Some New Coasters for 2009

Summer will be here before we know it so it's time to take our annual look at a few new roller coasters, designed to scare the pants off of anyone bold enough to take a ride. This year we've got mostly steel coasters, one wooden, one in the UK, one in Germany, and the rest in the US. Many of them lay claims to be the scariest or the tallest or the fastest or the most ferocious. Of course they can't all be the best or most massive or have made the most guests faint, but they each might have one thing that makes them special.

If you went to this website,, clicked the monitors, found the video labeled 13.4 and clicked it, you might be forgiven for thinking the newest ride at Thorpe Park in Chertsey, Surrey, United Kingdom, involves chaining the guests to their seats, slapping duct tape across their faces and plunging them into the darkness while a Christian Bale sound-alike whispers insults and threats at them. Then if you watch the video at this page,, you'll see that apparently you'll be eaten by sharks after, or perhaps small children in bumper cars will run over your corpse. It's all a bit vague. Billed as the only roller coaster based on a horror film, SAW – The Ride claims to have the steepest freefall drop in the world, a 'beyond vertical' drop of 100º from a height of 100 ft. There are also plenty of choppy things to make you think you're about to be beheaded, as well as a creepy little creature riding around on a tricycle and a spray of blood. If that doesn't sound enticing enough, how about this; the ride has already had to be stopped in order to assist a woman having a panic attack. What better enticement could there be?

Universal Orlando has a new ride for 2009 that has some interesting new features. Called the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, this roller coaster gives each guest their very own soundtrack, with five options for styles including rap/hip hop, country, classic rock/metal, pop/disco and club/electronica. I'm not clear on how this is going to work. Headphones? Brain implants? Hypnotic suggestions? The press release says "individual concert-quality audio systems," which I think is open to interpretation. The track is made of steel and is 3800 feet long. The first vertical lift is 167 feet with a ninety degree angle. The Double Take is next, with the world's largest non-inverted loop. I wasn't sure what that meant at first, but it means you take the loop without ever going upside down. First you race up the inside of the loop then flip to the outside at the top, ride along the top, then twist back inside for the descent. Sounds a bit mad and like something I'd like to see before I ride it. The same with the Treble Clef, which is where you ride a musical symbol instead of one of your more traditional geometric shapes. Visit the official website to find out more about this ride, which makes me dizzy just thinking about it.

Everyone has their personal favorite kind of roller coaster. While I like lots of different kinds, I like the super twisty wooden roller coasters best of all. While the new ride at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, MO isn't super twisty, it's twisty enough and it's wooden, so I'm pretty excited about the Prowler, which just opened earlier this week. This ride lasts for two and a half minutes, hits top speeds of 52 miles per hour and has an 85 foot drop into a ravine. It's set in the Africa portion of the park and zips through the forest as it goes. Great Coasters International, Inc. designed the Prowler to complement the landscape and utilize 12 row, 24 passenger GCI Millennium Flyer trains, which are built for comfort and excitement.

If the Prowler sounds too tame for you, meet Diamondback, the newest super coaster to grace Kings Island in Ohio. It's being described as the "tallest, fastest and meanest roller coaster" in the park, peaking at 230 feet. While it doesn't move quite as fast as the rattlesnake it's named after, which strikes faster than the human eye can follow, this coaster does hit top speeds of >80 miles per hour. The first drop is 215 feet at a 74 degree angle, taking your breath away before rocketing you through nine more drops, two helixes and ending with a splashdown. The track is almost a mile long and travels through rugged terrain. The train cars have stadium seating which allow you a fantastic view of everything, which begs the question, are there really people who ride these things with their eyes open? For more information, including a look at the official web cam, check out the Diamondback website.

Germany's Europa-Park doesn't just have a new super coaster; it has an entire new themed section called Iceland. In fact one of the first people to ride this coaster was the former Miss Iceland. Let's hope she didn't wear her tiara as I'm guessing it could be a lethal weapon when whipped from her head at high speeds and sent towards the cheering crowds below. But I digress. Called the Blue Fire Megacoaster, this steel coaster is more than a kilometer long and clocks in at faster than 100 kilometers per hour. The rider turns upside down four times after a catapult launch. The tallest loop is forty meters high and twists immediately into a tight turn. Blue Fire has the highest loop of a launch-coaster in Europe and was manufactured by Mack Rides in Waldkirch, Germany. The website says, "the seats of the trains are equipped with a revolutionary high-tech system, which combines audio and special effects." Not to sound ungrateful or anything, but I'm not sure about this emphasis on sound for some of these new rides. Can you really hear anything over the sound of screaming and your neighbor throwing up? It's debatable.

One-Paragraph Review

This week's one-paragraph review runs a bit longer than usual and comes from James Comtois who is pretty psyched about the new Star Trek movie, saying, "So, okay. J.J. Abrams' Star Trek.

Pretty kick-ass.

Yeah, it's really good. The movie has the right blend of nonstop action and fun character development via a very tight, simple and engaging (re)origin story. I really liked how they made it both a reboot/re-imagining of the series a la Ronald Moore and David Eick’s Battlestar Galactica and adhering to the continuity of the original Star Trek series.

Yes, it has its cake and eats it, too. And it pulls it off. Successfully." You can read a bit more on the same subject from him at his blog: Do you have a one-paragraph (or smaller) review you'd like to share? Send it in to me for consideration. You can reach me at