Paramount Park’s 13 year foray into the theme park business resulted in a significant number of successes and industry oddities. The application of Paramount theming in existing regional parks gave us two significant B&M Top Gun inverts and the world’s first major linear induction motor launch coaster, Flight of Fear. However their tendency to experiment and take additions in different directions also resulted in a string of failures and disappointments. Kings Dominion opened the late Volcano, The Blast Coaster in 1998, a prototype Intamin inverted catapult coaster that never seemed to run reliably throughout its 20 years at the park, and the ill-fated prototype air launch coaster Hypersonic XLC in 2001. Carowinds opened a Setpoint suspended water coaster in 2000 called Flying Super Saturator which lasted less than 10 years. Canada’s Wonderland still has an odd collection of mid-size coasters for the world’s most popular regional park including 1995’s SLC Top Gun and 2004’s Zamperla flyer Tomb Raider, The Ride. The chain’s flagship, Kings Island, received one of the most notorious failures of them all, 2000’s wooden hyper coaster, Son of Beast. That same year the chain would add a unique prototype to Great America, the world’s first major flying coaster, Stealth.Continue reading “Lost Coasters of California – Part 9: Stealth”
Boysenberry Festival is in full swing at Knott’s Berry Farm through May 2 and it is a sanitized finger lickin’ good time!Continue reading “Knott’s Taste of Boysenberry Festival – March 2021”
Last week we focused on Windjammer Surf Racers and how it was a product of Knott’s Berry Farm’s attempt to navigate the space between the family and thrill market. It faced the problem of Magic Mountain dominating the thrill market with major coaster additions, many of which we’ve discussed here, and Disneyland’s hyper detailed themed experiences. Northern California in the late 90s had a far less competitive theme park market. After the construction and runaway success of Tidal Wave in 1977 Marriott’s Great America, eventually Great America in 1985 and then Paramount’s Great America in 1993, had remained consistent with coaster trends. In 1986 they opened the wooden Grizzly, 1991 saw the addition of the B&M standup Vortex, and 1993 saw the addition of the still-beloved B&M invert Top Gun. These consistent additions, despite changes in ownership, resulted in a solid coaster collection any regional park could be proud of.Continue reading “Lost Coasters of California – Part 8: Invertigo”
Today’s roller coaster landscape is becoming increasingly international. With the rise of streaming video, social media, and even Google Translate the coaster enthusiast community and industry is more connected than it’s ever been. With the recent rise of Chinese theme parks and Chinese ride manufacturers it’s easy to forget a time when Japan seemed second only to the United States as a thrill ride destination. The undisputed king of the Japanese coaster manufacturers was “Toyo Goraku Ki Kabushiki Kaisha” or TOGO. TOGO opened their first roller coaster in 1953 at Hanayashiki park in Tokyo and soon began building rides all over Japan. In 1983 their stand-up coaster model was opening at Kings Island as King Cobra, bringing TOGO to North America. Over the next two decades TOGO would try to capitalize on this success and expand into the American and European market. They eventually opened a subsidiary named TOGO International headquartered in Middletown, Ohio. While there was some success an ill-fated 1997 project at Knott’s Berry Farm would mark the end of TOGO’s presence as a leader in the coaster world.Continue reading “Lost Coasters of California – Part 7: Windjammer”
As we discussed in the last article on the Whizzer the Marriott’s Great America parks were bold designs that applied many lessons learned at other regional parks. Part of this was a plan and specific plots designated for expansion. In 1977, a year after its opening, the Santa Clara park was the first to receive a major coaster addition, the Tidal Wave.Continue reading “Lost Coasters of California – Part 3: Tidal Wave”
In Part 1 of this series we explored Corkscrew which left Knott’s Berry farm in 1989 but lives on at Silverwood. Today we look at another steel classic that left the state a year earlier in 1988 and also lives on, albeit in spirit, at a different park.Continue reading “Lost Coasters of California – Part 2: Whizzer”
The Golden State has long had the reputation as one of the recreation capitals of the world. Beautiful weather combined with a diverse landscape created an environment where leisure became a serious business. It is no surprise that California is home to some of the world’s most famous roller coasters. Unfortunately many great rides are no longer part of the California coaster landscape. In these series we will be exploring some of California’s great coasters that are no more!Continue reading “Lost Coasters of California – Part 1: Corkscrew”
Since their creation amusement and theme parks have utilized landscaping and theming as an important part of the experience. The massive popularity of Disneyland standardized the idea of themed lands within a park. Most parks which opened in the resulting regional park boom incorporated this idea. Theme parks have the ability to transport guests to different times and worlds. A well-themed area can be an attraction in and of itself. But these areas often fall flat. The following are five of the weakest theme park areas. Also included are some ideas on how they might be refreshed. This is by no means an exhaustive list so please make your own suggestions, they may find their way to a part two!Continue reading “Weakest Theme Park Areas”
It’s been 2 years since our last comprehensive countdown of California coasters, so for 2020 we bring you now a Top 20 for the Golden State. Things in California have changed a LOT in 2 years, and the landscape and hierarchy of its coasters is no exception. Continue reading “Coaster Kings’ California TOP 20 – 2020”
Following the launch of our Twenty-Year Top 20: The Best Coasters of 1999, we immediately decided to make it an annual thing – Here’s what we think are the 20 best coasters that turned 20 in 2020!
In 1981 Dutch fantasy park Efteling decided to add their first roller coaster. Already a well established theme-park they chose to make an investment that would make a big impact on the European market. Working with Dutch manufacturer Vekoma they unveiled the largest roller coaster in all of Europe, Python. Although a copy of the existing Arrow Huss Carolina Cyclone, this 4 inversion monster was unlike anything in the region. It was only 2 years after Blackpool Pleasure Beach had unveiled Europe’s first modern looping coaster and the first time modern inversions appeared in continental Europe. Efteling had built something loopier, larger, and unlike anything else that Europe had seen and it became a phenomenon. Python has been featured in numerous Dutch TV programs, was used by Porsche to film a television commercial, and continues to be one of the most popular attractions in the park. So beloved is this ride that in 2018 the park spent an estimated 4.5 Million Euro ($5.3 Million USD) to re-track the majority of the ride and ensure it continues to run for future generations. Continue reading “5 of America’s National Coaster Icons”
America has a few regions that are “hotspots” for roller coasters, regions with 2 or more parks within a short distance from each other. The most famous include Central Florida, Southern California, and Eastern Pennsylvania. Though long outshined by the plethora of parks surrounding Los Angeles and San Diego, Northern California holds the distinction of being a region with three parks with major thrill roller coasters. The roller coaster landscape of Northern California has changed dramatically just within the past 10 years.
Carowinds is reopening in November with a new limited-time event, Carowinds Taste of the Season: An Outdoor Holiday Experience. The holiday celebration will feature dozens of sweet and savory tastings, festive themed areas, live shows, and popular rides throughout the park. The event will be open on select dates between November 21 and December 20. Continue reading “Carowinds Reopens with Taste of the Season Food Event”
Off the heels of Knott’s successful new “Taste” experiences, Knott’s Berry Farm is excited to announce a new seasonal food and retail event, this time celebrating the merriest season of all, with Knott’s Taste of Merry Farm. While the theme park remains closed, Christmas spirit still shines bright this year with holiday charm brimming out of every corner of the park, as Knott’s wondrously transforms with enchanted décor, thousands of twinkling lights, miles of festive garland, and a variety of picturesque holiday settings, all serving as a backdrop to the tastiest holiday foods around. Continue reading “Knott’s Taste of Merry Farm”
After months on top of months of waiting, California theme parks finally received reopening guidelines yesterday during the state’s weekly COVID-19 briefing. Governor Gavin Newsom along with other high-level representatives from the Golden State have decided to split up theme parks into “larger theme parks” and “smaller theme parks”. The placement of a theme park is based on its capacity. The state says it will allow smaller theme parks to reopen at 25% capacity (or 500 people, whichever is fewer) once the county the park resides in is placed into the orange tier. Reservations will be required, all park guests must live in the same county the park is in, and only outdoor attractions will be allowed to operate. For larger theme parks, the restrictions are even more suffocating, with the guidelines stating that the county the park resides in must be in the yellow tier in order to reopen. Like the smaller parks, reservations will also be required and the park capacity will have to be 25%. Continue reading “California Theme Parks – Where Do We Go From Here?”
We got quite some news this week from parks around the US, including seasonal events, food festivals, and combinations of both! Continue reading “Special Events News – United States Theme Parks – Week Ending September 13, 2020”
We’re on the second episode of the new season! After a quick conversation about the Jurassic World coaster and Waldameer, we discuss two highly popular Cedar Fair parks and how they compare. This time we based our discussions on Instagram polls and the results. Let’s see if we agree with our followers! Continue reading “Coaster Kings Radio – Cedar Point vs. Kings Island”
We couldn’t stay away from our favorite operating Cedar Fair park! Along with a visit to Cedar Point, we returned to Kings Island to enjoy some more rides on Orion and other favorites. This time we braved a 70-minute line to enter the Eiffel Tower, so we have a collection of great Kings Island shots ahead! Continue reading “Kings Island from Above”
Never content with leaving “good enough” alone, we’re back in Ohio for more quality time at Cedar Point and Kings Island! Continue reading “Cedar Point – Trip Report Late August 2020”
Greetings, all! Fresh on the heels of our latest Ohio adventure (and with another one impending to cap our 2020 regional park season), we decided it was time to publish our 2nd annual ranking of Ohio’s coasters!