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.
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom has released this titillating POV video of The Joker, scheduled to open in late May. Using the wooden support structure of the old Roar roller coaster, revamped and steel-tracked by Rocky Mountain Construction, The Joker features a wave turn and barrel roll among other elements.
Switchback, the only modern wooden shuttle coaster in existence, opened at ZDT's amusement 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 drop and 87% angle of ascent are bound to ensure a thrilling ride. This looks like another winner for The Gravity Group, probably best known for The Voyage at Holiday World. Photo courtesy of ZDT's Amusement Park.
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 ofCedar Point.
Dollywood has announced that Lightning Rod, the world's first launched wooden coaster, will open in 2016. We knew that Dollywood was getting a new coaster but didn't know that it would be something this unique. Lightning Rod is themed after a 1950's hot rod and in addition to a 20-story launch features a 165-foot drop, 90+-degree banked turn and non-inverting half loop among other elements. It's looking like a very cool ride. Video courtesy of Dollywood.
Kentucky Kingdom has announced that they will be getting a fifth coaster, Storm Chaser, to be built by RMC with iBox track on wood. It will be the first coaster in the USA with a barrel roll - at a 78-degree angle - as the first drop. Other elements include a 140-degree stall and "corked roll." Storm Chaser is scheduled to open in the spring of 2016. Animation video courtesy of Kentucky Kingdom.
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.
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 first launched wing coaster will actually be up and running when the park opens on April 25, 2014. Photo courtesy of Holiday World.