Bill Jacklin's Roller-coaster Page ...


Like most folks who ride roller-coasters seriously, Bill has some very strong opinions about what's good and what's bad. Those opinions are his own, however, and certainly do not reflect the views of any of his family, friends, acquaintances, or ... anybody else. The following diatribe was written after a two-month trip in the summer of 2001 during which he and fellow ACE'er Bob Roginski visited 44 parks, rode over 170 different coasters, and ate a ton of burgers. Bill's current (7/2002) "track record"? 1717 separate rides on 271 different coasters.


A souvenir postcard purchased at the park ...

BILL'S CHOICES FOR THE BEST AND THE WORST ...

Wooden Roller Coasters:

Best:

"Shivering Timbers", Michigan's Adventure, Muskegon, MI -- This out-and-backer features 7 hills out, for a half mile, then 8 hills back. Air time on nearly every one. Ride it while you can; the park's new owners/management undoubtedly will want to modify it ASAP. (They have a reputation for putting trim brakes on coasters that don't need them.)

"Legend", Holiday World, Santa Claus, IN - One of the two outstanding twisters of medium-large size that have superb pacing.

"Ghostrider", Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park, CA - The other outstanding medium-large twister. Both are absolutely hellish, but, surprisingly, very ride-able.

"Boss", Six Flags St. Louis, MO - A large ravine twister; the obvious successor to "Texas Giant", Six Flags over Texas, which was itself once rated #1 by many ACE'ers, but is now sadly in need of refurbishing.

"Boulder Dash", Lake Compounce, Bristol, CT - A big curving drop provides the high energy for a fast-paced out-and-back romp dodging trees and boulders, in and out of ravines. An excellent out-of-control ride that never gets very far off the ground after the drop.

Honorable Mention:

"Son of Beast", Paramount's Kings Island, Cincinatti, OH - This massive twister features an over 200 ft. first drop into a spaghetti bowl of track that contains a loop (!) and two helixes. Too big to be anything but overwhelming. But you gotta ride it at least once.

Worst:

Because the park(s) in question deserve a shot at renovating coasters which have badly deteriorated or which were duds in the first place, actual names will not be mentioned in a public forum ... but they know who they are. Let's just say that slow, rough woodies with both trim brakes and clumsy restraint systems, sporting low ridership (and then mostly by kiddies), qualify for this award.



Steel Roller Coasters:

Best:

"Millenium Force", Cedar Point, Sandusky, OH - Check it out on CP's web site: 300 ft. drop at 80 degrees. No inversions, it flies low and very, very fast after the drop. It WILL get your attention.

"Superman, Ride of Steel", Six Flags New England, Agawam, MA - The ultimate air time machine. A 220 ft. drop into a track plan that features two helixes and at least six low parabolic hills that actually generate strong NEGATIVE G's. Gawd, how I love it!

"Goliath", Six Flags California (was Magic Mountain), Valencia, CA -- Best ride at MM. A 255 ft. drop and a helix whose positive G's make your vision start to grey. The lawyers will be on this one, too. (A girl died on this one this summer -- of a medical condition totally unrelated to anything within the park's control. But that probably won't stop them ...)

"Steel Force", Dorney Park, Allentown, PA - One of three nearly identical 200+ ft. out-and-back coasters with three outbound hills, a twice-around helix, and seven rabbit hops back [1]. Delicious floating zero-gravity air time over all the tops.

"Nitro", Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, NJ - Could be called the steel equivalent of "Shivering Timbers"; lots of air time on plenty of drops, and big ones, too.

Honorable Mention:

"Canyon Blaster", Circus Circus, Las Vegas, NV - The theming and environment of this small high-energy coaster plus the ability to ride it a gazillion times in an afternoon makes it a personal favorite.

"Steel Eel", Marine World, San Antonio, TX - A smaller and very picturesque version of "Steel Force" that can be ridden all day because the crowds actually came to watch the seal and dolphin shows.

Worst:

Again, no mention of names here, but if you like a lousy track plan, drops that don't go all the way down, over- or under-banked curves, an overly rough ride, and ill-fitting restraints - all for TEN BUCKS A POP - you will just love this one. Better to play the slots!



Extreme

"Hypersonic XLC", Paramount Kings Dominion, Doswell, VA - Zero to eighty in one point eight seconds (spelled out so as to show that it ain't no typo)!! Compressed air powered, has a "Christmas Tree" count-down display a la drag strips to let riders know when it is gonna happen. Car goes 150 ft., track then takes it vertical, 90 degrees, for 165 ft., a sharp over-the-top turn which generates at least 1 G. negative, vertically down 165 ft., then back to horizontal for the turn-around and coast back to the brake run. Total trip time is 14 seconds; the interesting first part just six seconds. Wait in line is 90 minutes. By all means, wait the extra 20 minutes to ride it in the front seat!!



Miscellaneous stuff:

Best:

Food: The BBQ buffet, Six Flags Marine World, Vallejo, CA

Snack/refresher: Semi-solid frozen lemonade (worth the $3).

Generic coaster: "Batman, the Ride" at most Six Flags parks [2].

Coaster riding parks (good coasters; short waits):
1) Holiday World, IN ("Raven" and "Legend")
2) Marine World, TX ("Steel Eel" and "Great White")
3) Indiana Beach, IN ("Hurricane" and "Cornball Express")
4) Visionland, Birmingham, AL ("Rampage")
5) Michigan Adventure, MI ("Shivering Timbers")
6) Lake Compounce, CT ("Boulder Dash")

Worst:

Gas Prices (summer, 2001): Chicago area; anywhere in California.

Restraints: Unnecessary "horse collars", Six Flags California, and ill-fitting, poorly-designed ear-bangers, particularly on LIM-launched in-the-dark coasters. (At least one park removed theirs.)

Unnecessary trim brakes: The woodies at most Cedar-Faire parks.

Over-hyped: The "flying" coasters. (Ride it once to say you've ridden it, then move on to the better rides.)

Coaster type: Anything you stand up on.

Waiting lines: Cedar Point, Sandusky, OH; Six Flags America, Largo, MD; ANY brand-new coaster.



Footnotes:

[1] The others? "Wild Thing", Valley Faire, Shakopee, MN, and "Mamba", Worlds of Fun, Kansas City, MO.

[2] "Great White" at Marine World, San Antonio, TX, is nearly identical to "Batman, the Ride".


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