Friday, November 5, 2010

STOMACH CHURNERS: Classic Amusement Park Rides

It's been awhile since we've really hit the theme parks but Tim and I used to seek out the best to test our mettle on.  Now that Tim's grown up, it's physically pretty hard to get him on those rides...park operators require that you or an attendant get you on a ride with no help from them.  Tim's bigger, I'm older, and it's just too hard most of the time so most of this kind of enjoyment is in the past for us.

Still, we'd be remiss if we didn't at least let you know what our favorite rides are, or were as the case may be.  Again, be aware that you'll need someone to help you on the ride if you are disabled...and some of these can be quite rough and scary.  Only you can determine what your limits are. 

Disclaimers out of the way, here's our list.

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia
JeroenZ85 under CC-BY-SA license

5. Batman (Six Flags Magic Mountain, California)
The second-best hanging inverted coaster we've been on (keep going for the best).  Unusually good theming for Six Flags coupled with a smooth ride gives this five-inversion coaster high marks.  Ride could be a bit longer but it is still very good.  Wheelchairs enter through the exit.
Picture Courtesy of Wikimedia
Tinned Elk under CC-BY-SA license

4. Medusa (Six Flags Marine World Discovery Kingdom, California)
Riddler's Revenge and Mantis are great coasters except most wheelers can't ride them because you have to be able to stand up.  Medusa is basically Riddler's Revenge with seats.  You still get the thrill becase the cars have no floor.  Your feet are dangling in air just inches above the track as you go through several massive inversions including a cobra roll.  Very smooth but hard to get the operator's attention when you need to use the elevator.  Wheelchairs enter via an elevator next to the on-ride photo shop.  Have the clerk in the shop call up to the platform to let you know you need the lift.

3. Raptor (Cedar Point, Ohio)
Another inverted hanging coaster like Batman above except with one more (6) inversion.  Another thing is that many elements take place just inches above other guests heads over the midway.  This is the best of this type of coaster we've been on.  Wheelchair use an elevator located around back reached via the exit.
Picture Courtesy of Wikimedia
Nick Nolte under CC-BY-SA license

2. Magnum XL-200 (Cedar Point, Ohio)
At one time, the tallest and fastest coaster on earth.  Still packs a mighty wallop and the three camel humps inside dark tunnels definitely take getting used to.  No inversions, just pure speed and extreme height give this coaster its punch.  Wheelchairs enter via the exit.

1. Millennium Force (Cedar Point, Ohio)
Bigger is better in this case.  The tallest roller coaster in the world outside of Japan (both have since been surpassed - Ed).  You truly have a cast iron stomach if the 310 foot lift hill doesn't give you the willies in that open car with only a lap-bar to keep you in.  The almost vertical first drop of 300 feet at 92 miles-per-hour will definitely wake you up.  The speed is relentless as you complete the circuit via a bow-tie overbanked turnaround, two tunnels, a bunny hop, and two more overbanked (slightly inverted) turns.  Our favorite steel coaster.  Wheelchairs enter via a separate path and load at the exit platform.

Top 5 Wooden Coasters
Picture Courtesy of Wikimedia
Eric-Hernandez under CC-BY license

5. Colossus (Six Flags Magic Mountain, California )
This racer is good, but was much better in the past.  Still, when it's in top form it's a fun coaster.  No longer raced, you now have the choice (when both sides are open) to ride forward or backward.  The ride is bumpy.

4. Giant Dipper (Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, California )
What a pleasant coaster located along the blue Pacific in one of the last beachfront amusement parks on the West Coast.  The tunnel before the lift hill is very wicked!  Wheelchairs enter via the exit.

3. Roar (Six Flags Marine World  Discovery Kingdom, California )
Another trip to a sadistic lumber yard.  Roar is almost Ghostrider , and would be too, but has just a couple of dead spots en route.  Who knew that such a bad amusement park could have two coasters on our list.  Two!  That's one more than the number of friendly employees they have there.  Wheelchairs...look for the elevator to the platform.

Picture Courtesy of Wikimedia
Nick Nolte under CC-BY-SA license

2. Blue Streak (Cedar Point, Ohio )
In this case small and cute doesn't really mean it.  This looks like a kiddy coaster and that's just what many think it is...especially with the huge Mean Streak towering in the distance.  Fortunately, the oldest coaster standing in the park delivers a huge gut punch in the way of air time and speed.  You will spend as much time out of your seat as in it in this small but powerful woody.  Wheelchairs enter via the exit.

1. Ghostrider (Knott's Berry Farm)  An absolutely unbelievably intense coaster.  Many riders are taken in by it's mellow looks only to be blown away by this awesome coaster.  Wheelchairs enter via a special entrance across from the fountain where an attendant will take you up to the platform via an elevator.

TOP 5 WATER RIDES - Too hot? or just like to float?  These may just be the ticket.
Picture Courtesy of Wikimedia
Little Mountain 5 under CC-BY-SA license

5. Jurassic Park (Universal Studios, California )
Nasty T-Rex's await in the dark in this highly themed plunge ride.  Wheelchairs have a special entrance near the exit.

4. Bigfoot Rapids (Knott's Berry Farm, California )
The wettest raft ride around!  Be prepared because you will get either very wet or soaked.  Wheelchairs enter via a ramp located at the exit which will take you to a separate dock.

3. Grizzly River Run (Disney's California Adventure, California )
Disney's much maligned new park does have a few good rides including the best river raft ride we've yet seen.  Run the rapids around Grizzly Peak before spinning down the final drop into Mt. Lassen's boiling fumaroles.  Wheelchairs enter via a separate dock to the right of the main queue.

2. Splash Mountain (Disneyland, California )
Disney's version of that theme-park staple...the log ride.  With Disney, you know the theming is top notch.  Inside, the ride is almost like a roller coaster in its dips and drops before the final tall, steep drop into the briar patch...ouch!   Wheelchair access is not known at this time.

1. Timber Mountain Log Ride (Knott's Berry Farm, California )
Excellent water ride.  One of the first...if not the first...log rides in existence.  Themed to a lumber camp and mill with two excellent drops.  The first one in darkness inside a cave and the second with a grand view of Calico Square before splash down.  Good thrills, good views, and great theming.  Wheelers will have a hard time getting into the logs.  Wheelchairs enter via a special entrance near the on-ride photo shop.  The dock is pretty careful.

TOP 4 THRILL RIDES - Just want a quick thrill?  These will either make you want more or swear off for good! Sorry, I could only come up with four...
4. Sun Wheel (Disney's California Adventure, California) For such a disparaged theme park, it's a wonder there are any rides on this list from it, but DCA has another winner with the Sun Wheel...a copy of Coney Island's Wonder Wheel.  It's a ferris wheel with cabins that roll on roller coaster-like tracks providing a real thrill.  Best of all, half of those rolling cabins are wheelchair accessible.  Officially, wheelchairs stand in the same line as everybody else but many wheelers just go in through the exit.  Your call.
3. Soarin' Over California (Disney's California Adventure, California) Okay, this is a pretty gentle thrill ride.  Even your great grandma can go on this one.  It's still pretty thrilling sailing over the Golden State in a hang glider complete with Smell-o-Vision!  Wheelchairs enter via Fast Pass.

2. Supreme Scream (Knott's Berry Farm, California )
Several years ago we declared this to be the best ride in Southern California.  It has been surpassed since but this no-nonsense turbo drop ride is still menacing.  An open air ride in you seat up over 250 feet (on a clear day you can see ships at  sea many miles away) where you dangle for a few seconds before being blasted down at 55 miles per hour.  I had to sit still for half an hour after going on this thing.  Wheelchairs enter via the exit.

Picture Courtesy of Wikimedia
Alexf under CC-BY license

1. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (Disney Hollywood Studios, Florida )
A ride like no other.  Combine a haunted house ride (like Disney's Haunted Mansion) and a turbo drop ride (like Cedar Point's Power Tower) and you get an inkling of what this ride is like.  Greeted by zombie-like attendants, you are ushered into an old elevator of a long abandoned Hollywood hotel.  Your haunted elevator takes you through floors of bizare Twilight Zone happenings until you reach the end of a hall where the elevator door opens to reveal the world outside...just before you plunge to your doom down the elevator shaft!  And, yes, the one in Florida beats the one in California.  Wheelchairs enter via the exit.

Copyright 2002 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved


  1. Wonderful blog & good post.Its really helpful for me, awaiting for more new post. Keep Blogging!

    Wheels Florida

  2. Very good! I think that you have done a great job! FANTASTIC!!!!

    Wheels Florida