It’s Sean’s first time to Six Flags Great America and my first time in about a decade – needless to say the well overdue! How will Sean, a well-traveled enthusiast who’s ridden nearly 700 unique coasters, react to this US regional park icon? How have their coasters held up since my last visit? Join us and find out!Continue reading “Six Flags Great America: Expectations vs Reality”
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”
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”
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”
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.