Over the past few seasons, parks in the U.S. and around the world have rolled out hundreds of new roller coasters and heralded a new golden age for the venerable scream machines. While not quite as prolific this year, U.S. parks will be introducing a batch of roller coasters in a variety of styles, scare factors, and sizes--including the latest to claim the mantle of the world's tallest and fastest. So, pull the safety bar down, heed the final warning: NO STANDING! and join About Theme Parks as we salute the Coaster Class of 2003. (Remember, before you try to test your mettle on the latest and greatest roller coasters, contact the parks and make sure they are up and running. Construction delays, technical glitches, and other problems could confound your plans.)
Top Thrill Dragster
- Steel hydraulic launch, 420-foot drop, 120-mph top speed
- Cedar Point
- Sandusky, Ohio
Read all about the incredible new Strata-coaster
. Also check out the Top Thrill Dragster Video
- Wood, 80 feet tall, 66-mph top speed
- Celebration City
- Branson, Missouri
- (800) 952-6626
Set to debut this year, the Silver Dollar City folks are re-themeing the former Branson USA park into Celebration City, a new park that will highlight eras from the 20th century. The centerpiece will be the Ozark Wildcat wooden roller coaster. While the park hopes the coaster will evoke the Jazz-Age 1920s, the Ozark Wildcat is decidedly new age. From its dark-hued southern pine to its tightly banked curves, the Great Coasters International woodie should deliver the thrills.
Devilishly fun and wildly popular, Impulse coasters
use magnetic induction to launch their trains both forwards and backwards up a U-shaped track. Steel Venom will send its riders through five cycles, starting at 55 mph and topping out at 68 mph. One side of the track will include a 360-degree twist, while the other side will be straight.
Continuing its Six-Flags makeover, the Pacific Northwest park gets its first woodie. Features will include 20 crossovers, 12 curves, 12 drops, six reversals, and a 60-degree banked turn. The coaster is the first one to be manufactured by S&S Coasters, a new division of S&S Power (the company that builds the compressed air drop tower rides and other thrill rides). Hopes are high since many of the folks at S&S Coasters are refugees from the defunct (but beloved) Custom Coasters International.
More coasters on the next page.