Defunct Roller Coasters That Were Gone Too Soon
Over the years there have been some great-looking roller coasters that we just never got a chance to ride. Some of them have become legendary within the coaster enthusiast community. Some had record-setting or one-of-a-kind elements. And some were just roller coasters that we kick ourselves for not riding, because they’re gone and now we’ll never get the chance. Here are the defunct roller coasters that we wish we could have ridden.
Hercules at Dorney Park (Opened in 1989, Demolished in 2003)
A devotee of wooden coasters (I grew up with them), I was on a 40-year hiatus from coasters when Hercules was erected at Dorney Park. In retrospect I very much regret never having ridden it. By the time I got back into coasters it had come and gone. And I suspect that it was precisely my type of ride until it became intolerably rough. According to reports, the turn after the initial drop was particularly brutal and if you watch this video you can easily see why.
Hercules is interesting not only for being a groundbreaker but for being the subject of a lawsuit. In 1990 Dorney Park filed suit against Six Flags Over Texas for false advertising because SFOT was claiming that their Texas Giant was the tallest wooden coaster in the world, whereas Dorney claimed that Hercules rightfully held that distinction. Hercules featured a 157-foot drop whereas Texas Giant featured a 137-foot drop. However, Hercules was only 95 feet tall and Texas Giant boasted a height of 143 feet. From what I understand, the suit ultimately ended in a compromise. It was agreed that Texas Giant was the tallest structure and Hercules had the longest drop.
Villain at Geauga Lake (Opened in 2000, Demolished in 2007)
Sadly, I never made it on the Villain where it lurked (with its fairly menacing 120 ft. tall steel infrastructure and wooden track) in the far corner of Geauga Lake just past the Double Loop. The Villain was built by Custom Coasters International and was 1 of 4 roller coasters installed at what was then Six Flags World of Adventure, part of an ambitious and expensive expansion.
Perhaps I never got to ride due to being lured away by the sexy and also brand new Intamin, Bolliger & Mabillard, and Vekoma Flying Dutchman coasters. Or it could have been due to the Villain’s fairly remote location in what was such a large park. Either way, I feel I should have at least gotten one ride in the short 7 years it existed.
Dueling Dragons at Islands of Adventure (Opened in 1999, Demolished in 2017)
This dueling inverted beast, now formerly located at Islands of Adventure in Universal’s Florida resort, is the most recent coaster casualty on our list, and one I very much wish I could have experienced. Known as both Dragon Challenge and Dueling Dragons, it was just scrapped in favor of a more authentic Harry Potter experience about a month ago.
The Dragons held a special place in the hearts of enthusiasts, both for its amazingly detailed and long queue and for the ride itself. It was the Apple of dueling coasters—it didn’t invent the category, but it revolutionized it. Never had a dueling coaster been so massive and contained so many effective near-miss elements. And thanks to a lift system that balanced out the trains initial ascent, riders were guaranteed to come face-to-face with their opposing riders every time! A true gem, taken from us far too soon. Check out reviews of Fire and Ice.
Steel Phantom at Kennywood (Opened in 1991, Transformed to Phantom’s Revenge in 2001)
Though I visited Kennywood in 2007 and experienced the awesomeness that is Phantom’s Revenge (built by Morgan), I missed out on its previous life as Steel Phantom, the original terrain coaster from Arrow.
For 4 years, Steel Phantom was clocked at doing 80 mph at the base of the 2nd drop (famous for slicing through the structure of the legendary Thunderbolt) and held the title of the world’s fastest roller coaster. It featured a quartet of inversions in its second half, including a rare batwing element.
I’m told that the shoulder restraints made for a rough ride and several guests left with battered bloody noggins, which made the park decide to re-purpose it into a faster, longer, inversion-less hyper coaster following the 2000 season.
Drachen Fire at Busch Gardens (Operated from 1992 to 1998, Removed in 2002)
Within the coaster enthusiast community, the short-lived Drachen Fire has to be one of the most well-known defunct roller coasters of the past few decades. I remember watching a documentary that detailed how Arrow designed the ride’s unique elements including the wrap around corkscrew performed during the initial 145 foot drop. Many years later, we’ve seen similar elements with inversions incorporated into first drops (Storm Chaser & Twisted Timbers). There was also the cutback which was like a corkscrew, but riders entered the element the same way that they exited. Not only was Drachen Fire’s design noteworthy, but it also looked incredible. The trains had a sleeker design and lights on the sides which must have looked amazing at night.
Unfortunately, by the Summer of 1998 when I made it to Busch Gardens it was in its standing, but not operating phase. RCDB lists a closing date of July 1998, so I probably missed it by weeks or even days! From atop Loch Ness’ lift hill I remember spotting those coils of electric blue steel rising from the green landscape of the park. For the next few years, I’d stalk the lifeless wonder on my visits. I’d always try to get a good look from the steam train when it passed through Germany. Busch attempted to sell Drachen Fire and many hoped it would be bought and relocated. No buyers emerged and the ride was scrapped and recycled.
What’s Your Take?
Is there a roller coaster that you really wanted to ride, but never got to? Let us know in the comments below.