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The Comet

The Great Escape, New York -- Wood Coaster Ride Review

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

By

The Comet roller coaster at The Great Escape

The blue train climbs The Comet's lift hill.

© Arthur Levine, 2006. Licensed to About.com.
Saved from the bulldozer in 1994, The Great Escape moved and rebuilt this circa-1948 gem from the shuttered Crystal Beach amusement park in Ontario, Canada. While the classic ride harks back to an earlier era, it remains surprisingly potent--even among modern-day behemoths.

Up-Front Info

  • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 6
  • Plenty of airtime, traditional rickety wood coaster ride.
  • Coaster type: Wood (on a steel structure), double-out-and-back
  • Top speed: 55 mph
  • Height restriction to ride: 48 inches
  • Height of lift hill: 95 feet
  • Ride time: 2 minutes
  • The Comet and Other The Great Escape Rides Photo Gallery

An Impressive Score on the Thrill-ometer

It sits at the back of the The Great Escape, beckoning with its classic white roller coaster lattice and its screaming riders. Set amid the trees, and buffeted on both sides by the water attractions at Splashwater Kingdom, The Comet is the showcase attraction at the Lake George theme park. Its 95-foot height and 55-mph top speed makes it relatively accessible (compared to, say, the 456-foot, 128-mph Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure), but it packs quite a punch and delivers an impressive score on the thrill-ometer.

The Comet crew, at least the times I've visited the park, really seem to love their job and keep the line moving by quickly and efficiently loading and unloading the ride. Unlike some coasters, where the ride ops "staple" passengers in by unnecessarily ratcheting down the lap bar, The Comet gang typically leaves a bit of breathing room--nothing unsafe, mind you--so that riders can better experience the thrill machine's delirious airtime.

A Thrill- Scream- and Laugh-Filled Ride

After scaling the lift hill, The Comet takes off--and never lets up until it returns to the station. Since there are no extremely banked curves, nor any of the convoluted track configurations that a twister coaster offers, the lateral G-forces are kept to a minimum. Instead, The Comet's double-out-and-back layout puts the focus on the hills and the G-forces that alternately pin riders to their seats and lift them skyward. It races downhill, then swoops up, then down, then up for a non-stop, thrill- scream- and laugh-filled ride.

The loving attention that The Great Escape gave the ride when it rebuilt it--and continues to give The Comet as the park maintains it--is apparent. Unlike some older coasters (heck, unlike some recent coasters), The Comet just flies around its track.

The coaster actually dates back to 1927, when it was known as the Cyclone. In 1946, Crystal Beach dismantled the ride and used some of its steel (the Cyclone also featured a wood track on a steel superstructure) to construct the larger and wilder The Comet. Kudos to The Great Escape for saving and preserving this wonderful coaster.

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