C101 Roundtable: The $15 Coaster Lineup

On our social media channels recently, we’ve challenged our readers to build their ideal coaster line-up from various park chains around the country. In this chapter of C101 Roundtable, we asked the C101 team to come up with their own $15 theme park, and give a little explanation as to why.

Cedar Fair Parks

$5 Coasters: Millennium Force (Cedar Point), Intimidator 305 (Kings Dominion), Fury 325 (Carowinds), Leviathan (Canada’s Wonderland), Top Thrill Dragster (Cedar Point)

$4 Coasters: Afterburn (Carowinds), Gold Striker (California’s Great America), Banshee (Kings Island), Maverick (Cedar Point), Mystic Timbers (Kings Island)

$3 Coasters: Flight of Fear (Multiple), Prowler (Worlds of Fun), Shivering Timbers (Michigan’s Adventure), Talon (Dorney Park), Xcelerator (Knott’s Berry Farm)

$2 Coasters: Pony Express (Knott’s Berry Farm), The Bat (Kings Island), Possessed/Wicked Twister/Steel Venom (Multiple), Renegade (Valleyfair!), Backlot Stunt Coaster (KI/KD/CW),

$1 Coasters: Quicksilver Express (Gilroy Gardens), Adventure Express (Kings Island), Avalanche (Kings Dominion), Flying ACE Aerial Chase (Carowinds/KI), Woodstock Express (Various)

Andrew: A tough choice, but I like Fury 325, Talon, Shivering Timbers, The Bat, Avalanche, and Woodstock Express (specifically Carowinds’). Fury is my “homer” pick, and my favorite coaster of all-time, so I can’t leave it off the list. Talon and Shivering Timbers are both value picks at $3, because both may not be as flashy as their $4 counterparts ( Afterburn/Banshee and Mystic Timbers/Gold Striker), but are solid attractions, plus going with two coasters at $3 instead of $4 allows me to include the $2 Bat from Kings Island. I love Arrow suspended coasters. Carowinds’ Woodstock Express and Kings Dominion’s Avalanche round out my line-up for some great family thrills.

Eric: Well, my Northern California bias (and my love of GCI) means I have to include Gold Striker, so that’s $4 spent. I think Xcelerator is actually my favorite Intamin launch, so with that only being $3 compared to Top Thrills $5, it seems like a great value pick to me. I’m a little tempted to pretend my park has a height limit as an excuse to avoid any of the $5 giga coasters, but I don’t think I can pass up including Fury 325 (although I’m very tempted to save a buck and take Maverick instead). This puts me at $12, which means I can continue my love of GCI by also including Renegade (redundant? Maybe, but who cares), and then round it out with more of my West Coast bias and including the little known, but great family coaster, Quicksilver Express 

Nick:  I’ll take Fury 325 for $5. Haven’t been on it personally but I have no doubt it’s an incredible ride and would be this park’s headlining attraction. $4 for Mystic Timbers, a great ride that I have been on and is easily re-rideable. $2 for Vortex, a fun suspended coaster, $2  for Pony Express, a unique launch coaster. Finally, I’ll round it out with $1 – Adventure Express and $1 – Avalanche. Besides Fury, this is a pretty family friendly lineup while at the same time offering varied ride experiences, from classic to modern.

John: Intimidator 305 is my current #1, so I’m more than happy to fork up $5 for it. But variety is indeed the spice of life, so I would want a wooden coaster in the mix. But I’ve only ridden one of the wooden coasters on the list, Woodstock Express at Carowinds. I really enjoyed it, so I’ll gladly take it for $1. That leaves $9. I’ll splurge and take Fury 325 for $5. And it wouldn’t be a Cedar Fair park without a B&M inverted coaster (spare a few parks, of course). So I’ll take Afterburn at Carowinds for $4. Math isn’t my strong suit, but I believe I have $1 remaining. I’ll go with Avalanche at Kings Dominion. So few parks have a bobsled-style coaster, so I think it would round out the lineup quite well.

Mike: Fury 325 pretty much has a spot reserved as my favorite coaster, even though I haven’t ridden it yet so I’ll start with that for $5. Maverick actually is my favorite coaster so I of course have to add that on my list for $4. Had trouble deciding between 2 of the woodies for $3, especially since I haven’t been on either one, but both look like such awesome rides that I felt like I had to include one of them. I went with the airtime of Shivering Timbers over the terrain of Prowler. I actually enjoy riding Backlot Stunt Coaster and make sure I get a ride on it every time I drop by KI or KD. A good value for $2. Finally, I’ll wrap things up with Avalanche for $1 to give me a well rounded set of coasters.

Six Flags

$5 Coasters: El Toro (Six Flags Great Adventure), X2 (Six Flags Magic Mountain), Kingda Ka (Six Flags Great Adventure), Superman (Six Flags New England), Twisted Colossus (Six Flags Magic Mountain

$4 Coasters: New Texas Giant (Six Flags Over Texas), Wicked Cyclone (Six Flags New England), Iron Rattler (Six Flags Fiesta Texas), Medusa (Six Flags Mexico), Goliath (Six Flags Over Georgia)

$3 Coasters: X-Flight (Six Flags Great America), Batman: The Ride, Batwing (Six Flags America), Mr Freeze, Goliath (La Ronde),

$2 Coasters: Superman: Ultimate Flight (Multiple), Le Monstre (La Ronde), Medusa (Six Flags Discovery Kingdom), Roar (Six Flags America), Mind Bender (Six Flags Over Georgia)

$1 Coasters: Comet (Great Escape), The Joker (Multiple), Superman (Discovery Kingdom), The Dark Knight (Six Flags Great Adventure), Pandemonium (Six Flags Fiesta Texas)

Nick: 15 free spins. Just kidding. For my Six Flags park, I’m going a more intense lineup.  $5 X2, $5 Superman/Bizarro (whatever they’re calling it these days), and all five of the $1 coasters to round it out.

Mike: X2 is one of my favorite coasters, but I’d want to have a coasters that park goers can actually expect to get a chance to ride (oooooh I went there!) so I’m gonna start my Six Flags lineup off with El Toro for $5. I only got to ride it once, but it was one of the most memorable rides of my life! Goliath at SFOG is one of my favorite B&M hypers so I’ll take that for $4. Still a lot to chose from with my last $6 so I think I’ll go with a trio of $2 rides, Superman: Ultimate Flight, Medusa, and Mind Bender. Tatsu at SFMM is actually one of my favorite rides, but since it’s not on the list, Superman gives me my pretzel loop fix. Kraken is one of my favorite B&M loopers so I’d gladly take Medusa with the bonus of getting to have the unique sea serpent roll element. And finally, Mine Bender is a timeless Schwarzkopf gem.

John: This is a tough one as there are so many I haven’t ridden. So I’ll start with my favorite B&Ms: Goliath at Six Flags over Georgia ($4), X-Flight at Six Flags Great America ($3) and Batman: The Ride ($3). Like Nick, I’m going to go for more of a “thrill park” lineup. So I’ll round out my roster with X2 at Six Flags Magic Mountain for $5.

Eric: Welp, my favorite RMC and my favorite wooden coaster are both $5. This makes things tricky. I think I’ll have to compromise and go with a different RMC than TC, and stick with El Toro. I’ve never been on any of the other Six Flags RMCs on the chart, but I think I’m gonna go with Medusa Steel coaster. I like the layout, plus I enjoy the confusion that will come about from also having Medusa from Six Flags Discovery Kingdom ($2) in my park. That’s a great value for a big, smooth, floorless coaster with lots of inversions. Similarly, B&M inverts might be some of the most reliably fun, smooth coasters out there (certainly for 20 year old rides), so I’m going to include Batman at $3. That leaves me with a buck, as I once again show I’m not very creative and just pick one from each row. I’m gonna go with Dark Knight, because who doesn’t love indoor coasters (and it’s a great way to spice up a Wild Mouse).

Andrew: Definitely one of the smaller line-ups, but I’m going with El Toro, Twisted Colossus, Wicked Cyclone, and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom’s Superman. I realize that this line-up isn’t well rounded at all. There’s a (great) Wooden Coaster, two (great) RMCs, and the only true steel coaster is a Sky Rocket II. I feel like I’ve got to go with quality over quantity this round.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

$5 Coasters: Mako (Seaworld Orlando), Griffon (Busch Gardens Williamsburg), SheiKra (Busch Gardens Tampa), Apollo’s Chariot (Busch Gardens Williamsburg), Montu (Busch Gardens Tampa)

$4 Coasters: Manta (SeaWorld Orlando), Cheetah Hunt (Busch Gardens Tampa), Steel Eel (SeaWorld San Antonio), Alpengeist (Busch Gardens Williamsburg), Kumba (Busch Gardens Tampa)

$3 Coasters: Manta (SeaWorld San Diego), InvadR (Busch Gardens Williamsburg), Great White (SeaWorld San Antonio), Verbolten (Busch Gardens Williamsburg), Kraken (SeaWorld Orlando)

$2 Coasters: Scorpion (Busch Gardens Tampa), Loch Ness Monster (Busch Gardens Williamsburg), Wave Breaker: The Rescue Coaster (SeaWorld San Antonio), Tempesto (Busch Gardens Williamsburg), Cobra’s Curse (Busch Gardens Tampa)

$1 Coasters: Vapor Trail (Sesame Place), Shamu Express (SeaWorld Orlando), Air Grover (Busch Gardens Tampa), Sand Serpent (Busch Gardens Tampa), Grover’s Alpine Express (Busch Gardens Williamsburg)

John: Another tough one. There are so many legendary coasters in this grid. SheiKra once held the top spot on my list of favorite steel coasters, so I have to start the lineup with it ($5). And while we’re at it, let’s add a couple others from the B&M portfolio: Apollo’s Chariot ($5) and Alpengeist ($4). And for the tamer bunch, I’ll go with Sand Serpent at Busch Gardens Tampa ($1).

Nick: $5 Apollo’s Chariot, $3 Verbolten, $3 Invadr, $4 Kumba. Not as many rides as the other lineups but a solid collection of coasters, including two of my favorite B&M coasters ever. I’m tempted to switch out Invadr with Manta West despite already having a launch coaster.

Mike: Okay, we’re in my element now with SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment! Montu is a personal favorite of mine so I’ll start there for $5. Sticking with another one of my homeparks, I’ll take Mako at SeaWorld Orlando for $5, which I consider as my “personal” B&M hyper since it’s here in my backyard in Orlando. I’ll also throw in Verbolten for $3. I get a kick out of that ride every time I ride it. Finally, I’ll go with Cobra’s Curse for $2. It’s family-friendly, but still an incredibly fun coaster, especially if you know how to max out the spinning. If I had to fill out the park with 5 coasters, I would have gone with Loch Ness Monster instead of Verbolten and rounded out my list with Air Grover.

Andrew: I’m going with one from each row this time. Mako, Cheetah Hunt, InvadR, Wave Breaker, and Vapor Trail. I’ve heard unbelievable things about Mako, and want to ride it for the first time this fall. Cheetah Hunt has some great launches and is a wonderful terrain coaster. InvadR is a great family wooden coaster, and the air-time in the back row is phenomenal. It was tough choosing between Wave Breaker or SeaWorld San Diego’s Manta, but I feel like with both being similar launched coasters, I could take the value pick in order to add another coaster, Vapor Trail, which of the 5 coasters listed, seems like the most fun.

Eric: I’m gonna fess up, I’ve actually only been to one of these parks anytime since I was a little kid, and that’s Busch Gardens Tampa. So most of this is going off things I most want to ride, rather than things that are my favorite coasters. That said, I know I want one of the dive coasters, but it’s really a toss up between them. I’m gonna go with Sheikra since I’ve been on it and know I love it, but that could go really either way. Since I haven’t had a flying coaster on my lists yet, I need to include Orlando Manta. And for the fun of confusing people again, I’m also going to take San Diego’s Manta. Like Andrew I thought about going Wave Breaker, but decided to stick with name confusion as my theme through these. With $3 left, I think I’m going to take Verbolten. I love the theme of it, and feel like the drop track is such a cool unique feature. Now I just need to get out to the East Coast and actually ride all of these…

Independent Parks

$5 Coasters: Cannibal (Lagoon), Mine Blower (Fun Spot), Monster (Adventureland), Storm Chaser (Kentucky Kingdom), The Voyage (Holiday World)

$4 Coasters: Boulder Dash (Lake Compounce), Hades 360 (Mt. Olympus), Kentucky Rumbler (Beech Bend), Switchback (ZDT’s Amusement Park), Thunderbird (Holiday World)

$3 Coasters: Lightning Run (Kentucky Kingdom), Phobia Phear Coaster (Lake Compounce), Rampage (Alabama Splash Adventure), Skyrush (Hersheypark), Storm Runner (Hersheypark)

$2 Coasters: Arkansas Twister (Magic Springs), Desperado (Buffalo Bill’s), Phoenix (Knoebels), Wooden Warrior (Quassy), White Lightning (Fun Spot)

$1 Coasters: Cannon Ball (Lake Winnie), Jack Rabbit (Kennywood), Giant Dipper (Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk), Swamp Fox (Family Kingdom), Coney Island Cyclone (Coney Island)

Eric: My initial temptation is just to make 15 Giant Dippers, but I don’t think I’m allowed to do that, but I’m definitely including it. There are actually lots of great options here. I think I’d need to have Thunderbird, my favorite wing coaster. I’ve never been on Switchback, but I’ve always been really intrigued by it, and feel like I need to give the Gravity Group some love, so I’m going to include that as well. I’m taking Lightning Run, because damn it, there need to be more Hyper GT-X coasters in the world.  With my last $3 I’m kind of torn between the two Hersheypark coasters. I’ve never been on them, so I’m going off which one I most want to ride, and I think it’s Skyrush (but please tell me if I’m wrong).

Mike: Storm Chaser and Lightning Run automatically get on my list. Those two rides gave me so much airtime that my thighs hurt for the rest of the day. (In real life, at only $7M, Lightning Run is one of the best roller coaster values I have ever seen! Don’t know why more parks aren’t ordering their own Chance GT-X at that price.) White Lightning is also an incredible value at $2, plus I had to get in a homer pick. Skyrush is a tempting pick at $3, but I think I have enough airtime already so I’m gonna go with Hersheypark’s other ride on the list, Storm Runner, which is actually a personal favorite of mine (Vertical Horsepower!!!). That leaves me with $2 for my last ride. Did I say I have enough airtime already? Okay, I lied. Give me Phoenix at Knoebels for my last coaster. Haven’t been on it yet, but it looks like an oldie but goodie.

Andrew: I’m going three wooden coasters and two steel coasters this round. Wooden Warrior and White Lightning are two great family wooden coasters from the top two wooden coaster companies today; The Gravity Group and Great Coasters International. I’ll also add Boulder Dash to that list, which is a 5-time winner of the Golden Ticket Award for Best Wooden Coaster. On the steel side, I’m taking Lightning Run, which is an airtime machine, despite its small stature. Rounding out my independent lineup will be Thunderbird, which is glass smooth and provides a great ride from any seat. Edit: I have to make a change after visiting Beech Bend. Kentucky Rumbler is going in for Thunderbird. Easy decision to make.

John: Storm Chaser at Kentucky Kingdom is a given ($5). I really do wish I could have a copy of it in my backyard. Like Andrew, a few weeks ago, I wouldn’t have even considered Kentucky Rumbler ($4). But after riding it, I can’t imagine it not on my list. Holiday World’s Thunderbird is pure fun from start to finish, so I’d definitely want it on my lineup ($4). That leaves $2. Fortunately, the last two are easy: Cannon Ball at Lake Winnie and Jack Rabbit at Kennywood — two amazing, historic wooden coasters.


Nick: Wow this is tough, a lot of incredible coasters here. First, I’m going to have to take Phoenix because at only $2 that is an absolute steal. Skyrush for $3 is also a good bargain. I’ve gotta take my favorite roller coaster, Voyage, so there’s another $5. And what the heck, I’ll take Storm Chaser for $5 as well and have four incredible airtime machines.

Nostalgia Park

$5 Coasters: Son of Beast, Eagle Fortress, Rye Aeroplane, Crystal Beach Cyclone, Cyclone Racer

$4 Coasters: Big Bad Wolf, Riverview Bobs, The Bat, Lake Placid Bobsled, Fred Church’s Tornado

$3 Coasters: Villain, Batman & Robin: The Chiller, Hypersonic XLC, Mister Twister, Ozark Wildcat

$2 Coasters: Screechin’ Eagle, Drachen Fire, Orient Express, Hercules, King Cobra

$1 Coasters: Wacky Soap Box Racers, Flashback, Moonsault Scramble, Disaster Transport, Greezed Lightning

Mike: I actually did not get to ride any of these coasters so I’m totally in the dark here. I’m gonna start with Big Bad Wolf since I’ve heard nothing but great things about that ride. It had a lot of fans. Second, I’ll go with Hypersonic XLC. 0 to 80 in 1.8 seconds just sounds insane. Wish I’d gotten the chance to experience that. Third, I’ll go with Batman & Robin: The Chiller. I’m actually getting two coasters with that one, and their layouts actually look awesome for shuttle coasters. An in-side top hat, and a zero-g roll in reverse? Yes please! Fourth, I’ll take Drachen Fire for the history since it should have been Kumba’s sister coaster at BGW. Finally, I’ll wrap up my lineup with Ozark Wildcat. Don’t know much about the ride, but it looks like it was a good GCI woodie. Can’t have enough of those!

Andrew: I’ve got 5 coasters this round. and they’re coming from just two states. I chose $5 Son of Beast, $2 Drachen Fire, and $1 Disaster Transport for their cult followings. They’re 3 coasters that closed before I had the opportunity to ride them. Rounding out my lineup is the $4 Big Bad Wolf, probably one of my top 3 defunct coasters that I’ve ever ridden, and the $3 Hypersonic XLC, which, while short-lived and short-cycled, provided a very exciting ride with its compressed air launch. I hope S&S can get back in the launched coaster game soon! (If coasters aren’t on the list, can I add them for $0? I want to add Maximum RPM from Hard Rock Park with its Ferris Wheel lift, and Thunder Road from Carowinds, from the era where one train was reversed. Taking that first drop in reverse was an amazing feeling.)

Nick: Yeah, from someone who actually rode it, don’t waste your money on Son of Beast. I’ll take Eagle Fortress because everyone raves about how awesome that ride was. Crystal Beach Cyclone because it’s the Crystal Beach Cyclone, probably the most infamous ride of all time. To round out I’ll go with Lake Placid Bobsled, it’s gotta be totally unlike anything around today, and for $1 toss up between Wacky Soap Box Racers and Moonsault Scramble.

Eric: I think I’m actually going to skip all of the $5 coasters this time. I have ridden Son of Beast, and do NOT have fond memories it, and Crystal Beach Cyclone sounds worse! Cyclone Racer is very, very tempting, but I think I’ll go with one of the cheaper Church coasters instead. Starting at the bottom end, two defunct rides I have been on and did love are Disaster Transport and Greezed Lightning, so I want both of those for a buck each, what a steal (technically my memories are of Tidal Wave, the weight drop Schwarzkopf at California’s Great America, but close enough)! From the $2 row I think I’m going to take Orient Express, who doesn’t love interlocking loops? I’m going to add a couple of $3 rides as well, with Hypersonic XLC and Ozark Wildcat. You’ll recall from above that I love GCI. And Hypersonic just sounds like such a cool, unique, ride. I wish I could have ridden it. With $5 left, I’m going to take Riverview Bobs (the on-ride looks pretty great, and I have enjoyed the two Church and Prior coasters I’ve ever been on). I wish I had a second dollar to add King Cobra, but with only a buck I’m going to take the super unique Flashback. Of course, if I could take CGA’s Whizzer, I might do that instead (I should probably go to SFGA to ride theirs).

What are your picks? Let us know in the comments below!

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13 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    CF- I’d go with Fury as my 5$ pick, for me that’s a no brainer. Maverick is my 4$ pick, looks like an amazing ride that would make a great 1-2 punch. Talon is a solid invert I’d take it for 3$ to fill that void. I love impulses and Renegade looks great so those would be my bargain bin 2$ picks.

    SF- The first 2 are easy for me as El Toro and Wicked Cyclone are my two personal favorite coasters of all time, so for me that’s the best 9 dollars I’ve ever spent. My 3$ choice is Goliath @ La Ronde. This is a fun ride filled with floater air, so that’s a bargain at 3$. Medusa looks like a fun ride and I enjoy floorless coasters, and Comet is a solid classic, a bit rough but airtime packed.

    BG/SW- Mako looks good, so that’s my 5$ pick, 4$ is a good deal for Alpengeist but Kraken is a steal for 3$. Finally, Manta at San Diego fills the family coaster and launch coaster spot.

    Independent- This makes for a great lineup. Voyage looks epic, and it’s worth 5$. However, the 3$ group is stacked, and imagine Skyrush, Storm Runner and Lightning Run along with the Voyage and for 1$ the Coney Island Cyclone. That would be epic.

    Nostalgia- Crystal Beach Cylone looked INSANE. Meamwhile, The Bat is fascinating and cool looking, Ozark Wildcat and Batman and Robin both look great. I’d love to see all of these ressurected.

  2. Anonymous says:

    BTW, you have a picture of Mindbender at SFOT and the description says Mindbender at SFOG, just letting you know.

  3. Zachary says:

    CF-Fury 325,Maverick,Gold Striker,Pony Express

  4. Zachary says:

    SF-Wicked Cyclone,Goliath South,Batman:The Ride,Superman:Ultimate Flight,Superman,Dark Knight

  5. Alexandre says:

    Cedar Fair-5$=Fury 325 4$=Mystic Timbers 3$=Xcelerator 2$=The Bat 1$=Avalanche


  6. Alexandre says:

    I only chose coasters I have ridden.

  7. Zachary says:

    SW-Mako,InvadR,Cheetah Hunt,Wavebreaker,Cobra’s Curse,Tempesto

  8. Zachary says:

    IP-Storm Chaser,Lightning Run,Skyrush,Akanasas Twister,Phoenix

  9. Zachary says:

    NP-Big Bad Wolf,Batman and Robin,Hypersonic XL-C,Drachen Fire,Orient Express,Greezed Lightning

  10. Alexandre says:

    Best c101 post ever

  11. Alexandre says:

    Best c101 post ever.

  12. Nick says:

    Gad you like it. Would you like to see more like this in the future?

  13. Alexandre says:

    Yes please!