Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Coaster Talk No BS Zone Informal Poll of Polls! Part One: Wooden Roller Coasters

So in reading the grumblings online about the different polling pages, we opted to ask for input from some of the folks in our community about parks, rides, and more, to see what everyone thought. We asked about some of the same categories in the other polls, and some categories that some people felt were underrepresented. Here are our findings:

What parks do you feel have the best selection of wooden roller coasters?

Coming in first place was Knoebels, with nine votes. The Phoenix, Twister, and Flying Turns (seen below) is a great trio that makes Knoebels a destination for all of those who love wooden roller coasters.
In second place is Hershey, with eight votes. This park also has a wonderful trio of wooden attractions, with four wooden coasters in all. Hershey is home to two modern attractions in Lightning Racer and Wildcat, in addition to a PTC Schmeck classic in the Comet, seen in the picture below.
In third place came Holiday World with seven votes. The Voyage, Legend, and Raven are three must-ride coasters. Folks travel all the way to rural Indiana to this park, so they must be doing something right. I was blown away with how great the park and its coasters are when we visited this past summer. Voyage is my far and away favorite coaster. I highly recommend taking a trip out there sometime. The following photo is of the Raven.
In fourth place, with six votes, is Kings Dominion, with four wood coaster attractions, with five tracks in all. It is home to several awesome wood coasters, including the Grizzly, a coaster that traverses the wooded landscape at Kings Dominion, the John Allen designed Rebel Yell racing coaster, the junior sized Woodstock Express, and the Hurler. Seen below is the Rebel Yell racing coaster.
In fifth place, with five votes is Kennywood, with its storied set of three wood coaster attractions with roots based in the 1920s, including Jack Rabbit, Racer, and Thunderbolt.
In sixth place is Kings Island, with its three wood coaster attractions, including the legendary Beast, the twin tracked Racer, and the junior sized Woodstock Express. Below you can see the Beast.

Tied for seventh place, with three votes a piece, are Waldameer, Six Flags America, and Six Flags St. Louis.

Tied for eight place with two votes a piece are Cedar Point, Six Flags Over Georgia, and Carowinds.

Tied for ninth with a single vote for each are: Mt. Olympus, Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Indiana Beach, Lake Compounce, Michigan's Adventure, and Lakemont. The sheer amount of parks that were nominated for having great wooden roller coaster collections is pretty impressive.

Nearly every park with multiple wooden coasters in the United States was given a nomination as someone's favorite. That really is a testament to how appreciated these coasters are and how much popularity they bring to the parks that they are built in. The next section of our poll will elaborate further upon the success a wooden roller coaster can bring to a park.

What are your absolute favorite wooden roller coasters?

The answers to this question were all over the map! A few coasters stood out as being distinct favorites. The rest of the favorite coasters were all over the place. Aside from the few standouts, it is very difficult to decide what other coasters are your favorite because they are all pretty decent.

The top favorite with twelve votes is the Lake Compounce Boulder Dash. This is probably my most wanted wooden coaster at this point, having ridden the rest of the overwhelming favorites out of the group. I have never heard a single negative thing about this cliff traversing beast.
Tied for second place with eleven votes a piece are arguably the two greatest Gravity Group creations, Holiday World's Voyage (upper photo), and Waldameer's Ravine Flyer II (lower photo). Both of these are terrain coasters with layouts that perfectly utilize the hilly topography of their respective parks. The killer second half of the Voyage is possible because of a hill leading back to the station area. Ravine Flyer II drops down a cliff, crosses a highway, goes into a turnaround, down another hill, goes back across the highway and then has two helix elements that drop down a huge hill twice. Both of these are engineering marvels.

In third place is the Knoebels Phoenix. This legendary coaster has received all sorts of accolades since it was moved to Knoebels in 1985. It was designed by Herbert Schmeck of the Philadelphia Toboggan Company and built for Playland in San Antonio, Texas. Dick Knoebel and the rest of his team dismantled, moved, and rebuilt the coaster all the way up in Pennsylvania. Since then, the ride has been hailed as one of the best.
In fourth place with nine votes is El Toro. While it is not a traditional wooden roller coaster, this Intamin Pre-Fabricated coaster delivers a ride as smooth as a steel coaster, while the wooden track supports provide a forgiving bounce like that of a traditional wooden roller coaster or a mine train ride.
In fifth place with seven votes is Hersheypark's Lightning Racer. This coaster provides a racing and dueling experience like no other. The coaster's Great Coasters International (GCI) Millennium Flyer trains are able to smoothly traverse the twisted layouts of the two racing coasters. Each track weaves in and out of the other. Folks specifically mentioned family memories
One thing we can take away here is that hills and cliffs mix well with wooden coasters. Our top three vote getters utilize uneven terrain. This is a good note for parks that have land that appears to be extremely difficult for building an attraction. Land that seems like it may not be suitable for a coaster might be a perfect fit for a new ride.

Another thing that we can take away here is that the addition of wooden roller coasters is a home run for parks. Every one of the nominated rides resides at a successful amusement park. When executed well, wooden roller coasters become the centerpiece for a popular park. For small to midsize parks like Waldameer and Holiday World, we can see how the addition of wooden roller coasters has put them on the map. For more established major players like Hersheypark, Kings Dominion, and Kings Island, and Cedar Point the addition of wooden roller coasters cemented the parks as major regional parks and tourist draws. Adding Blue Streak to Cedar Point saved the park from becoming a housing development in the 1960s and sparked the boom that continues to this day at the park. The addition of Rebel Yell at Kings Dominion in the 1970s helped the opening of the park to be successful. The addition of Wildcat at Hersheypark sparked a transformation that has led towards the park becoming a major tourist draw. The impact of the addition of wooden roller coasters is clear. We express our appreciation to parks and manufacturers that advance the art of wooden roller coaster and preserve the ones that we have for generations to come.

Available now is our 2015 Roller Coaster Calendar. It is on early-bird special and available through 
this link!


  1. How does Hershey have 4 woodies as i only count 3, comet, lightning racer and wildcat. How can eltoro not be the #1 woodie?

  2. The two completely different tracks of Lightning Racer can be counted as two different coasters. This was simply what the people voted, El Toro came in fifth in voting.