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Gold Striker Coaster Coming to California's Great America in 2013

Wooden Coaster Will Deliver Thrills


Gold Striker, the new coaster coming to California's Great America.

Gold Striker, the new coaster coming to California's Great America will feature lots of banked curves and lateral G-forces.

Cedar Fair. Used with permission.
In a season that will bring wacky ride innovations such as Full Throttle at Six Flags Magic Mountain, a launched coaster with a record-breaking loop, and Outlaw Run at Silver Dollar City, a wooden coaster -- with inversions -- the new coaster at California's Great America, Gold Striker, will be decidedly old-school. But that doesn't mean it's not going to be a great ride. In fact, it looks to be a wild and wooly thrill machine.


  • Type of coaster: Wood
  • Height: 108-foot lift hill
  • First drop: 103 feet
  • Top speed: 54 mph
  • Track length: 3197 feet
  • Ride time: 2:30 minutes
  • Height requirement: 48 inches

A Ride Worth its Weight in Gold?

There isn't much that distinguishes Gold Striker from similar rides. It's not the tallest, fastest (although California's Great America trumpets that it will be the tallest and fastest wooden coaster--in Northern California), or longest. Nor will it have any unique elements, innovative trains, or any other breakthroughs. But that's OK.

Part of the appeal of a woodie is that it harks back to classic rides that have been gracing midways for decades. The park would seem to understand its retro appeal since it is giving its new coaster a name and theme that recalls the Old West and the 19th century miners who came seeking their gold fortunes in California. When a wooden coaster is done well, it needs no embellishments to make it appealing. It is what it is: an exhilarating and thrilling ride. Gold Striker looks like it will fulfill those qualifications.

It will start with a click-clackety-click slow ride up its 108-foot lift hill followed by a 103-foot dive that will accelerate passengers up to a satisfying 54 mph. Rather than racing up a second hill (and potentially delivering a pop of airtime), the ride will immediately take a right-facing turn as it circles the park's Sky Tower ride.

Gold Striker will then fly past the loading station (which will surely rumble the ground under passengers waiting to board the ride). The cyclone-style ride will twist and turn into itself, providing lots of head choppers and highly banked (up to 80 degrees) curves. The frequent curves should deliver plenty of lateral G-forces. It's hard to determine whether the ride will offer much airtime; it seems, however, to be designed more for side-to-side lateral forces.

The ride is being built by Great Coasters International, which is highly regarded for woodies such as Thunderhead at Dollywood and Lightning Racer at Hersheypark. With a track record like that, anticipation for the new coaster is high.

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