Top five new roller coasters opening in 2011

With theme parks around the country set to open soon, here’s my take on the most anticipated new roller coasters opening in the United States this year. I’ll start with my top pick.

Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens Tampa (Tampa, Florida)
Busch Gardens Tampa’s Cheetah Hunt is by far my most anticipated new roller coaster. The multi-launch coaster looks to be an adventure that will rocket riders from 0 to 60 mph. Launch coasters are nothing new, but one with such a diverse layout is. At times the coaster will climb up 100 feet into a unique figure eight element, then dive down below the ground as it charges through a trench. Add to that a corkscrew and an airtime hill and you’ve got an action-packed journey with Busch Gardens Tampa’s Serengeti-themed area as the backdrop. The park has a history of well-themed, well-executed thrilling roller coasters and Cheetah Hunt looks to be no different.

Texas Giant at Six Flags Over Texas (Dallas, Texas)
Six Flags Over Texas
is completing a potentially ground-breaking $10 million upgrade of the Texas Giant. The twenty year old wooden coaster has been re-tracked with steel rails in order to provide a smoother and more exciting ride. Thanks to the new rails, constructed by Rocky Mountain Construction, Six Flags claims the Texas Giant will achieve two World records for a wooden coaster. It will have the steepest drop at 79 degrees and the steepest banking at 95 degrees. I argue that the ‘Giant is now technically a steel coaster, but either way the redesigned Texas Giant could be an amazing ride that encourages similar transformations in the future.

Dare Devil Dive at Six Flags Over Georgia (Atlanta, Georgia)
Six Flags Over Georgia will be opening their 11th roller coaster in the ultra-steep Dare Devil Dive. The ride will boast a vertical lift hill followed by a beyond vertical 95 degree drop. Then, the rocket-themed cars will traverse a thrilling course with three loops, a zero gravity hill, and a tunnel. Dare Devil Dive follows the removal of the park’s Deja Vu roller coaster in 2007. This should be an excellent replacement as a similar roller coaster, Dollywood’s Mystery Mine, was well-received.

Green Lantern at Six Flags Great Adventure (Jackson, New Jersey)
Six Flags has a history of reusing themes and ride names at a number of their parks. So, it’s no surprise that there will be two Green Lantern roller coasters to tie in with the forthcoming film. Six Flags Great Adventures’ Green Lantern coaster is a stand-up coaster that was previously at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom. One of the largest of its kind, it features five loops and a 144 foot first drop. The 14-year old coaster is getting a paint job and may also receive new trains and special effects. While it’s not a completely new roller coaster, it should still be one of the best to open this year. It’s easily one of my favorite stand-up coasters and I really enjoyed it when it was Chang at Kentucky Kingdom.

Green Lantern: First Flight at Six Flags Magic Mountain (Valencia, California)
Six Flags Magic Mountain is set for a big year. Not only will Magic Mountain reclaim the title of the theme park with the most roller coasters (surpassing Cedar Point) with 18, the park will be adding two new roller coasters. The most noteworthy of which is Green Lantern: First Flight. Similar to the park’s extremely intense X2, this new ride will be a 4th dimension roller coaster where riders are positioned in spinning seats on either side of the track rather than on top or below it. While First Flight will be a much smaller coaster than X2, it should still deliver an exciting and disorienting ride.

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