As we wrap up another great year, there’s a bunch of things to look back on. Today, we’ll be looking at the winners of 2009. These rides won the public’s opinion, and turned out to be success. Not every ride that was built this year was a winner, but here are a few to note.
Diamondback, King’s Island
Diamondback turned out to be the biggest ride of 2009. Like other B&M Mega Coasters, it created hype all over. In its first season, it received more than 1.8 million riders, a number you would expect to see at a Disney or Universal park, not Cedar Fair. The ride has extreme amounts of airtime, and some enthusiasts say it is the most extreme coaster, in the sense of airtime, they’ve ever been on. We heard reports of lines going for more than two hours, even stretching out onto the midway during the busy summer days. But it seems the wait was well worth it for people. Diamondback snagged spot #7 on Amusement Today’s top steel coaster list for 2009.
Manta, Sea World Orlando
One of the most anticipated rides, Manta at Sea World Orlando was actually finished ahead of schedule, giving it a few weeks advantage of being open heading into the busy summer season. Manta has been called one of Sea World’s best coasters, and with good reason. Instead of plopping a coaster onto a flat piece of land, they landscaped the area and themed the queue with beautiful rock work, huge tanks filled with hundreds of manta rays, and lighting effects to give the feeling of being underwater. Beyond the great theme, many say the coaster is the most intense at a Sea World park. The coaster is a B&M Flyer and has many moments throughout the ride where the positive g-forces are pushing down hard. It was designed to be a family-friendly ride, but has turned out to be an intense coaster that you would normally see at a regular amusement park.
Prowler, Worlds of Fun
The biggest surprise of 2009 was the GCI wooden coaster Prowler at Worlds of Fun. The ride at first did not receive as much hype as the larger coasters, but it came out and won big time. It started early in the season when enthusiasts said that it packed a punch. It turned out to be true. Prowler won the Golden Ticket for best new ride of 2009, and was ranked at #8 for best wooden coaster. Pretty impressive! I had the chance to ride Prowler, and it was quite a ride. It was surprisingly smooth, and the ride never lost its pace. I’m glad to see Worlds of Fun won with this ride.
Terminator Salvation: The Ride, Six Flags Magic Mountain
Another GCI creation, Terminator Salvation: The Ride did not receive as many awards, but it was hailed as a comeback for Six Flags Magic Mountain, a park that has been lacking lately. Many found it odd for a wooden coaster to be themed to Terminator, but it turned out to be a great combination. Like what they did with X2, Six Flags put in various effects including sound onboard the trains, tunnels, and something unheard of: fire. Yes, fire with a wooden coaster. Luckily, it was engineered to not be near the coaster to close. The one complaint we’ve heard though is that the queue line is not re-ride friendly. It takes at least ten minutes to move through all the pre-show areas, even if there is no line. The theme hasn’t been established well either. However, it was good to see that Six Flags is trying to improve Magic Mountain’s image. It has been falling the past couple of years, but it seems to be improving now.
Next up, we’ll take a look back at the losers for 2009. Leave your park thoughts on these rides, and others we may not have covered that you thought were winners!