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]

Six Flags theme parks re-theme rides for 2011

While theme parks around the world add more rides, more shows and more dining options for guests in 2011, there’s one thing you will find less of at Six Flags parks next year: character.

Six Flags plans to re-theme many of its rides in a cost-cutting measure.

Evel Knievel, Tony Hawk, Thomas the Tank Engine and The Wiggles are among the losers in the deal as Six Flags unravels some licensing agreements.

As the Los Angeles Times reports:

  • The Tony Hawk Big Spin ride at Six Flags St. Louis, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and Six Flags Over Texas will be rethemed as the Big Spin, without the famous skateboarder’s name or likeness.
  • At Six Flags St. Louis, a wooden coaster named the Evil Knievel will renamed American Thunder.
  • Thomas the Tank Engine will disappear from Thomas Town kiddie lands at Six Flags America (which just opened its Thomas Town this June), Six Flags Magic Mountain, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Six Flags New England and Six Flags Over Georgia.
  • The Wiggles will no longer sing at the Wiggles World children’s areas at Six Flags Great Adventure, Six Flags Great America, Great Escape, Six Flags New England and Six Flags Fiesta Texas, where five rides have already been stripped of the kid’s band theming.

Despite the re-themed rides, characters from the Looney Tunes, DC Comics and Hanna-Barbera will remain at the parks.

[Image credit: Flickr user bravo!]

First look at the world’s fastest roller coaster: Formula Rossa

The incredibly fast Formula Rossa has taken the world’s fastest roller coaster crown from Six Flags Great Adventure’s Kingda Ka. The Formula 1-themed coaster, located at the new multi-billion dollar Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi, has eclipsed Kingda Ka’s 128 mph launch by pushing the envelope to an insane 149.1 mph (240 kmh).

After the powerful launch briefly turns the rider’s faces into play dough, the train climbs a hill that appears to be lined with trim brakes that sap a lot of the roller coaster’s initial speed. Who’d want to go that fast for too long anyway?

Then, much of Formula Rossa seems a bit uneventful. I’m sure those banked turns so low to the ground are fun, but this video doesn’t have me booking my plane ticket to Abu Dhabi just yet. To be clear, I’m definitely not the type to invoke U-S-A chants when it comes to theme parks. I’m envious of roller coaster fans in other countries like Japan and Great Britain. However, in this case I’d rather ride the former record holder, Kingda Ka. While this is just a video, and videos can never completely do a ride justice, Kingda Ka looks like a more fun ride with it’s skyscraping height of 45 stories and that twisting drop back to Earth.One has to wonder if we’ve reached the speed and g-force limits that the human body should be exposed to. In a New York Times article, officials from Ferrari World shared that while Formula Rossa will be able to attain nearly 150 mph, they might actually operate it at lower speeds. So, Ferrari World can claim the World record, but not have to deal with rider complaints from the ridiculous g-forces this thing must pull. This may be smart from the park’s standpoint, but kind of stinks for roller coaster enthusiasts. Imagine traveling half way around the World for that record-breaking launch and unbenounced to you, they’re running Formula Rossa at only 125 mph.

Still, Formula Rossa looks like fun and I’m looking forward to more videos of Ferrari World, its dual track racing coaster Fiorano Challenge, and the other rides.

Six Flags employees booted for pounding Porky Pig

Oink. Oink. Ouch.

Two off-duty Six Flags Great America employees were tossed from the park after they were seen beating the bacon out of a female coworker dressed as Porky Pig. According to Gurnee, Illinois Police Sgt. Jon Ward, the two perps posed for a picture with their 24-year-old swine-shrouded colleague before hitting her in the head between 10 and 15 times.

Park security pinched the punchers and held on to them until the real police came on the scene and issued local ordinance citations for battery. The alleged pig-poppers maintained their innocence but eye witnesses said otherwise.

The porcine victim was stuck with a stiff neck, headaches and something to post on fmylife.

[photo by bmayzure via Flickr]