CALIFORNIA'S GREAT AMERICA ANNOUNCES RAILBLAZER

California's Great America has announced that their new attraction for 2018 will be RailBlazer, a single rail coaster seating 8 passengers single file.  Among the features are a 106-foot drop at a 90-degree angle, overbanked turns and zero-g roll.  RailBlazer is the second single rail coaster to have been announced within the past two weeks and while the concept is certainly intriguing, it raises issues about overall ride capacity.  It certainly is different.  Check out the video from California's Great America:

KNOTT'S BERRY FARM ANNOUNCES HANGTIME

Knott's Berry Farm has announced that their new attraction for 2018 will be a dive coaster - the only one on the West Coast - called HangTime.  It will feature a vertical lift hill and beyond vertical drop - start screaming! - as well as a negative-g stall loop.  How cool does this look? Photo courtesy of Knott's Berry Farm.

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KINGS DOMINION ANNOUNCES TWISTED TIMBERS

Kings Dominion has announced Twisted Timbers, RMC's (Rocky Mountain Construction) makeover of the old wooden Hurler.  This hybrid will feature a 109-foot barrel roll drop along with two additional inversions.  According to the park it will also feature 20 airtime hills!  Considering that the Hurler was erected in a wooded area, the choice of name for the new coaster is perfect.  And this certainly puts a new twist on things.  Check out the video from Kings Dominion:

CEDAR POINT ANNOUNCES STEEL VENGEANCE

The suspense is finally over!  It was obvious that something big was going on with the defunct Mean Streak but the park was being very tight-lipped about it.  On National Roller Coaster Day Cedar Point announced Steel Vengeance, RMC's  (Rocky Mountain Construction) makeover of Mean Streak.  The Western-themed Steel Vengeance will be the 1st hybrid coaster to top the 200-foot mark.  It will feature an initial drop of 90 degrees and four - count 'em! - inversions.  Check out this video from Cedar Point.

Six Flags Fiesta Texas Announces Wonder Woman Golden Lasso Coaster

Six Flags Fiesta Texas has announced that a new coaster, Wonder Woman Golden Lasso Coaster, will debut in the spring of 2018.  Featuring a single I-beam rail with single file seating, this innovative design will thrust riders over the quarry walls.  (The limestone quarry is one of the signature elements of this park; the awesome Iron Rattler and excellent Superman:Krypton Coaster take advantage of this topography.)  The ride will feature a 90-degree drop, two airtime hills, a 180-degree stall, a zero-g roll and overbanked turns.  Best of all, this coaster is being built by RMC (Rocky Mountain Construction), which has never failed to deliver a unique and thrilling ride experience.  Video courtesy of Six Flags Fiesta Texas.

CONEY ISLAND CYCLONE TURNS 90

This classic coaster that's been delivering thrills for almost a century is about to celebrate its 90th birthday.  Here's the link to my post on The Coaster Critic: http://www.coastercritic.com/2017/06/review-90-years-coney-island-cyclone/

DROP OF DOOM VR

For a limited time Six Flags Great Adventure's Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom will be available as Drop of Doom VR.  Virtual reality has been available on roller coasters, mainly at Six Flags parks, since 2016, but the addition of VR to a formidable drop ride is a new twist.  The VR can be enjoyed only from 3pm to park closing time.  On a day of light attendance I had to wait about an hour to experience it and it was well worth the wait.  The theme is a city under siege by giant mutant spiders.  And the way in which the VR headset, from Samsung powered by Oculus, altered my perception of what was really happening is amazing.  Quite an experience!

MYSTIC TIMBERS OPEN AT KINGS ISLAND!

GCI’s highly anticipated new wooden coaster, Mystic Timbers, opened to the public on April 15.   Themed after an abandoned lumber yard (intentionally spooky) and featuring Millennium Flyer trains, it takes the riders on a rollicking journey through wooded terrain.  With distinctive S curves and 16 airtime hills, this is looking pretty awesome.    The journey into the shed, however, is anticlimactic.  After all the hype about “What’s In the Shed?” one would have hoped for something more astonishing than the visuals that greet the riders upon entry into the shed.  Video courtesy of American Coaster Enthusiasts

MYSTIC TIMBERS TAKES 1ST TEST RUN

Mystic Timbers, Kings Island's highly anticipated new attraction for 2017, completed a test run on March 20.  With 3,265 feet of track this promises to be a good ride.  But we still don't know what's in the shed!  We'll have to wait until April 13 - when there's a preview for participants in the Mystic Timbers First Riders auction - to find out.  Mystic Timbers opens to the general public on April 15.  This short video clip courtesy of Kings Island.

INVADR SOON TO OPEN AT BGW

Busch Gardens Williamsburg's first ever wooden coaster, the Viking-themed InvadR, will open on April 7.  Great that this park finally  has a woodie.   It clearly will not be a white knuckle ride but will almost undoubtedly offer some good airtime.  Interestingly, InvadR features the Millennium Flyer trains from the now defunct coaster Gwazi at Busch Gardens Tampa.  I was sorry to see Gwazi go but am glad to see that its trains are not going to waste.  BGW released this POV video of InvadR yesterday.

SEA WORLD SAN DIEGO ANNOUNCES NEW COASTER

Sea World San Diego has announced that it will open a third coaster, Electric Eel, in 2018.  This strikes me as a good move for the park, as Electric Eel will complement the other two coasters - Journey to Atlantis and Manta - while adding one that's more extreme and in the high thrill category.  It's a Skyrocket II coaster from Premier Rides,  nearly if not identical to Tempesto at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.  Featuring multiple launches, a zero-g roll and non-inverting loop, it packs more of a punch than would be apparent from the footage.  I say that as a veteran of Tempesto. Video courtesy of Sea World via Coaster Nation.

BEST RIDE EXPERIENCE OF 2016

Of all the coasters I rode this year, two stood out, probably because I rode each of them for the first time and both were remarkable.  Both are RMC makeovers; I can’t say enough about how good this company is in transforming wooden coasters into hybrids with new thrill elements.  This was a tough call, as both coasters provided a great ride experience.  It came down to Iron Rattler and New Texas Giant. 

There are distinct similarities in that both feature RMC’s signature red I-Box track and several overbanked turns.  Iron Rattler is a terrain coaster, built over a quarry, and the feeling of freedom in racing over the terrain is a breath of fresh air.  The initial drop and barrel roll are awesome.  New Texas Giant, on the other hand, is contained within a more constricted area and doesn’t feature any inversions.  That being said, NTG affords a wild ride experience with several overbanked turns.  It also offers the element of surprise, as it’s impossible to see exactly what’s coming up next, even when you have some familiarity with the ride.  Even after repeated rides I was taken by surprise when the train enters the first of two tunnels.  The second tunnel is a highlight of the ride, as it’s pitch black and the train drops while in the tunnel.  Both coasters are so good that I really couldn’t make up my mind as to which was better, so this year it ends in a tie.

MYSTIC TIMBERS CONSTRUCTION WELL UNDERWAY

Construction of Mystic Timbers, Kings Island’s new wooden coaster slated to open in 2017 and the park’s 16th coaster, is progressing.  Featuring 3,265 feet of track and a course that takes riders through a densely wooded area  – like The Beast – and an extreme turn, it will cover an area of highly varied terrain.  At a height of 109 feet and a maximum speed of 53 mph, this coaster will not be a monster ride but it sure looks interesting.  Photo courtesy of Kings Island.

BIG DIPPER TO BE DEMOLISHED

Iconic coaster Big Dipper at Geauga Lake is scheduled to be demolished within the next couple of weeks.  Before the park closed in 2007, this out and back woodie built in 1925 was one of the oldest operating coasters in existence.  It certainly has a lot of nostalgic value and it's sad to see it go.  Photo courtesy of Geauga Lake Today.

Skull Mountain To Become Rage of the Gargoyles

Six Flags Great Adventure's darkest ride, Skull Mountain, has been closed for transformation.  It will reopen on September 24 as Rage of the Gargoyles.  This will be a virtual reality experience with Samsung headgear powered by Oculus and enabling riders to shoot at flying demons.  Skull Mountain has always been a jarring coaster and the only one in the park which is absolutely pitch black, so the addition of VR represents an interesting new twist.  Image courtesy of Six Flags.

KINGS ISLAND ANNOUNCES NEW ROLLER COASTER

The suspense is over.  We knew that Kings Island was planning a new ride for 2017 but didn't know what it would be.  The park has announced that the new attraction will be Mystic Timbers, a wooden coaster to be built by GCI (Great Coasters International).  The 109-foot tall coaster featuring 3,265 feet of track will take a thrilling journey through a densely wooded area.  Shades of The Beast? The teaser has to do with what's in the shed at the end of the ride.  We won't know that until next year.  Animation video courtesy of Kings Island.

MEAN STREAK TO CLOSE

Cedar Point has announced that this massive wooden coaster will take its last ride in September. The rumor, unconfirmed, is that Mean Streak will undergo a Rocky Mountain Construction makeover.  I hope that this will prove to be the case, as Mean Streak is a prime candidate for the RMC treatment if ever there was one.  Not having ridden it in its prime, I can't comment on how it was when it opened but having ridden it several times within the past five years, I can say that it's colossally boring!  How a coaster with a 155-foot drop could be so lacking in airtime has never ceased to amaze me.  However, as welcome as an RMC makeover would be, from what I see thus far it's equally likely that this colossus will get the axe to make way for a completely new, unrelated attraction.  Video courtesy of Cedar Point.