Why Looping Coasters Deserve a Separate Top Ten List

Over the past few years, a change in roller coaster rankings has been afoot. Have you noticed? I know The Coaster Critic has, when Montu fell off of the top ten steel coaster list for the annual Golden Ticket Awards, he made mention in a blog post. I’ll admit it, at the time I thought nothing of it, but later, I had a revelation.

No one questions the little wooden brother on the block. Aside from possibly The Voyage or El Toro, I think it’s entirely safe to say that there is not a single wooden coaster in the world that would be “top ten” if the rankings were ten and done. I think it’s also tough to say that either ride, as wonderful as they are, would be a shoe in for that list.

I know what you’re thinking, ‘that’s not fair, the construction rigors are limited, wood is different than steel’, blah blah blah. There is a separate top ten list for wood coasters because they are entirely different animals, right? Not inferior, just different, with a different playing field, different rules, and a different ride. Here’s my question, why are looping coasters any different?

I propose a toast to the looping coaster, and with that toast, a separate top ten ranking for our occasionally upside down friends. Not because of what they cannot do, like wood, but because, just like wood, of what they can do because they are different.

Can a wood coaster be used as a chassis for a four hundred foot tall strata coaster? Maybe, but you won’t see this guy on it. What a wood coaster can do though, and I’m talking about those in the top ten, is give a ride so unique from steel, so infinitely different, that no one thinking rationally conceives twice about ranking the two separately. Who among us feels that a coaster with inversions is similar to their favorite hyper?

Doesn’t matter, Arrow proved over and over again that the two are on disparate territory, and still living examples like New York, New York’s terrible Manhattan Express function as a history lesson. Ask anyone who went to Kennywood when Steel Phantom was introduced, should a hyper coaster have loops? The answer for the vast majority of folks is going to be no, and finding that out cost everyone involved a fair chunk of change.

So, here is the question posed. Since history has proven that different coaster types deserve separate rankings, why shouldn’t those coasters that choose to go upside down be afforded their own rankings?

I can already hear the smart guy in the back, ‘What’s next Aric, rankings for best flyer and best inverted? How about best floorless or sitdown looper?’ To that guy, I say hogwash. These coasters are few enough by type that I feel they can be lumped together, just as wood and steel were once lumped together. Don’t get me wrong, if Ohio has another spendy war based on who can build the tallest flyer, I say we support it. Until that day though, let’s have a third top ten, a new top ten, a top ten just for coasters that go upside down. Imagine one like this, partially hypothetical, as I’ve not ridden all of these:

1. Maverick

2. Tatsu

3. Montu

4. Kraken

5. Fahrenheit

6. Kumba

7. Alpengeist

8. X2

9. Manta

10. Griffon

Good list, right? Ready to challenge it? Good! That’s the point of what I’m saying, we are letting good loopers go by the wayside, and if we don’t acknowledge their awesomeness, they will begin to dwindle. We aren’t arguing enough! Remember when The Coaster Critic put on his flame proof suit for his still positive, yet slightly negative Millennium Force review? I want to argue like that about loopers, and if you don’t agree with my selections, tell me why I’m wrong, and what yours would be.

One of my most exciting moments from last season was the first ride on Diamondback, it was wonderful, and I couldn’t wait to see how the general public felt it stacked up amongst its brethren. The red rattler landed firmly in seventh place, and ironically, by earning its ranking, Montu, the last looper on the list, got the boot.

Parks listen to the general public more than they do you or I, but has a park ever been embarrassed for being able to brag about a new coaster being proven to be among the best coasters in the world? Let’s not blame Intamin, B&M, Premier, Vekoma or any of their fellows for being engaged in making looping coasters, and let’s not have parks suffer for buying them. I love a B&M hyper as much as anybody, but parks don’t need two.

So why don’t we, the hardcore coaster fanatics, demand a separate rankings, a place for designers and park owners to see the true fruits of their labors, and maybe in the process, slow down all that world’s “steepest drop” style of nonsense. A top ten list for coasters that go upside down even once makes sense, and it allows for a real amount of bragging rights, not an entitlement, a place for the real top ten loopers to do battle in our hearts, and a place to be officially honored.

What’s Your Take?
Does anyone else get chills from seeing a twisted mess of loops, hills and drops? Does anyone else enjoy a cobra roll, and an airtime hill? In my opinion, the question is not whether looping coasters deserve a separate top ten list; the question is what your top ten lists are. Leave a comment below and vote in this poll.
[poll id=”6″]