Before we turn the calendar page, I am joining some other park site writers to share our favorite single ride experience of 2013. One of the joys of being the Theme Parks "Expert" at About.com is that I get to visit many parks and hop aboard lots of rides and attractions. 2013 was no different. Most of them were tried and true favorites. A few were new in 2013 (or at least new to me).
While I could choose an E-ticket attraction that ranks among my all-time favorites (such as The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man), I am instead picking Iron Rattler, the reborn wooden-steel hybrid coaster at Six Flags Fiesta Texas. It was my favorite ride experience of the year not because it is categorically "better" than, say, Spider-Man, but because it represents an incredible new breed of roller coaster, it marked the first time I was able to ride the newfangled steel rail system that Rocky Mountain Construction developed for wooden coasters, it is dramatically better than the original Rattler, and its wonderful ride held me in its grip and had me grinning from ear to ear.
To give you a sense of the giddy pleasure I experienced, here is an excerpt from my review which focuses on the wooden coaster's groundbreaking inversion:
Sure, tubular steel coasters have long included inversions, but they can be notoriously rough sometimes. Given Iron Rattler's near-hypercoaster stats, the silky smoothness of the barrel roll inversion on this I-Box-enhanced ride is all the more remarkable. After tearing through its first airtime pop at around 70 mph, the coaster remains up near the top of the quarry, curves around, and enters the barrel roll with acrobatic grace. If coaster inversions were an Olympic sport, the judges would all hold up "10" cards after IR uncoils its twisted element with aplomb.
You can read my full review of Iron Rattler. Here's hoping that 2014 offers new opportunities to pursue our common passion at theme parks. I wish you a Happy New Year and all the best in the coming year. See you at the parks!
Here is what some of my park journalist colleagues chose for their best 2013 ride experiences:
- Joel from The Coaster Critic
- Bobbie from Ups Downs and Upside Down
- Brian from DoD3
- The Team at Coaster 101
See what other thrill machines debuted in 2013:
Photo: © Arthur Levine, 2013. Licensed to About.com.