New roller coasters provide a cure the summertime blues
By Jay Keller
And, arguably the biggest lure to these recreational hubs are the ever-more-thrilling roller coasters.
Roller coasters in the U.S. have been around 129 years with the first opeining on June 16, 1884, at Coney Island, N.Y.
Aboard the “Gravity Pleasure Switchback Railway,” built by LaMarcus Thompson, passengers paid a nickel for a thrilling one-minute ride that topped six miles per hour.
Today, there are 524 theme and amusement parks across the nation, and along with arcades, they sell $13.5 billion worth of tickets annually, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Nearly 200 new rides and attractions have opened this summer at more than 80 theme parks, water parks, family fun centers, zoos, aquariums and museums in North America, according to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), the worldwide trade association for the global attractions industry.
“If it’s new adventures families want, this summer is going to deliver,” said IAAPA President and CEO Paul Noland. “There’s something new for everyone.”
Of all the new rides that have opened this summer at parks across the U.S. that test imagination and nerves, the new wooden roller coasters that turn riders upside are certain to thrill the daring.
California’s Great America opened Gold Striker in early June, claiming to be the tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster in Northern California, measuring 108 feet at its highest point and with a first drop of 103 feet, riders hit speeds up to 53.7 mph.
When it comes to wooden roller coasters, however, Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri, opened in late May Outlaw Run which does things a wood coaster has never done while topping out at 68 mph, a world record.
Several of the new coasters that debuted this summer from regional theme park company Six Flags Entertainment Corporation.
In St. Louis, Six Flags opened a ninth roller coaster in early June called the Boomerang a 28-passenger train which is pulled up 125 feet backward to the top of a lift hill and then released to propel riders through a half loop, a right half cork screw, a left half cork screw and another half loop. And, that’s just the first leg.
Six Flags Fiesta Texas recently opened the Iron Rattler coaster which features the world’s tallest and steepest drop, fastest speed after climbing 181 feet as riders hit a top speed of 70 mph.
Six Flags Over Georgia now offers a swing ride, the SkyScreamer, which measures 242 feet tall and, when at “full swing,” riders revolve in a 98-foot circle at speeds of 40 mph.
Six Flags Great America, located between Chicago and Milwaukee, changed things up on Batman: The Ride this summer by running the coaster backwards, which magnifies things a bit when you’re traveling 50 mph through 2,700 feet of track consisting of hairpin turns, vertical loops, corkscrews and a zero-G roll.