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I've ridden three GCI's (Roar SFA, Wildcat, and LR), and WILDCAT, the oldest, is my favorite.

 

I liked it because of intensity, something LR lacked. Roar was rough and airtimeless, therefor I didn't like it. I think Wildcat may be considered rough by some, but my only complaints were the leg-smashing Millenium Flyer restraints.

 

So, I actually think GCI's have aged fairly well, although 11 years for a wooden coaster is like a little kid compared to some of the "classics."

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"Pretty sad when small independent parks like SCBB can take better care and pride in maintaining their woodies than the big corp. themers." (speedracer)

 

Remember that the "big corp. themers"---like most corporations---are more concerned with saving money and earning big bucks for stockholders. Smaller parks are in it for entertaining their guests and usually show it by maintaining their rides. They see maintenance as a cost of doing business, which it is.

 

This is one way that a bigger corporation can learn lessons from smaller ones.

 

Eric

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Wildcat was pretty rough last year-- like teeth chattering blurred vision rough. It's a lot better this year with the MF trains. Not that it's smooth, then again, it's not supposed to be. Still tosses you about a bit, but in a fun way.

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Thunderhead has aged well (so far) IMO. It's gotten a little rough over the few years its been open but its nothing hardly even noticeable. It's a wooden coaster so I think the average person expects that.

 

With Gwazi, I believe the PTC's are the source of 99% of its trouble, maybe one day they'll fix that. But I won't be riding it again until then...

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I think the seats on Millennium Flyers absorb a lot of the abuse. I know I felt a little "vibrating" on the seats when I rode Lighting Racer two years ago. If it weren't for the Millennium Flyers' trains, I'm sure Lighting Racer will be as bad as Gwazi.

 

I dare not ride Gwazi again due to:

 

1.) Roughness

2.) Ulta slow load times

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The last time I rode Gwazi was in 2004, and it wasn't to bad then, in my opinion that is.

 

Thunderhead has aged very well, you can barely tell any difference from opening day.....

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I dare not ride Gwazi again due to:

 

1.) Roughness

2.) Ulta slow load times

 

And it just out and out sucks. Until they finally admit they need new trains and serious maintenance, I will be content to ride Sheikra over and over.

 

This is sad since Thunderhead is an amazing ride, and Gwazi has the potential to be fun again. And the damn seat belts don't help with the ultra slow loading either.

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My last ride on thunderhead was extremely rough in just one of the seats we rode in, about 3 from the back. I think there was a whell problem, though, as it was making a god awful sound through the course. We rode it in the back seat and it was much smoother. I just found it odd that they'd let it run like that all day. It did NOT sound right at all. Still one of my favorite rides, though.

 

-James Dillaman

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Having logged quite a few spins on the WildCat, ROAR (SFA), Lightning Racer and ROAR (SFDK) my experience is just as SharkTums said: Weather and Maintenece are big influences on these rides....

 

HOWEVER!

 

Last year (before the MF trains were added) WildCat was one of the best rides for a real throw-you-around, Pop you out and rattle your teeth experience- and I rode the thing three days after opening in 1996. Personally, this nice 'Bat out of Hades' ride was one of the best I've experienced- getting popped clear off my backside and into the side of the train as she slammed me into the final 270 turn towards the brakes was amazing- but then again, I tend to like it a bit rougher.

 

ROAR has for me become a good treat just a few miles from my home. Even if SFA has mutilated Wild One, ROAR still stands out, even 9 years later (at least for me).

 

I found that ROAR (SFDK) was excellent in 2003 (my last major trip to the bay area for coasters) but seemed to lag a bit along the course (the weather was just about as dreadful as I could get on the first day, 60 degrees and windy) but really opened up the next day (75 and sunny!)

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Now being that there is much discussion of Gwazi here I feel compelled to share this. I rode in the second row of the Tiger side yesterday and actually found it ALMOST tolerable. I was very surprised. Usually it's so rough it nearly rattles my friggin' teeth out like the Lion side after it. Come to think of it, all the woodies I've ridden so far have been really rough (Grizzly, Hurler and Rebel Yell all at KD and of course both sides of Gwazi).

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I've ridden Lightning Racer, Wildcat (before refurb), Gwazi, Thunderhead, and Roar at SFMW as it was at the time. Gwazi and Wildcat were hellish and I wouldn't blame the PTC cars - it's the track that's the problem. The method of construction using short cut-out boards in the laminate, leads to lots of eventual movement no matter what cars run on the track and nomatter how much or little structure supports the track. As the months go by, the boards shift and loosen and the track that started secure and smooth, becomes unpredictable and rough. Prior, Church and Traver knew better than this - they used square section timber to build up the laminate, producing smooth curves in both axis with the laminate finding its own smooth profile - not a single sawn out board in the turns to make them bumpy. Their flanged wheels are a good idea but irrelevent - 'modern' style Miller patented underfriction track would also fair fine built this way - the top boards that hold the side rails would still have to be short and cut to shape to make the wheel surfaces secure and stable, but with the firm, smooth square-built sub laminate beneath, the roughness problem with boards loosening wouldn't end up anywhere near as bad. Gwazi fell into the same category as Wildcat concerning this issue, to me. My pragmatic engineers' mind thinks about these things all day long. Wish it wouldn't.

 

The other coasters were comfortable but dull as hell, apart from Roar - and you certainly can't blame PTC cars for this. It was just as rough as Gwazi and Wildcat. The track was just as 'loose' under the wheels, and with the increased amount of wheels of GCI's trains, combined with the weight of the chassis (which inch for inch look to be heavier than PTC), the problem must likely be worse with GCI cars than PTC! Roar did nothing but give me a headache due to the severe vibration, in all seats.

 

There's a few things bad about modern wood coaster structures that other people seem blind to. They're bulkier and contain more bents - bulk is good, but you must manage the track's dynamic movement correctly, and inserting bents every two feet beneath the laminate during positive centripital curves isn't the best way to achieve the required, safe support as any tiny descrepancy in level, made worse by movement over time, simply causes shocks to be sent up riders' spines (yet because of the short boards used to build the curves, the structure has to be this way - so a 'snowball' of a problem arrises). A lot of engineering is like this now - however there's cleverer ways of ensuring a structure manages it's forces than simply putting more of it in...

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I've ridden Roar (SFA), Gwazi, Lightning Racers, and Wildcat.

 

Roar is completely hellish. Since I moved down here near the park four years ago, it has progressively gotten worse each year.

 

Gwazi I found to be fun, actually. I don't know if I just rode in the right row, if the ride is better first thing, or whatever other reason there could be for it, but I enjoyed Gwazi.

 

Lightning Racers is still smooth. I dunno why it doesn't age like Roar and (according to everybody else) Gwazi, but it's still smooth after six years.

 

Wildcat is so much better with the Flyers. Every year prior to this one, I would get off that ride with the worst headache I've ever experienced, mostly in the back seat. I absolutely love the ride this year. The only problem I've got with its Flyers is that the lapbar staples itself at the bottom of the first drop.

 

Anyways. GCI's seem to age pretty well. Those Millenium Flyers really do seem to make a huge difference!

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I think that GCIs age very well, but with the oldest GCI being just over 10 years old, it may be hard to predict. They certainly start off better than CCIs have.

 

I personally found Thunderhead to be absurdly better this year, thanks to a little bit of a rumble that it has developed (and I imagine Dollywood won't let it become a problem) Its far from rough, but still excellent in the sense that it no longer feels like a steel coaster. I think it may have reclaimed my top spot this year, and even after riding Troy, and then going back to Thunderhead, I liked it a little bit more.

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I don't know what GCI's I've ridden, but according to this it looks like Gwazi and Roar (SFDK) are the only ones thus far. IMO, it really has to do with the type of trains. As with Gwazi, it was pretty rough (which are PTC trains if I am not mistaken,) but still not the roughest thing I've ridden. As far as Roar at SFDK goes, I loved it. It is my number one wood coaster to date. I think that MF trains are the best thing you can get on a wood coaster, the seats are so cushy and I got some good airtime as well. I just rode it in April of this year. The people who are saying that it is rough must not have ever ridden a really rough woodie. Just come to SFOG and ride the GA Cyclone and you will know the real meaning of spine realignment. I vowed to never ride it again after a ride again at the beginning of this season. Some friends talked me into it and after what everyone on here says about the next to last seat being ok, I decided to give it another whirl. Needless to say, it is still the roughest woodie to date IMO and I don't think that I will be riding it again unless it gets retracked and some new trains. If not, then it needs to meet Psyclone's (SFMM) fate!

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I personally found Psyclone smoother and more fun than Marine World's Roar... work that one out! Even those odd B&M trains were more comfortable than GCI's MF trains - their lapbars are nasty. As contrast, PTC bars have never given me a problem, and there's no chance of them causing me pain now I've lost a bit of weight - that's the key in ride comfort - most enthusiasts are somply too 'large'!

 

GCI, I don't rate them very much. Their engineering is near on perfect, space age in wood. However, they're really talented at producing dull coasters that age poorly. Again, work that one out - a 1920s Miller coaster drawn by pen on paper, with simple circles and 10 degree banking provides a better thrill than a 1990s - 2000+ CAD engineered GCI super fluid structural masterpiece...

 

Sorry, I'm just biased. I am indeed August John Mueller reborn, though I do have a soft spot for Balder.

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