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The Year of 100 Coasters Part 3: Putting a Positive Spin on Things

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After a very quick break from the four-week stretch that I wrote about inThe Year of 100 Roller Coasters Part 2, it was off to one of our newer destinations—Atlanta. 
 
Georgia Scorcher
Georgia Scorcher twists alongside the entrance to Six Flags Over Georgia.
 
Once in Atlanta, two of my “roller coaster connoisseur” friends and I went to Six Flags Over Georgia, and found ourselves staring at borderline non-existent lines and beautiful weather. We got to experience Goliath, a smaller version of the B&M hypercoasters; Superman Ultimate Flight, a flying roller coaster with a famous pretzel-shaped loop; Mindbender, a classic looping coaster from the 70’s; Georgia Scorcher, a stand-up coaster; and Batman–The Ride, one of the most relentlessly intense roller coasters ever built. 
 
Goliath
Goliath riders get thrown out of their seats over and over along the ride’s many airtime hills.
 
As soon as my visit ended, I started prepping for my biggest vacation of the year, which would begin the following weekend: Charlotte and Orlando. 

Carowinds park—in Charlotte—looked to be a similar trip crowd-wise to Six Flags the week before. I parked my car in North Carolina and began the walk to South Carolina to the entrance—the border between the two states runs right down the middle of the park, so you can stand in both at once right on the midway. Not that I did that or anything…

Before going to the two coasters that I had been looking forward to, I went for a lap on Nighthawk, a ride that had eluded me during my one past visit to the park. Nighthawk was the world’s first flying roller coaster, and the last of the three built by Vekoma that I had yet to ride (I actually worked on the other two back in the day). It was cool getting to experience it, and it was definitely a very enjoyable ride.

The first of the two coasters I had come to ride was Intimidator, yet another of B&M’s hypercoasters, and the last of those I would ride this year (unfortunately). Though big and fast like Intimidator 305 at Kings Dominion which opened the same year, Intimidator was more focused on airtime than the spine-crushing positive g-forces of its brother in Virginia. The second of the two was Afterburn, an inverted coaster like Georgia’s Batman–The Ride and Alpengeist at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Afterburn was impressive as always, due to the fact that its inversions seemed almost violent in their intensity. In my opinion, it’s still the only inverted coaster that’s come close to besting Batman–The Ride.

With my laps on each of the two completed, I darted off to the park’s other coasters to ensure I got all the credits I needed as crunch time had come for hitting one hundred on the year. After getting a lap on each ride I planned for, I still found myself with several hours left. Oh, what to do with such an empty park? Two words: power-ride.

Power-riding is the fine art of riding a ride repeatedly without ever leaving the train (except to walk up or back a few rows to switch seats). It can be demanding at times, but one of my more bizarre super-powers is an extremely high resistance to motion sickness and general intensity. As such, I’ve had a few impressive marathons on various rides over the years, and I was going to break one of my records later in the day.

I went to Intimidator first, figuring I’d keep going as long as I could. Power-riding was only permitted so long as there were empty seats left on the train (coaster non-revving?). I made it several laps before there was finally a train’s worth of riders waiting in the station, so I left for Afterburn with the intent of snagging a few laps on it before more Intimidator action. However, my intent and what happened were two very different things. Afterburn was even less crowded than Intimidator, so what was supposed to be a couple of laps became something else entirely. Going with the number 100 as the theme of the year, I decided to undertake a marathon of 100 inversions. With Afterburn’s 6 inversions, I determined I’d need to survive 17 laps. 
 
Afterburn
The six-inversion Afterburn stands guard at the southern entrance of the park.
 
Halfway into it, I began to question my sanity. Eventually, though, I settled into my groove. Around lap fifteen, though, I decided that I had a rare opportunity. My longest marathon record to date to was 120 inversions. Seeing as I could hit the same number on Afterburn in 10 fewer laps, I decided to push for 20 laps total to tie my record. On lap 20, I decided that tying records was lame, so I tagged on a 21stlap to break my inversion marathon record with a total of 126 inversions in a row.

With my brain properly scrambled, it was off to Orlando. I was going with 98 coasters under my belt on the year. I could’ve hit 100 at Carowinds, but I wanted to save the honor for a coaster at my first stop on the trip’s second leg in Orlando: SeaWorld.

Of course, what would a quest like this be without hiccups? A thunderstorm over pretty much all of Orlando saw Manta and Kraken, SeaWorld Orlando’s two major coasters, unable to operate in the lightning. I finally caught a ride on Manta during a break in the lightning for coaster 99. As soon as we pulled back into the station, I vaulted off for Kraken in fear that lightning would strike again. Kraken, a floorless coaster similar to Dominator at Kings Dominion, had been a favorite since I first rode it in 2006. I figured it would make a fitting number one-hundred. Then I saw it, a small sign posted right in front of the entrance: “Kraken is down for annual maintenance.” NO!!

However, I had unknowingly left myself a substitute number 100 in reserve. During my February Walt Disney World visit, I had skipped Primeval Whirl at the Animal Kingdom. As such, when I moved on to Disney World for the remainder of this trip, I rode Primeval Whirl to hit 100. There was no fanfare, no screaming groupies, nothing—but I made it. My immediate family was there, though, so for not having experienced any of the other trips with me this year, it was good to have them present for the grand finale. 

So yes, I got a hundred coasters in during 2012. Mission accomplished! But wait, there’s more! A great rock concert always has an encore, and so did the Year of 100 Roller Coasters. Three, in fact. Encore one was a trip back to Hersheypark, where Storm Runner became the ride of the day. Encore two was a visit to Six Flags America, where I picked up my 2013 Six Flags season pass. Despite my AM shift the following day, I stayed almost until closing, grabbing laps on Batwing, Apocalypse, and Superman–Ride of Steel. My visit to Six Flags America actually took me to my year-end count of 106 coasters. As for encore three, I made one last quick weekend jaunt down to Orlando, to join my extended family for another round of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster to close out the Year of 100 Roller Coasters. 
 
Apocalypse
Apocalypse at Six Flags America once operated as Iron Wolf at Six Flags Great America.
 
Oh yes, I promised you that I’d reveal my favorite ride of the year! After much pondering, musing, and other actions that are synonyms of those words, I declare my favorite ride to be…Batman–The Ride. It wasn’t the biggest, fastest, or most inversion-laden, but it was the most consistent in its intensity and the most unrelenting ride I’ve ever experienced. Leviathan took the cake as the best new-to-me coaster, WindSeeker the best non-coaster ride, and Silver Star the most underrated. 
 
Batman The Ride
Batman–The Ride is arguably the finest roller coaster I’ve ever experienced.
 
Thank you so much for reading this series—I’ll see you in line in 2013!

2 Comments

  1. Justin, I just wanted to let you know that this series of posts are awesome, and it makes me want to do the same challenge. It might be a little tougher since I don’t work for an airline, but it still sounds like a blast. I do try to take a trip to a new park or two every year to try new coasters, I’d love if you’d have suggestions for the best places to go/parks to hit one one long weekend (maybe with airport suggestions). I’ve done an Ohio trip for Cedar Point and King’s Island, and done Southern California trips for Knott’s Berry Farm, Magic Mountain, and Disneyland. I’d love more ideas! Also, a suggestion on how to get enough vacation time to hit 100 coasters in a year would be cool.

    Thanks again for the Blog!

    • I’m going to answer your questions in reverse order. First off, with regards to having the vacation time to hit a hundred coasters in a year, I actually didn’t use that much up until the big September trip to CLT and MCO. Many of my trips were overnights, including the Germany trip from the second article (although given the overnight nature of the flight to Frankfurt, it did require one vacation day). I’d fly up the morning of my first day off and back the next evening.

      As for the best places to go, where to begin? Living near BWI is great because you’re within a 3-hour drive of 6 massive amusement parks and few smaller ones. Outside of Southern California and Orlando, you’re not really going to get that kind of coverage out of one metro area. I hope that answers the bang-for-the-buck question, but in terms of my favorites, giving you a theoretical top 5, anything Disney (I’m sure you’ve got those airports down), Busch Gardens Williamsburg (ORF or RIC), Six Flags Over Georgia (ATL), Kings Dominion (RIC or a 2-hour drive from BWI), and Six Flags Great Adventure (EWR is closest, but PHL, LGA, and a 3-hour drive from BWI are all options).

      Feel free to message me with any other questions you might have! I’m happy to offer whatever assistance I can!