Merlin’s Mayhem: The most in-depth review of this fun family coaster you’ll ever read

Let’s face it: most family roller coasters aren’t very fun. Almost every amusement park has a family coaster yet the majority of them are cloned, off-the-shelf models with boring layouts. Slow speeds, clunky restraints and rough track transitions make for lame, uncomfortable rides. Coaster enthusiasts only ride them for the credit to pad their coaster count. Sometimes even the children the ride was intended to please get bored.’

Luckily, Merlin’s Mayhem at Dutch Wonderland is none of these things. It’s a custom layout with a smooth ride, comfortable restraints, and most of all – it’s really fun!

The Story

Merlin’s Mayhem actually has a unique story to go along with the ride and guests will learn about Merlin’s dragon and how he needs your help to find him while waiting in line. From the park’s website:

Merlin the Magician stumbled upon an egg. When it hatched out popped a dragon. Merlin immediately became best friends with this dragon, but he couldn’t think of a name that fit him. Over the next few weeks, the dragon was found playing with Merlin’s wand, misusing his fire-breathing skills, and causing all sorts of mischief. Because of all of these mishaps, Merlin knew just what to name him… Mayhem. Mayhem was growing up to be a very friendly dragon, yet always seemed to get into trouble. Merlin taught his dragon many different tricks, how to control his fire breathing skills, and even how to fly. One day, Merlin was demonstrating a magic trick when Mayhem took off into the sky! Merlin tried to catch him, but he disappeared into the distance. Merlin needs everyone’s help to find his best friend, Mayhem! 

I understand they were going for the castle courtyard type theming for the line and I love the Merlin videos. I’m just not sure if putting up big walls and stifling any airflow was the best idea, not to mention blocking the view of the line from the midway making it difficult to tell how long the wait is.

Custom Layout

Merlin’s Mayhem has a 100% custom layout – and it had to be. The bright yellow track weaves over and around the park’s skyride and even dives underneath the train tracks into a mist filled tunnel. It fits perfectly onto the plot of land it was placed, smack dab in the center of the park. The space was formerly occupied by a turnpike car ride, but after another turnpike ride opened at the back of the park there was no need to have two.

Merlin’s Mayhem is classified as an inverted coaster. No, inverted does not mean it goes upside. Inverted is a type of roller coaster that hangs beneath the track but is fixed and does not freely swing side-to-side (which is the definition of a suspended coaster: hanging cars that CAN freely swing). But the flowing side to side turns of Merlin’s Mayhem create a swinging sensation like that of a true suspended coaster. In fact, my four year old constantly referred to the coaster as “the swing ride.”

Low Rider Height Requirement

There are two things about this coaster I can’t stop raving about. The first is the low 39-inch height requirement. This is really low for such a big ride. Seriously, children as young as three years old could potentially ride this coaster! Compare that to Kings Island, who also has a yellow inverted family roller coaster and proclaims they have the world’s best kids area. Flying Ace Aerial Chase has a 44 inch height restriction, five full inches above Merlin’s Mayhem. Oh, and those shoulder restraints aren’t as comfortable as Merlin’s either.

The Trains

The second feature I love about this ride are the restraints: simple seat belts and lap bars! They’re super comfortable and the lack of over-the-shoulder harness make it easier to look around at the Amish countryside.

Merlin’s Mayhem trains feature on-board audio and while neat, I was a little confused by the inclusion of this feature. The speakers are mounted to the back of each seat, meaning if you sit in the front you won’t be able to hear anything. But as far as I could tell the audio only plays while ascending the short lift hill. If this is the case, why not just mount speakers to the lift hill? It would also be cool if the audio on the lift had multiple recorded spiels so you had the chance of having Merlin tell you to look in a different hiding spot for Mayhem each time.

The Ride

Out of the station you immediately ascend the lift as Merlin speaks to you. A small bend to the right is followed by the twisting drop to the left. A straight drop off the top of the lift could be a little stomach churning for some riders. But the way the track dips and twists to the right before the larger drop to the left says this is going to be fun, not scary. Great design.

A large turnaround is probably the most photogenic spot on the ride.

After an S-curve you hit the low to the ground helix and actually feel the pull of some positive g-forces. Next is the dive into the tunnel (which would be nice if it were themed a little more instead of being only concrete). There’s a final turn around before hitting the magnetic brakes. The maintenance crew told me it takes THREE HOURS to inspect this coaster before it’s ready to ride everyday – and it’s all so worth it.


The Stats

  • Height: 60 feet
  • Length: 1,300 feet
  • Trains: single train operation
  • Riders per train: 20
  • Manufacturer: S&S – Sansei Technologies

Merlin’s Mayhem Coaster Review

Merlin’s Mayhem is a legit roller coaster that is fun for the whole family. While Dutch Wonderland’s target audience is twelve years and younger, Merlin’s Mayhem really has a broad spectrum and can appeal to young and old alike. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of these S&S inverted family coasters pop-up at amusement parks across the country. For a lot of parents like myself, this will be the first “real” roller coaster ride with their young enthusiasts – a priceless experience! Merlin’s Mayhem was the perfect addition and is now the marquee attraction at Dutch Wonderland.

Have you been to Dutch Wonderland this year? What did you think of Merlin’s Mayhem? Let me know in the comments below!

Stay tuned for our thoughts on the rest of the park and other unique attractions of Dutch Wonderland!

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1 Response

  1. Emmett says:

    Fantastic review! Looks like a fun ride, can’t wait to try it out.