This week RD is taking it easy on us, and sharing his own personal top 10. I think it's safe to say that his top 10 is a bit different than most enthusiasts, but I think we all have at least one or two coasters in our top 10 that wouldn't make sense to people.
Enjoy this weeks article and feel free to post your personal Top 10 below. - Gregg
One of the most common questions I see get asked is "What is your top 10 (insert coaster class here)? And I will admit, I've shyed away from really having more than a top three, as in all reality, I like just about every coaster I go on, in one form or another. For me, to really make an impression on me is a rarity; seldom do rides have a WOW factor these days that is really worth anything. A great view is nice, but a boring & mundane ride that is forceless really does not deserve a top 10 position. In the same area, a ride can be 40 ft. tall, and deliver quite a punch, but sitting in an ugly area, or badly treated it will not qualify.
As a whole, this is my top 10. Each ride in the list has criteria for me which make it noteworthy - and not necessarily because of the ride's performance, but something memorable or important has occurred on the ride. There are defunct coasters on the list; before you start to complain, I feel that even if the ride is gone, it is worthy of maintaining a position, as a tribute to the ride's history & impact.
10. Outer Limits: Flight of Fear (2001 modified), Kings Dominion/Kings Island
As the very first full-circuit LIM coasters, the Premier Bowl design was possibly the most complicated coaster built at the time of its opening. For me, the warped & twisted layout, strange force changes, and smooth performance make it a hard to touch ride. Add in an impressive launch & oddball finale, it is an amazing ride to me to this day.
9. Tennessee Tornado, Dollywood
As one of Arrow's last projects (and one of the first designs by Alan Shilke) TT stands out as being a non-Arrow Arrow. Glass smooth, incredible scenery, blinding speed, weird trick-track inversions - all of it adds up to a stunning ride with spectacular performance. Had Arrow continued and built more of this class of ride, the skyline would be VERY different today. Alan Shilke, if you're reading this, PLEASE GO AND BUILD MORE RIDES LIKE THIS!
8. Space Mountain (Starport Seven Five), Walt Disney World/Magic Kingdom
SP75 holds a position for me as being a critical ride that I still enjoy whenever I get a chance to. This was the ride that turned me into a coaster man; to this day I can recall my first ride on it clearly: March 8,1988, Alpha side. The ride itself is a simple combination of dips & curves, but it performs admirably 40 years on, and is a must-do for enclosed steel coaster fans.
7. Georgia Scorcher, Six Flags Over Georgia
Before B&M lost their mojo, they created a number of notable coasters. Of their Standing variety, Georgia Scorcher stands out - WAY out. Incredibly forceful with a twisted and compact layout, GS fits so perfectly that it seems organic to the park. Though overshadowed by larger siblings on both coasts, GS still rises above either of them as far as thrills & a fantastic performance.
6. Big Bad Wolf, Busch Gardens: The Old Country
Big Bad Wolf holds a position though defunct due to several factors. Taking the concept of the Arrow Suspended ride to absolute definition, BBW was not the biggest, nor the tallest, nor the fastest - but consistently delivered on performance & thrills. It was also my first large steel coaster, back in 1987.
5. Fire Chaser Express, Dollywood
As a new for 2014 coaster goes, this was well beyond what I expected, and a real knockout when it comes to family coasters. Gerstlauer's thinking out of the box produced a ride that is silky smooth, has excellent changes in forces, a fantastic scenic view, and very cool special effects. The result is a family coaster like none other built in the USA, or for that matter the world. This is a concept that will be capitalized on many times over in the next decade, and Dollywood will hold the claim of starting the fire...chaser.
4.Ninja, Six Flags Magic Mountain
While not the tallest nor fastest Arrow suspended coaster, Ninja had (until late last year) one of the best scenic rides of any coaster anywhere. Built over an existing hydroflume, and having an unusual split-lift hill, Ninja's course does not disappoint, nor does it let up anywhere along the 2700 foot track. For me, night rides are stellar, with the swaying/whipping action of the train highlighted by the sparkling lights from underneath, as well as the shadows of the trees on the ride itself. A real winner all around.
3. Mindbender, West Edmonton Mall
#3 & #2 are both interchangable - not only do they share the same name, they share the same designer. However, beyond that they differ completely. WEM's Mindbender takes a previous coaster concept that Schwarzkopf used, and made it taller, longer & plenty meaner. For steel coaster fans, it is the holy-grail of force monsters, pushing you to limits & G force like no other ride on earth can muster. Combined with near year-round operation, this is a MUST-DO for any real coaster rider.
2. MindBender, Six Flags Over Georgia
Built in 1978, Schwarzkopf's Heartlinelooping system used in MindBender broke the concept of what steel coasters could do. Having a layout that uses the terrain so perfectly is rare, combined with insane high speed inversions, a mid-course diving spiral, deep straightline drops, and a high-G finale, MindBender redefined the art of steel coasters in a way that has never been done since. MindBender's single-point restraints (A simple lap bar) gives a rider the freedom to enjoy the ride as it was intended.
1. Loch Ness Monster, Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Nessie has been in my #1 spot now for 24 straight years. Why? It has factors that no other ride on earth can compete with: Stunning visuals & incredible beauty, a custom layout with conterminous interlocking loops (look it up...), a smooth ride, a series of impressive force moments, and a scenic trip throughout the ravine at BGW. I chose my college based upon how far it was from LNM to my dorm; in fact, LNM is my high-cycle coaster as well. Nessie reigns at the top, and as she turns 37 this year she still can hold her own, much better than many of her larger competition can claim.
So you're wondering why there aren't a lot of foreign coasters on the list. First, I omitted ones that would be hard to get credits - such as Olympia Looping (which would place at #4) or Blue Fire (Which would place at #6). While these rides are insanely good, and well worth the trip, for most people they are as far away as the moon, and just as hard to reach. I also omitted production rides as a whole - notably the JetStar & Jumbo Jet from Schwarzkopf - as they are incredibly rare in the USA, much less the world. These too should be part of the list, and were also removed for their rarity.
You will also note that the entire list is made up of lower-height rides. While I will ride just about anything produced, I have found for the most part these giant coasters are one-trick ponies. I305 isn't on the list - nor is SkyRush (both from Intamin) as I've yet to ride either. While top-notch rides, I would rather have an objective list that has my opinions on rides, rather than to make claims that are spurious at best.
As for whether there will be a wooden coaster top 10, I can say this: There won't be one - not from me. For the most part, I'm not a big fan of wooden coasters; GCI tends to hit the mark when I DO want a wooden ride. If I were to put a few on a list, Grizzly (KD), WildCat (HP), and Thunderhead (DW) would be on there for sure. Beyond that, I tend not to ride wooden coasters often; my physical condition makes it hard to handle the shuffling well anymore.
So what do you think of RD's top 10? Unconventional to say the least, but everybody has their favorites for a variety of reasons.
Feel free to post your top 10 below, we'd love to see what everybody else loves to ride.