Now that the 2015 summer season has ended, amusement parks across the country are building hype for 2016 with new ride announcements. As always, the coasters steal the spotlight – some, with very good reason. Here are five of the most anticipated new roller coasters for 2016.
1. Lightning Rod
This isn’t your run-of-the-mill wooden coaster. When it opens in 2016, Lightning Rod at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee will break two serious records. At a peak 73mph speed, it will be the fastest wooden roller coaster in the world. And, as a special bonus, it will be the first and only launched wooden coaster in the world.
The stats are impressive, but they don’t nearly tell the full story. Following the launch and a 165-foot drop, Lightning Rod will take advantage of Dollywood’s mountainous terrain to offer riders almost constant close calls with land and trees as they barrel through daring elements that rival some of the world’s best steel coasters. Riders will rocket through 90+ degree banked turns, a non-inverting half loop, and a special “quadruple-down” element that will send them slaloming down the side of a mountain.
Lightning Rod promises to be a serious thrill machine, especially for riders who love negative G’s; the coaster promises 12 separate moments of airtime, and from the looks of it, those moments are going to be intense. Here is an animated preview of Lightning Rod from Dollywood:
Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio has long been considered America’s “roller coast.” It is home to one of the best collections of roller coasters on the planet, and its 2016 addition, Valravn, will be no exception.
At 223 feet tall, Valravn will be the world’s tallest, fastest, and longest “dive machine,” a class of coasters with 90-degree drops manufactured by swiss-based Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M). The only other two in the United States are located at Busch Gardens Williamsburg (Virginia) and Busch Gardens Tampa (Florida).
These dive machines are known for their holding break at the top of the first drop, and Valravn will be no different, holding riders dangling over the edge for several seconds before setting them lose through the 3,415-foot circuit. Valravn’s layout will also feature three inversions, the most on any B&M dive coaster. In addition to other records it will help break, it will also earn Cedar Point the title of park with the most roller coasters taller than 200 feet. Including Valravn, Cedar Point will be home to five coasters taller than that mark.
Cedar Point offers a one-of-a-kind panoramic virtual reality ride of Valravn, in which you can control the view, here:
3. The Joker
Rocky Mountain Construction group, based out of Idaho, has made a unique business of transforming aging wood roller coasters into hybrid rides with steel track laid over the existing wooden structures. The result? Acrobatic thrill machines like The Joker, opening at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, California in 2016.
Several other parks in the Six Flags chain have already transformed their own wooden coasters into RMC hybrids, and the resulting rides have received excellent reviews. After recently closing Roar (which originally opened in 1999), Discovery Kingdom will bring new life to the coaster with this twisted, multi-color hybrid transformation. The Joker will feature a 78-degree first drop, the first ever “step up under flip” element, three inversions – including a zero-G barrel roll -, and 15 separate airtime moments.
And don’t be fooled by the relatively meager stats. This coaster will stand 100 feet tall and reach only 53mph, but RMC’s hybrid designs are wicked. This video showcases the twisted layout, but won’t do justice to the actual ride experience:
4. Storm Chaser
Originally part of the Six Flags chain, things looked bleak for Kentucky Kingdom when the park ceased operation in 2010 amidst Six Flags bankruptcy filings. Luckily, things turned around and the park opened independently in 2014, giving new life to many of the attractions and infrastructure left standing after Six Flags’ departure.
For 2016, Kentucky Kingdom will give the same makeover to Twisted Twins, which originally opened in 1998, that Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is giving to Roar. Rocky Mountain Construction will strip the existing track from the wooden structure and overlay steel track to form another wild hybrid coaster. It will feature a 78-degree drop, America’s first barrel roll drop-down, and numerous moments of airtime. Here’s the video from Kentucky Kingdom:
Mako isn’t anything new in the world of coasters; many other hyper coasters built by Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M) exist elsewhere. But Mako will fill a niche in Florida, where it will be the tallest, fastest, and longest coaster in Orlando and the only coaster of its type in the state.
These B&M hyper coasters are also known for their super smooth rides, floating airtime, and intense speeds. Reaching 200 feet in height, Mako promises to deliver the goods and will also anchor a new section of Sea World focusing on sharks. Along with heavy theming, Mako will be offer a great ride experience for those who love a lot of tall drops and high speed thrills. Here’s the preview video: