It’s time for the conclusion of my Top New Roller Coasters of 2012 list. In case you missed it, I gave picks 11 to 7 in Part 1. Here’s the rest of the list including my most anticipated new roller coaster of 2012.

6 Manta at SeaWorld San Diego (San Diego, California)

SeaWorld San Diego Manta Launch Roller CoasterSeaWorld San Diego will be unveiling a highly-themed launch roller coaster in Manta. Riders will board manta ray-themed trains before their launched through a one-of-a-kind tunnel. As they speed down the track they’ll be surrounded by a high-tech 270-degree projection screen. The ride’s 2,800 foot long winding course will feature a second launch. After so many years with only 2004’s water coaster Journey to Atlantis as the park’s sole roller coaster, it’s about time SoCal theme park fans experienced SeaWorld Parks’ tradition for excellently-themed world-class roller coasters.

Why You Should Be Excited – While Manta won’t be a towering new thrill ride like some of the other roller coasters debuting this year, it will offer a unique experience. The launch tunnel could really be something special. And, SeaWorld is incorporating the park’s marine life into the theme, queue, and even the ride itself.  Not all launch coasters need to rocket you to warp speed. A family launcher is probably perfect for the park and incorporating exhibits for riders and non-riders (like I experienced at SeaWorld Orlando’s Manta) seems like a win-win.

Read more and watch a video of Manta | Manta stats on RCDB | SeaWorld San Diegos’ Official Manta Page

5 Verbolten at Busch Gardens Williamsburg (Williamsburg, Virginia)

Verbolten - Busch Gardens Williamsburg - 2012 roller coasterA dynamic new roller coaster is on its way to Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Verbolten will sit on the same wooded and hilly terrain that the Big Bad Wolf once called home. The ride’s shaping up to be more than an adequate replacement as it will offer a variety of elements that have never been combined before in one ride. Verbolten will treat riders to two launches and a drop to the park’s Rhine River. The highlight might be Verbolten’s indoor section where riders will Brave the Black Forest. Inside, they’ll encounter America’s first roller coaster ‘free fall’ where the train and an entire section of track will drop simultaneously. You can also expect some sort of special effects as the sports car-themed trains speed through the dark.

Why You Should Be Excited – Busch Gardens doesn’t disappoint. They almost exclusively install custom, top-notch roller coasters. They’re often made specifically for the terrain of the park and they incorporate unique theming elements. These factors, along with the park’s great operations and upkeep add up to excellent roller coaster experiences.

We should expect the same for Verbolten. Swinging through Big Bad Wolf’s Bavarian Village was an amazing and very memorable coaster moment. So, the ride has some big shoes to fill.  Or should I say paws? I’m hoping that the indoor portion’s special effects really provide something, well…special.

Read more about Verbolten | Verbolten Construction Videos | Verbolten stats on RCDB | Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s Verbolten Page | Read a collection of fan reactions to Verbolten’s announcement.

4 Skyrush at Hersheypark (Hershey, Pennsylvania)

Skyrush Roller Coaster - Hersheypark 2012 - Winged SeatsThis year Skyrush will take Hersheypark fans to new heights literally. While the park already boasts an impressive arsenal of rides and roller coasters, it’ll now get it’s BIG ONE. Skyrush will dominate Hersheypark’s skyline at a height of 200 feet. Adding a small twist to the tried and true hyper coaster format, Skyrush’s trains will also offer outer seats that are floorless and essentially sit outside of the track. Scaredy cats can opt for the center seats. No matter where you sit, the ride’s 3,600 feet of yellow steel should please thrill seekers excited for a big new attraction.

Why You Should Be Excited – Skyrush will offer a super-sized drop from the tallest peak in the park. Plus, the wing-like seating could offer a more exposed and free riding experience.  While Skyrush doesn’t have a really large parabola-shaped (upside-down ‘U’) hill in its layout, hopefully those smaller hills provide a few good pops of airtime (lifting riders slightly out of their seats). Those outer seats combined with the layout’s high speed turns could add up to quite a thrilling experience.

Read more and watch a video of Skyrush | Skyrush stats on RCDB | Hersheypark’s Official Skyrush Page

3 – Leviathan at Canada’s Wonderland (Vaughn, Ontario, Canada)

Leviathan at Canada's Wonderland - Giga Roller Coaster 2012

Canada’s Wonderland will be receiving what could already be described as a landmark roller coaster in Leviathan. It’ll have the distinction of being Canada’s tallest roller coaster (topping neighboring ride Behemoth by 76 feet). It’ll also be noteworthy from an enthusiasts viewpoint as it’ll be the first roller coaster in the giga-sphere (300 to 400 feet tall) from famed roller coaster designers Bolliger & Mabillard. They’re pretty much the hit makers of the industry offering thrilling, but survivable crowd-pleasers again and again. Riders will be lifted 306 feet (93 meters) above park, plummet down an enormous drop, and reach speeds of 90+ miles per hour (148 km/h) during the rides lengthy journey.

Why You Should Be Excited – If the prospect of a thirty-story drop, a top speed that’s among the fastest in the World, and Bolliger & Mabillard’s stellar track record don’t get your heart pumping then I don’t know what will. Leviathan could deliver an intense, but also easily re-ridable giga coaster. 2010’s Intimiator 305 was the former, but not the latter. Its enjoyable, but very intense ride caused brief blackouts back in its opening year. Will B&M’s giga make people blackout too, or are they truly masters of comfort and performance without putting too much stress on riders? I can guarantee that plenty of Canadians, Americans lured across the border, and international enthusiasts will be headed to Canada’s Wonderland to find out. As a fan of these types of rides and as a big fan of nearly everything these designers have created, I can’t wait to hear how Leviathan is received.

Read more and watch a video of Leviathan | Leviathan’s stats on RCDB | Canada’s Wonderland’s Official Leviathan Site

2 – Wild Eagle at Dollywood (Pigeon Forge, Tennessee)

Wild Eagle - Off Ride Video - Dollywood 2012 Coaster

Underrated Eastern Tennessee amusement park Dollywood is taking another step toward the front of the pack with Wild Eagle. I can’t imagine how much longer this park can fly under the National radar (no pun intended). Later this month, Wild Eagle is scheduled to open as the United States’ first wing roller coaster. It will join the park’s top-rated wooden coaster Thunderhead, popular themed steel looper Mystery Mine and the park’s other great attractions. I’m not sure if it was by necessity or by design, but Wild Eagle will use Dollywood’s wooded and mountainous terrain. Riders seated on the edges of the coaster’s trains (wings of the eagles) will be given great views of the Smoky Mountains before experiencing a 13-story drop and four inversions.

Why You Should Be Excited – Wild Eagle’s size and location should make it a fun and unique experience. Opening with that steel peak on top of a natural one, will be give riders a great view and they’ll fly past the park’s wooden terrain during the low altitude sections. Night rides on Wild Eagle should be especially memorable. Just as night rides on Kings Island’s Beast were incredible, I’d imagine Wild Eagle’s night owl rides could also be impressive.

Read more about Wild Eagle | Wild Eagle VideoWild Eagle’s stats on RCDB | Dollywood’s Official Wild Eagle Site

1 – X-Flight at Six Flags Great America (Gurnee, Illinois)

X-Flight-Six-Flags-Great-America-Roller-CoasterSix Flags Great America is getting a potentially epic upgrade in its roller coaster lineup. They’ve shipped their aging stand-up roller coaster to another park to make room for what looks to be an action-packed wing roller coaster called X-Flight. Like my number 2 most anticipated roller coaster, Wild Eagle, X-Flight will have the same wing-shaped trains where riders will be seated on the sides of the track. Not stopping at the riding position (that’ll be new to Americans), X-Flight will exploit the riders’ exposure with a few elements that’ll make you long for the safety of Demon’s cozy walled trains.

Why You Should Be Excited – My jaw dropped last year when I first saw an animated video showing off X-Flight’s in-line twist. During the maneuver, the wide train does a barrel roll as it passes through a flight tower (pictured to the right). I have a feeling that it’ll look even more impressive when we get to experience it first-hand. Imagine sitting in the very front row and seeing that keyhole-shaped opening up ahead. I wish that they were further along in construction so that I could see how close it’ll actually look compared to the animated preview. Regardless, with the ride’s over-banked first drop, five inversions, and a tunnel, X-Flight looks to be the best new roller coaster opening in the U.S. this year. With its exciting succession of elements it could be up there with other looping B&M masterpieces like Montu.

More on X-Flight at Six Flags Great America | X-Flights stats on RCDB | Six Flags Great America’s Official X-Flight Page | Learn more about Wing Roller Coasters

See Part 1 of my Top 2012 Roller Coasters List. Also see my previous top new roller coasters lists including my most anticipated coasters from 2007 to 2011.

What’s Your Take?
What do you think of my top picks for 2012? Leave a comment below.

About The Author

Founder of My favorite coasters are B&M hypers and gigas. I'm also a huge fan of terrain roller coasters.

33 Responses

  1. Gearhart

    I mostly agree with you but as much as I love B&M looping coasters, I'm way more excited for the two new mega coasters Leviathan and Sky Rush. Wild Eagle also edged X-Flight for me with it's location, but they're pretty close calls. I already got a plane ticket to Philly with the plan of driving up to Toronto from there so needless to say, I'm stoked for this year's crop of coasters.

    • The Coaster Critic

      I actually had Leviathan at 1, but the more I thought about the more I got excited about the wing coasters. Maybe I'm returning to my loop-loving roots, but those inversions in that new riding position have me geeking out. Leviathan looks really big, tall, and fast. It could turn out to a better coaster I'm just a bit less excited about the experience it'll offer.

    • The Coaster Critic

      For me X-Flight's hangar tunnel and barell roll through that tower were enough for me to put it slightly ahead of Wild Eagle and its awesome location. As I've said in other posts Wild Eagle's setting will add a lot to that experience. I actually had them tied for a while.

  2. Prof.BAM

    The bad part of X-Flight: Iron Wolf had to be removed. I know from experience that Wolf-y gave a horrible riding experience, but it was the first B&M in the world. I know Flight will be better, but to just remove a piece of history like that? For that reason alone, I would have put WE ahead.

  3. Brian

    I was about to post a similar list on my blog. However, I have Leviathan at the top of my list, and Verbolten in my #2 spot. I also really like the looks of Manta and Skyrush. The wing riders don't excite me as much, maybe it's because they look tame in comparison to X2. After seeing Wild Eagle pictures, I'm a little disappointed in the look of it, but who knows it may be better than I think.

    • The Coaster Critic

      I'd like to see your list if you write one Brian. Feel free to link to it. The wing coasters definitely do look tamer than X2, but that's not a bad thing in my book. They are a bit on the shorter side too. I'm just looking for unique and memorable experiences I guess. Verbolten's likely to have quite a few of those. When do you think you'll ride that?

      It's really tough to make these picks with out riding them of course. In 2011, I picked Cheetah Hunt as my #1 and had the New Texas Giant (which made my Top 10 List) at #2. I think most would give the New Texas Giant the nod over Cheetah Hunt.

      • Brian

        I have a feeling that Verbolten will open while we are on our honeymoon, but we'll go ride it as soon as we get back. I do think it's going to be a cool experience!

    • MPM

      The great thing about this is I live in eastern VA and am taking a trip to Canada in late May. To go on potentially the best two new coasters of 2012, when I went on my first coasters in 12 years this past October, is a bit surreal. I'm stoked!

    • Quil

      I'd personally mark Leviathan higher than I would mark Skyrush, but that's just me.

  4. Matt

    Wow this is surprising. I like many others thought you would put Skyrush and Leviathan as numbers 2 and 1. I think the wing coasters look cool, but don’t have a long enough layout and can’t be better coasters than a hyper or giga. Yet, I do agree that x flight looks better than wild eagle and more unique than the other coasters on the list.

    • The Coaster Critic

      You're right the wing coasters are on the short side. I think I may be, dare I say it, hyper coastered-out. I just watched a new test video of Leviathan. It looks great. But after riding so many hypers and a Giga in recent years including the one in my backyard (Intimidator @ Carowinds), the experience is starting to get a little too familiar. I think I would have rated Skyrush or Leviathan higher had they included some elements like a tunnel or something. Or, if they used the terrain more. PortAventura's Shambhala looks like it has a more interesting layout to me than Leviathan.

    • The Coaster Critic

      I noticed you did a list, but I didn't want to look at it until I had mine up. After I do my list of the top coasters in the rest of the World, I'll check it out.

  5. coasterer22

    With its coasters going 1-2-3, it looks like B&M is going to have another big year. Like others said, I would put Wild Eagle in front of X-Flight, but Leviathon in front of them both. Skyrush looks great too, but it seems that Hershey hasn't gotten a non-Intamin in years, so I'm not THAT excited for it. Don't get me wrong, 2012 is a great year for coasters, and I can't wait!

  6. RCT Pro

    I personally despise X-Flight and Verboten for several reason amd would include them in the worst coasters opening in 2012. The Swarm is VASTLY superior to X-Flight and since Leviathan is in Canada, you should include other international coasters. Besides, they'll clone X-Flight like they did Batman and SUF. Verboten is a "bad"(edited) replacement for a ride that should have stayed, the event building will look horrible in a park ranked as one of the most beautiful in the country no matter how well the effects are done on the inside.

    • The Coaster Critic

      Again, for new people, I typically include international coasters, I just didn't this year since there were so many opening in the States this year. An international coaster list is on the way.

      I'm a big fan of custom coasters, but if they do clone X-Flight, that's probably a mark of the coaster's success. Nothing to hate it on it for. I don't know where you live, but would you really despise an X-Flight clone at your home park?

      I'm not really sure why think the event building will look bad. I loved the village, but I'm sure the exterior of the building will be well-themed like all of the buildings in the park.

      Lastly, profanity is not allowed on this site. I'll post something near the comment box as a reminder. I know a lot of new people aren't use to that strange rule. 🙂

      Thanks for the comment. All opinions are welcome here!

    • DRU

      I agree about the event building for Verbolten. It does look out of place. It's just a huge green metal box.They sort of regraded the area and took out a lot of the trees where the Big Bad Wolf's mini village was. The coaster layout looks really sweet though. Hopefully they will plant a bunch of new trees in the regraded areas to fill it back in a bit.

  7. Quil

    For me, It goes:




    4.Wild Eagle

    5. X-Flight

    6. Manta

    I'm a little biased based off of what's closest to me, but I rated it based off of what's most I'm most excited about, and Verbolten topped that list. If I did it based off of what I thought would be the best, it probably would have been a little different, but not overly so.

  8. Mike

    I have to say Skyrush reminds me of a smaller Intimidator 305 and it might be less intense. I'm looking forward to Leviathon the most but will not be riding it. I think Skyrush might end up being the favorite new coaster this year among enthusiast. Just a gut feeling I have.

    • The Coaster Critic

      Again, I didn't feel like including international coasters (like I normally do) because there were so many new North American coasters this year. I'll have a list of the best looking coasters from other countries soon.

  9. Rick Piraux

    Thanks for all your research and web design — I come to your site when I want to know what is going on in the coaster world!

  10. jack

    So I was really pumped for X Flilght since I live in chicago, until i realized it doesnt rotate like X-2 in California. I'm not sure if youre familiar with that ride, but it's the most intense ride i've ever been on, and i've been to Cedar Point (still the king in my opinion) for many years. Why doesn't X-Flight have this rotate feature- I was looking forward to re riding such an intense coaster! 🙁

  11. jack

    WOW very disapointed that X-Flight doesnt rotate like X2. The experience isnt the same until you immediately flip onto your chest down a 200 foot drop. smh

  12. XYZ

    My personal thoughts for the top 6 is this:

    6: Manta

    5: Verbolten

    4: Wild Eagle

    3: X-Flight

    2: Leviathan

    1: Skyrush

    Overall, 2012 has been a very good year for coasters.

  13. Alex Fahner

    I don't get how you can have a wing coaster over a giga coaster.

    • The Coaster Critic

      It's pretty simple. Re-read, or read for the first time, my points in "Why You Should Be Excited" for both coasters. I'm more excited about the experience X-Flight might give than I am about 'a giga coaster'.


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