While 2017 certainly isn’t shaping up to be a big year in the amusement park industry, there are a few notable coasters that will be opening this season. Read on to see my top picks, including two new GCI’s and Intamin’s return to the United States with a custom launch coaster.
Dutch Wonderland / Lancaster, PA
Merlin’s Mayhem will be a family inverted coaster with an onboard audio system and a height limit of 39 inches. The ride will be the first of its type by S&S, so it will be interesting to compare it with suspended coasters from other manufacturers.
Three new S&S free spin clones will join the ranks at Six Flags, coming to Great America, Over Texas, and New England. The coasters will turn riders head over heels while making their way around the 1019-foot course.
Owa / Foley, AL
A clone of Thunderbolt at Luna Park, Rollin’ Thunder will drop riders at 90° before maneuvering through four inversions. The ride will be opening at a brand new amusement park owned by Owa.
Playland’s Castaway Cove / Ocean City, NJ
Designed by S&S, GaleForce will be similar to Premiere Rides’s Sky Rocket II models in that it packs a lot of thrill in a compact layout. The ride will start with a series of forward and backward launches that will propel it over a 125-foot top hat and into a beyond-vertical drop.
Wave Breaker: Rescue Coaster
SeaWorld San Antonio / San Antonio, TX
Wave Breaker: The Rescue Coaster will be the first of its kind in North America. Themed to marine animal rescue missions, Wave Breaker will feature many elements inspired by jet skiing, including two launches and many over-banked turns. Riders will board the coaster’s unique jet ski trains in a leaning position similar to motorbike coasters.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg / Williamsburg, VA
Early last year, Busch Gardens Williamsburg revealed that they were planning to build a small GCI coaster for 2017. Then the park took an unusual move: They gave fans the chance to choose the ride’s name, various design elements, and the queue experience. InvadR (as the ride was named) will be themed to a Viking invasion, and will feature a 1.5 race through the woods.
Fun Spot America / Kissimmee, FL
Last month, Fun Spot America announced that a looping wooden coaster from The Gravity Group will be coming to their Kissimmee location. The ride will feature an 80-foot drop, 11 airtime moments, a 115° banked turn, and a barrel roll.
Kings Island / Mason, OH
It might not be the rumored B&M Giga coaster that we expected, but Mystic Timbers is sure to please guests when it opens at Kings Island this spring. Standing 109 feet tall, Mystic Timbers will offer a fast-paced layout through the woods, which are “becoming overrun by a mysterious medusa-like overgrowth of vines as nature reclaims its land.” Ride elements include 16 airtime hills, an extreme S-turn, and a midcourse tunnel in its 3,265-foot layout. The coaster will also feature a mysterious grand finale ending that Kings Island has refused to reveal, saying that guests will have to ride Mystic Timbers for themselves to find out #WhatsInTheShed.
Watch an on-ride rendering of Mystic Timbers:
To me, the fact that a small GCI coaster won the top spot shows just how weak of a lineup of new coasters we’ll be seeing this year. Thankfully, 2018 is already promising to make up for it, with rumors of the new Mean Streak and several other coasters already circulating.
What are your top picks for 2017? Leave a comment below.