Extreme thrills on America’s most intense roller coasters

Based on my experiences and the general opinions and buzz from other roller coaster enthusiasts, here’s a list of what I consider to be America’s most intense roller coasters.

The Voyage at Holiday World
Holiday World’s The Voyage is one of the largest and fastest wooden roller coasters in the World. The out and back terrain coaster provides an intense 2 minute and 45 second marathon of thrills. After leaving the station, The Voyage delivers an onslaught of large hills, five underground tunnels, three ridiculously banked 90-degree turns, and a record-setting 24 seconds of air time as riders are lifted out of their seats throughout the adventure. Each time I got off of The Voyage I was physically exhausted, but also excited to get back in line and take the trip again. The Voyage is a rare wooden roller coaster in that it’s intense and a tad rough, but still fun and completely re-rideable.

X2 at Six Flags Magic Mountain
Six Flags Magic Mountain’s X2 has an insane riding position. It places riders on either side of the track instead of on top or below it. In turn, exposing riders and giving them virtually no place to hide. Not only is the seating position off-putting and intimidating, but the seats rotate riders 360-degrees forward and backward. If that wasn’t enough, the ride’s opening dive sends you plummeting head first towards the ground. X2 was so intense that it made the middle-aged mom that I rode with see her life pass before her eyes.

Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure and Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point
Six Flags Great Adventure’s Kingda Ka and Cedar Point’s Top Thrill Dragster are two very similar roller coasters that boast staggering stats. At over 40 stories tall, they’re literally skyscrapers earning them the rare distinction of strata coasters. While the climb to that lofty altitude and subsequent plunge are both very memorable moments, the rides’ launches are a 10 out of 10 on the intensity scale. Kingda Ka and Top Thrill Dragster accelerate their passengers from 0 to speeds of 128 mph and 120 mph respectively in about four seconds. Overall, I wouldn’t call them the best all-around roller coasters, but the feeling of that sheer power and acceleration is something that has to be experienced. As my cheeks flapped in the wind I wondered, “How much faster can this thing go?”

Clearly there are other intense roller coasters, but for me these are the most extreme. Which roller coasters would you consider the most intense? [Photo Credit: Flickr user – Intamin 10]

Holiday World offers exclusive roller coaster photos online

Holiday World is known for its roller coasters, including The Voyage, which has been named the world’s top wooden roller coaster for the past four years.

The holiday-themed park plays host to thousands of coaster enthusiasts each year, and many of them like to capture photos of the coasters from different angles. In fact, park officials say, some coaster enthusiasts beg for a behind-the-scenes look, just to snap a few pics.

To feed that desire, Holiday World has introduced a collection of photos of its wooden coasters in its online “HoliShop”.

“Enthusiasts just love taking photos of our roller coasters–but these photos are taken from angles they could never get,” said Holiday World President Dan Koch

The 8×10 photos are matted and framed in an 11×14 black metal frame. They sell for $14.99. These could make a pretty cool Christmas gift for the roller coaster lover in your life.

There are eight different photos in the current collection. Koch says the Santa Claus, Indiana, theme park hopes to introduce new framed photos each season.

Cedar Point named best U.S. amusement park

Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Awards were announced this weekend, and Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, nabbed the top spot as the best amusement park in the United States.

The theme park industry considers the Golden Tickets a top honor. Industry mag Amusement Today surveys experienced, well-traveled theme park enthusiasts from around the country to determine the best theme parks in a variety of categories.

Here’s a complete list of the winners:

  • Best Amusement Park: Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio
  • Best Waterpark: Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort, New Braunfels, Texas
  • Best Children’s Park: Idlewild and SoakZone, Ligonier, Pa.
  • Best Marine Life Park: SeaWorld Orlando, Orlando, Fla.
  • Best Seaside Park: Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, Calif.
  • Best Wooden Coaster: The Voyage at Holiday World, Santa Claus, Ind.
  • Best Steel Coaster: Millennium Force at Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio
  • Best Kids’ Area: Kings Island, Kings Mills, Ohio
  • Friendliest Staff: Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, Santa Claus, Ind.
  • Cleanest Park: Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, Santa Claus, Ind.
  • Best Halloween Event: Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando, Orlando, Fla..
  • Best Landscaping: Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Va.
  • Best Christmas Event: Smoky Mountain Christmas at Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
  • Best Food: Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg, Pa.
  • Best Shows: Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
  • Best Outdoor Night Show Production: IllumiNations: Reflections of the Earth at Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center, Orlando, Fla.
  • Best Water Ride: Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Orlando, Fla.
  • Best Waterpark Ride: Wildebeest at Splashin’ Safari, Santa Claus, Ind.
  • Best Dark Ride: Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Orlando, Fla.
  • Best Indoor Waterpark: Schlitterbahn Galveston Island, Galveston, Texas
  • Best Funhouse/Walk-Through Attraction: Noah’s Ark at Kennywood, West Mifflin, Pa.
  • Best Carousel: Grand Carousel at Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg, Pa.
  • Best Indoor Roller Coaster: Revenge of the Mummy at Universal Orlando, Orlando, Fla.
  • Best New Ride of 2010 – Amusement Park: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Orlando, Fla.
  • Best New Ride of 2010 – Waterpark: Wildebeest at Splashin’ Safari, Santa Claus, Ind.

There was also a poignant tribute to late Holiday World president Will Koch, who died suddenly this summer at age 48. Holiday World won a record number of Golden Tickets this year.


[Image credit: Flickr user daveynin]

Holiday World owner Will Koch dies suddenly

Theme park fans and the attractions industry are mourning the death of Holiday World owner and president Will Koch.

Koch died suddenly at his home Sunday night. He was 48.

“Will was not only our leader, he was our dear friend,” park spokeswoman Paula Werne said in a statement. “Our park family is in mourning for this sweet man who worked tirelessly to bring fun and happiness to so many families in the 20 years he ran the park.”

Koch’s family attributed his death to complications from Type 1 diabetes. Koch had been diagnosed with the disease in college, and he worked to raise money for diabetes research.

I visited Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana, last fall. I was touched by the people who worked there, and their appreciation for their colleagues and the history of Holiday World. One visit had me convinced that Holiday World truly deserved the multiple industry awards it has won for cleanest park and friendliest staff.

Koch, the grandson of park founder Louis J. Koch, was known internationally as a leader in the attractions industry. He oversaw the addition of the Splashin’ Safari water park in 1993 and numerous roller coasters.

“Will and the Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari team championed industry innovations such as offering free soft drinks, free sunscreen, and free parking for guests,” said Charles Bray, president and CEO of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.

“We’ve lost a true industry pioneer and friend in Will Koch.”

Holiday World remains open for business. Park officials say the theme park will remain under the ownership and leadership of the Koch family.

8 new thrill rides opening in 2010

Whether you’re an avid thrill seeker or just looking to have a little fun, thrill rides and roller coasters offer riders endless good times and plenty of excitement. With the economy on the forefront of most American’s minds, many amusement parks have scaled back or delayed production of new rides. Luckily, not every park is afraid of the economic downturn, and these eight new rides opening this year offer entertainment that refuses to disappoint. Time to strap in and enjoy the ride!


The longest water coaster in the world, the Wildebeest, is opening May 14, 2010 at Holiday World in Santa Claus, IN. Riders splash through the 1,710 feet of yellow tubing at 36 feet per second in just 2 minutes, and 30 seconds on a four-person raft. The Wildebeest has a total of 7 drops, the tallest of which is 38 feet, and features 2 underground tunnels. With no access stairs, this family friendly ride is easily accessible to riders.

Shoot the Rapids
Cedar Point Theme Park in Sandusky, OH will show off this new log flume ride in 2010. Shoot the Rapids features an 85-foot first drop, and a 49-foot second drop. Unexpected special effects advance the playful backwoods, moonshine theme. With enough thrills to get the heart racing, but without the speeds that eliminate certain riders, Shoot the Rapids is a family thrill ride.

The Intimidator
Opening in the Spring of 2010 at Carowinds Theme Park in Charlotte, NC, the Intimidator boasts speeds in excess of 75 mph. The red track and checkerboard patterned landing are in honor of legendary Nascar driver Dale Earnhardt, who was the inspiration for the coaster. The tallest coaster in the Southeast, the Intimidator is 232 feet tall with a staggering first drop of 211 feet at a 74 degree angle. Open-air seating, modeled after Earnhardt’s famous Monte Carlo, allows the rider a clear view of the ride’s eight dips along its 5,316 feet of track for the duration of the 3 minute 33 second thrill ride.

Sky Rocket

Accelerating to 50 mph in only 3 seconds, the Sky Rocket is expected to open in May of 2010. The Sky Rocket is the seventh coaster to be erected at Kennywood Theme Park in West Mifflin, PA. The 2100-foot blue track features a 90 degree drop, two separate G-force pullouts, a traditional corkscrew, an inverted top hat, and a barrel roll. The orange flame accented cars reach the end of the track in 65 seconds.

Scorpion’s Tail
Noah Ark Waterpark in Wisconsin Dells, WI will set a new standard in water slides in 2010. The Scorpion’s Tail is 10 stories high, and 400 feet long. Shooting a single rider through a blue tube at more than 50 feet per second, this thrill ride “might sting a little.”

— The above was written by Chastity Goddard, Seed contributor.

Intimidator 305:
Kings Dominion
in Doswell Virginia will introduce the new giant coaster uses Nascar legend Dale Earnhardt’s nickname Intimidator. The name suits the coaster that towers at the intimidating height of 305 feet at its tallest. The first drop is 300 feet down at a terrifying 85 degree angle (nearly straight down!). The roaring ride hits amazing speeds of 90+ mph and will leaving the rider gripping their seat for the entire three minute journey in the fast lane.

The Dragon Challenge:
New roller coaster ride in Universal Studio’s Island’s of Adventure in Orlando Florida. The ride is a part of the parks newest themed section, Wizarding World of Harry Potter and actually two separate coasters. Riders must choose a ‘Dragon’, the red ‘Chinese Fireball’ or the blue ‘Hungarian Horntail’, each ‘Dragon’ offers a unique riding experience. The coasters seem to battle each other with tracks laid closely to one another simulating near hits to thrill passengers along for the battle ride. The mean ‘Hungarian Horntail’ hits top speed at 55 mph while the wicked ‘Chinese Fireball’ reaches 60 mph.

Revolution 360:
Seabreeze theme park
located in Rochester New York will open the revolutionary ride in the summer of 2010. Riders board a giant disk and sit on pedestal seats facing outward. The track is 123 feet long and u-shaped, the disk is shot up to a height of 5 stories and rotates the entire time it coasts up and down the half pipe track.

— The above was written by Rikki Dahl, Seed contributor.