A lot is going on this summer in the wonderful world of roller coasters. The tallest, fastest roller coaster in the world is set to open any day this spring. Roller coaster websites and fan clubs are going strong, spreading the fun and preserving the history of roller coasters worldwide. Here's the latest news on the roller coaster fun park scene, so take your pick and enjoy the rides.
Let's start with the big news. Six Flags Great Adventure (tel. 732/928-1821; www.sixflags.com/parks/greatadventure) in New Jersey presents Kingda Ka, the world's tallest, fastest roller coaster. Launched with hydraulic motors giving the ride the ability to go from 0 to 128 miles per hour in four seconds with a height of 456 feet and a drop of 418 feet, the Kingda Ka has effectively raised the bar on what it means to be a roller coaster. With just 18 seats per ride, this yellow track and green car coaster is geared for speed and take off. Tickets to the park go for $38.99 for an online special with regular admission normally going for $47.99 for adults or people above 54" inches and $29.99 for people below. Kingda Ka is the jewel of Six Flags' newest area called the Golden Kingdom, an 11-acre jungle world with Bengal Tigers and all kinds of jungle adventure rides and exhibits for kids and adults alike. Six Flags Great Adventure New Jersey is a short ride from Philadelphia, New York and Atlantic City. On a hot day, the park has plenty of water activities and the fast rides keep the wind in your hair.
Now, for the resources that will take you to on the best rides in the country and the world. Ultimate Roller Coaster (www.ultimaterollercoaster.com) is the quintessential site for roller coaster aficionados looking for the ultimate thrill. With a searchable database of the leading operational roller coasters, Ultimate Roller Coaster even has a glossary to keep up with the industry vocabulary and the latest scientific advances. They have facts and figures on the steel, wood and shuttle roller coasters as well as locations of the different types of roller coasters and reviews. The bulletin boards have the latest info on coaster gossip.
The alphabetically listed Roller Coaster Yellow Pages lists most theme parks in the United States. If you're looking for Adventureland (tel. 800/532-1286; www.adventureland-usa.com) in Altoona, Iowa with its roller coaster known as "Underground," you can find it at Ultimate Roller Coaster. The wooden coaster built in 1996 is the cornerstone of the Iowa theme park. Tickets are $27 for people 10 and up. See the Adventureland site for directions and a "What's New" at the park this summer. Most parks have on-site hotels that can be booked online. The Adventureland Inn (tel. 800/910-5382) is a 187-room property with two spas, a large pool and a free shuttle to the park.
Another integral site to the world of roller coasters is ACE, the American Coaster Enthusiast (tel. 763/765-2322; www.aceonline.org). Founded in 1978 as a non-profit group dedicated to "promote the conservation, appreciation, knowledge and enjoyment of the art of the classic wooden roller coaster and the contemporary steel coaster," ACE has grown into an 8,000 member group representing all 50 states and 12 countries. Annual dues cost $50 per year or $65 per couple. ACE sponsors group events, offers discounts at parks and nearby accommodations and also maintains a database of theme parks with at least one roller coaster in operation. A June 11, 2005 event at Denver's Lakeside Amusement Park will draw local members and some national roller coaster lovers along for the ride. See the site's event page for details at www.aceonline.org/EventNews or read the write-up on Lakeside's wooden coaster, the Cyclone, designated a classic by the group's high standards.
Talk with fellow travelers about your love (or fear) of roller coasters on our Theme Park Message Boards.