Coaster101’s 2022 Year in Review
Believe it or not, we’ve finally reached the end of the roller coaster of a year that was 2022. Every December we take a look back and reflect on the past year. Members of the Coaster101 team will share a few of their favorite moments from 2022, including an update in the Race-to-300 Coaster Credits. And you’ll want to be sure to read all the way to the end…
Parks Visited in 2022: The Coasters of Las Vegas, Carowinds, Kings Dominion, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Adventureland Long Island, Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier, Kemah Boardwalk, California’s Great America and Six Flags New England.
New To You Coaster Credits in 2022: 22 new coasters on the year, giving me a grand overall total of 276 – lower than I would have liked, but the race to 300 continues.
Favorite “New to You” Ride of 2022: My favorite new coaster of 2022 was undoubtedly Pantheon, and my favorite “new-to-me” ride is a toss up between Railblazer and Gold Striker at California’s Great America, along with Boardwalk Bullet at Kemah Boardwalk.
Favorite Coaster101 Articles in 2022: I love a good research deep dive, so the B&M Capital of the World and “Coaster Enthusiast’s Guide to Las Vegas” were both very fun to write! I also loved Nick’s “No Kings at Kings Island” Review with his son Henry, because Henry might be my favorite character in the entire Coaster101 extended universe. Also, a shameless plug for the Coaster101 Podcast. We had some STELLAR interviews (Arthur Levine, Adam Sandy, The Drunk Riders, and a Cedar Fair 2023 roundtable among them!) and episodes in 2022!
Top 3 Highlights of 2022:
3. Getting to ride Pantheon. We’re often asked about how long we’d wait to ride a roller coaster. The saga with Pantheon the day I rode it — it was the one day I had at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and basically planned an entire trip around it – delayed opening, waited multiple hours watching it test — watching the a-frame signage saying the ride would be closed all day being placed out and later removed – having to throw my bag behind the ride sign because lockers weren’t operating when the ride finally did open — fitting on my first ride no issue, and mysteriously not fitting again (heard there were sensor issues) when I tried to re-ride, all led to a very memorable day.
2. Visiting some parks that weren’t even close to being on my 2022 radar at the beginning of the season. At the beginning of the year, I had two parks on my list that I was certain I’d finally get to in 2022 — Valleyfair and Canada’s Wonderland (as part of the meetup that I’m sure several of the guys below will mention). Unfortunately for those two parks, work and real life had other plans for me, but fortunately, work travels took me to the Gulf Coast of Texas and San Francisco Bay area, and my personal life got me to Long Island, where my fiancée’s family is still shocked and probably a little disgusted that I took time to visit Adventureland, and Six Flags New England, where I still wish I had driven the other direction to visit Lake Compounce, but I digress.
1. Continuing to grow the Coaster101 podcast. Our pandemic project had its 100th episode earlier this year, and is still going strong!
Parks Visited in 2022: Dollywood, Dorney Park, Luna Park, Six Flags Great America, Six Flags Darien Lake, Canada’s Wonderland, Fun Spot America (Orlando), Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure — I was busy this year.
New To You Coaster Credits in 2022: I rode 32 new-to-me coasters in 2022, most of which came from my inaugural trips to Canada’s Wonderland, Dorney Park and Six Flags Darien Lake. With 288 credits under my belt, I’m hoping to cross the 300 mark in 2023 (we got this, Andrew!).
Favorite “New to You” Ride of 2022: VelociCoaster — by a long shot. I loved it so much that I wrote it a love letter. I had been waiting to ride since dirt started moving. I’m a huge fan of the Jurassic Park/Jurassic World franchise, so I was excited for any attraction that would encompass that much space within the Jurassic Park section of Islands of Adventure.
Favorite Coaster101 Articles in 2022: This is always one of the toughest questions to answer. The Coaster101 team knocked it out of the park this year — again. These are just a few of my favorites:
- The 2022 season was a great one for new coasters. Mike and Shane’s review of the highly anticipated Iron Gwazi was a stellar read as was Andrew’s Pantheon review. Both reviews left me even more excited to ride both of these coasters (hopefully soon!).
- SeaWorld San Diego has been on my bucket list for years, so I thoroughly enjoyed Eric’s “Top 6 Things to Do at SeaWorld San Diego” for my visit.
- Las Vegas is another wishlist destination, so I’ve saved Andrew’s Coaster Enthusiast’s Guide to Las Vegas for my inevitable trip.
- A fan of all things quirky and unusual, Andrew’s Eight Unusual Roller Coaster Types Around the World list was another one of my favorites.
- I didn’t get to ride it when I was in Niagara Falls, so I had to experience the bizarre “Burger King Coaster” through Nick’s review.
Top 3 Highlights of 2022: This is another tough one as this coaster season was so great from start to finish (I started and ended the season at Dollywood.). But if I had to narrow it down to a top 3, these are the ones I’d choose to relive again and again:
1. Unsurprisingly — VelociCoaster. The coaster exceeded my sky-high expectations. The pacing, the thematic elements, the visuals, the trains, the smoothness…it was all so, so good. I can’t wait to return to Islands of Adventure to ride it again.
2. Visiting my first international park — Canada’s Wonderland. Even though I was still in North America, being in a park in a different country was still an amazing experience. While a Canadian park is more similar to an American park than say a European park, there were still differences that I wasn’t anticipating – types of food, music, safety protocols, etc. The coasters themselves may not have been all that different, but there were enough differences to remind me that I was outside of the U.S. And now, I can’t wait to visit my next international park, whichever one it may be.
3. Riding the Coney Island Cyclone was such a surreal experience. Finally being able to see with my own eyes a historic coaster that I’ve seen countless time on TV, in movies, in books, etc. was incredible. And the coaster was spectacular!
Parks Visited in 2022: California’s Great America, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, SeaWorld San Diego, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Tayto Park, Six Flags Darien Lake, Canada’s Wonderland, SeaWorld San Antonio, and Six Flags Fiesta Texas.
New To You Coaster Credits in 2022: Uhh, a lot? I visited 5 new to me parks this year (Canada’s Wonderland, SF Darien Lake, SFFT, SeaWorld San Antonio, and Tayto/Emerald Park), one park I hadn’t been to in many years, and a few parks with new coasters. 30-40 or something like that.
Favorite “New to You” Ride of 2022: Hard to pick. I put Behemoth as my favorite from our Canada’s Wonderland visit this past summer, so that’s probably it. Although I really liked all three of their “big” coasters. Pantheon is up there too. I’ll also throw out Texas Stingray and Iron Rattler as contenders. Let’s call that my top 5ish.
Favorite Coaster101 Articles in 2022:
- John’s love letter to Velocicoaster made me smile a lot, and made me really want to ride Velocicoaster. A+ work, John.
- Nick’s review of the “Burger King” coaster is definitely one of my favorites, like John said. John and I got to Niagara Falls too late to ride it, so I get to live vicariously through Nick’s words (also heed his advice to not ride it).
- I’m cheating by including a podcast episode. Andrew has had a ton of great guests on, but I’m always most excited to listen to (or occasionally talk to) Arthur Levine, maybe the nicest and most knowledgeable theme park journalist out there.
Top 3 Highlights of 2022:
- Canada’s Wonderland! First it’s always nice to meet up with a couple of C101 writers. Second, I think it was the biggest North American park I’ve never been to. Great collection of coasters, beautiful park, and easy to get to. I said in our review I think it makes the best use of its iconic centerpiece (the Mountain) of any park. We also met and hung out with Tyler from Wonderland Weekly a bit. If you need Canada’s Wonderland tips definitely hit him up. Detours to Niagara Falls and Darien Lake on that trip were great too.
- Tayto Park! Another new to me park, in another country! During a summer trip of mine I convinced a friend to take a trip to Tayto (now Emerald) with me. My first time at a European park, and despite it being small and a little bit busy, I loved it.
- Getting back to Busch Gardens Williamsburg. I was in DC last Spring and took a side trip down to BGW, secretly maybe my favorite park in the country. I hadn’t been since 2018, loved getting back to it to both remind myself that yes, Verbolten is my favorite coaster, and get to ride Pantheon! Not as much an adventure as Andrew’s Pantheon experience, although it was late to open in the morning (luckily an empty park meant plenty of chances to ride).
Parks Visited in 2022: Hersheypark, Knoebels, Dorney Park, CJ Barrymore’s Entertainment, Jungle Jack’s Landing
New To You Coaster Credits in 2022: Jolly Rancher Remix, Cocoa Cruiser, Wildcat, Storm Runner, Impulse, Kozmos Kurves, Camelback Mountain Coaster, Hydra, Steel Force, Thunderhawk, Woodstock Express, Talon
Favorite “New to You” Ride of 2022: I was blown away by Steel Force. It has always been one of those big coasters on my bucket list, from watching a lot of Discovery Channel specials that featured the ride when I was young. I had been fearful that it would end up being just awkward and boring, but it was most definitely not! The “force” on this ride is incredible! There is an immense amount of airtime throughout the ride (especially in those returning bunny hills) and the helix turnaround in the middle of the course is a near-grey-out moment. Only bummed that the rain didn’t allow me to ride over and over again that day.
Favorite Coaster101 Articles in 2022:
Top 3 Highlights of 2022:
3. Getting to meet up with John at Dorney Park and rushing around to hit up all of the coasters before a big storm came through. Dorney was always just out of reach on some previous trips I’ve taken so finally getting to go was great! We also were able to meet up with the park’s social team and make some content with them.
2. My wife’s family takes vacations to Ocean City, New Jersey and on my first trip there (years ago) I didn’t have time to ride the Python at Playland’s Castaway Cove and always kicked myself because the park removed it shortly after that trip. Not that the ride was huge or something historical, but it intrigued me being a very small looping coaster. Flash forward to this year, I happened to find myself in Detroit, and like any coaster enthusiast did a search for nearby credits. To my surprise, Python had been relocated to a little family entertainment center north of the city! The Loop Roller Coaster, as it is now named, has a new coat of paint and is looking great! I did get to ride it once and it was very smooth for having some tight turns and a tiny loop, but the last turn into the station was brutal and left some bruises on my knee.
1. In the spring, I was able to cover the opening of Jolly Rancher Remix at Hersheypark for Coaster101. The park did an amazing job at revitalizing the area around the old (now new) boomerang ride. The coaster itself felt factory fresh and the theming was on-point! On of the best perks of the day was that Hersheypark allowed media attendees to roam the park for the day after the event. I had been to Hershey several times before but had bad luck with some rides not being open. This trip I was able to catch all of those missing credits, including the Wildcat before it was announced that it would receive the RMC treatment before next season.
Parks Visited in 2022: Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, SeaWorld Orlando, Busch Gardens Tampa
New To You Coaster Credits in 2022: Iron Gwazi, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, Slinky Dog Coaster. It was a rather tame year for me as far as theme parks as I’ve been busy taking care of my infant (now toddler) daughter. 2023 is going to be a bounce back year for me!
Favorite “New to You” Ride of 2022: It’s a toss-up for me. Iron Gwazi is definitely the best coaster I’ve been on this year, however, I absolutely LOVED riding Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. It’s absolutely the best coaster at Walt Disney World resort. I also have to add a non-coaster to my favorite “New to You” rides: Rise of the Resistance at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The entire experience is amazing!
Favorite Coaster101 Articles in 2022:
- John’s Love Letter to Velocicoaster – I have to pretty much echo everything John wrote about Velocicoaster. It’s now easily my favorite coaster of all time and I have it right here to myself in Central Florida!
- The Rating Canada’s Wonderland’s coasters article – I couldn’t make it to the meetup at Canada’s Wonderland this year, so I had to experience it vicariously through my fellow writers. Visiting this park is definitely on my todo list over the next year or two.
- Shane’s Smuggler’s Run article – I finally got to experience Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge this year and Smuggler’s Run was definitely an underrated ride. Shane captures the experience well in his article.
Top 3 Highlights of 2022:
- A 4-parks-in-one-week blitz at Walt Disney World Resort for my son’s birthday at the beginning of the year. We went to Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios over the weekend, and then had to tackle Animal Kingdom and Epcot on school nights. Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge was clearly the highlight of the trip. My son got to ride Rise of the Resistance twice since my wife and I had to do child swap with my daughter. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway was also a cool and hilarious ride that I highly recommend for everyone to ride. Our time at Animal Kingdom was rather crammed as it was a school night, but I finally got to experience Avatar: Flight of Passage, and we also saw Festival of the Lion King for the first time. We ended the week at EPCOT on a Friday night and got to watch the Harmonious fireworks show.
- Attending Iron Gwazi’s media day at Busch Gardens Tampa. I had been waiting years for Central Florida to finally get its own RMC coaster. Iron Gwazi definitely did not disappoint and I am now stoked to have an RMC Coaster in my backyard. “Me” days taking off from work and heading to chain ride Iron Gwazi are definitely in my future.
- Getting multiple rides of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind during the DIS Con 2022 Epcot After Hours Party. As I stated in the article, Cosmic Rewind is easily the best coaster at Disney and makes Space Mountain pretty much obsolete. Even with TRON Lightcycle/Run set to open at Magic Kingdom in 2023, I think I’ll be spending my time riding Cosmic Rewind.
Parks Visited in 2022: Universal Orlando Resort, Michigan’s Adventure, Kings Island, Waldameer, Six Flags Darien Lake, Canada’s Wonderland, The BK Coaster
New To You Coaster Credits in 2022: In 2022, I rode 39 different roller coasters, of which 20 were new to me. I use my Coaster Counter spreadsheet to track all these.
Favorite “New to You” Ride of 2022: Velocicoaster by far. Honorable mention to Yukon Striker, my new favorite B&M dive coaster. Not a ride, but I’ll also give a mention to the Bourne Stuntactular as it doesn’t get talked about enough.
Favorite Coaster101 Articles in 2022:
For my own articles, I have to say a few stand out due to the amount of work put into them. First, I had written a series of Coasters-101 articles over ten years ago that desperately needed some refreshing. I had a lot of fun updating the Coasters-101: Lift Hills and What Influences Coaster Speed articles. More updates and new articles coming in the year ahead. With help from some of you, I put together a roller coaster trip planning guide. I love a good spreadsheet so I geeked out over this concept of how to automatically list what coasters you should target riding next.
For the rest of the team’s articles, Andrew hilariously and creatively combined two of my favorite things: football and theme parks. I’ve followed all of John’s Big Bear Mountain construction updates from Dollywood. Kyle’s Jolly Rancher Remix Review made me feel like I was really at HersheyPark with him. I’ve never been to Universal Studios Hollywood or Halloween Horror Nights, so I enjoyed reading Eric and Shane’s rankings on those.
Top 3 Highlights of 2022:
3. The year got off to a good start with our family vacation to Universal Orlando in February. It was my first time back in ten years and first visit for my kids. They absolutely loved the Mardi Gras parade and so much more.
2. Epic four-day Coaster101 trip where I drove completely around Lake Erie. Stops included Waldameer, a failed attempt to ride an alpine coaster which closed due to weather, the infamous Burger King coaster, my first visit to Six Flags Darien Lake, Journey Behind the Falls, and capping it all off with an incredible day at Canada’s Wonderland.
1. Riding Mystic Timbers with Henry. It’s one thing to ride a great coaster with good friends. But sharing a ride you love with your children and watching them experience it for the first time and loving it too? Priceless.
Parks Visited in 2022: Busch Gardens Tampa, Coney Island, Nickelodeon Universe NJ, Six Flags Great Adventure, Six Flags New England, Kings Island, Universal Studios Orlando, Islands of Adventure, SeaWorld Orlando, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios.
New To You Coaster Credits in 2022: All the Kings Island coasters, El Toro, Tigris, Ice Breaker, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, Seven Dwarves Mine Train.
Favorite “New to You” Ride of 2022: I’ve always been a very strict “best vs favorite” critic, because if we’re talking best new rides for me, I would say El Toro, Iron Gwazi or Orion. But since the question is “favorite,” there is only one choice here: Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. In my opinion, Cosmic Rewind is the most fun ride experience I have ever been on, and it’s going to be difficult for any ride to replicate the pure joy of Guardians.
Favorite Coaster101 Articles in 2022: As a huge VelociCoaster fan, John’s love letter to the ride really hit home and took the words out of my mouth for how great this experience really is. I love lights on footage of the behind-the-scenes of any rides, so Andrew’s lights-on tour of Boo Blasters was one of my favorites. Kyle and John’s podcast episode about their experience at one of my favorite smaller parks, Dorney Park, was also a fun listen.
Top 3 Highlights of 2022:
3. Iron Gwazi Media Day. Getting to escape the frigid cold of the Northeast in February is always welcome, and if there is a grand opening of a brand new, world class roller coaster attached, even better. Mike and I got to experience the grand opening of RMC’s newest creation, and got some pretty funny POVs to show for it.
2. Riding Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. As a huge Marvel fan, and Guardians fan in particular, I was unsure of what to expect from this coaster. When I finally got to ride this state of the art coaster after moving to Florida in the fall, I was completely blown away. I have never experienced anything like the pure euphoria blast that is Cosmic Rewind, and the fact that the ride exists is pure Disney magic.
1. Visiting Kings Island. What originally started as a trip to a different Ohio park with a blue giga turned into one of the best theme park trips of my life, and I never stepped foot in Sandusky. The charm and coaster collection of Kings Island is completely unlike anything from any other regional park or destination park, and getting to finally experience that was a dream come true. Kings Island is truly a coaster paradise, with world class coasters, friendly staff, a clean park with good operations, and great food. What else could any enthusiast ask for?
Coaster101’s Race-to-300 Standings
As of the end of 2022, here are the standings in our race to see who the first Coaster101 writer is to hit 300 coasters ridden:
- Kyle – 293
- John – 288
- Andrew – 276
- Eric – 272ish (I don’t track very religiously)
- Nick – 264
- Shane – 154
Who will be the first Coaster101 writer to hit 300 coaster credits? Will 2023 finally be the year one of us breaks through?!
2022 Year in Review Giveaway
There you have it! It was a busy year for the Coaster101 team but we’re aiming to make 2023 even bigger. Thank you for reading all the way to the end! To celebrate the start of a new year, we’re giving away a Coaster101 Prize Pack including a copy of Kings Island: A Ride Through Time paperback book by Evan Ponstingle.
To enter, comment below with your favorite Coaster101 article of the year and your favorite personal coaster highlight of 2022. Be sure to enter your email, as we will be contacting the lucky, randomly selected winner shortly thereafter. Contest is limited to residents of US and Canada only.
Deadline to enter is by Friday, January 6, 2023 at 8pm EST. Good luck have a Happy New Year!
Hello Coaster101 team!
My favorite article this year was a toss up between John’s love letter to Velocicoaster, Nick’s “No Kings at Kings Island” review, and the 101st episode of the podcast. It was too hard to pick just one!
My personal favorite coaster highlight this year was visiting Kings Island for their 50th anniversary celebration. Mystic Timbers and Orion were my favorite new credits of the year!
My favorite post of the year would probably be “Mattel Adventure Park Planned for 2023” as Im very curious about this project. My favorite highlight of the year would probably be hitting my 500th coaster ridden Lead The Dips at Lakemount.
Hello Coaster101! First of all I need to confess before this year I didn’t know there was such a thing as theme park enthusiast. However since then I have listened to all but seven of your podcast episodes (I’m going to finish the rest soon 😊) I am already in love with the industry, and recently received Nick’s book Coasters101. To the point: My favorite Article that I read from this year was the love letter to Velocicoaster. I have not ridden it yet, but it is now on the top of my to ride list. I would love to read a similar one for both Andrew’s and my favorite coaster, along with one for a really bad coaster (like vortex at Carowinds) to see if it can make people love it. My favorite coaster moment of 2022 was in October at my new for 2022 favorite park Carowinds. I had received a free fast lane for renewing my 2022 season pass, and cashed it in during a trip with my Youth Group. I had endured all the lines with my friends, including a 50 minute wait for Intimidator! However, when I reached the best creation of man of all time (fury 325) I couldn’t wait anymore. I left the group and headed up the fastlane staircase, which was an amazing decision. I ended up riding five times back to back while the rest of my group was in line, including my first in the front (the best seat in my opinion) and first in back left (so intense!) My number one best theme park experience of all time. Thank y’all for all you do, thanks for reading through this whole message, and Happy New Year
John’s love letter to Velocicoaster. That coaster was also my highlight of 2021, this year I’d give it to Cosmic Rewind. It isnt my favorite, that’s still VC, but it’s damn fun.
Hello, my favorite article was the zombenzi bay article. It was great to highlight a park I had never heard of and a small haunt event that looks like it is well put on and has room to grow. Love the focus on things you might not see on other websites and podcasts
My favorite personal coaster moment was a tie between finally visiting California with USH, Disneyland and DCA and finally getting night rides on hagrids and velocicoaster
The best of 2022 at Kings Island has been the new buttons including HALLOWEEN HAUNT 2022 which has been the top favorite…..Secoond of all, as my favorite roller coaster personally…..Orion, The Beast & Mystic Timbers. I do still have goals to lose weight in order to be able to fit better on most roller coasters at Kings Island….. Finally, Winterfest 2022-2023 was more enjoyable especially during my birthday last week. Love getting the FUN that I need the most. Thanks for all you do, Coaster101 and let’s all make 2023 the best it can be!
Hello, Coaster101: I do have goals to lose pounds to finally be able to ride all of the roller coasters at Kings Island although earlier this past Summer, I did use a test seat to ride Orion and guess what? I’m a step closer to getting ready to return to roller coasters. My favorite roller coasters at Kings Island are: Orion, Mystic Timbers & The Beast. Thank you for all you do & Happy 2023!! Let’s make 2023 the best year!!
My favorite article this year was the 10 Coasters we didn’t see coming. I agreed with you on all of them except for Steel Vengeance. Yes they were mostly a Six Flags staple (besides Dollywood), but it seemed inevitable that CP would have to get an RMC at some point.
My favorite coaster highlight of the year was FINALLY making it to CP for the first time after trying for three years straight. Loved Maverick and Millie and SteVe was a lowlight for me because it was too rough with those restraints.
My favorite article this year was the 10 Coasters we didn’t see coming. I agree with you on all of them except for SteVe. While RMC was mainly a Six Flags thing before, you knew eventually CP would have to jump on the bandwagon and one-up everyone with the tallest, fastest longest?.
My coaster moment this year was finally making it to Cedar Point this year after trying for the past three years. Loved Maverick and Millie, SteVe…not so much.
Disregard this one as it was made because the first was not posted yet
And the winner is….Furman! Congratulations! Thanks everyone for commenting, stay tuned for future giveaways, and I hope you have a great 2023!
Sounds fun! Can’t wait to hear about your 2023 plans!