Here are my top picks for the best new roller coasters opening in 2017. As I stated in Part 1, I decided to focus on North America. Again, let us know how you’d rank them in the comments.
5 – GaleForce at Playland’s Castaway Cove
In Ocean City, New Jersey beach-goers will have more than just the waves and warm sun to look forward to. Playland’s Castaway Cove is set to open a compact looping roller coaster called GaleForce. It’ll feature three launches a top speed of 64 mph, a height of 125 feet, and a beyond vertical 100 degree drop.
While GaleForce will have a relatively small footprint, it’ll pack a lot of excitement with speed, twists, and turns. The ultra-steep drop will really challenge riders’ stomach and the launches will provide some strong g-forces. The only drawback might be long lines as the ride only has one car carrying 12 riders. So, expect a decent to insanely long line. Hopefully, if you invest the time to wait on GaleForce, you won’t be disappointed.
SeaWorld San Antonio is set to open Wave Breaker: The Rescue Coaster. The ride will be 61 feet tall, 2,600 feet long, and it will include two launches. Wave Breaker will feature trains designed to look like jet skis and it will incorporate an animal rescue theme.
Wave Breaker should be an excellent family roller coaster with a fun, but not too intense course. The minimum height requirement of 48 inches means that younger riders will get to enjoy it. Also, the lack of loops and relatively low speed (44 mph), mean it should be a broad crowd-pleaser.
Fun Spot America’s Kissimmee Florida park will open a new wooden roller coaster called Mine Blower in 2017. The ride will be 82 feet tall, 2,256 feet long, and reach speeds of 48.5 mph. Most notably, Mine Blower will flip riders upside-down with a barrel roll loop; a very rare maneuver for a wooden coaster.
Given the designers of Mine Blower, riders should expect an action-packed, but relatively smooth ride. Gravity Group’s rides are some of the most well-respected in the industry. Also, with no brake run to put a pause on the action, don’t expect a lot of time to catch your breath.
In terms of similar coasters to Mine Blower, true wooden roller coasters (with wooden rails) that have loops are extremely rare. The only other roller coaster that I can think of is the much larger and more intense Hades 360 at Mt Olympus.
2 – InvadR at Busch Gardens Williamsburg
This Spring, Busch Gardens Williamsburg will be opening a new roller coaster called InvadR. It’ll be the park’s first ever wooden roller coaster. Guests will experience a 74-foot drop, speeds of 48 mph, and nine airtime hills. InvadR will be located in the New France section of the park near the Le Scoot Log Flume and the Caribou Train Station. The nearest roller coasters to the ride will be Griffon and Alpengeist.
Guests who’ve been rattled and beaten by wooden coasters, may be surprised by InvadR. Designed by Great Coasters International, InvadR should offer a thrilling and smooth ride; especially in its opening year. While InvadR won’t reach the jaw-dropping heights of some of the other rides on the park’s roster (like Alpengeist and Apollo’s Chariot) features like the covered first drop, tunnel, and low-flying course will definitely keep things interesting. In addition, it’s a smart move to balance out the park’s bigger thrill rides with an intermediate crowd-pleaser for younger riders and the slightly less adventurous guests.
Kings Island’s Mystic Timbers will be the park’s 15th roller coaster and 4th wooden roller coaster. It will stand 109 feet tall and reach speeds of 53 mph along a course of 3,265 feet featuring 16 airtime hills. Fittingly, the ride will be located in the Rivertown section of the park near hyper coaster Diamondback.
While considerably smaller than the park’s legendary Beast, Mystic Timbers will borrow a bit from that ride’s “journey through the woods” layout. Adding an enhanced feeling of speed, guests will zoom by trees, over a ravine, and through a tunnel. It’s sure to be another gem from designers Great Coasters International.
That’s really all we know as the park has kept us in the dark about what’s inside the shed seen at the end of the ride’s POV video (see below). Here’s an animated POV video of Mystic Timbers.
Why Mystic Timbers is My Top Pick
Mystic Timbers is my most anticipated new roller coaster for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I’m a huge fan of terrain roller coasters. Rides that use the topography of a park provide unique experiences that you can’t find at just any park. Terrain coasters also make rides feel like an adventure. Dropping down into ravines and over creeks really add to the memorable moments you’ll take away from these coasters.
The pedigree for this ride is strong too. Kings Island and Great Coasters International are known for top-knotch rides. So, I’d expect nothing less with this attraction. Lastly, it’s exciting to see a ride that’s bringing what appears to be some themed elements we’d typically only see on steel roller coasters to a wooden roller coaster. In the past five years, we’ve seen wooden coasters evolve in a number of ways and Mystic Timbers’ themed shed could be another interesting twist for this type of ride.