Never has a wooden roller coaster closure announcement been more gleefully celebrated by the ride enthusiast community…
On Monday, Cedar Point announced that they would be “giving the axe” to their once record-breaking wooden roller coaster, Mean Streak. There was no blowback; no online petitions; no hashtag activists. Quite simply, people were ready to let Mean Streak go. But why? Aren’t we supposed to celebrate and try to preserve the wooden coaster in America? After all, we invented them back in 1884 at Coney Island.
Mean Streak was part of a trio of massive wooden roller coasters built in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s. They were designed and built by Charles Dinn of Ohio and each (Hercules at Dorney Park, The Texas Giant at Six Flags Over Texas and Mean Streak at Cedar Point) were record breakers.
They were also neck breakers. While the rides were massively popular their first year, the parks they sat in simply could not allocate enough man-hours or maintenance time to keep them running as smooth as when they opened. They quickly fell out of favor with not only ride enthusiasts, but also the general public due to their rough rides.
Of the 11 wooden coasters that Dinn designed and built – four have been demolished, one has been renovated into a steel coaster and now we await the eventual fate of Mean Streak.
The other massive woodies of the era (not built by Dinn) did not fare well, either. The Rattler at Fiesta Texas was renovated into a steel coaster in 2013 while Son of Beast at Kings Island was eventually torn down.
The closure of Mean Streak is a bookend to a unique era in the amusement industry, where we discovered there is an upper limit to what wooden coasters can do, bigger was not always better and sacrificing ride quality for records does not make for a good, long-term investment. Let us hope that we never see an era like it again.
Shockwaves are being felt throughout the coaster and park enthusiast community today as several Rocky Mountain Construction coasters around the world have been closed “until further notice” due to an apparently defective train cylinder.
Kolmården Park issued a very detailed statement late Saturday, saying a cylinder on the rides’ train is to blame for the delayed opening.
On a banner on their homepage, Dollywood posted: “Lightning Rod is closed today. The ride manufacturer ordered all of its roller coasters closed until further notice as a recalled mechanical part is replaced.”
However, several RMC coasters are still operating as of this evening.
The Joker at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom has been experiencing quite a bit of downtime since officially opening late last month, although an exact cause for it has not been announced. It, along with Twisted Colossus are currently open as of Saturday afternoon.
Storm Chaser at Kentucky Kingdom was operating as of noon Saturday afternoon. Its current status is unknown. Wicked Cyclone has been closed at Six Flags New England as of Saturday afternoon.
Hayden, ID-based Rocky Mountain Construction has yet to issue any statement on the recall or what was the impetus for removing their rides from service so suddenly and abruptly. Sadly, this has led to rampant speculation and rumors online.
Stay tuned to Great American Thrills for the latest on this developing story…
On Thursday, July 16th, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom posted across their social media outlets – as well as via a press release – that their GCl wooden coaster, Roar will be shutting down forever on August 16th. The timing is fortuitous – the last day of operation will be National Roller Coaster Day in the United States.
“We are a dynamic and evolving entertainment venue,” said Don McCoy, park president. “Although Roar continues to be a guest favorite, sometimes hard choices must be made to allow for future expansion.”
Roar opened in 1999 as the park was officially re-branded as the “New Marine World Theme Park” – which brought several new shows and attractions, restaurants and shops to the park. An estimated 11 million guests have experienced the 10-story coaster which features the first use of GCI’s throwback “Millennium Flyer” single bench, articulated trains.
According to the park, a special fond farewell to Roar will include a series of events for guests and Season Pass holders, the highlight of which will be a special last rider event.
The shutdown fuels rumors that the ride may be next in the Six Flags chain to receive some sort of renovation from roller coaster manufacturer, Rocky Mountain Construction. While none of this has been confirmed by the park or RMC, a job posting several weeks ago that advertised several temporary positions available in California has had some in the industry speculate that the Roar project was what they were advertising for.
The ride had become particularly rough over the past few years, culminating with a major track replacement which involved removal and replacement of approximately 1/4 of the total length of the ride last year.
With Colossus’ days numbered at Six Flags Magic Mountain, I thought it be appropriate on this Throwback Thursday to share a bit of my childhood relating to the “King of Wooden Coasters” before it’s too late.
Like many other early Millennials, I grew up with Nickelodeon. And not the crap Nickelodeon they’re passing off today. I’m talking Salute Your Shorts, Rocko’s Modern Life and Double Dare holy crap this is amazing Nickelodeon.
One of the mainstays of the channel was a show called “Wild and Crazy Kids.” It featured groups of kids competing in wacky, sometimes messy games with the goal to just have fun (Imagine that!)
I, like many other wide-eyed kids watching, were introduced to Colossus by this show – with their “Wacky Roller Coaster Spill.” That and the hope that someday, God willing – I’d get on the show and get to score one of those shirts…
Now, the editing isn’t very good in terms of continuity (I think they show the first drop three times and the double up twice). But it still shows a beautiful and thrilling Colossus – and an interesting game to boot. Enjoy this bit of 80’s / 90’s kid nostalgia – and #FarewellColossus!
If the video isn’t loading properly, just skip to 9:16 for the good stuff…
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