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http://www.readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=101935

 

This is joy.

 

Plummeting 70 feet on two thin steel tracks, momentarily weightless as the Phoenix roller coaster makes its sharp descent. The wooden ride moves and gives as the coaster rattles along at 50 mph.

 

The Phoenix is a rare and special breed, especially to the coaster connoisseurs who consider wooden coasters a superior ride.

 

For two minutes the ride shakes, rattles and whips riders through bumps and turns. The shrieks are from delighted riders in the back of the coaster.

 

The smell of greased pine wood, the clicketyclack of the coaster being pulled to the top of the lift hill, and the cars swaying like a willow tree in a summer storm all help build the anticipation.

 

There's the sanguine view from the top of the hill, visible for only a breath before the coaster suddenly lurches wildly downhill. Nature and physics take over as riders scream into the wind.

 

This is joy.

 

Just ask Jacoby Mahone. The 6-year-old Elizabethtown boy couldn't put into words why he was dancing with excitement seconds after he rode the Phoenix at Knoebels Amusement Resort, an old-school amusement park in this Columbia County community.

 

"Oh, that was awesome," he said, and then put his fingers to his head, searching for the words to describe why.

 

Or ask B. Derek Shaw, who's ridden more roller coasters than he could ever count, yet still gets a special charge every time he rides a wooden one.

 

"It is the thrill of the ride, the sense of dangling over the edge, but still in control," said Shaw, 52.

 

There's a mystique about wooden roller coasters, one that just isn't duplicated on modern steel rides, coaster fans say.

 

For wood coaster enthusiasts, Pennsylvania is a good place to be. There are 16 wooden coasters in the Keystone State and seven within a two-hour drive of Berks County. There are three at Hersheypark and two at Knoebels. Dutch Wonderland and Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom both feature one.

 

And while a coaster connoisseur will ride anything once, they swear by the wooden kind.

 

"Wood is just the real classic roller coaster," Shaw said, a few minutes after riding the Comet, a 1940s-era coaster at Hersheypark. "They are magnificent rides."

 

Shaw of York has ridden the Comet more than a thousands times and knows every bump and turn in this granddaddy of rides. The Comet never lets down, Shaw said, clapping as the coaster came into the station.

 

Over at the Lightning Racer, a dueling coaster at Hersheypark, Aaron Hostetter and Scott Anthony, two twentysomethings from York, were riding over and over again, racing down the exit ramp just to get right back on. The duo was part of a York church group at the park for the day.

 

"There's just something about them," Anthony said. "You feel the clicketyclack."

 

"There's something to be said about the old-school style," Hostetter said, anxious for another go around on the coaster.

 

Nothing seems to bring out that feeling of joy quiet like a wooden coaster, said Tim Ober, rides director at Dutch Wonderland.

 

Back in 1992, when Dutch Wonderland was planning to install a coaster, there was debate over wood and steel, Ober said. Wood won out, favored because of the mystique associated with it, he said.

 

"We wanted that sound in our park," Ober said, while standing next to Kingdom Coaster as a train began its ascent up the lift hill. "It brings you back to a simpler time," he said.

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I'm glad Dutch Wonderland went with a wooden coaster instead of a steel coaster. If they had gotten a steel coaster it probably would have been a generic small sized coaster like the Joust that they later got. Sky Princess (I refuse to call it Kingdom Coaster), is a fun medium sized coaster that is enjoyable even for older kids and adults.

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I'm a steel lover. B&M and Intamin all the way. But, I do have my list of woodies I want to ride, which includes The Beast, El Toro, and Tremors. Every woodie I've ever ridden has hurt so baddly that it wasn't fun. I mean, my list is Ghostrider (OUCH!!), Psyclone at SFMM (ouch!), Colossus (fun, but nothing to it), Mean Streak (new meaning to a scream of pain), Villain (Hybrid ouch), and Big Dipper (my legs hurt to badly for words). I've probably just had bad experiences, but I also believe I am part of a new generation of people. Not only do I not care for Classic rock, but I don't care for classic woodies. Of course, I respect all enthusiast's opinions, as long as your respecting mine as well.

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I happen to like my steel coasters. I really like the smooth ride that they give. . well most of the time anyway.

 

I will say this though, I don't think that any park should be without a good woodie. I mean, if nothing else, they are iconic rides and most of the time they look great. It's like a lot of people are saying here, the giant mass of supports gives the coaster a lot of volume and really makes for an impressive look.

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I'm a steel lover. B&M and Intamin all the way. But, I do have my list of woodies I want to ride, which includes The Beast, El Toro, and Tremors. Every woodie I've ever ridden has hurt so baddly that it wasn't fun. I mean, my list is Ghostrider (OUCH!!), Psyclone at SFMM (ouch!), Colossus (fun, but nothing to it), Mean Streak (new meaning to a scream of pain), Villain (Hybrid ouch), and Big Dipper (my legs hurt to badly for words). I've probably just had bad experiences, but I also believe I am part of a new generation of people. Not only do I not care for Classic rock, but I don't care for classic woodies. Of course, I respect all enthusiast's opinions, as long as your respecting mine as well.

I must agree with you, you probably haven't been on a good wooden coaster. If you're saying "ouch" to each one. I'm fortunate to live within a few hours of a few good woodies. If SFMM really is getting that GCI that I sometimes hear about. That just MIGHT change your ride.

To me, a good woodie is one that doesn't hurt, and one that isn't completely smooth (El Toro). There's just this certain feel about them that makes them more "fun".

Wooden coasters are rides i can ride over and over again without becoming bored, while steel coasters.. I tend to get bored.

Just curious if anyone that goes to SFGadv a lot, if they now find El Toro to have gotten boring after riding it so many times?

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