Six Flags Great America) At $22 million, Thunderbird will be the largest investment in the park’s history. Video courtesy of Holiday World.
The Cyclone roller coaster at Six Flags New England, operating since 1983, went for its last ride on July 20. While it’s always rather sad to see an ageing wooden coaster bite the dust, I think that in this case the park made the right decision. (Unlike Six Flags Great Adventure’s decision to demolish Rolling Thunder.) This coaster had so little going for it that I could easily have slept through the ride. The park’s Thunderbolt, even older – built in 1941 – offers a better ride experience.
Not surprisingly – as this seems to be a trend – two riders injured when a tree branch fell on the track of Ninja at Six Flags Magic Mountain, causing the train to be partially derailed and riders to be stranded for hours, have filed suit against Six Flags. Although this was clearly a frightening experience, necessitating evacuation of the riders, the alleged injuries are hardly catastrophic and Ninja reopened after the park’s due diligence in inspecting the ride. Photograph courtesy of KTLA TV.
Hailed as the world’s tallest and fastest drop ride, Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom opened at Six Flags Great Adventure on July 4, the park’s 40th anniversary. It seems only fitting that this extreme ride is attached to Kingda Ka, another extreme ride and the world’s tallest coaster. Although I found Zumanjaro somewhat intimidating, I decided that it was a must ride. With an entrance to the right of the entrance to Kingda Ka, it actually has a single rider lane, an attribute that pleased me no end. As a single rider, I was able to make it to the head of the queue in almost no time.
In the loading station riders are directed to one of three gondolas seating eight across. The restraints consist of overhead harnesses attached to seat belts. Once the riders are secured, catch cars descend from overhead and attach to the gondolas prior to dispatch. Riders are then lifted 415 feet up into the air. Initially the ascent is slow but as the gondolas get closer to the top they pick up speed. At the top the riders hang there for a suspenseful 10 to 12 seconds or so before the inevitable plunge. This is the part of the ride that I found to be the scariest, being suspended at that altitude with my feet dangling and everything in the park, except for the top hat on Kingda Ka, far below me. The gondolas rock and dip slightly and a second or two later the three cars plummet almost to the ground at a speed of 90 mph. Awesome drop! And what a jolt! This is pretty intense stuff.
The only disappointment is that contrary to what was stated in the park’s press release, the Kingda Ka trains did not launch toward the riders during any of my four rides on Zumanjaro. This gives rise to speculation as to whether it’s a safety issue, due to the danger of things falling from overhead. Whatever, Zumanjaro is an aggressive thrill ride and a great addition to the park’s stellar ride lineup.
This highly anticipated, record-breaking coaster originally scheduled to open on Memorial Day weekend finally opened to the public on June 19. Goliath is the fastest (72 mph) and steepest (180-foot drop at an 85-degree angle) wooden coaster in existence, featuring an overbanked turnaround, dive loop and zero-g stall. Despite a wheel malfunction on June 18 and a lightning strike on June 19, the coaster opened to rave reviews. Score another victory for Rocky Mountain Construction, whose Outlaw Run was arguably the best coaster to have opened in 2013. Video courtesy of Six Flags.
The event at Dorney Park, a perk for those who had worked hard to raise funds for Give Kids The World Village, went off without a hitch. (Coasting For Kids took place on June 7 and 8 at nine other parks owned by Cedar Fair; the event had to be postponed at Cedar Point due to a water main break that forced closing of the park.) By 9:30 am the participants had been checked in and given their Coasting For Kids T-shirts. It was on to Possessed for a warmup before we took on Steel Force, one of the three coasters featured in this event. Lunch, catered by the park, was followed by the awards ceremony for top fundraisers. The group at Dorney managed to raise more funds than those at all but one other park, coming in second only to Kings Dominion.
The coasting agenda for the afternoon began with the awesome Talon, followed by Hydra. For each of the three coasters, one train was dedicated to the Coasting For Kids group. And none of this would have been possible without the professionalism of Buddy Rumble, Dorney Park’s ride efficiency manager, who is not only very good at his job but also a great guy. In fact the entire staff at Dorney was phenomenal. Kudos to Carrie Basta, Dorney’s communications manager, and Pamela Landwirth, president of Give Kids The World Village, who graced us with her presence. The event was an unqualified success.
A water main break in Sandusky on June 7 forced the “roller coaster capital of the world” to close for two days. Because the primary water supply was severely compromised, not only the park but also adjacent resorts were forced to shut down operations. Cedar Point reopened on Monday June 9. The Coasting For Kids event originally scheduled for June 8 has been rescheduled for June 22. Photograph courtesy of coasterimage.com.
Coasting for Kids will take place on June 8 at eleven theme parks owned by Cedar Fair: California’s Great America, Canada’s Wonderland, Carowinds, Cedar Point, Dorney Park, Kings Dominion, Kings Island, Knott’s Berry Farm, Michigan’s Adventure, Valleyfair and Worlds of Fun. The purpose of this coaster-riding marathon is to raise funds for Give Kids The World Village, a nonprofit storybook resort in Kissimee, FL that provides weeklong fantasy vacations for kids with life-threatening illnesses and their families. It’s a worthy cause. Online donations may be made at http://support.gktw.org/site/PageNavigator/coastingforkids.html. I will be participating at Dorney Park, where the lineup includes Steel Force, Talon and Hydra. Video is of Talon, a seriously underrated coaster and one of the best inverts I’ve ridden.