American Road Trip Top 10 Coasters

I'm back! Did you miss me? *sounds of crickets chirping* Well yh, in case you hadn't noticed from the fuck ton of updates on my social channels, I've just this week gotten back from an epic two week road trip across the Mid-West of the grand ol' US of A. Asking a distance of 3000 miles, we visited some of my top bucket list parks including Mt.Olympus, Kennywood and Cedar Point! We rode a butt load of coasters, and if I'm honest after so many days visiting parks it's very easy for the whole experience to mesh into one giant coastery mess in my brain, so now that I've settled back in to my normal routine I wanted to take some time out this evening to appreciate the very best coasters I rode on the trip, taking into consideration what made them so damn awesome and why I loved them so very much!

Before I get started on the list proper, I wanted to run through some honourable mentions:

Top Thrill Dragster, Cedar Point
This may come as a shock to those who know me and my coaster tastes well, especially given how much I adore Stealth. Honestly, it was hard for me to not include Dragster on this list. It's been top of my coaster bucket list since the damn thing opened in 2003 and I'd always dreamed of the day I'd finally be able to ride it. And of course it was fantastic - the anticipation! The speed! The height! The launch! All fantastic. The truth is this is a bit of a first world problem one - I really wish I'd had the chance to ride Dragster before riding Formula Rossa. I came off of Rossa bouncing off of the walls and unable to process what had just happened. Dragster was absolutely fast and thrilling and fun, but after the pure rush of Rossa it simply didn't impress me as much as it once may have. 

Goliath, Six Flags Great America
Goliath, the custom RMC at Six Flags Great America, is a really stellar coaster. It's the kind of RMC I imagine would appear in the UK one day should that ever happen. The first drop is really intense and fun, the airtime hills are plentiful and the inversions are perfection. For me it just misses that sense of wildness that you get on other RMCs. Also, it feels extremely short. Outlaw Run is shorter than this yet somehow doesn't feel as abrupt in its ending. Not a bad coaster by any means, in fact much the opposite - I bloody loved the thing. Just not quite good enough to pop into the Top 10 of the trip.

Raptor, Cedar Point
After the shit show that was Banshee followed by the dreadfulness of Valravn, I was feeling a bit disenfranchised with B&Ms. We weren't riding a ton of them on this trip and for two of the newest ones to be so kak I was feeling a bit disheartened and slightly over them by the time it came to boarding Raptor. But I needn't have been so glum - Raptor is one of B&M's earliest custom inverts and boy can you tell. It has all of that rough, raw power that us Brits adore from Nemesis but times a hundred. The coaster caught me so off guard with its interesting, relentless layout, perfect blend of negative and positive forces and transitions that kept you guessing at every turn. I wish with my entire existence that this coaster was in a highly themed setting as I truly believe it'd be one of the best coasters in the damn world. Criminally underrated, what a gem.

Now that those are out of the way, onto the main event! As with all of these lists, my thoughts and opinions are based solely on my experience of the coasters themselves (obviously!) I hate having to write that but inevitably somebody is going to comment telling me I'm wrong about certain things but hey ho that's the internet for you. Here we go.

10. Renegade, Valleyfair
Talk about an unsung corker of a coaster. I would ask why the hell this thing doesn't get more praise, but I know the reason, it's because it's at Valleyfair and y'all don't really seem to go there much. Renegade is a GCI coaster that opened at the park in 2007 - incidently the same year Troy opened which is a fact I was completely unsurprised by when I learned it post-riding. This thing FLIES and was very reminiscent of the way the coaster's Dutch cousin rides in my opinion. It's all about those laterals and racing pops of airtime. It's super loud and almost angry sounding, growling its way menacingly around the track. Best GCI? Definitely not - but the fact that I'd heard little to nothing about this coaster meant it absolutely blew me away the first time we rode it. Also the ride op was fit and kept saying YEEHAW when the trains dispatched which fed directly into my deep set cowboy fantasy so it gets points for that too.

9. Storm Chaser, Kentucky Kingdom
One thing I loved about Kentucky Kingdom is that it's clearly operated by people who fucking love airtime. You know that when pulling together briefs for new coasters, the top priority is just to deliver all of the airtime, fling me from my seat and try to kill me as much as you can. And if that doesn't describe Storm Chaser in a nutshell I don't know - relentless, brutal airtime. We rode a few times in the morning and a couple times more later in the day and my god, when it had warmed up I was having to uphold on the restraint to prevent bruises from forming on my thighs. The thing is insane - I've always described SkyRush as riding like a bucking bronco and that same description is absolutely applicable here too. The first drop is a a crazy 'Barrel Roll Downdrop' which is essentially an angled barrel roll that acts as a first drop and the speed the thing picks up for there on out is insane. If you like your coasters mentally unhinged, Storm Chaser is one you'll need to try.

8. Phantom's Revenge, Kennywood
Honestly, I'd have loved a few more goes on Phantom's Revenge. We rode it the first time round pretty early on in the day and even then the thing was mad, and the second time we rode in an absolute downpour so I'd be lying if I said I got an accurate feeling for what Phantom's Revenge is about. But what I do know is I bloody LOVED it. I adore a coaster that's unique and unpredictable and that it certainly is. Obviously with the coaster's history I was expecting a fairly unusual ride ahead, but the way this thing is terrained dives and picks up speed seemingly out of nowhere is joyous. The bunny hills are absolutely lethal and provide some of the most violently enjoyable airtime I've ever experienced. On my first ride where we didn't return looking like drowned rats I pulled into the station with a huge smile on my face. It's the kind of ride that could easily traumatise you if you don't enjoy that kind of unpredictability in a coaster, but lucky for Phantom's Revenge I adore it!

7. Lightning Run, Kentucky Kingdom
Back to Kentucky now for another dose of brutal airtime in what is the only Chance Hyper GT-X coaster in the world. I have zero idea why there aren't more of these things because this coaster is breathtaking. I've never experienced anything else like it in the world - where else can you find a coaster so compact yet still so capable of delivering such intense speed, thrills and bucket loads of airtime? It's kind of like the perfect coaster in a way - especially when it comes to ticking those enthusiast boxes. Again, I think I loved Lightning Run because I'd never really heard much about it so for it to be so utterly over the top and obscene left me grinning like a Cheshire Cat and running straight back around for another lap. We rode back and front and front was best for me, being suckerpunched out of my seat at every opportunity as the airtime took over was breathtaking.

6. Diamondback, Kings Island
Another surprising one for me, but this time for the opposite reason - ever since Diamondback opened ten years ago all I'd heard about it was that it was a mediocre coaster and towards the bottom end of the B&M hypers. For me it was the best B&M hyper of the trip and we spent a good portion of our day at Kings Island getting in a solid amount of time riding this beauty. Again, I adored front row. I simply love that feeling of being forced upwards by intense floater airtime and not touching your seat for the majority of the airtime hill. Just being dragged elegantly along the mighty, swooping track at the complete mercy of the machine carrying you. I always think you get a good feel for the sheer power of what a rollercoaster is on a good B&M hyper coaster and Diamondback demonstrated that wonderfully. Another criminally underrated coaster in my opinion.

5. Yukon Striker, Canada's Wonderland
When it comes to B&M dive coasters, I've always kind of been of the opinion that nothing was ever going to do better than Oblivion. These things are all about the drop and Oblivion executes that gloriously. Ever other dive machine I've ridden hasn't been able to match Oblivion's drop for anticipation, airtime or intensity and the subsequent layout has often felt like a faff just to get back to the station after the best part was over. We rode Valravn on this trip and I thought it was abysmal - forceless drop, horrible vibraty and uninspiring post-drop layout. Yukon Strike was the absolute opposite of this in every single way. The drop is HUGE and intimidating, goes into a hole as all dive coasters should (should be law to be honest) and the post drop layout is interesting, forceful and fun. It's the fully realised dive machine we've wanted for so many years since Oblivion wrote the book on how to do the drop properly. I wish it didn't have such a huge queue as I'd have loved to have been able to get a few more rides in. Wonderful.

4. Hades 306, Mt. Olympus
Very few coasters have me nervous to ride these days, but Hades 360 certainly did. It's just such a brute of a machine. It feels absolutely huge and the queueline forces you up close to it, to stand with your body pressed up against the raw wood and feel it tremble aggressively as the trains roar past. You can feel its wrath from the vibrations it pumps out to the awaiting riders below. Queueing for this coaster is an utterly terrifying experience completely justified by the equally merciless ride that follows. This coaster is absolutely savage, it's so fast and ferocious and pretty much immediately plunges you into totally darkness before pumping you straight out into the blazing Wisconsin Dells sun and into an inversion. It's a ridiculous, hulking beast of a coaster and is on this list for the pure madness of a ride it delivers. So crazy, so fantastic.

3. Maverick, Cedar Point

On paper I've always thought that Maverick could be the perfect coaster. I adore Intamin, I love airtime, I live for launches and I looooove scenery/ground hugging layouts that weave in and out of rocks and lakes and buildings. Maverick has all of these. But surely it's too good to be true? Surely it can't deliver on all of these things? Well, turns out it can. Riding Maverick for the first time took me right back to the first time I rode Taron and that feeling of pure, unadulterated joy that pulsated through me. If I were to design a coaster, this would be it. From the wild west theme to the nippy little trains to the glorious and unrelenting layout Maverick could be the perfect coaster. The only thing letting it down for me was the trims, remove those and I think it could easily have been my number one coaster. I wish we were able to ride this at night but sadly we were preoccupied with the 90 minute queue for a certain RMC coaster that lay across the way...

2. The Voyage, Holiday World
OK so I had technically ridden this before and it was already in my Top 10, but honestly it had been five years since I'd ridden it and I'd kind of forgotten a lot about it apart from it was fab and there was something awesome that happened in a tunnel. Our first ride back on this reminded me just how glorious this coaster is. I mean it really is outstanding, one of the best coasters in the US and indeed the world. I'd forgotten quite how LONG the thing is? When you're racing back towards the station your mind is tricked into thinking it's coming to and end but there's still so much goodness still to come. It's kind of old school now compared to the RMCs and the like, but I think that just makes me love it more? The airtime isn't obscene like Steel Vengeance, the speed isn't off the charts like Hades 360, but there's something in it being slightly more toned down and balanced that makes it just perfect. I could ride The Voyage all day long and that to me is the definition of the perfect coaster.

1. Steel Vengeance, Cedar Point
Urgh, I hate being so basic but yh, obviously Steel Vengeance is top of this list. Anybody who's ridden this thing knows of its glory and those hyping it up are totally justified in doing so. This coaster is absolutely incredible and easily RMC's best and most impressive work to date. You are very rarely in your seat on this coaster and the whole layout is full of long, drawn-out airtime hills that drag you through the layout line a runaway stagecoach (which I guess is what they were going for with this right?) RMC are the masters of mad hangtime moments and Steel Vengeance has its fair share - mostly buried in the forest of timber supports which only adds to the insanity of the thing. Hanging upside down surrounded by wood like that whilst being dragged through the layout at incredible speeds is close to indescribable. And that's just from riding it first thing! We waited a fairly long time in the evening for a back row night ride and this thing HAULS. ASS. Imagine everything I've just described but amplified by the darkness and the fact that the coaster is now running like shit off a shovel after a close to twelve hour operation to get it nice and warmed up. Outrageously good coaster.

And there you go! Steel Vengeance and Maverick made it into my Top 10 proper at slots 3 and 10 respectively and The Voyage has been bumped from slot 10 to slot 5. We had such an incredible trip and rode some fucking awesome coasters - only issue now is I'm having to think even harder about what my updated bucket list is going to look like!

Talk later xoxo,


CONVERSATION

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