Sean: I know we’re already approaching the end of 2019, but we’re flashing back to 2018 when we traveled across the world to some memorable and not-so-memorable parks. Below we have listed some of the biggest surprises of 2018, both local and international coasters.
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5. Batwing – Six Flags America
SURPRISE! We’re not used to Vekomas being very smooth, and the general consensus is that B&M Flying Coasters are better than the Vekoma type. However, our June 2018 trip to Six Flags America was enlightening to say the least. We were already fans of the slightly rough Nighthawk at Carowinds and the late Firehawk at Kings Island, but Batwing was a whole other level of perfect. No rattle, smooth tracking, and forces unknown to B&M Flyers created an experience I did not quite expect to be that great. Looking back at all the new coasters we rode in 2018, Batwing was definitely one of the biggest surprises.
4. Steel Dragon 2000 – Nagashima Spa Land
Next up is the legendary Steel Dragon 2000 at Nagashima Spa Land. To be fair, we were anticipating not being able to ride the red beast on our trip to the park given that past visitors had indicated a clear height-cap that Alex and I both exceeded. However, by purchasing exit-passes we skipped the height check and we jumped on this marvelous coaster 3 times. Steel Dragon is one of only 5 Giga Coasters in the world and the only installment of that status in Asia. The Morgan manufactured coaster is a whopping 8,133 feet long, making it the longest steel coaster in the world, and since 2013 the coaster runs specially designed B&M trains making the ride a pure delight. From amazing floater airtime to a killer mid-course twister section and a bunny-hop finale like no other, this Giga Coaster was infinitely better than we anticipated and turned out to be one of our very favorite coasters!
3. Gold Rush – Attractiepark Slagharen
The reason why we thought HangTime at Knott’s Berry Farm was mediocre when we first rode it? Gold Rush is to blame. Attractiepark Slagharen‘s 2017 Gerstlauer Infinity Coaster packs a serious punch. Being used to the inconsistency of the Gerstlauer products (mainly the EuroFighters) we did not quite expect Gold Rush to amazing as it was. Forceful launches, great ejector airtime, snappy inversions and a small-but-very-effective layout left us flabbergasted. While HangTime was still under construction we were convinced HangTime would be just as amazing, but it has nothing on Slagharen’s Gold Rush.
2. Lost Gravity – Walibi Holland
Our #2 spot is also in the Netherlands, and it’s the unique Mack Big Dipper coaster; Lost Gravity. Mack’s spin on the compact looper is a whole lot different from Gerstlauer’s but they have created one of our favorite coasters out there. Lost Gravity is not just unique by means of the ride’s seating configuration, layout, and color scheme but also its outrageous-Walibi theming. The park, located near Amsterdam, has a distinct culture and art inspired theme they call “festivalization” with custom electronic music for each ride, outlandish themes, and pop-culture drug-inspired themed elements. The park is a trip, and so is Lost Gravity. The ride’s freeing seating configuration is perfect for the wild drop, insane airtime and hangtime in the inversions. Though Walibi Holland is home to favorites like Goliath, Xpress: Platform 13, Speed of Sound, and now Untamed!, the lineup is perfectly rounded with the craziness that is Lost Gravity, a can’t-miss coaster of the Netherlands.
1. Eejanaika – Fuji-Q Highland
Our #1 biggest surprise of 2018 brings us back to Japan, to the infamous coaster-haven at the base of Mt. Fuji. Eejanaika is located at Fuji-Q Highland, the park that is notorious for terrible operations, its small size and monster coasters. It wasn’t easy to get a ride on Eejanaika, especially with the downpour, poor operations, and the need to acquire front-of-the-line passes for the ride. However, our efforts were greatly rewarded not only with selfies with local riders, but with the amazing experience that puts X2 in the family-coaster category. Eejanaika‘s 250 foot drop is terrifying, its 78.3 mph speed through the tumbling inversions absolutely disorienting, and the lineup of elements astonishing. I can still not believe how amazingly terrifying and awesome this coaster was, including the face-down brake-run finale. From start to finish Eejanaika is an other-worldly experience, and by no means comparable to its ancestor X2.
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