Switchback, the only wooden shuttle coaster in existence, opened at ZDT's Amusement Park - a small family-owned park - in Seguin, Texas on October 17.   This unique coaster, like a boomerang,  begins the circuit going forward and then does it all in reverse.   The steepness of the initial drop and 87% angle of ascent will undoubtedly make for an exciting ride.  This looks like another winner for The Gravity Group, probably best known for The Voyage at Holiday World.  Photo courtesy for ZDT's Amusement Park.

Six Flags 2016 Attractions

The new attractions for 2016 at Six Flags parks are somewhat underwhelming.  A number of parks will get a Larson Giant Loop; the one ride that really looks promising is The Joker at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.  The closed coaster Roar will get the Rocky Mountain Construction treatment and considering what RMC did with Wicked Cyclone and Twisted Colossus, this one could be a real winner.


Several weeks ago Cedar Point announced that its new attraction for 2016 will be Valravn, a dive coaster named after a supernatural bird from Danish folklore.  Only the third dive coaster to be built in the USA (the other two are Griffon and its sister coaster Sheikra, at Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Busch Gardens Tampa), it will set new records for height, length and speed.  This is how it will look.  Video courtesy of Cedar Point.


This highly anticipated coaster opened at Lagoon in Farmington, Utah on July 2, 2015.  Cannibal boasts the steepest beyond vertical drop – 116 degrees – of any coaster in the USA.  Unusually, it was built in-house by Lagoon rather than by an independent contractor or major manufacturer.  It features a 208-foot elevator lift in the dark along with five inversions.  Video courtesy of DeathbyIllusion.   For more information about rides at Lagoon, visit www.lagoonpark.com


The world’s first launched wing coaster, Thunderbird, will open to the public on April 25.   The media got a preview on April 23 and reviews were highly favourable.  Launching from zero to 60mph in 3.5 seconds, it rockets riders into a 140-foot Immelmann loop and features a zero-g roll, in-line twist and 125-foot vertical loop.  It also features the keyhole elements, creating the illusion of near misses, notable on other wing coasters such as X-Flight.   At a cost of $22,000,000, this B&M coaster is Holiday World’s largest investment to date.  It looks pretty exciting.  Check out this POV video of the left side, courtesy of Holiday World


Six Flags Great Adventure announced today that Batman:The Ride will run backwards from the July 4 weekend to the Labor Day weekend.  The ride is already extremely intense running forward.  Running it backwards will undoubtedly make it even more disorienting.  Are you up for this?  Image courtesy of Six Flags Great Adventure.


It’s now official!  We knew that something was going on at Busch Gardens Williamsburg but exactly what had been kept under wraps.  The park has now announced the opening of Tempesto,  a sky rocket coaster featuring three launches and a 154-foot high-speed inversion.  The new ride is scheduled to open in April.  Image courtesy of Busch Gardens.


Fury 325, the world’s tallest and fastest giga coaster, is on track to begin operation at the media event scheduled for Wednesday, March 25.  Carowinds is offering the opportunity to be one of the first riders.  The theme park is auctioning off seats on the first three trains.  Bidding will end on Sunday, March 15 at 11:59pm EST.  Proceeds will be donated to the Cam Newton Foundation.  The first test run of this record-breaking coaster was successfully completed on March 4 and judging by the footage, this ride will be pretty exciting!  Video courtesy of Carowinds.



Sections of the track for Batman: The Ride at Six Flags Fiesta Texas are reportedly on the way to the park.   The 4D wing coaster featuring five cars that seat eight riders is being touted for its novelty and interactive ride experience.  From the vertical lift hill to the multiple flips, this is looking like a winner.  Video courtesy of Six Flags Fiesta Texas.


Construction of the new, unannounced and unconfirmed coaster – which is why it remains a mystery – continues at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.   Rumored to be called Tempesto, although even that is highly uncertain, the Premier Rides installation is beginning to take shape.  In a way the lack of hoopla at this point is somewhat refreshing.  The coaster will undoubtedly be a welcome addition to this beautiful park.  Video courtesy of Coaster Studios.


There were several obvious contenders for this honor and my own choice actually surprised me.  I had expected my best ride experience of the year to be on Goliath at Six Flags Great America but despite the record-breaking speed, height and angle of descent, I actually got more of a kick out of X-Flight.  However, neither coaster provided my best ride experience of the year.  The winner is – suspense – Leviathan at Canada’s Wonderland!   There is absolutely nothing about this coaster that I didn’t love.   Let’s start with the restraints.   Unlike those on some other B&M coasters I’ve ridden – most notably Nitro at Six Flags Great Adventure, on which I find myself sliding forward under the lap bar on the two left-banked turns – the lap bars on Leviathan are nice and snug and as a result I felt completely comfortable with them.   I don’t always ride hands in the air when riding a coaster for the first time but on this one I knew that it would be OK, and man, was it ever! Because this coaster uses a chain lift in lieu of the elevator cable used on the two other  “giga” coasters I’ve ridden (both Intamin models), I was afraid that the ascent to the top of the 306-foot lift hill would be agonizingly slow but in fact it proved to be impressively quick.  The precipitous 306-foot drop into a tunnel at an 80-degree angle was breathtaking and the remainder of the ride did not disappoint.   The left turn after the second hill came as a surprise and provided some good ejector airtime.

 I was struck by the number of elements contained in this ride, including hammerhead turn, camelback and multiple hills with good floater airtime.   I found it to be exceptionally smooth, fast (92mph) and just plain fun.  I also found it interesting that unlike other B&M coasters I’ve ridden, this one has no brake run until the conclusion of the ride.   As one with a preference for Intamin – and lately RMC – rides, I have to hand it to B&M for what they did with this behemoth (pun intended).  It even looks beautiful, especially with the netting on the sides of the lift hill.  Leviathan is a real winner.

Here's what other bloggers had to say about their best ride experiences of 2014:

Brian of DoD3:   http://www.domainofdeath3.com/best-ride-experience-2014/

What was your  best ride experience of the year?


The 77th and final piece of Thunderbird's track is now in place, signed by members of the construction crew.   Of course a lot of work still has to be done but it looks as if Holiday World is right on schedule.   The only question is whether the world's first launched wing coaster will actually be up and running when the park opens on April 25, 2015.  Photo courtesy of Holiday World.


A video animation of the Skyscraper coaster – over 500 feet tall - at Skyplex in Orlando, provisionally scheduled to open in 2016, has now gone live.   This ride looks pretty amazing!  Featuring inversions at an almost unthinkable altitude and steep drops, it will obviously not be a ride for the faint of heart.


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.