The Best New Things I Rode In 2019

I think I'm in the minority here when I say 2019 felt like it went on and on and on. In fact, even writing this it's STILL bloody 2019! But that's not necessarily a bad thing. 2018 was going to take a lot to beat in terms of new favourites as that year took me to the likes of Shanghai Disneyland and Ferrari World but 2019 was amazing entirely in its own right. And as per last year, this blog isn't about things that opened in 2019, it's about things that were new for me in 2019, things I got to experience and fall in love with for the very first time, which for me is my favourite thing about this hobby - discovering rides you never knew existed and becoming obsessed or indeed finally getting around to riding a bucket list coaster and having it blow all your expectations out of the water and then some.

But in comparison with 2018 which was more about visiting some of the world's best theme parks and experiencing all manner of rides, 2019 was about one thing - coasters, coasters and more coasters! I mean, what can you expect from a year that consisted of huge American road trips and multiple jaunts over to Europe to grab the newest, biggest and best from our neighbours before Brexit sets in and makes cred-whoring in the continent a lot more difficult? And once again it's been pretty difficult to whittle this down but I've managed to finesse the list into just nine stand-out attractions for me, so here's to the best of 2019!

One snow-covered morning in early April I found myself ascending the lift-hill of a coaster I'd heard tons about but honestly never been too fussed on riding. From the second the lift-chain released and gravity took over I was head over heels in love with the thing, despite the blistering winds and arctic temperatures. When the airtime is that good, you suddenly find you don't really give a toss about the fact that your fingers feel like they're about to fall off! But seriously, Hyperion is absolutely insane - wonderful sustained airtime throughout the first half and a nippy, forceful ground-hugging second half seen off by a serious of airtime-rich bunny hills. It's a wonderful, wonderful coaster and I'd be lying if I  didn't say one of the main reasons I wanted to head back to the park on an impromptu trip in September was to get back on this glorious beast.

Do you know how hard it is to avoid spoilers for a ride with as high a profile as Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and manage to resist watching a POV? Well it's bloody hard, especially when your feed is constantly flooded with the things despite muting the relevant terms, but suffice to say I managed it and my god am I glad I did. We'd planned our day at the park around the fact that we'd inevitably be stood in a queue for three hours, but 90 minutes later and a handful of super enjoyable pre-show queueline bits that serve to really break up what could be an unbearably monotonous queue and we were on! It's just...a really, really fun ride? The creatures were always a huge part of what I loved about the Potter franchise and this thing is chock full of them (as the name would suggest, obv) and I swear to god I didn't stop yelping with surprise the whole way round - 'OMG THERE'S FLUFFY!" "OMG CENTAURS!" "OMG BLAST-ENDED SKREWT!" etc. I came off beaming from ear to ear, I wish we'd had a chance to ride in the dark but it ain't going anywhere and I daresay we'll be back one day.

Hades 360 coasters harder than any coaster I've ever coastered. And by that I mean, you know GP think a rattly wooden coaster is like, the epitome of a classic coaster? Hades 360 does that and goes hard. It's fucking terrifying firstly, so the fear element definitely elevated the whole experience for me but then there's the fact that the thing is just absolutely insane the entire way round. It rattles but not in an uncomfortable or painful way, it's more in a mighty, terrifying kind of way? It's basically just an absolute unit of a coaster, and despite having ridden it a handful of times by now I'm still a bit scared by it because its so unpredictable and mad. Good, old-fashioned rollercoaster nonsense where you're absolutely certain the thing is going to kill you, but in a good way?

Here's a late entry to this list and something I did not expect to be writing about, but that's theme parks and rides for you, they always manage to surprise you one way or another. I knew Tower of Terror at DLP had received some sort of spooky overlay involving some projection mapping etc but I had no idea they'd changed the drop sequences of the towers and given I've ridden it more than a few times our first go absolutely took my breath away as we hurtled into the darkness and back down again, completely disorienting me. It caught me so off guard I yelped then laughed and didn't stop screaming and laughing until the ride was over. A more intense drop sequence coupled with new graphic and narrative overlays that compliment the existing storyline as opposed to bastardising it which is a triumph in itself.

I wasn't planning on riding Zadra this year and as we walked out of Energylandia in April I did wonder when the hell I'd be back. Turns out it was just a few months later that I'd be walking back through the gates with the main purpose of our visit to try out the brand new RMC that had randomly decided to open a month previous. I love riding a new coaster as soon to opening as possible because it allow you to form as unbiased an opinion as possible as you won't have had everyone under the sun telling you if it's good/bad/ugly/etc. In the case of Zadra it's very, very, VERY good. Kind of like Steel Vengeance and Goliath had a baby? It's odd because to look at it doesn't look like it'll really DO anything but my god does it do THINGS. It's filled with glorious airtime throughout and the pacing is *Italian chef kiss sound*. Sadly for us the park's ops weren't great meaning we only managed a couple of rides but even that was enough to secure it in my opinions as one of Europe's best coasters.

Maverick was one of those bucket list coasters that took me way longer than I anticipated to ride. I adore Intamin, I adore launch coasters and I adore anything with a tight, twisty layout full of nippy little transitions and well placed inversions. Maverick has all of that in spade loads and I'd heard it was a fabulous ride but still I had my reservations because as we know these things have a tendency of not being able to live up to the hype. I was sooooo pleased coming off of Maverick having absolutely adored every second of it, it's my perfect coaster in every single way and if Taron didn't exist I'd say Maverick would be much higher up on my top ten list. It's definitely a coaster that deserves more praise than it currently gets, and that's not to say it doesn't get any!

After riding the likes of Zadra and Steel Vengeance I was worried I wasn't going to love Untamed. Layout-wise it looked pretty similar to Storm Chaser to me and whilst I enjoyed Storm Chaser it was slightly too violent for me to love enough to ride over and over again. I'm happy to say my fears were not realised and we had an absolute blast riding Untamed this October! It has the slowest lift-hill known to man, but apart from that it's a really great coaster and compliments Walibi Holland's increasingly improving coaster line-up perfectly. It's got airtime, it's got speed, it's got unexpected moments, it's got mad, off-the-wall inversion and best of all it's an absolute hoot. I'd never really loved Walibi Holland previously and was a park I'd be more interested in visiting for their Halloween event as opposed to the park itself, but with the addition of Untamed I'd definitely consider popping back outside of spooky season to get some rerides in!

I knew very little about this unassuming dark ride other than it existed, it was trackless and it had won some sort of innovation award at some sort of attraction expo awards. And I was glad of my ignorance because once again having no idea what to expect lead to my socks being blown clean off - this attraction wouldn't be out of place at Efteling or Phantasialand so the fact that a dark ride of such outstanding quality exists at a regional park in Poland is jaw-dropping. When you know how low the budget was to create this ride too it's even more impressive. Despite not speaking a word of Polish the storyline is communicated flawlessly. The more elaborate set-pieces and blended perfectly with the flatter sections to create immersion and depth in every scene. The attention to detail is wonderful and the tech worked perfectly every time we rode (which was several times during our visit to Legendia). Easily up there with the best dark rides in the world.

And obviously, Steel Vengeance. What can I say about this coaster that I or indeed anybody who has ridden it hasn't said before me? It's the perfect coaster, utterly flawless and has no right to exist outside of some coaster nerd's RCT fantasy and yet there it stands. It's relentless, exciting, thrilling, terrifying, exhilarating, insane, fun, crazy, brilliant, etc, etc. It deserves all the praise it gets and I will literally fight anybody who says otherwise. The perfect coaster exists, and Steel Vengeance is it. The mind boggles as to how it could possibly ever be topped.

The sad reality is that 2020 is definitely not going to top 2019 for amazing newness, but I'm excited for it regardless. It'll be a different kind of year for me when it comes to parks - a big portion of what I have planned involves revisiting parks I've not been to in years as well as mopping up some smaller European parks that I've not gotten round to visiting yet. But like I say, I find that it's when you have the lowest expectations that you have the most fun so hear's to whatever the hell 2020 may bring and I'll try not to think too hard about the fact that Steel Vengeance won't be in it.

What were your top rides of 2019? Is there anything that caught you by surprise? Anything that let you down? Let me know in the comments!

Talk later xoxo,