The Art of Attractions - August 2018

Numerous innovative roller coasters have debuted this year, including “HangTime” (ABOVE) at Knott’s Berry Farm and “Steel Vengeance” (BELOW) at Cedar Point. (Credit: Cedar Fair Entertainment Company)

Coasters Stand the Test of Time

Exploring what’s new at parks this year—and there are so many wonderful attractions I’ve had the good fortune to explore—two things are readily apparent: thrills reign supreme, and the ride of choice to deliver thrills is a roller coaster. Everything old is indeed new again, as thrill-packed coasters have been kings of the midways dating back to before IAAPA’s inception 100 years ago.

That’s not to say that coasters haven’t evolved. It’s fascinating to see the ways designers and engineers continue to tweak the ride’s basic formula and introduce innovations.

“Time Traveler” at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri, for example, takes the concept of a spinning coaster and tempers the rotations using a clever onboard magnetic braking system. The breakthrough Mack Rides labels the Xtreme Spinning Coaster enables the new thrill machine to deliver different rides every time while ensuring a comfortable experience for passengers. Toss in a 100-foot, 90-degree drop right out of the station, two giddy launches, three inversions (a first for the Xtreme Spinning Coaster), and a smooth-as-glass ride, and it’s easy to see why visitors are traveling to Silver Dollar City to give the utterly unique “Time Traveler” a whirl.

Utterly unique also aptly describes “Wonder Woman: Golden Lasso Coaster,” the first single-rail Raptor Track coaster from Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC). Its rambling, 15-inch-wide monorail track is a sight to behold at Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio. It gives a ride to behold as well. Sitting low in single-file seats, passengers straddle the narrow rail and soar through a rapid-fire blitzkrieg of inversions and airtime-filled elements. Despite the onslaught, “Wonder Woman: Golden Lasso Coaster” maintains RMC’s characteristic smoothness.


Smooth is also the operative word for “Steel Vengeance” at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. One of three wooden coasters to be converted into a wooden-steel hybrid this year using RMC’s IBox Track, its velvety ride is all the more impressive given its record-breaking 200-foot drop, 74-mph speed, and 5,740-foot length. Befitting its hybrid status, “Steel Vengeance” combines many of the best features of steel and wooden coasters.

“HangTime,” the Gerstlauer Amusement Rides coaster at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, California, is admirably smooth, too, and loads of fun to ride with its delayed drop, 96-degree plummet from 150 feet in the air, and five inversions. The attraction’s sophisticated, spectacular lighting package infuses the park’s Boardwalk area with vibrant colors and energy at night.

As you plan your capital investments, consider the tried and true midway mainstay: the roller coaster. I’ll see you at the parks. I’ll be the one packing in as many thrills as I can—on the coasters.

A lifelong park fanatic, Arthur Levine has been writing newspaper and magazine travel features about the industry he loves since 1992. He’s been the Theme Parks Expert at (formerly since 2002, and is a regular contributor for USA Today.