Coaster101’s 2017 Year in Review
Where did the time go? It’s that time of year again — 2017 has come to a close and now it’s 2018! Every year we take a look back and reflect on the past year. Each member of the Coaster101 team will share a few of our favorite moments from our year, as well as tell you what we’re looking for in 2018.
Parks Visited in 2017: Universal Orlando, Walt Disney World, Carowinds, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Belmont Park, Knott’s Berry Farm, SeaWorld San Diego, Kings Dominion, Beech Bend, Fun Spot America (Orlando & Kissimmee), Busch Gardens Tampa, SeaWorld Orlando, Deadwood (Williamston, NC)
New Coaster Credits in 2017: 28 (Sitting on 179 overall, and the planning for #200 is underway.)
Favorite New Ride of 2017: InvadR at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. (Mine Blower at Fun Spot America Kissimmee was up there too.)
Favorite “New To You” Ride of 2017: This is extremely tough, but I’m going to have to split the honor here between Kentucky Rumbler at Beech Bend and White Lightning at Fun Spot America in Orlando. Two outstanding GCIs. (Honorable Mentions: Silver Bullet, Ghost Rider and the Carne Asada Fries at Knott’s)
Favorite Coaster101 Post of 2017: I actually went back and looked at every article we posted this year, and this was tough. I really like Eric’s interview with Sally Corp, John’s ode to Dueling Dragons (No, I’m not going to call it Dragon Challenge, and you can’t make me.), and our “round-table” style posts about the Carowinds Trip and $15 Coaster Lineup. With my interviews specifically, I really enjoyed talking to Kings Dominion’s VP/GM Gary Chadwick (Chad), and really liked all of the content that came out of my IAAPA Trip. It was also really fun putting together Park Madness, and the 2018 Cedar Fair Season Pass Guide. (I promise I just didn’t link to every article I wrote this year.)
Top 3 Highlights of 2017:
- Attending the IAAPA Expo in Orlando. It was overwhelming in the best way possible, and I look forward into making it an annual trip.
- My Southern California trip over Memorial Day Weekend — Taking a spin on the 92-year-old Giant Dipper at Belmont Park, Visiting Knott’s Berry Farm for Ghost Town Alive and their world class coaster line up, and covering the media day for Ocean Explorer at Sea World San Diego. It was an incredible trip.
- Playing tour guide at Carowinds for the Coaster101 Team. It was cool getting to share my home park with people who had never visited.
(And because I have a habit of not sticking to guidelines on this list: ACE Winter Warm-up at Six Flags Over Georgia, InvadR Media Day + taking the Roller Coaster Insider Tour at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, the announcement of Twisted Timbers at Kings Dominion, and Winterfest at Carowinds were all up there too!)
Most Anticipated Attraction for 2018: I have a sneaking suspicion everyone else is going to go with Steel Vengeance here. I’m sure it’ll be good, but selfishly, I’m really excited for Twisted Timbers at Kings Dominion. It’s always good when your driving time to your nearest RMC shrinks by a few hours each way.
Parks Visited in 2017: Hmm, let’s see, so I had my local parks, California’s Great America and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. I also made my way to Knott’s Berry Farm for the Boysenberry Festival for the first time, had a couple short stops at Six Flags Magic Mountain, and just this month hit up Disneyland and California Adventure. In new for me visits, I finally made it to Belmont Park in San Diego, I briefly stopped at Luna Park in New York, and joined the C101 team at Carowinds last April!
New Coaster Credits in 2017: I’m pretty bad at keeping track of this, but basically the Carowinds coaster collection, most of the giant portable coasters at Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, the Coney Island Cyclone, and the Giant Dipper at Belmont park were all new for me this year. Not sure how we’re counting Patriot at CGA, but that could be in there too.
Favorite New Ride of 2017: This is tricky, partly because I didn’t actually ride that many new 2017 attractions. Recency bias is probably at play here, but I actually really enjoyed “Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout!” at DCA on this recent visit. This is coming from someone who loved Tower of Terror and was sad to see it go, but Guardians was really fun and had lots of awesome little touches in it. And the different sequences/songs really made me want to ride it again and again.
Favorite “New To You” Ride of 2017: This one is pretty easy, it’s gotta be Fury325. I think we’ve probably talked enough about it here, but it’s definitely one of my favorite all time rides. I’ll also give an honorable mention to the Coney Island Cyclone. It was really fun, and considering it’s 90 years old, deserving of some love.
Favorite Coaster101 Post of 2017: Well, I can’t decide. Plus, since I feel a little guilty just picking my own pieces, I’m going to cheat and list a few I liked a lot. First, I really enjoyed a couple of the interviews I did this year, our piece on the history of Skyline Attractions and the interview with Sally Corp about Justice League. Both great companies to talk with who are dong excited things. I also loved all the good stuff that came from Andrew’s first IAAPA visit (and really made me want to go next year). Finally, Nick’s posts on both the Universal Boom Coaster and his guesses of what the Millennium Falcon ride could be were both awesome, and the kind of patent breakdown I can’t bring myself to attempt…
Top 3 Highlights of 2017:
- Well, this is easy. I just got to eat at Club 33 at Disneyland, probably the most excited I’ve ever been for a dinner, and most “exclusive” I’ve ever felt.
- Taking a ride on the Coney Island Cyclone. Somehow I’ve never done it on a trip to New York before, but it was an awesome, historic, ride.
- Visiting Carowinds with the C101 team, and doing it during Taste of the Carolinas. Great collection of rides, and lots of delicious food. Glad to have added it to my list of visited parks, and if I ever find myself down that way again I’ll definitely make an effort to stop by.
Most Anticipated Attraction for 2018: Ok, ok, obvious answer is Steel Vengeance, but I think I’m more excited about Rail Blazer (so yes, John, there is competition!). Similar feeling to Andrew. It’s at my home park, it’s a first (or second) of it’s kind ride, and I think/hope the experience will feel completely new. Hard not to be excited about that!
Parks Visited in 2017: Beech Bend, Carowinds, Dollywood, Hersheypark, Islands of Adventure, Kennywood, Six Flags Great America and Universal Studios Florida
New Coaster Credits in 2017: I rode (nearly) everything at new-to-me parks: Beech Bend, Carowinds, Hersheypark and Kennywood. I rode Dragon Challenge (RIP) and Flight of the Hippogriff at Islands of Adventure as well as Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts at Universal Studios Florida; Joker at Six Flags Great America and last but not least, unashamedly, Whistle Punk Chaser at Dollywood.
Favorite New Ride of 2017: Drop Line at Dollywood. The views of the Great Smoky Mountains are breathtaking (as is the 230-foot plunge).
Favorite “New To You” Ride of 2017: Skyrush at Hersheypark. Never before have I experienced more intense ejector airtime. In my mind, I knew I was completely safe and secure in my seat. But my body wasn’t so sure. A close second goes to Fury 325 at Carowinds.
Favorite Coaster101 Post of 2017: I am a geek for all things roller coaster innovation, so I really enjoyed Nick’s comparison of Universal’s boom coaster design versus the cantilevered coaster concept. And although I consider myself a coaster enthusiast first and foremost, I’m also a devout food enthusiast. We had a lot of great food-related posts this year, including Andrew’s “Behind the Menu” series.
Top 3 Highlights of 2017:
- Visiting Kennywood and Hersheypark for the first time.
- Riding my 175th coaster, Wild Mouse at Beech Bend Park.
- Riding my tallest coaster to date, Fury 325 at Carowinds.
Most Anticipated Attraction for 2018: Mean Streak at Cedar Point (is there any competition?).
Parks Visited in 2017: Kings Island (x2), Cedar Point, and if you want to count it the Indianapolis Zoo.
New Coaster Credits in 2017: Mystic Timbers, Kombo coaster. But if you want to count them throw in the Skyline ride at the Indy zoo and Rougagrou (if you count new experiences versus new tracks). My coaster count now stands at 179 and I know this because I’m using the Coaster101 Coaster Counter.
Favorite New Ride of 2017: Going into the year, Mystic Timbers was my most anticipated roller coaster for 2017 and it lived up to expectations.
Favorite “New To You” Ride of 2017: Last year, I rode 24 roller coasters and they were all “new to me.” This year, I only rode 8 different coasters and only 2 were new to me. My slow coaster year was mainly due to my daughter being born in April and was the reason I missed out on going to Carowinds with everyone else.
Favorite Coaster101 Post of 2017: I really enjoyed talking to Matt about his amazing 3D printed roller coaster project, not to mention the other interviews I conducted about the Rose Bowl roller coaster float and Koaster Kid Logan Joiner. Andrew’s IAAPA coverage was amazing with so much good content. Eric’s interview with Skyline was top notch.
Top 3 Highlights of 2017:
Well, this shouldn’t be hard since I spent less than three days inside amusement parks this year. My highlights:
- Taking my son and daughter to Cedar Point for first time. Yeah it resulted in few coaster rides for me but sharing something you love and seeing your kids happy more than makes up for it. Henry is four years old and his track record is already 6 with some hard to get credits too. Seeing the Mean Streak construction in person was pretty neat as well.
- I had a great time at the Mystic Timbers first rider auction with Kyle. Ten rides in two hours while helping a good cause.
- Seeing the look of pure joy on my son’s face while trying to catch fake snowflakes at Kings Island’s Winterfest, totally worth the visit just for that one moment.
- OK, it’s not going to a park but it was pretty cool seeing the amazing Coney Island amusement park model at Entertrainment in person.
Most Anticipated Attraction for 2018: Duh, Steel Vengeance. I did use a Black Friday sale to purchase discount tickets to Dutch Wonderland (which I had to explain to my wife is a park like Legoland minus the Legos), so I’m hoping the new suspended coaster will be open then and that my four-year-old son will be tall enough to ride it. I hope to get on Fury 325 in 2018 too!
Parks Visited in 2017: Carowinds, Kings Island, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Gillian’s Wonderland Pier, Castaway Cove and Go Karts Plus.
New Coaster Credits in 2017: Everything at Carowinds, Mystic Timbers, Invadr, Wild Waves, Mighty Python, a Wacky Worm, Whirlwind and Runaway Train Roller Coaster
Favorite New Ride of 2017: Definitely Fury 325. It’s big, it’s bad and it’s awesome. Perfect coaster.
Favorite “New To You” Ride of 2017: I think I would have to pick Afterburn at Carowinds. It was surprisingly smooth and enjoyable. We were able to ride multiple times in a row. I love a goof invert, but having one that isn’t painful is sometime hard to come by.
Favorite Coaster101 Post of 2017: I really enjoy the interactive stuff. So the $15 Coaster Lineups and the Park Madness tournament we put on were probably my two favorite.
Top 3 Highlights of 2017:
- Graduating college and then driving to Carowinds to ride Fury all in the course of eight hours. It was awesome getting to hang out at Carowinds with the Coaster 101 team for a couple of days.
- Getting to really explore Busch Gardens Williamsburg this summer. My in-laws live near the park so this year I bought a fun pass and was able to visit the park four separate times. I felt like I was able to enjoy the park more by being able to not rush through everything and then being able to pick and choose my favorites during my later visits. BGW is truly a great park and they really take good care of all of their coasters.
- Taking my son on his first rides. He absolutely loves carousels right now. There were four or five kiddie rides that were very accommodating to one year olds Gillian’s Wonderland Pier in New Jersey.
Most Anticipated Attraction for 2018: Easy, Steel Vengeance!
Parks Visited in 2017: Carowinds, Michigan’s Adventure, Kings Island, Six Flags Great America
New Coaster Credits in 2017: All of Carowinds major coasters, Mystic Timbers at Kings Island, Goliath and The Joker at Six Flags Great America.
Favorite New Ride of 2017: Mystic Timbers was a great addition to Kings Island for 2017. Adding a modern wooden coaster in the same park as Banshee, Diamondback, and The Beast, rounded out their lineup excellently.
Favorite “New To You” Ride of 2017: For sure Fury 325! That was such an exhilarating rush, something that I’ve never experienced before on such a major coaster.
Favorite Coaster101 Post of 2017: This was a pretty great year for us! The first time getting full IAAPA coverage directly from IAAPA thanks to Andrew, the Carowinds trip roundtable posts, the interview with Kings Dominion’s VP/GM Gary Chadwick, and the many interviews we did with ride manufacturers such as Sally Corp and Skyline Attractions.
Top 3 Highlights of 2017:
- Driving from Michigan to Carowinds, the longest trip I’ve ever taken by myself and in my 2015 Fiat 500. Was well worth the nearly 12 hour drive through a few new states for me.
- Going to Six Flags Great America the last weekend in November and also being able to ride a lot of their coasters with snow on them! That was a major first for me!
- My picture of Storm Chaser at Kentucky Kingdom was featured at Rocky Mountain Construction’s 2017 IAAPA booth and on their brochure! Can check them out here and here.
- Not really a highlight for me, but this was the first year in a while that I have not visited Cedar Point at least once since I started going to the park in 2005. 2018 will for sure be changing that!
Most Anticipated Attraction for 2018: Steel Vengeance at Cedar Point – Having this giant RMC marvel only 4 hours away from me, can bet I’ll be visiting Cedar Point more than once in 2018!
Parks Visited in 2017: SeaWorld Orlando, Busch Gardens Tampa, Fun Spot America (Orlando and Kissimmee), LEGOLAND Florida. 2017 was a rather lean year for me as far as coasters go. It’s kinda hard to go coastering around the country when you have a 2-year old. But expect big things from me in 2018!
New Coaster Credits in 2017: Mine Blower & Sea Serpent (Fun Spot America), The Dragon (LEGOLAND Florida)
Favorite New Ride of 2017: Mine Blower at Fun Spot America was the only 2017 new ride that I was able to experience, but I couldn’t have asked for a better one! I got to attend the grand opening of the ride, got to ride behind the Fun Spot CEO John Arie Jr., and even managed to be caught in a pic for the ride’s feature article in the Orlando Sentinel! In the past, Florida hasn’t exactly been known for its wooden coasters, with just the now defunct Gwazi at Busch Gardens Tampa and the defunct Dania Beach Hurricane being the only notable ones for a while. Now, thanks to Fun Spot America, I have two outstanding woodies right here in my city!
Favorite “New To You” Ride of 2017: My favorite “new to me” coaster actually was Sea Serpent at Fun Spot America, for more of a sentimental reason. My son finally hit 36″ this month, and Sea Serpent was his first coaster! (Plus I got the coaster credit, haha!) Theme-parking will never be the same moving forward now that I have a new partner-in-crime! Honorable mention to The Dragon at LEGOLAND. Unfortunately, it was the only coaster I got to ride at the park, as Coastersaurus was closed and by the time I reached the other coasters in the park, my son was overdue for a nap.
Favorite Coaster101 Post of 2017: Matt Schmotzer’s Incredible 3D Printed Roller Coaster Model. I get absolutely mesmerized whenever I see a roller coaster model, especially a fully functional one. If I had an alternate life outside of work and family, it would probably be doing things like this.
Top 3 Highlights of 2017:
- Experiencing my son’s first roller coaster with him.
- Experiencing the Mine Blower grand opening and getting to sit behind CEO John Arie Jr.
- Attending LEGOLAND Florida’s Christmas Bricktacular. It was actually my first time actually getting to explore the park (I had recently been for a couple of media events, but didn’t get to go into the park). I’ll be sure to make more trips there now that my son is older.
Most Anticipated Attraction for 2018: Steel Vengeance at Cedar Point. I actually can’t WAIT to hit Cedar Point this year. Since I last visited the park, they’ve added Gatekeeper, Valravyn, Rougarou, and now Steel Vengeance. I also plan on sneaking away to Carowinds at some point next year to finally experience Fury 325, so that would be my most anticipated “New to Me” attraction of 2018.
How was your 2017 coaster season? Feel free to share your highlights below using the same format we did!