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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Coaster compendium detail #1


Going back to those descriptions I promised you a while back, I'd like to talk about the roller coasters I've got under my belt--or that have had me under their belt as it were. It's all adding up to this summer, when I plan on adding a few more to the list on my quest for 100 coasters. This is exciting.

To begin with, it's fortunate that the first coaster I ever remember riding happens to be the first one alphabetically as well.

The American Eagle is located at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois. It's a racing coaster by Intamin, running two trains--a red and a blue--simultaneously, though most of the times I've been to the park there seems to be only one side open. I've ridden this coaster countless times. It was the first serious coaster I ever rode--probably at about age 6 or 7--and I remember my first time on that initial drop like it was yesterday. To this day it's still a great initial climb and drop. As a matter of fact it's still a solid overall coaster. That huge helix is unlike any other I've experienced. I've also ridden this coaster backwards, as they sometimes run it with the cars reversed toward the end of the year or for Fright Fest.

When American Eagle was built in 1981, it set world records for:
  • Fastest roller coaster (66 mph)
  • Largest drop on a roller coaster (147 ft)
  • Tallest wooden roller coaster (127 ft)
It still holds world records for:
  • Fastest wooden racing roller coaster (66 mph)
  • Longest wooden racing coaster (4,650 ft)
  • Tallest wooden racing coaster (127 ft)
  • Largest drop on a wooden racing coaster (147 ft)
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American Thunder is a GCI wooden coaster at Six Flags St. Louis that opened in 2008 as Evel Knievel. It maintained its motorcycle daredevil theme throughout the rebranding that took place three years later. For the past five years, this has traditionally been the first coaster we hit once we first come in to the park. It may only go 48 mph and be a mere 82 ft in height, but it has got some really fantastic banked curves and hills, and a lot of them, too--checking in at a respectable length of 2,713 ft. On top of all that, it's not only incredibly smooth, but the first time I rode it I reported to my wife that the seats were soft & comfy like an easy chair. American Thunder never set any records, but it still endures as a really fun and thrilling ride, and a great starting point for the little guys just starting out on their coaster adventures.

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Avatar Airbender is a rocking back-and-forth sort of coaster that spins as it goes. It was built by Intamin at the Mall of America in 2008. I thought it was OK, but Ash really got a kick out of it. I found it to be a gimmicky but not nearly as exciting version of Vertical Velocity and that style of coaster. It doesn't go nearly as fast as those other ones, it's only 70 ft tall at each spike, and it has cars that spin, perhaps just to make older people ill? Not sure. Anyway, I was left a little flat by this one, and I kind of feel like I'm cheating even calling it a roller coaster. It fits my chosen definition though, so it's on the list.