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Mitch Hawker 2011 Wood Coaster Poll!


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^ In my opinion, that's fair, even though I completely disagree with her opinion.

 

I don't honestly see how this is any different from the people who rank Gouderix or the SLC's (or even the Boomerangs) towards the bottom of their poll. Obviously, both Voyage and El Toro are better coasters then those. But, if you honestly get off a ride and hated it so much you would never ride it again, even with no wait, then isn't that the worst coaster on the planet for you? Or at least down among the worst? I mean, if you think it's horrible, then you think it's horrible.

 

Personally, I completely disagree. While, as I get older, I'm becoming more sensitive to rough rides than I used to be, I can still get some decent enjoyment out of even the roughest rides, provided that they're at least somewhat fun and interesting. I'd much rather ride a good coaster that's rough than a boring coaster that's smooth. But that's me.

 

But with the SLC's and Boomerangs, the category is supposed to be for your FAVORITE one of the rides. And even if the majority of them are rough as hell, have those of you who rank them very lowly NEVER ridden a good one? If so, then that's the one you should be ranking, fair or not. Both of them are decent designs. In fact, I think that the SLC is quite an excellent one. Unfortunately, they build them badly and parks don't maintain them well. But when they're on the smoother side, they're both quite fun rides, which is why I rank them much higher than most enthusiasts seem to. And while Gouderix is as rough as the lengends say, it was still fairly interesting and fun of a ride, I thought. There are certainly a bunch of steel coasters that were more boring and which I'd rather ride Gouderix than.

 

 

As for the question of how I rank coasters, I tend to rank based on the BEST rides I got on my last visit -- with an asterisk. I don't care what they were like early in the day when they were slower. I don't care if 90% of the seats aren't nearly as good as in the front or back (or seat 2 or 3 or second from the back.) Because when and where it's the best is when and where I'll be doing the vast majority of my riding. Who cares if it's boring in the middle of the day or in the middle of the train, if I don't ride then or there?

 

If a ride has gone downhill, but used to be better, I'll consider that. Especially if it's a situation that is likely to be fixed with maintenance. Or if I rode under bad conditions. But I'll take each one on a case by case basis, based on what I think it's likely to run like, based on the extremes of my own personal experiences.

 

For instance, if on my first visit to a park a coaster wasn't that impressive, but on my next visit, it was much better for whatever reason (i.e. it had been new and is now broken in, the weather was better, it was better at night, the trains were more full, etc.), then I'll rank it based on the best rides I had on it on my last visit.

 

If a coaster has gone downhill due to lack of maintenance, but I know they're working on it soon (or have done so since my last visit), I'll take that into consideration and sort of average my best visit with the latest one.

 

If it's gone downhill due to lack of maintenance it's not likely to get much of or especially due to a reprofile, then I will base my ranking on the best rides on my LAST visit.

 

If a coaster didn't deliver as good of rides as it had on my last visit, due to some situation that wasn't the coaster's fault, then I'll take that into consideration, and weigh the older visit more heavily, but still penalize it somewhat for not delivering this time. A good example would be on my big US trip in 2009, which was early in the June. Not only had some of the woodies not fully broken in, but later in the trip (particularly at Hershey and Kings Dominion), the parks were absolutely dead, so the woodies were running very slowly, due to nearly empty trains. That's certainly not the coaster's fault. It's mine for planning my trip that way. (On the plus side, I got a TON more rides at every park than I'd dared to hope for, so it was a good balance overall, even if some woodies had to be sacrificed for this trip.) So for the woodies particularly at those two parks, I did dock them a few notches, but not as much as they might have deserved based on the rides I actually got on this trip. BUt I think it's fair since I've definitely gotten much better rides in the not too distant past.

Edited by David H
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^ While I am admittedly not the biggest Voyage fan in the world, I would have to question someone who ranked it dead last out of all the coasters they've ridden in the world, and this ballot (I looked it up myself), claims to have ridden quite a lot of really, really, really terrible coasters!

 

This ballot and a couple of others did catch my eye. I contacted several people via e-mail about very low placements of "top 5" coasters.

 

Cheri took the time to explain her placement of Voyage to me and I believe her ranking to be her honest opinion of the ride. She even made a second trip to re-ride it (based on reputation) and still found it rough in the extreme and never wants to ride it again.

 

We need to respect her opinion. A poll is one way to find a consensus in the data, but we should always remember that there is no "correct ballot" and that there will always be many people who will disagree with the consensus in any poll.

 

MH

I agree Mitch, and thanks for taking the time to explain. It's just very hard to believe! I'm sure you can appreciate the skeptism!

 

The reason why I support your poll is that everyone opinions, even a few odd-ones-out, are factored in very fairly.

 

--Robb

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Some general observations about this year’s results.

 

I think the biggest thing I noticed this year is how much more consistent the results were this year over past years. I think that they're settling in to more of a regular panel now, although the number of replies was way up over last year, probably due to the poll being done so late last year. I think that some people have dropped out of taking the poll, and more newer voices are in. While I wish everyone would stay in to give a broader cross-section of the enthusiast community, having more new people taking the poll is always a good thing.

 

Towards the top of the poll, there weren't many coasters that moved much more than 10-15 notches, and those were very much the exception. Towards the bottom of the poll, not too many coasters moved more than 20-30 notches, and even then, Mitch's decision to separate out the SBNO coasters accounts for up to 14 of those notches.

 

As more riders get out to some of the lesser ridden coasters, we're also starting to see a stabilization of the rankings. Because of the way that Mitch's methodology works, the lesser ridden coasters can have a major impact on the entire poll. Last year, with significantly fewer people taking the poll, and fewer valid matchups for each coaster pair, a lot of the matchups in the top 12 or were very close, within 2-3 votes. And you can't really say which coaster in any pair is better when the winner wins 3-2. But this uncertainly ends up affecting the entire set of results, because it gives higher ranking coasters blemished that they probably don't deserve. That ends up making the entire set of results a lot more volatile. Last year, about 1/3 of each of the matchups in the top 12 coasters were decided by a 1-3 vote difference. As such, they were less reliable.

 

This year, the only coasters in the top 50 with fewer than 20 riders were China's Fireball and the new Zippin Pippin, which is somewhat off the beaten coaster path in northern Wisconsin. As a result, there were very few close decisions in the top coaster matchups, which makes the results more stable and less volatile. We're probably seeing a much closer approximation of what most enthusiasts truly believe this year than in the past. This is obviously greatly helped by clubs like TPR, ECC and ACE bringing people out to some of the overseas coasters that few had previously ridden.

 

And the fact that nearly half of Fireball's and Zippin Pippin's coasters matchups with the rest of the coasters in the top of the list were decided by 2 votes or less makes those results very unreliable. We will probably get a much better view of where Fireball stands next year, after TPR brings another 30+ people out to ride it. Is its drop out of the top 10 this year just a sign of how unreliable its ranking is with so few riders? Or has it dropped in quality? We'll find out next year!

 

As for Zippin Pippin, I think that's the best example of how few riders really makes the results unreliable. Does it really belong at #38 when the previous version of the coaster only made the top 100 once in its last 9 years? I'd tend to doubt it, even if it's significantly better that the previous version. But with only 12 riders, most of which were probably very much old school coaster fans who are likely to rank it higher than the rest of us might, we get unreliable results, especially with the majority of its matchups being very close -- and as a result, unreliable. In fact, Zippin Pippin provided one of T Express' three blemishes, with a 2-2 tie. While I can see T Express losing to #1 El Toro, and maybe even see it tying with #5 Phoenix, I think that it's safe to say that it's a better coaster than Zippin Pippin, which ranked at #38, which is probably much higher than it deserves! This is the best example of how a few riders with unusual opinions can affect much higher ranked coasters on the list. That's why Mitch doesn't count coasters with fewer than 10 riders. Luckily, there were few such coasters ranking highly this year.

 

When looking at the results overall, I think it's always best to actually look at the results table for the history of the poll. That way you can more easily spot anomalies and trends. As I mentioned earlier, there are actually many fewer anomalies this year, and most fo them can be attributed to one or more coaster group's overseas trips or other events.

 

TPR didn't have too much of an effect on the wooden coaster poll this year, since it's overseas trips were to Japan and Australia, neither of which is exactly known for their great wooden coasters (except for the sadly long closed Aska in Japan!) I expect we'll see the affects of these TPR trips more strongly in the steel poll. Regina, however did get somewhat of a boost this year up to its highest ranking since the ECC/ACE Japan trip 4 years ago. TPR's biggest trip influence on the woodie poll this year would probably have to be on Yankee Cannonball, which jumped nearly 20 notches to #55 after this Summer's Northeast Tour. The Hershey Comet also got a bit of a boost from the TPR East Coast Bash.

 

Probably the biggest WTF ranking is the German El Toro jumping into the top 10 to #7, after having previously ranked at #13 and #20. I'm guessing that the ECC got some really great rides during ERT on their German trip this year. Still, that seems quite high for that coaster. Future years' polls will show if that was an anomaly or not. Mammut also got a decent jump this year from the ECC trip.

 

ACE's Scandinavia trip also helped a handful of woodies on the trip in the poll this year, particularly the two Danish Rutschebanen's and Vuoristorata, the first coaster of the trip, which jumped over 30 notches to its highest ever ranking.

 

Interestingly, the ACE Coaster Con add-on day at Kemah Boardwalk probably actually hurt the Boardwalk Bullet, since it was on the Sunday following the trip, with ERT in the morning. I skipped the morning ERT session, choosing to sleep late and hit the nearby Space Center during the day, knowing that a good Gravity Group woodie would ran better at the end of the day anyways. The very few ACErs there at closing said that it was running very significantly faster and better at night. So all of those who only rode in the morning weren't getting an accurate sense of the coaster, which might be part of why it dropped a bit this year, despite running quite a bit better than it has in the past two years. While I'm somewhat of a Gravity Group fanboy, I still had it ranked much higher at 22 than its poll ranking of 51, based on those excellent night rides. The other well, traveled enthusiasts who were there at the end of the night agreed that it is very much under-ranked, based on those rides.

 

A few other notable ranking moves from various coasters:

 

-- Cheetah jumped back into the top 100 way up at #80 for the first time in 5 years. Any idea if it got better, or was this just an anomaly this year?

 

-- After all the work enthusiasts did helping raise funds to get the Conneaut Blue Streak back open and the park stable (including helping the park get Pepsi Challenge grants), it's ironic that the coaster dropped 15 notches this year!

 

-- I'm guessing that Hullamvasut's big jump from #126 to #88 -- it's highest ranking in SEVENTEEN YEARS, and the highest jump of any coaster this year -- is due to the uncertainly of so few riders. Hungary isn't exactly a major stop on most coaster enthusiasts' must-visit lists!

 

-- I was wondering if maybe the ECC Germany trip had stopped in Austria, since Prater Park's Hochschaubahn similarly jumped 26 notches to its highest ranking in 16 years, but they didn't. And with 39 riders, its results shouldn't be THAT volatile. Did it get some major retracking or anything this year?

 

-- Great American Scream Machine, Arkansas Twister, Skyliner, and Twister II all got some decent boosts this year of around 20 notches each. Not sure why, although some of the missing SBNO's that aren't on the list this year helped them somewhat.

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David - excellent analysis.

 

re Cheetah: I did not ride this this, but did ride in October 2010 and it was considerably better than 2006. The retracking did wonders. I think Word of Mouth on the upgrades to the park (and a new coasters 3-4 hours ago at SFoG) drew in more enthusiasts in 2011, versus 2010.

 

Side-friction coasters: I also noticed a jump in some of them and though it old. Maybe the boost comes from the nostalgia factor after the increased readership. To me they are all similar, the only standouts being at Tivoli Gardens, where the brakeman went above and beyond with their theatrics when TPR visited in 2009 and Hullamvasut at Vidam which just seemed a little more thrilling. I don't know if Prater Park's Hochschaubahn got any retracking in the off-season, but when I rode in 2010 I found it to be the tamest of the six side-friction coasters I've ridden.

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David - excellent analysis.

 

re Cheetah: I did not ride this this, but did ride in October 2010 and it was considerably better than 2006. The retracking did wonders. I think Word of Mouth on the upgrades to the park (and a new coasters 3-4 hours ago at SFoG) drew in more enthusiasts in 2011, versus 2010.

 

 

Cheetah was running very well in 010' & 011'. Me n' tha midgets re-rode it all day long.

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As for Zippin Pippin, I think that's the best example of how few riders really makes the results unreliable. Does it really belong at #38 when the previous version of the coaster only made the top 100 once in its last 9 years? I'd tend to doubt it, even if it's significantly better that the previous version. But with only 12 riders, most of which were probably very much old school coaster fans who are likely to rank it higher than the rest of us might, we get unreliable results, especially with the majority of its matchups being very close -- and as a result, unreliable. In fact, Zippin Pippin provided one of T Express' three blemishes, with a 2-2 tie. While I can see T Express losing to #1 El Toro, and maybe even see it tying with #5 Phoenix, I think that it's safe to say that it's a better coaster than Zippin Pippin, which ranked at #38, which is probably much higher than it deserves! This is the best example of how a few riders with unusual opinions can affect much higher ranked coasters on the list. That's why Mitch doesn't count coasters with fewer than 10 riders. Luckily, there were few such coasters ranking highly this year.

 

As one of the 12 riders who filled out a ballot this year coupled with the fact that I'm certainly not old school I'm fairly confident in my ranking of Zippin Pippin (ZP) as a "roller coaster I like a lot." It certainly wasn't in my top 10 (I listed 11 before grouping) I do believe it currently belongs in the next group down. I don't really expect ZP to hold its position though over the course of the next couple years as the hill that the Gravity Group added is already quite violent. I could be wrong, but I do agree that while I think ZP is a fantastic reincarnation (having never ridden the original) it will move down as it gains more riders and deteriorates (hopefully they stay up to snuff on their maintenance).

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As for Zippin Pippin, I think that's the best example of how few riders really makes the results unreliable. Does it really belong at #38 when the previous version of the coaster only made the top 100 once in its last 9 years? I'd tend to doubt it, even if it's significantly better that the previous version. But with only 12 riders, most of which were probably very much old school coaster fans who are likely to rank it higher than the rest of us might, we get unreliable results, especially with the majority of its matchups being very close -- and as a result, unreliable. In fact, Zippin Pippin provided one of T Express' three blemishes, with a 2-2 tie. While I can see T Express losing to #1 El Toro, and maybe even see it tying with #5 Phoenix, I think that it's safe to say that it's a better coaster than Zippin Pippin, which ranked at #38, which is probably much higher than it deserves! This is the best example of how a few riders with unusual opinions can affect much higher ranked coasters on the list. That's why Mitch doesn't count coasters with fewer than 10 riders. Luckily, there were few such coasters ranking highly this year.

 

I guess that I am one of the twelve that rode Zippin Pippin this year. I really had no idea that only twelve people that filled out this poll rode it. As for the rankings, I put it at my #11 spot. According to Mitch's poll, I've been on 46 wooden coasters I believe. And I'm being completely honest when I say that it's the 11th best wooden coaster I've been on. I can understand complaints from someone who hasn't been on it, but you really have to ride this one. There are some great moments of floater and ejector airtime, and there are even handchoppers!

When GravityGroup built this ride, they were solely going off of pictures that they took at Libertyland to build the reincarnation of the old coaster. They definitely put a bit of a GG spin on it, and the finished product doesn't disappoint. They even run two trains on it, which is more than you can say for most GG caosters.

I guess the main point I'm getting at with this though, is don't knock it until you've tried it. It's a really really really fun ride!

 

EDIT: To give you an idea of my taste in coasters, this is how I voted in my poll this year. I don't really consider myself an "old school" guy.

My Favorite Steel Anypark Anywhere **,y,y,1

El Toro SFGAd NJ,y,y,2

Thunderhead Dollywood TN,y,y,3

The Voyage Holiday World IN,y,y,4

Hades Mount Olympus WI,y,y,5

Ravine Flyer II Waldameer PA,y,y,6

Shivering Timbers Michigan's Adventure MI,y,n,7

The Legend Holiday World IN,y,y,8

The Beast Kings Island OH,y,y,9

Raven Holiday World IN,y,y,10

Zippin Pippin Bay Beach WI,y,y,11

Viper SFGAm IL,y,n,12

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Honestly, a roller coaster placed at #38... Who really cares?

 

Most people seem to be far more interested in the top 20, and really, top 10, everything else in between those and the bottom 5, does it really matter THAT much?

 

When I do my ballot, it's pretty much "here's my favourite....and least favourite... Aaaaaand here's everything else in between..."

 

No park is going to advertise "Zippin Pippin! Ranked #38 in the world!!!"

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I get the feeling the guy is VERY busy with things going on in his normal life. He'll release the poll if and when he gets the time. I hope it happens, but if it ends up not happening, I won't be bummed. People gotta live, you know!

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