Though there are few constants in life, one thing has remained with me since childhood: A love of roller coasters. While I now avoid such stomach twisters as those doggone Tilt-a-Whirls and the newfangled swing rides that spin so very very fast (Luna Park's Brooklyn Flyer will not see this backside again), roller coasters new and old never disappoint. Or make me sick.
My dad gets credit for this conditioning, taking me and my sister to our hometown Kennywood Park, in Pittsburgh, Pa., on multiple occasions as well as scheduling many vacations around amusement parks. One memorable fifth grade trip to Florida saw us hit thee parks there in a week: Disney World (my first time on Space Mountain), the departed Circus World (with an amazing wooden coaster) and Busch Gardens. (Where, incidentally, we three were trapped in a tiny car for what felt like hours in the hot sun on a broken octopus ride.)
To this day, my dad is always ready to hop on a boardwalk ride or revisit Kennywood, as we did last summer. No nudging was required to again ride oldies but goodies like the Thunderbolt, which bounces riders around much like Coney Island's Cyclone, and the much newer Phantom's Revenge, which I rode multiple times because this guy goes 85 miles per hour.
While I'll be at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey later this summer, the perfect vacation would find me continuing from there to hit up some of the amazing new roller coasters that have debuted, or are about to, this year. One new trend are hybrids, wooden coasters that take advantage of steel tracks to take an old technology new places. You'll find these via Outlaw Run at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo., which park officials say features the only double barrel roll on a wooden coaster. Other hybrids are new to California's Great America in Santa Clara and Six Flags Fiesta in San Antonio, Texas.
Hydromagnetics are also becoming popular at theme parks to create water attractions that pull riders along a liquid "track." New Yorkers can head to Splish Splash in Calverton for Bootlegger's Run. Open Memorial Day weekend, that ride features four-person rafts and an initial ascent of 235 feet.
Take a look at all four of these rides (mobile users, head to newsday.com/travel), and have a summer filled with that amazing roller-coaster feeling.
Outlaw Run at Silver Dollar City:
Gold Striker at California Great America:
Iron Rattler at Six Flags Fiesta:
Bootlegger's Run at Splish Splash: