What Makes A Good Coaster?

One of the best thing about this hobby, for me anyway, is the constant debate. Why this park is better than that park. Why the theming on this dark rides is waaaay better than this dark ride. Why this coaster rides better than that. Like with music, films, food and pretty much everything else in this world, what one enjoys in a coaster is entirely down to that each individual's own personal preference. People often ask what my favourite coaster is, and if I look at my Top 10 coasters it's quite clear to me that there are a few traits of coasters that I clearly love! Here's what I think makes a good coaster.

To me, there's nothing more thrilling on a coaster than the exhilaration of a good launch. In particular I love a launch with a really quick acceleration - you know what I mean, the ones that give you that raw gut punch as you hurtle down the track. Like obviously I adore the launch on things like Taron, but that has a lot to do with the theming, lighting and sound of it all. For me the best launches in the world are things like Stealth and Dodonpa, where they don't give you a chance to catch your breath and push you right to the brink of where you think you might not be able to take it any more before changing direction and giving you that sweet wave of relief.

Whatever happened to what used to be a weekly debate back in the day on the forums of ejector vs. floater airtime? I've always been firmly team ejector myself. Don't get me wrong, taking a lovely floaty airtime hill on a one-click restraint is absolutely euphoric, but I love that one-two punch of a short, sharp burst of airtime that throws you slamming into your restraint like a ragdoll. It's that feeling of utter powerlessness that's really thrilling, I think because there's seemingly so little between you and well...death? I especially love ejector airtime moments on coasters where you've ridden the thing a few times and know how to ride into into, fully surrendering yourself over to the forces and allowing them to do whatever they want to your humble mortal body.

Is there anything more satisfying than a really sexy, slick transition? I think not! For some reason Cobra at Paulton's Park springs to mind - y'all know the piece of track I mean, where it so perfectly sashays from left bank to right bank and it's just urgh, so smooth and delightful. Taron is full of these sexy serpentine moments too, the curves of the track coming together to drag your body perfectly through a sensational set of lateral Gs. Sometimes if a coaster is really great you might even get a little sneaky pop of sideways airtime in there too. Mmmmm transitions...

I think what's becoming pretty clear from this list is that I love a coaster that threatens to kill be in a violent way, because I bloody love me a good headchopper. There's just something really thrilling about flying along at break neck speed towards a piece of theming or maybe a support where the clearance just doesn't look possible. The best headchoppers are the ones where you literally feel whatever it is WHOOSH across your head and you really feel how close you are to it. Realistically you're obviously not that close at all because of health and safety and all that jazz, but those clever ride designers know right where the line is between making it feel disturbingly close whilst toeing the line of being safe. Space Mountain at the Magic Kingdom springs to mind for this one - half the thrill of that coaster comes from expecting to be decapitated at any moment from a rogue support in the dark.

I'm not shy about the fact that I don't love inversions. They're not something I actively dislike necessarily, but they're definitely something I don't really miss if they're not there? I don't particularly enjoy elements that make me feel groggy or give me a headrush, which a lot of inversions tend to do. But not the zero-g. The zero-g inversion takes many forms - I adore the sneaky second zero-g on Oz'Iris at Parc Asterix when taken in the back row and you're out of your seat for what feels like a solid two seconds. Kumba's zero-g is also incredible, you've got this beefy old school B&M powering through its layout and all of a sudden you have this dramatically graceful element, king of like watching a whale jump out of the ocean. And of course, the infamous RMC zero-g stall. So disorienting and fabulous!

And to tie all of the majesty described above together, I challenge anyone to give me any of those aforementioned elements that wouldn't be instantly improved if taken whilst wearing a lapbar restraint. Lapbar restraints give an unnerving amount of freedom on a coaster, again really toeing that line to keep that veil between life and death as seemingly thin as possible. And the lower down my lap and more exposed I am, the better in my opinion! The restraints on SkyRush get a lot of flack, but I adore the sense of freedom they allow. You really do feel like you're barely being secured in your seat at all, hence all of your senses are amplified through that underlying sense of impending death, thus contributing to a more thrilling ride experience!

What can I say, I knows what I likes! What in your opinion makes a good coaster? What are some elements you absolutely adore?

Talk later xoxo,

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