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Legendary coasters (respecting the elders)


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Hi everyone, I’ve been a long-time TPR site browser but I haven’t posted in a coaster forum since the old Danimation website over a decade ago.

 

The impetus for this topic is that when I was looking through the most pleasant/unpleasant coaster thread, I noticed a trend that’s been gnawing at me. There’s the phenomenon where things go out of style and popular culture turns against products, fads, and celebrities when they reach some imagined social expiration date. The old #1 album becomes embarrassing to own. The sports star becomes washed up. A once proudly-worn shirt is given to goodwill.

 

In the coaster enthusiast community, I feel that there’s a vocal minority propagating this phenomenon when it comes to some legendary coasters. I think that both old and modern coasters should be weighed as a product of their time in addition to the ride experience they deliver. For me, coasters like Revolution, Space Mountain, The Beast, Magnum, Millennium Force, and surviving John Miller coasters, among others, should be almost universally respected. Some of these coasters transport you to an era of the past, while others broke through the industry’s niche and became a part of popular culture. No matter their particular significance, they've been cemented in coaster history and should be revered by those who love coasters the most (us!).

 

Instead, I see a growing list of complaints about classic coasters. Revolution’s restraints hurt, Kennywood’s Racer is outdated, Beast has too many pointless straight sections, and Millennium Force’s layout is boring. Where did the respect go and when did the cynicism arrive?

 

As a great example, Millennium Force is a popular and widely-adored coaster that’s become fashionable to demean within the community with an “I don’t get why this is so great” attitude. Well, it was the flagship coaster in a golden age for parks that we may never see again in our lifetimes. Since it opened, nearly every train has hit the brake run with its riders having a similar look: high-fives, laughter, clapping, and smiles in every car. It’s an absolute ICON and milestone of a coaster, but some enthusiasts say “well it didn’t tally well on my airtime scorecard so I think it’s overrated.” To me, it’s such a curmudgeonly approach to riding and judging coasters.

 

If you're only interested in the latest ninety-degree, 4D, quick-transitioning, barrel-rolling coaster, you won’t understand that the magic of many rides is more than the sum of the ride experience.

 

My grandpa used to be a record-setting pole vaulter in the 1940s, but now he struggles to pick up the paper in the driveway. I love to hear him share old track stories because he truly relives those memories and I can see the same fire in his eyes that made him great in his day. It would be absurd to throw my arms up while he’s talking and say, “I don’t get you, old man. Lots of people have beaten your records since then; you’re not so great!” It makes no more sense to take that stance with legendary coasters.

 

I would love to hear the thoughts of the community on this. I’m also curious which coasters of the past and present each of you consider being of legendary status and/or hall of fame worthiness.

 

All my best,

S. Moses

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But is a coaster "legendary" just because it does something first? I wouldn't personally consider Knott's corkscrew coaster legendary.

 

However, I would agree that Millennium Force (even if it is relatively new), The Beast, and Cyclone are all legendary coasters. Each of them radiates a sense of "awe" in its own way.

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My father and mother lately talked what a huge crowd gathered when in 1978 the Looping Star visited for the first time in Hamburg. Next to the crowds gaping at the "adventurers" the local media made a huge bustle with "Testpilot takes first ride on Looping Star", "We've interviewed the survivors!" and doctor's would explain how a person can survive a ride.

 

On a sad note most iconic coaster in Germany were portable and are now mostly long gone - so there're only tales and photographs left to remember.

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Great philosophical post! Thanks for taking the time to write it. I agree with most of what you say, in many ways I see it as an inevitability of aging, as I get a little older, the coasters that I started an unhealthy obsession with in the early years of this hobby are now the forgotten rides, even though many are still popular with the GP. This is partly why I still enjoy visiting Blackpool, despite it's recent changes, it transports me to a time long forgotten at most other parks in the World. I also got a real kick out of Kennywood and Knoebels this past summer.

 

From my comparatively limited experience, the following would be my personal choices of legendary/milestone coasters that I've ridden, both relatively new and old:

 

Kumba

Nemesis

Grand National

Space Mountain (DL or WDW)

Batman Clones

Revolution (SFMM)

Big Thunder Mountain

El Toro

Dragon Khan

Coney Island Cyclone

Magnum XL-200

Millennium Force

Thunderbolt

Phoenix

X2

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A few of my observations about the original post.

 

There is a difference between legendary and historic. Historic (or milestone) coasters are the first of their kind. Legendary are those that have a well known reputation.

 

A coaster is made of steel and wood, I respect people not things.

 

Changes to coasters will changes people's opinion. If you change restraints, trains or add trim brakes, you have changed the coaster.

 

People have always had opinions and complained, the internet just gives people a platform for others to see their viewpoint. The internet also tends to bring out more complaints than compliments.

 

Personally, I don't keep a mental scorecard to rank coaster attributes. Many times I get off a coaster and like it, but I can't state why, this is very common for me with GCIs. I call this the fun factor. If 99% of the people at a park don't like a coaster that's fine for me, as i get to ride more.

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Corkscrew @ KBF

Kumba @ BGTB

Raptor @ CP

Racer @ KI

Beast @ KI

Cyclone @ CI

Goliath @ SFOG

Eejanaika @ FQH

Magnum XL-200 @ CP

Millennium Force @ CP

El Toro @ SFGAV

Iron Wolf @ SFGam

Goliath @ WH

Expedition Ge'FORCE @ HP

Xcelerator @ KBF

Both GAMSM @SFOG, SFGA

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There is a difference between legendary and historic. Historic (or milestone) coasters are the first of their kind. Legendary are those that have a well known reputation.

 

Thank you. This is what I was going for.

 

Iron Dragon and Silver Comet? Legendary coasters? I guess my mind just works at a completely different wavelength...

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Iron Dragon and Silver Comet? Legendary coasters? I guess my mind just works at a completely different wavelength...

 

I consider Iron Dragon a legendary coaster because there are now only four Arrow suspended coasters left in the world, Flight Deck (Kings Island),Ninja (Six Flags Magic Mountain), and Vortex (Canada's Wonderland). As for the "legendary" status of Silver Comet, it was based on the Comet coaster from the long gone Crystal Beach theme park.

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Iron Dragon and Silver Comet? Legendary coasters? I guess my mind just works at a completely different wavelength...

 

I consider Iron Dragon a legendary coaster because there are now only four Arrow suspended coasters left in the world, Flight Deck (Kings Island),Ninja (Six Flags Magic Mountain), and Vortex (Canada's Wonderland). As for the "legendary" status of Silver Comet, it was based on the Comet coaster from the long gone Crystal Beach theme park.

If Silver Comet is considered legendary because its based on the Crystal Beach Comet, then surely the Comet @ the Great Escape would be legendary considering it IS the Crystal Beach Comet just relocated.

 

As for legendary coasters, I'd say these are legendary.

 

Cyclone @ Coney Island

Matterhorn @ Disneyland

Magnum XL 200 @ Cedar Point

Batman the Ride @ SFGAm

Millennium Force @ Cedar Point

Comet @ Great Escape

X2 @ SFMM

 

This doesn't really count since it hasn't been built yet, but if Woodies with inversions just pop up like crazy after next year, then I think we might be able to add Outlaw Run @ Silver Dollar City to the list.

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Very commonly rated #1 coaster in the world from 1976-1986 (before the dreaded Morgan trains were put on). Anyone remember this bad boy (Texas Cyclone):

148183_254857771306529_103552452_n.jpg

 

Riverside Cyclone (Six Flags New England) was tops for a couple years too - but it's reign was much shorter lived. Out of all those coasters that were always rated high through the 80s, only the Phoenix and Beast have remained. I guess Coney Cyclone - depending on how you look at it. Kennywood Thunderbolt (still one of my favorites!) was always in there, too.

 

Beast?! The Beast that earned its reputation died around 1989-1991; somewhere in there it was slowed down permanently. It was SO huge and SUCH a fast and fun ride for so long that the legend was somewhat future-proof. Like Blue Streak at CP - Beast is still a *very* popular ride, but like BS - a *very* different ride.

Edited by GayCoasterGuy
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^^Oh, yes, I remember the Texas Cyclone. I have a few pieces of it and logged more than 10,000 rides on it during its 29-year run. It was the coaster that took me from "fan" to "enthusiast."

 

 

Back to the thread at hand... I can't believe there are two pages of responses and nobody has jumped on the original poster with "those are overrated coasters, your ACE mentality isn't welcome here."

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^Lucky! I only rode it a few times in 1990 and then again in 1995. Both times with the dreaded Morgan "coffin" cars. I heard it returned to being a very good ride when they took off the coffins, but no where near as great as when it ran PTCs. Did you ride it when it had 4 bench and 3 bench PTC trains? The stories I have heard... it's near the top of my list of coasters to travel back in time to ride.

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My first ride was June of 1976, just a few days after it opened. I rode in row 8, because you had to be 5ft tall to ride in the back car (which was rows 9-12 with the 4-bench PTCs). It was wicked.

The next year, I was (barely) 5ft tall and was able to ride the last row. OMFGWTFBBQ! The first drop was terrifying, the second drop was almost as good, but it was the "post turn" that put it in the #1 spot for so long. The post turn was the turn just under the turn between the first and second drops. It was the first turn in the layout that was completely inside the structure and as it finished the turn, the front cars went over the drop... causing the back car to accelerate, giving delicious laterals to the back car. As the back car hit the drop, the long 4-benchers catapulted back seat riders into the air... with a buzz bar restraint and a seat belt (only in the last row), there was plenty of airtime... and that's when you noticed that the track overhead was RIGHT THERE IN YOUR FACE. Nobody - and I mean NOBODY - kept their hands up here. I'm sure it had enough clearance, but it looked really close!

Anyway, you had laterals, then ejector air with a head chopper, then got slammed back into your seat just in time for laterals on the other side of the train. It was the most wonderfully intense moment in a ride full of wonderful moments. The cars were well-padded (which is one of the reasons the coffin cars were so universally despised, with that hard foam "padding") and it was not painful to be tossed around like a rag doll.

 

The three-bench PTCs took some of the brutality out of it, but they were still really good.

 

After the upper part of the coffin cars were removed, the ride got good again, but the ratcheting individual lap bars of those Morgan trains never brought back the terror of having all that space between your lap and the buzz bars.

 

As for my 10K rides, unfortunately most of those were in the Morgan trains. I lived an hour north of Houston during my childhood, so I only got the one or two trips to Astroworld every summer. When I moved to Houston in 1985, I got a job in the wee hours of the morning and an apartment just a few blocks from the park. Living alone, paying your own bills, and trying to make it on a part-time job = NO MONEY. Luckily, I got a season pass for Christmas every year and I could walk to the park, so no parking fees.

 

Back then, Astroworld had a "no single rider" policy on TxCyclone. If there was a single rider, they couldn't dispatch the train until they found someone to fill the empty seat. I would walk over to the park after work, just as it opened and head for the Cyclone. The ride ops quickly got to know me and would tell me to wait by the exit and if I saw a single rider, take the seat next to them. That made me happy because I didn't have to wait in line or walk around and it made the ride ops happy because they didn't have to find another single rider to fill the seat. There were times when I would be on nearly every train. I only went during the week, so it wasn't ever crowded. I found other things to do on weekends. I usually racked up 30-50 rides per day on the Cyclone, then I'd head home for some food. Sometimes, I'd finish the day at Waterworld to cool off, or hit some of the other rides. I'd have to wait in line for those, though, since Cyclone was the only "no single rider" ride for some reason.

 

I counted my rides until I hit 5,000... and that was about 15 yrs before Cyclone met its untimely end in 2005. I figure that 10,000 is a conservative estimate.

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^Great memories, thanks!

 

I would do anything to go back and ride TC with those PTCs - both versions! I think the reason for no single riders was the accident in 1979 when the girl got thrown out on the first drop. Then, Six Flags later instituted a "no single rider in last seat" policy across the board and every coaster in the chain. There needed to "be a witness" in case anything happened.

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That accident resulted in several changes... like a divider between riders on the bench seats (so people couldn't swing their legs around and get out from under the bar by sitting sideways) and seat belts in every row instead of just the back row like before. The ability to sit sideways was the reason for the original "no single rider" policy, figuring that at least one of the two people would have enough sense not to allow it, but apparently this girl wanted to sit in her boyfriend's lap and they managed to make it happen on the way up the lift. Idiots.

 

Of course, the coffin cars came about after some other idiot forgot to switch the transfer track after adding a second train. The transfer track used to be a dead end - the train would roll out of the station and a switch track would guide the train into a shed about 12ft off the ground. They had switched the track and added the second train and an employee hopped in the front seat for the obligatory test ride before letting the public on. They didn't switch back the track, though, and the train rolled out of the station and down the dead end track, running right off the end and falling to the ground, crushing the rider. The trains had already been Frankensteined by then, with dividers, bolted-on wrap-around headrests, seat belts, etc etc etc, so after destroying one of the two trains, they bought new ones for the next season that had all of that stuff already on them.

 

Interestingly, Astroworld also had a transfer track incident on their SLC - where a ride op released the brakes on the transfer track accidentally, and the second train (which was hanging out on the transfer track, not attached to the layout) happily rolled off the end into a giant pile of twisted metal and fiberglass.

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The Legend

 

Especially if it were owned by a dairy.

 

I don't think it's a matter of people becoming more "cynical." Tastes change (and, as Larry said, the Internet provides a large outlet for people to share their opinions).

 

That being said, I would go with the Loch Ness Monster--it may not be the best ride at BGW, but it is an icon for the park.

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