I promised to fill you all in on last week’s Labor Day weekend, and, since it ties in so well with this weekend’s festivities, I figure what better time than the present. Yesterday, we visited Kings Island, Cincinnati’s resident theme park, thanks to Spencer’s company that rented it out for the day. (Such perks!) Last weekend, we drove up to Lake Erie and spent the day at Cedar Point, “the best amusement park in the world” that sits on America’s roller coast. While I haven’t been to enough amusement parks to speak to that ambitious claim, I can say that Cedar Fair (the company that owns these two parks as well as others like Carowinds and Kings Dominion) has pretty successfully cured me of my aversion to roller coasters.
When I was maybe 10 years old, my family visited Six Flags Over Georgia (as many Georgia families do every year), and I was subjected to the Great American Scream Machine, a massive wooden roller coaster that so very completely scared the pants off me I have only just found them and started putting one leg back on. Goliath at Six Flags Over Georgia finally convinced me that fun, enjoyable roller coasters do exist… they just happen to be newly constructed, made of steel, and completely void of that whoosh feeling in your stomach when you drop down hundreds of feet.
Even knowing that these types of roller coasters exist, it always takes some convincing to get me on one. However, these last two weekends have made me pretty fearless (well, much less fearful than I used to be) about thrill rides. Cedar Point and King’s Island really do have some of the best coasters in the world, so here are my top seven of Ohio’s metal monsters.
7. Maverick – Cedar Point
When we rode this one the first time, I will admit that it was a little bumpy. But it gets some good air especially through a fittingly named twisted horseshoe roll, and there’s a tunnel surprise!
6. Firehawk – King’s Island
I’d never been on a roller coaster where you actually hang from the harness, so this one was a really cool first experience! What I especially liked were the transitions between lying on your back and hanging as the coaster flipped across the tracks. The whole ride felt seamless and smooth!
5. Gatekeeper – Cedar Point
This coaster was the first that we rode upon entering Cedar Point, and I loved it! It’s a new ride, which is always a plus for me, and I thought it was so cool how the riders hung from either side of the track like real wings on a griffin. It’s the tallest, fastest, and longest wing roller coaster in the world (I didn’t even know “wing” was a category of coaster).
4. Top Thrill Dragster – Cedar Point
This ride was insane. Being completely honest, I chickened out the first time the group rode it. I got halfway through the line, and after watching it a few times, I just couldn’t do it. I immediately regretted that upon entering the viewers’ bleachers. The coaster goes from 0 to 120 mph in under 4 seconds and ascends 420 feet into the air, but it only lasts for 17 seconds. I can do anything for 17 seconds, or so I’ve convinced myself during particularly difficult workouts. So when Spencer came back with that look of elation on his face and told me that I had to ride it, I knew that I really did have to give it a shot. I’m so glad that I did!
3. Diamondback – King’s Island
Like I said before, the first roller coaster that I ever loved was Goliath, and this coaster felt just like one. Huge hills, but so smooth and gentle that you don’t feel a thing. A clean, simple ride but still exhilarating. Fun fact: Bolliger & Mabillard designed and manufactured both Goliath and Diamondback (and Gatekeeper and Banshee and basically all of the roller coasters that I’ve ever loved)!
2. Millennium Force – Cedar Point
Last weekend we rode this one multiple times because I loved it so much! Yes, the initial hill freaked me out a bit when we were waiting in line, but I pushed through and made myself ride it. Best decision of the day! Millennium Force isn’t a hypercoaster (over 200 feet), it’s the first of the gigacoasters (over 300 feet), but I still wanted to ride it again and again.
1. Banshee – King’s Island
Banshee is the best roller coaster that I have ever been on in my life! The inversions are crazy, and it’s such a substantial ride, but it’s so smooth that you just feel like you’re flying. It’s the world’s longest inverted coaster, and I have no doubt that this newbie will make its mark on the Amusement Today Golden Ticket Awards Top 50 Steel Coasters list. The best tip I can give you? Ride this one at night; it’s even more of a thrill when the Banshee comes out to play!
*You’ll notice that all of these are new-ish steel roller coasters because those are the ones that I actually enjoy. For those of you looking for some wooden thrillers, you have to ride The Beast! It’s a crazy ride, it’s unlike anything I have ever ridden before, and I would highly recommend it just for the experience. I’ll caution you that it was built in 1979, and I did fear for our lives at times (a wooden coaster should not be able to go that fast!), but do it. It’s a classic.