What do the roller coasters Gwazi, Dragon Challenge, and Ozark Wildcat have in common? They are now mere memories and were removed, perhaps much sooner than expected. In Gwazi’s case (I under stand it is actually still standing but being slowly picked apart), it had long failed to live up to the expectations Busch Gardens Tampa Bay had for it, and had been only running one side of the ride for many years. But the end of Dragon Challenge (formerly Dueling Dragons) came as quite a surprise to many enthusiasts. It would have been very hard to predict that the large Bolliger & Mabillard pair of inverted roller coasters was next on the long list of now defunct rides. Ozark Wildcat’s home, Celebration City, did not last even 10 years.

Hypersonic XLC - Kings Dominion

What Causes a Roller Coaster to Become Defunct?

Sometimes rides are torn down because their structures are no longer viable, having exceeded their designers expected product lifetime (Big Bad Wolf at Busch Gardens Williamsburg) and others were simply failures, having terminal design flaws (Windjammer Surf Racers at Knotts Berry Farm). Other defunct coasters like Hypersonic XLC at Kings Dominion and Viper at Six Flags Great Adventure may be considered to have been prototypes, never able to overcome their growing pains and it no longer made business sense to warrant any further investment. It is also common for a ride to be removed to drive greater crowds with a new, shiny, and more thrilling or comfortable replacement.

What’s Next To Go?

There are many trends to point to when trying to predict what’s next on the chopping block. The phenomenon of the Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC) conversion continues a clear pattern of parks updating mediocre older wooden roller coasters to acrobatic and thrilling hybrids. We are seeing the once trendy stand up roller coaster being shown the door. Arrow Mega loopers like Shockwave at Six Flags Great America and the Great American Scream Machine at Six Flags Great Adventure have only one example left in Viper at Six Flags Magic Mountain.
Hurler - Carowinds - Roller Coaster

Our Picks:

Here are some of the roller coasters we think may be on their way out, when the screams of joy (or pain) from their riders will cease to pierce the air of the parks they call home:

  • Hurler at Carowinds (We see you Twisted Timbers at Kings Dominion!)
  • Le Monstre at La Ronde (An RMC Hybrid candidate.)
  • Xcelerator at Knotts Berry Farm (It’s been down for months now.)
  • Dragon Fire at Canada’s Wonderland (If you continue to maintain it, will the riders still come?)
  • La Vibora at Six Flags Over Texas (How long will this bobsled run?)
  • Viper at Six Flags Magic Mountain (The last Arrow megalooper.)
  • Timber Wolf at Worlds of Fun (Does Dinn equal done?)
  • The Corkscrews at Michigan’s Adventure and Valley Fair (Will they make it to see 40 years old?)
  • Predator at Darien Lake (When will the hunter become the hunted?)
  • The Boss (Can this CCI keep up its ridership or is it time for a Rocky Mountain upgrade?)
  • Timber Terror or Tremors at Silverwood Theme Park (Could we see an RMC conversion in Idaho?)
  • Wolverine Wildcat at Michigan’s Adventure (Could this cat use some catnip?)


What Do You Think Is Next To Go?

How long can the surviving Arrow suspended coasters last? Is any woody safe from RMC? What predictions do you have for the next surprising demise?

Image Credit: Hypersonic XLC image used with permission from CoasterImage.

About The Author

John is a proud Clevelander, and lifelong fan of roller coasters and amusement parks.

10 Responses

  1. Bobbie

    Good analysis, John. Dragon Fire at Canada’s Wonderland should definitely go! This is one of the worst coasters I ever had the misfortune to ride. Talk about painful! I actually liked Gwazi enough to ride it several times but this was maybe 4 years ago. Subsequently learning of its fate, I was surprised to see it still standing on my recent visit to BGT. I might not even have noticed it had I not ridden Falcon’s Fury, which afforded a great view of Gwazi and everything else. On the subject of Arrow loopers, although this is not a suspended one, Carolina Cyclone would possibly be on my list of rides to go. I say possibly b/c I’m on the fence about this one. I think that the layout is actually quite good and the ride is fine until you get to the corkscrews at the end. Another candidate is Flashback at Six Flags New England. This is another rough ride and does the park really need two Vekoma boomerangs?

    • Eric

      I never realized SFNE had 2 boomerangs (totally forgot about the Vekoma giant invert). That makes no sense. Get the sit-down model outta there!!

  2. Andrew Locke

    Viper totally needs to go. It has been an awful, rough ride for years thanks to lack of maintenance combined with the large, OTS restraints. SFMM needs to remove this coaster and put in a new, flagship coaster at the front of the park, next to X2. I predict this will happen by 2020.

  3. Judy P in Pgh

    Timber Wolf at Worlds of Fun, Hellcat at Clementon and Predator at Darien Lake would be my first choices for the burn pile. I don’t think even RMC can save these coasters! My rides on them were excruciatingly painful. Usually, if a ride is bad, I’ll give it a few tries … back, front, middle. Timber Wolf and Predator were so painful that I practically ran for the exits, never to return! The maintenance staff for Hellcat told me they ONLY ride the front seat and never on a full stomach.
    Honorable mention to these additional wooden coasters that have also beaten the snot out of me:
    Wild Beast, Canada’s Wonderland
    Wildcat, Hersheypark
    Roar, Six Flags America
    Boss, Six Flags St. Louis
    Excalibur, Valleyfair

  4. Judy P in Pgh

    As for steel coasters that can go (Hypersonic was the first coaster I truly DETESTED!), the list is rather short:
    Nighthawk, Carowinds – I hate how long it takes to load/unload and the ride just becomes rougher every year
    Wild Mouse, Idlewild – Jerky enough to cause whiplash, but then again, it’s NEVER open these days
    Anaconda, King’s Dominion – This one just plain gives me a headache every time.
    Toboggan, Lakemont – This particular Toboggan has an especially enthusiastic launch out of the top. I have helped give first aid to a few people who split open their foreheads. Is this one of the rides that was for sale? DO NOT BUY IT FOR YOUR BACKYARD!!
    Blue Hawk , Six Flags Over Georgia – If this was formerly known as Ninja, even Joel gave me a warning in advance. I collected my credit for one ride and never returned.

  5. Brian MacDonald

    I’m hesitant about pulling down old coasters just because they’re getting old and rough. My single greatest coaster regret is that Great Adventure tore down Rolling Thunder. If it had hung on just one more year, it would have been around when the RMC revolution started. Can you imagine Rolling Thunder with a Twisted Colossus treatment? There’s a bunch of Dinn & Summers woodies from the early 90s that are rough and nasty now, but people aren’t calling for them to be torn down; they want them RMC’d.
    So while there’s a bunch of aging Arrow loopers that aren’t fun to ride anymore, how do we know that some company won’t invent a refurbishing method for them next year to make them awesome? Five years from now, someone could be regretting that Viper was torn down just before the awesomizing process was invented, and now we’ll never have a chance to see what it would have been like on one of the three giant seven-inverters, because they’re all gone.

  6. Eric

    I predict Kings Island will retire Vortex within the next 5-7 years. It’s the only other Arrow looper I can think of that wasn’t already mentioned (and those rides are never gentle on the head/neck/shoulders).

  7. Ryan Smith

    I think Magic Mountain does need to remove one coaster. Green Lantern First Flight. An awful Intamin Zac Spin that is notorious for it’s painful and sluggish ride experience as well as having constant downtime and maintenance problems. It’s been SBNO for the last year with little to no work being done on it. There have been rumors of it potentially reopening for 2019, but honestly, I think a smarter move is just to take it out and replace it with a brand new coaster for 2021. The Thrill Capital of the world deserves better!

    • John

      Thanks for commenting, Ryan! I have never ridden a Zac Spin but I have heard very few positive things about Green Lantern First Flight. I wonder at what point Magic Mountain would decide to cut their losses. Perhaps they would just move it to another park rather than sell (and it seems way to new to scrap)? If they did move it, which park do you think would be so lucky?


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