Our Favorite Moments from 2014, Part 1

The 2014 coaster season was a stellar one for the Coaster101 team, and we’re highlighting a few of our favorite moments from the year in this two-part series.

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John

Timber was a common theme of my 2014 coaster season. Wooden coasters of all shapes and sizes dominated my coaster itenerary.

Goliath at Six Flags Great America was the name of the game for the first half of the year. In March, I toured the snow-covered construction site. I then spent the summer interning in the shadows of the Chicagoland park, so I was able to follow the final months of the Rocky Mountain coaster’s construction. And after a few delays, I rode the record-breaking wooden coaster in the early morning hours of the June 18, 2014 media day preview.

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It was a game-changer for wooden roller coasters and Six Flags Great America. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Rocky Mountain Construction.

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I also rode another looping wooden coaster — Hades 360 at Mount Olympus. While not as smooth as Goliath, Hades 360 gave a more authentic wooden coaster ride. And you have to give the folks at The Gravity Group props for incorporating an inversion into an 8-year-old coaster.

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Finally, I was “reunited” with one of the first roller coasters I rode: the “new” Zippin Pippin. Although Bay Beach Amusement Park’s new-for-2011 iteration of the historic wooden coaster contained none of the original ride, I found that the ride experience was just as I remembered riding it at its original home of Libertyland.

2014 was a coaster season I won’t soon forget.

Nick

As in 2013, my total time spent inside amusement parks was very short but this time due mainly to the fact that my son Henry turned one year old just last month. While the quantity of parks I visited the past year were small, the quality of the visits more than made up for it.

I began the year in April by attending Banshee media day at Kings Island with fellow Coaster101 writer Kyle (the first time two Coaster101 staff members have ever met in person believe it or not). Read our thoughts on Banshee here.

Next, I headed South to the Smoky Mountains where I got to experience my new favorite family roller coaster, FireChaser Express at Dollywood. While in the Pigeon Forge area I also got to check out the awesome fountain show at the Island and ride the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster. Read about my Top Five Things to do at The Island in Pigeon Forge.

In July, I made a brief stop at no-entrance-fee Waldameer, just long enough to re-ride the incredibly fun Ravine Flyer II.

The year ended on a high note when I was invited to judge the inaugural Ryerson Thrill Design Competition. The day before the contest was spent at Canada’s Wonderland where I found my biggest surprise ride of the year, Wonder Mountain’s Guardian.20141031_123301

Other non-coaster highlights were previewing the new Heart of Africa expansion at the Columbus Zoo before it opened to the general public, spending two nights at Great Wolf Lodge indoor waterpark, and walking on the glass floor in Toronto’s CN Tower.

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While my total ride count was much lower than past years, the total experiences were better than ever.

Larry

I didn’t quite make it to a few of the parks I had in mind for 2014, but at least I hit the one coaster I was looking forward to the most: Banshee at Kings Island.

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Banshee became a instant hit for me, being one of the best inverted coasters I’ve been on so far. I knew a few people (including Nick and Kyle) that went to Banshee’s media day and had a great experience on the ride, so I knew going into it, the ride was going to be something different. I’ve gone to Kings Island a few times before and I always thought that a good inverted coaster is what the park lacked, but Cedar Fair hit a huge home run with Banshee and works great with the park.

The team working the coaster moved extremely well and I don’t think I waited any longer than maybe 30 minutes both days I went to the park. Riding in the back row, going down the first drop and the pop of airtime with it, was something I did not expect to happen. Even though all of the elements are rather large, the ride was still forceful and it certainly was a great highlight for 2014.

Part of the reason why I only visited one park for 2014 was because my summer was spent working at Michigan’s Adventure again, this time as a Ride Operations Supervisor. It was a great experience and I learned a lot more about how an amusement park operates. I’ll have to see what 2015 brings, but hopefully some more opportunities will open up!

Read “Part 2″ of our “Favorite Moments from 2014″ here.

What was your favorite moment from the 2014 roller coaster season? Share them in the comments section below.

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