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Roller Coaster Ride Guide 2012

Lots of Wild, New Rides Debuting

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There will be a surprising number of high-profile roller coasters opening during the 2012 season. And by high-profile, I mean huge budgets, wild features, and, well, sheer height. A couple of "wing coasters" will introduce the unique concept to North American park fans. There will be some insanely fast, insanely tall, and just plain insane rides coming to parks.

Some of the "new" coasters won't really be new, but recycled rides imported from another park (which I've indicated in the listings that follow). They will be given a new coat of paint, perhaps a new name and theme, and a new lease on life. And some of the rides won't be particularly unique or spectacular, but every new -- or recycled -- coaster is a cause for celebration among those who love to ride the rails.

The new coasters are arranged alphabetically by US state. Rides in Canada and select parks outside North America follow at the end.

California: Manta at SeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld, 2011. Used with permission.
Because of height restrictions, the San Diego version of Manta won't soar nearly as high as the same-named ride at sister park, SeaWorld Orlando. But the compact steel coaster will share the same manta ray theme. Unlike the Florida ride, the West Coast Manta will use a magnetic motor system to launch its trains. Befitting SeaWorld's edutainment mission, the ride will include an aquarium exhibit with actual California bat rays.

California: Superman Ultimate Flight at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Six Flags.
Location: Vallejo (near San Francisco), California

Like Manta at SeaWorld (see above), Superman Ultimate Flight will also be a launched coaster. But it will use its magnetic launch to send its trains soaring up into a 150-foot-tall loop (one of the tallest inversions in the world). The unique coaster will hold its passengers at the top of the loop for an agonizing few seconds, before blasting them through a second inversion and down the other side of the loop. Six Flags claims that somehow this wacky coaster will simulate the sensation of flying.

Florida: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Disney World's Magic Kingdom

Disney, 2011. Used with permission.
Heigh-ho! The comparatively gentle coaster will send riders into the famous dwarfs' diamond mine. Disney says that the coaster cars will feature a first-of-its kind design that will allow them to swing back and forth as they navigate the track. The Mine Train is part of a large-scale expansion at the Magic Kingdom that will also bring a new Little Mermaid ride, a Beauty and the Beast Land, and more throughout 2012 and 2013. (Note that the timeline is a bit sketchy, and that the Disney World coaster may not actually debut until 2013.)

Illinois: X-Flight at Six Flags Great America

Six Flags, 2011. Used with permission.
Location: Gurnee (near Chicago), Illinois

Just when you think that coaster designers can't possibly come up with anything new, along comes the "wing coaster." What the heck is that? Folks who visit Six Flags Great America, near Chicago, in 2012 will get to ride it. You can learn more by reading my overview.

Maryland: Apocalypse at Six Flags America

Six Flags.
This is one of the repurposed coasters that will be making a cross-country trip in 2012. Formerly known as Iron Wolf at Six Flags Great America, the circa-1990 standup coaster is an old-school ride in which passengers straddle adjustable bicycle-style seats to navigate the ride. The seating system can sometimes be a bit, ahem, uncomfortable for male riders.

Massachusetts: Goliath at Six Flags New England

Six Flags.
Not to be confused with other Six Flags coasters that go by the same name (such as the Goliath hypercoaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain), this Goliath will be a giant inverted boomerang model, which means that the trains will hang beneath the track and they will shuttle forwards and backwards through a course that will include two 192-foot spikes at either end. This is a circa-2001 ride that was known as Deja Vu when it was at Six Flags Magic Mountain.

Pennsylvania: Stinger at Dorney Park

Cedar Fair.
Location: Allentown

Another transplanted coaster, the former Invertigo coaster from California's Great America will place passengers in alternating rows so that they face one another as they navigate forwards and backwards through the shuttle coaster course. Like Goliath (see above), Stinger will be an inverted coaster.

Pennsylvania: Skyrush at Hersheypark

Hersheypark, 2011.
Location: Hershey

Coaster number 12 at Hersheypark is going to be its tallest and fastest yet. Topping out at an even 200 feet, dropping at a precipitous 85 degrees, and reaching speeds up to 75 mph, riders will be rushing headlong towards the sky in the new $25 million hypercoaster, Skyrush, that is set to open in spring 2012.

Pennsylvania: Flying Turns at Knoebels

Theme Park Review. Used with permission.
Location: Elysburg, Pennsylvania

Knoebels certainly doesn't seem to be in any hurry to open its retro, wooden-tubed, bobsled-style coaster. Delayed for a number of years, Flying Turns is being built in house. When (and if) it opens, it should be a great ride.

Tennessee: Wild Eagle at Dollywood

Dollywood, 2011. Used with permission.
Location: Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

The country's other new wing coaster, Wild Eagle will soar considerably higher and race faster than X-Wing (see above). The rides represents a major investment for Dollywood and is another example of the park's impressive growth from Dolly Parton tribute to a major thrill ride destination.

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