Height­ened an­tic­i­pa­tion for new roller coast­ers

USA TODAY International Edition - - LIFE - Arthur Levine

An­other year, an­other batch of roller coast­ers.❚ The more things change at amuse­ment parks, the more they stay the same. The pop­u­lar­ity of one of the old­est amuse­ment rides shows no sign of wan­ing. That’s not to say that the hum­ble thrill ma­chine hasn’t evolved. To­day’s roller coast­ers go faster, higher and steeper – in one case, in­sanely steeper – than their pre­de­ces­sors. In­stead of re­ly­ing solely on grav­ity, many of the rides in­cor­po­rate so­phis­ti­cated launch sys­tems that al­low them to de­liver breath­tak­ing (lit­er­ally) ac­cel­er­a­tion, physics­de­fy­ing el­e­ments, and wild, if wacky, fun.❚ Let’s run down some of the most-an­tic­i­pated coast­ers open­ing in 2019:

West Coast Rac­ers at Six Flags Magic Moun­tain in Va­len­cia, Cal­i­for­nia

Us­ing elec­tro-mag­netic propul­sion, two train­loads of pas­sen­gers on op­pos­ing tracks will rev up to 55 mph on a straight­away and chase each other around a course filled with in­ver­sions, pops of air­time and over­banked turns. Af­ter an in­door “pit stop,” dur­ing which the famed car builders from West Coast Cus­toms will cheer the rid­ers on, the trains will take a se­cond lap, but on the op­po­site tracks. The three­minute ex­pe­ri­ence will in­clude 14 “near-miss” cross­ings.

Maxx Force at Six Flags Great Amer­ica near Chicago

In­stead of elec­tro-mag­netic propul­sion, Maxx Force will use a com­pressed-air launch sys­tem to cat­a­pult its trains from 0 to 78 mph in two sec­onds flat. That’ll be the quick­est ac­cel­er­a­tion of any coaster in North Amer­ica. It will then soar an at­ten­tion-grab­bing 175 feet and de­liver two high-flying in­ver­sions. The third time Maxx Force sends its pas­sen­gers tum­bling heels-over-head, they’ll be high­tail­ing it at 60 mph, which Six Flags con­tends will be the world’s fastest coaster in­ver­sion.

Un­named Harry Pot­ter-themed coaster at Is­lands of Ad­ven­ture, part of Uni­ver­sal Or­lando in Florida

Uni­ver­sal has been mostly mum on the new coaster that is tak­ing the place of its Dragon Chal­lenge du­el­ing coaster that used to be part of the orig­i­nal Wizard­ing World of Harry Pot­ter. The theme park re­sort is promis­ing that it will be­come its most highly themed coaster. That’s say­ing a lot, con­sid­er­ing that Uni­ver­sal al­ready offers Re­venge of the Mummy and Harry Pot­ter and the Es­cape from Gringotts, two of the most so­phis­ti­cated and richly themed coast­ers on the planet. The con­struc­tion site for the project in­cludes a large build­ing, so it is vir­tu­ally cer­tain that the ride will weave both in­doors and out­doors. There is strong spec­u­la­tion among Pot­ter-philes that the coaster will fea­ture Ha­grid the half-gi­ant and that the at­trac­tion will take mug­gles on a jour­ney through the For­bid­den For­est.

Steel Cur­tain at Ken­ny­wood near Pitts­burgh

A coaster based on the mighty Pitts­burgh Steel­ers will punt pas­sen­gers 220 feet into the air and rush them 75 mph be­fore send­ing them topsy-turvy with nine sep­a­rate in­ver­sions (which will be a North Amer­i­can record). One of the flip-overs, a corkscrew at a height of 197 feet, will lay claim to the world’s tallest in­ver­sion. The coaster will be the high­light of Steel­ers Coun­try, an en­tire Ken­ny­wood land de­voted to the beloved home­town team.

Yukon Striker at Canada’s Won­der­land near Toronto

The world’s tallest, long­est and fastest dive coaster, Yukon Striker will bring pas­sen­gers to the precipice of a 245-foot, 90-de­gree drop, let them mull it over for a few ag­o­niz­ing mo­ments, and then dive down at 80 mph be­fore bot­tom­ing out in an un­der­wa­ter tun­nel. In­ver­sions and other may­hem will fol­low. The new ride will mark the 17th coaster at Canada’s largest theme park.

Un­named ‘Eurofighter’ coaster and record-break­ing spin­ning coaster at Nick­elodeon Uni­verse, part of Amer­i­can Dream in East Ruther­ford, New Jersey

One of the world’s big­gest in­door theme parks, Nick­elodeon Uni­verse, is com­ing to one of the world’s largest malls, Amer­i­can Dream, and it will fea­ture two record-break­ing roller coast­ers (plus three more thrill ma­chines). A “Eurofighter”-type coaster will climb up a ver­ti­cal lift, bust through the top of the mall into a see-through tower, and give pas­sen­gers a stun­ning view of the Man­hat­tan sky­line from its 141-foot perch, be­fore plum­met­ing down at a se­verely over­banked drop of 121.5 de­grees – the steep­est coaster drop in the world – and hit­ting over 62 mph. It will then zoom up into the rafters of the mall and de­liver seven in­ver­sions. A se­cond coaster will in­ter­twine with the “Eurofighter” and in­clude cars that will freely spin. At a height of 85 feet and a length of 2,247 feet, it will be the world’s tallest and long­est spin­ning coaster.

Cop­per­head Strike at Carowinds in Char­lotte, North Carolina

An­other coaster that will forgo a tra­di­tional chain-driven lift hill, Cop­per­head Strike will fea­ture two mag­netic launches. The first one will get things cook­ing from 0 to 42 mph in 2.5 sec­onds, while a mid-course booster launch will goose the speed from 35 mph to 50 mph. Af­ter the trains leave the sta­tion, but be­fore they launch, they will slowly roll pas­sen­gers up­side down in the first of Cop­per­head Strike’s five in­ver­sions.

Ti­gris at Busch Gar­dens Tampa in Florida

Florida’s tallest launched coaster will im­pel its train for­ward and part­way up its track where it will stall and roll back­ward. A se­cond launch will keep it mov­ing back­ward part­way up the op­po­site side of its gi­ant loop. Ti­gris’ third launch will give its train enough oomph to climb to the top of a 150-foot loop, slowly in­vert at the apex, and then de­scend down the other side. Ti­gris will be sim­i­lar to Tem­pesto at sis­ter park Busch Gar­dens Wil­liams­burg in Vir­ginia.

Tidal Twis­ter at SeaWorld San Diego

It will ap­pear that two trains will be bar­rel­ing to­ward and nar­rowly avert­ing each other. In re­al­ity, the first-of-it­skind Tidal Twis­ter will fea­ture two sets of cars mounted on one long train that will span the en­tire length of a 320-foot, hor­i­zon­tal, figure-eight track. Pas­sen­gers will face both for­ward and back­ward, and the train will travel both di­rec­tions as it revs up to 30 mph.

Bat­man: The Ride at Six Flags Dis­cov­ery King­dom in Vallejo, Cal­i­for­nia

Sim­i­lar to other “4D Free Fly” coast­ers, Bat­man will climb 120 feet and criss­cross three un­du­lat­ing rib­bons of track that will in­clude in­ver­sions and be­yond-90-de­gree drops. As if that wouldn’t be crazy enough, the trains’ seats will be on the out­side wings of the track and will spin in both di­rec­tions – or, as the ride’s de­signer char­ac­ter­izes it, free fly in the fourth di­men­sion.

Ken­tucky Flyer at Ken­tucky King­dom in Louisville

A rel­a­tively mild wooden, “fam­ily” coaster, Ken­tucky Flyer will drop 45 feet and reach a top speed of 35 mph. With a height re­quire­ment of 40 inches, the ride will be ac­ces­si­ble to fairly young (and pre­sum­ably, fairly brave) chil­dren.

Dragon Flier at Dol­ly­wood in Pi­geon Forge, Ten­nessee

A sus­pended coaster, Dragon Flier will be the fea­tured at­trac­tion at Wild­wood Grove. Like the rest of the land that will open at Dolly Par­ton’s park, the ride will be geared to fam­i­lies with pre­teens and will keep its thrills in check.

Phoenix at Ad­ven­ture­land in Al­toona, Iowa

The dizzy­ing, new spin­ning coaster will climb 50 feet and hit 40 mph.

SEAWORLD PARKS

On Tidal Twis­ter, it will ap­pear that two trains will be bar­rel­ing to­ward and nar­rowly avert­ing each other.

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