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"10 great places to thrill to a roller coaster"

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USA today article


Summer may be roller-coaster season, but not all thrill rides are created equal. A coaster should be like a perfectly orchestrated play, says Paul Ruben, North American editor of Park World, a trade magazine for the outdoor amusement industry. "The pacing should provide non-stop action," Ruben says. "You should never have a moment to regain your composure." Ruben, 73, estimates he has ridden nearly 800 coasters. He shares some favorites with Larry Bleiberg for USA TODAY.


Bizarro, Six Flags New England

Agawam, Mass.

Ruben calls this ride "the best coaster on the planet" with high speeds, fog-filled tunnels and darting turns. The ride is enhanced by a soundtrack played through headrest speakers. It provides riders so much airtime — periods of perceived weightlessness — that "the seats are superfluous." 413-786-9300; sixflags.com/newengland


Millennium Force, Cedar Point

Sandusky, Ohio

An elevator cable pulls riders to a 30-story peak before they plunge down a near-vertical track at speeds of up to 92 mph. "It has overbanked turns, tunnels and four moments off your seat that are unforgettable," Ruben says. At 6,600 feet, it's the longest steel coaster in the Western Hemisphere. 419-627-2350; cedarpoint.com


Thunderbolt, Kennywood

West Mifflin, Penn.

Known affectionately as the T-Bolt, this classic wooden coaster takes advantage of its setting along the Monongahela River. It starts with a drop halfway down the bank, then finishes with its steepest drop at the end. "It's as if the coaster is built backward," Ruben says. 412-461-0500; kennywood.com


X2, Six Flags Magic Mountain

Valencia, Calif.

This Southern California park is home to a unique coaster with separate rails for the seats, so riders find themselves twisting and turning as they fly through the air. "This bizarre coaster breaks the paradigm of how a coaster should work," Ruben says. 661-255-4100; sixflags.com/magicmountain


The Beast, Kings Island

Mason, Ohio

This wooden coaster is the world's longest in both time and length, thrilling riders for more than four minutes on a track that stretches 7,400 feet, Ruben says. It includes a 540-degree helix that twists through a partially covered tunnel. "You can hear the screams echoing through the forest." 513-754-5700; visitkingsisland.com


Ravine Flyer II, Waldameer Park

Erie, Pa.

Riders plunge down an embankment and across a four-lane highway on this unique 2-year-old coaster. "There are several moments when the train changes direction and it tries to pull the seat out from under you. That's nasty," Ruben says. "From start to finish this feels like controlled mayhem." 877-817-1009; waldameer.com


Viper, Six Flags Great America

Gurnee, Ill.

Inspired by the classic Cyclone at Coney Island, N.Y., this coaster is "10 feet taller, a little faster and a whole lot wilder," Ruben says. "Everything that's good about the Cyclone is even better on the Viper." It masterfully employs the picket-fence effect — rushing past stationary objects to add to the illusion of speed. 847-249-4636; sixflags.com/greatamerica


Intimidator, Carowinds


Pedestal-style seats have thrill-seekers leaning back with their feet off the floor. "It's like riding in an out-of-control easy chair," Ruben says of this brand-new steel coaster that reaches speeds of 80 mph. "Anything that makes the rider feel more vulnerable is good. It enhances the sense of imagined danger." 704-588-2600; carowinds.com


Intimidator 305, Kings Dominion

Doswell, Va.

NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt inspired this steel coaster, which boasts an "incredibly high" average speed of 68 mph, nearly double the pace of most rides, and faster than traffic can legally travel on adjacent Interstate 95, Ruben says. It starts with a drop from a 305-foot hill. "I counted six moments of air and several way-too-fast turns," he adds. 804-876-5000; kingsdominion.com


Hades, Mt. Olympus

Wisconsin Dells, Wis.

You can learn mythology from this wooden coaster, which pays homage to the underworld with a 700-foot-long tunnel under the parking lot. It comes up, turns around and dives underground again. "The sense of immediate decapitation is often present," Ruben says. "It's pitch-black in there, and there's a turn inside you don't see coming." 800-800-4997; mtolympuspark.com


The only one on that list I have ridden is X2, and while it is an awesome ride it can beat you up. Are any on that list your favs? Are there any that should not be on the list or are missing? I thought this was interesting since the guy is 73 years old and has ridden almost 800 roller coasters! If only I were that lucky. There is also a link to some nice photos too.

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^ Thats only the average speed which includes the mean of the speed over the entire ride, including lifts, trims, TWISTY's, hills,and the speed on the final brake run before the ride "parks"


Paul Ruben's that round, little, old guy with the glasses on all the rollercoaster shows, correct?

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As bad as most 'top tens" are that are published by magazines and newspapers and discovery channel shows this ones is actually not that bad. The only two rides on that list that don't belong (in my opinion) are probably Thunderbolt and Viper.


And Paul Reuben does seem like a huge douche

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^ Other than the fact that Paul Ruben was the one who helped construct this list, I don't really mind it. It isn't so much a "Top 10" list, but more of a list to say, "You know what, these are coasters that can be thrilling, and get out and have some fun at these parks too." The title says "10 great place", not the "10 best places".

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^You basically just pay him to say good things about your rides.


Whatever park flies him out to ride their newest coaster instantly becomes his new number one. He's also not very personable and has actually been shunned by a few parks out there!

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^^anyone who has a positive opinion of every ride is not a credible source and should not be trusted to make recommendations.


The Beast????? maybe 15 years ago.


Viper providing a wilder ride than the Coney Island Cyclone???? Viper might be better nowadays, but no way is it wilder. I challenge him to ride both for an hour and see if he feels the same way.

Edited by larrygator
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^I've learned not to take recommendations from anybody about rides anyway. Mainly because I often go on rides that are highly rated which I ended up hating (Example: Bizarro at SFGAdv) and rides that are rated lower which I ended up loving (Example: Disaster Transport at Cedar Point).


I mainly respect him as a veteran enthusiast, not for recommendations.

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^ Alright, let's put it this way then. I don't respect the man at all. I had the, well, opportunity to be in his presence one time. The man walked around and spoke as if he were the most holy man on the planet. Not only is he a sell out at every park he goes to, he is a jerk.

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I've only been on 2 of those, and they are the ones people deem as the "least worthy":

Thunderbolt and Viper.


Paul Ruben does seem like a douche. I've seen him on some shows and I believe I have a DVD that features him giving his "opinions" on coasters, before some onride/offride footage of said coaster. I got it for my birthday or something.

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At 6,600 feet, it's the longest steel coaster in the Western Hemisphere.


Isn't Califronia Screamin' longer?


I agree with everyone about the guy. He just praises what he can get money out of. On one of those coaster shows, all he had to say for EVERY ride was it was, 'great.' The guy is worse than a 6 year old debating on what they want to have for lunch.

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Viper providing a wilder ride than the Coney Island Cyclone???? Viper might be better nowadays, but no way is it wilder. I challenge him to ride both for an hour and see if he feels the same way.


Yeah, I got a chuckle out of that one as well. Has he even been on the Cyclone?

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I don't mean to generally contradict all the opinions in this topic, but I really like Paul Reuben. I met him when he gave a talk at the local library, just for the heck of it, and in all honesty, I think he says what he does just to keep things simple.

Think about it, the general public has no real knowledge of this kind of thing, so USA Today is just going to make his words seem as flashy as they can. He knows he's not talking to crazy people like us, so he just does what he has to do to stay interesting. I think that overbearing sense of jadedness in the coaster community is really what drives us to think that he's a giant douche.

Having said all that, Elissa probably knows more about it than I do, so if he really is a jerk, then I apologize for my rant. But from what I can tell, I think they just wanted a broad range in geography, coaster types, and sizes to show the variety that coasters come in. think about the audience, people.

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^Thank you for pointing that out. I sometimes notice that the coaster community tends to forget that not everybody is an enthusiast. Some just like to keep their summary of rides simple to appeal to the general public, as you mentioned.

Edited by Band-Aid
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