Roller Coaster Reviews

Mine Train POV

Our track records

Number of coasters ridden
Jon: 128
Jeanne: 83
As you can see, we've been on many different coasters. Just click on one of the parks listed here, and you can read our review of some of the roller coasters in that park.

Astroland Logo
. Astroland

    Date of visit: July, 1998

    Astroland -- "Home of the world famous Cyclone" -- is no theme park. The Cyclone coaster sits on one side of 10th Street in Coney Island. Across the street, the equivalent of about one city block is filled with other rides. It feels more like a traveling fair than a big theme park. The attitude, and the way the rides are run, is completely different.

    For one thing, the rides are run for much longer times. Four to five minutes on most rides is common, as opposed to 1 to 2 on similar rides in other parks. Also, the ride operators seem to "fiddle" with the rides' controls, adding more variety and unexpected thrills to the same old ride. When we were there on a very warm July afternoon, many of the ride operators kept a garden hose with a spray nozzle in one hand and would sprinkle the riders with cooling water while the ride was in motion. What a great way to keep cool on the Tilt-a-Whirl!

Busch Gardens Logo
.Busch Gardens Williamsburg

    Date of visit: June, 2002

    What a beautiful park. Busch Gardens is a true "theme" park, with separate sections of the park "themed" to different European countries (although "New France" is really French Canadian). In each section, everything from the decor, to the ride names, restaurants, and attractions, even the employees' uniforms, is made to relate to the theme. Most other large amusement parks such as Six Flags New Jersey, were, at one time, theme parks, but most of those parks have given up that approach. Busch still does it, and does it well. Although not blessed with a tremendous amount of rides, the ones they do have are almost all very good. They have a tremendous variety of other shows, shops, and attractions. Gorgeous landscaping provides nice scenery and plenty of shade.

    We spent one day at this park when it was not crowded and all lines were short. Nevertheless, we did not see nearly everything, had to skip most shows, and didn't even get to the animal section of the park. One could easily spend two days here without getting bored.

Cedar Point Logo
. Cedar Point

    Date of first visit: August, 1997
    Most recent visit: August, 2003 (Just Jon)

    Our honeymoon. A few months after our wedding, we flew to Cleveland, then drove to Sandusky for two days at "America's Roller Coast"! We arrived at the park early in the morning of the last Sunday of August. It was cloudy and drizzling, but we bought our 2-day passes. After entering the park, we immediately got on line for the Raptor, where a sign informed us the wait would be about 45 minutes. After 40 minutes, when we were close to the front of the line, the rain got heavier, and all the major rides and coasters were shut down.

    Since we had already paid for our non-refundable tickets, we stayed in the park and passed the time, hoping the weather would clear. We watched a movie on the big IMAX screen. We had lunch. We tried a few of the flat rides that were operating. Just as we were about to give up for the day, the rain started to let up. Our gamble was paying off. Soon, the rain stopped and, one by one, each coaster began operating. It was nearly 4:00 in the afternoon by now, but there were very few people left in the park. So even though it was late in the day on a summer weekend, the crowds were light enough that we were able to ride every major attraction before the end of the day.

    The next day, a Monday, we returned to Cedar Point, and went on all the rides again. Overall, this is a beautiful park with a lot to offer besides roller coasters. In fact, we're disappointed with the coaster collection. Quantity is great, but so many of their coasters are mediocre or worse. But after all, what's life if you never get to The Point?

    The biggest problem we had with spending two consecutive days waiting on so many lines was that it tired us out. The day after visiting Cedar Point the first time, we went to the Rock and Roll Museum and Hall of Fame in Cleveland, but were so tired that it was difficult to stand and walk through all the exhibits.

Clementon Park Logo
.Clementon Park

    Date of visit: September, 2004

    This park is not well known, even to people who've lived in the Philadelphia area for years. Nevertheless, they put themselves on the map by installing a new wooden coaster by S&S (the coaster manufacturers formerly known as CCI). We visited one week after the new ride opened.

    The park has a moderate collection of rides, old and new, fast and slow. Our visit was after peak season and after all the water rides had been closed, so there were never any crowds or lines at all. It felt more like strolling around a large carnival or a well-equipped playground.

    After one very short ride on the Tilt-a-Whirl, we asked the operator if we could stay on for another spin. He asked us if we wanted a long ride, and of course we said “yes, please.” There were no other guests waiting to board, and he kept that ride spinning until we'd finally had enough and signaled him to stop. Very nice.

Conneaut Lake Park Logo
.Conneaut Lake Park

    Date of visit: July, 2002

    Conneaut is a small, family-friendly place and is quite different from the large "corporate" parks. There's no admission fee required to enter the grounds, so it feels more like a traveling carnival than a permanent amusement park. In fact, many of the rides are indeed traveling models, and most are not even dressed up to make them look like anything but.

    The park has a variety of rides, several of which are historically interesting. They have a tumblebug, a carousel with an excellent working band organ and a menagerie that includes bunnies, and a ride-through dark ride. All of their rides run for very long cycles.

Disney's California Adventure Logo
.Disney's California Adventure

    Date of visit: October, 2004

    It's that Disney magic, without all those annoying Disney characters. This park was nicely themed, well decorated, clean and fun, just like you'd expect from a Disney property. It's a nice place with a variety of attractions, though only two coasters.

    We spent some time hunting for “hidden Mickeys.” Here's one embedded in the cement, just behind and to the right of the “R” in the “California” letters at the main entrance plaza.

    One question remains. The soundtrack to Sunshine Plaza (just inside the main entrance) includes such upbeat California-themed songs as “California Girls,” “Do You Know the Way to San Jose,” and “California Dreaming.” It also include Randy Newman's “I Love L.A.” Having your praises sung by Randy Newman isn't necessarily a good thing.

Disneyland Logo
. Disneyland

    Date of visit: December, 1998

    On a cold Wednesday in December, the "Happiest Place On Earth" was not only also one of the most crowded, but was rethemed as the "Merriest Place On Earth." "It's a Small World After All" was bolstered with a medley of its original soundtrack blended with Christmas Carols. We avoided it. But we did sample most of the rest of this expensive park. We held our magic feather while waiting to ride Dumbo, went to Hell with Mr. Toad, gawked at Mr. Lincoln, got wet on Splash Mountain, ate Mickey-shaped flan, and even bought a Pooh salt and pepper shaker set (to add to our shaker collection). Disneyland is not renowned for its collection of exciting coasters, but we did try them all, anyway.

Dorney Park Logo
. Dorney Park

    Most recent visit: October, 2005

    Dorney is only an hour away from us, in Allentown, PA, and tends to be less crowded than some of the other large parks nears us. It's clean and family friendly, provides a picnic area outside the gate, and includes the water park in the admission price. We've been visiting the park since before its current owners (Cedar Fair, the Cedar Point people) bought it, and have watched it change and grow over the years.

    It has retained much of its charm while adding to its ride collection. Dorney now has a great variety of coasters that makes this a really good place to ride.

Funtown/Splashtown USA Logo
.Funtown/Splashtown USA

    Date of visit: July, 2000

    This wonderfully friendly park, with free parking, a great Tilt-a-Whirl and other older spinning rides, is located just south of Portland, Maine. Like Lake Compounce, this park has a greatly reduced admission price for people who just want to enter the park but don't want to ride any rides. We chose to buy the POP all-ride bracelet for Funtown only. Although our admission did not include access to Splashtown's water park rides, it did give us two rides each on the Go-Karts and Grand Prix racing cars. We could have entered the water park for a little more money, but even though it was a very hot Fourth of July, we chose to stay dry. We tried to stay cool by frequently ducking into an air-conditioned gift shop, where the cashiers did not try to chase us away. In fact, they helped us find merchandise we were interested in. Later, while riding the Galaxi coaster, Jeanne lost her newly-purchased hat to the wind of the first drop. By the time our car came back to the station, the ride operator had climbed through the structure, retrieved the hat, and was waiting for us at the brakes. As we thanked him, he said something almost exactly like "You are my guests at my park and I want you to have a good time while you are here." We wish all parks' employees could be this friendly.

Geauga Lake Logo
.Geauga Lake

    Most recent visit: July, 2002

    Our 1997 honeymoon continued at a beautiful family park southeast of Cleveland called Geauga Lake. It was the last Wednesday in August and the local schools had opened the day before. Park attendance was very light, and we were able to ride all the rides as often as we liked.

    The park was clean, if a little run-down looking. There were three different picnic areas, and a few children's play areas. We also saw some teen-age boys being reprimanded by security personnel for making an obscene gesture at the camera that takes pictures of riders on the Wolf Bobs. It was nice to see a park try so hard to be family friendly.

    On the Mind Eraser and Double Loop coasters, the rule that day was that if no one was waiting for your seat when your train returned to the station, you could stay on the ride again. On the Raging Wolf Bobs, all rides were double rides: after one full circuit, the train went right through the station for another trip. And on the Flying Scooters, the ride went on for about 10 minutes, with the operator asking riders if anyone wanted to get off. He didn't stop the ride until someone asked.

    Since that initial visit, the park has gone through many transformations. It's changed names (from Six Flags Ohio, to Six Flags Worlds of Adventure, and finally back to Geauga Lake), changed owners, annexed Sea World Ohio, and added and/or renamed many rides. Yet it still needs some work. The latest owners (the folks who own Cedar Point) may yet make this the excellent park it very nearly is. But as of our last visit (while still a Six Flags property) the place still was in need of general maintenance and a "mood upgrade."

Hersheypark Logo
. Hersheypark

    Most recent visit: October, 2000

    Our first trip together to this park was in September of 1998, after Labor Day. Even though it was after school had started, the park was still very crowded. The walkways, especially near the entrance of the park, are fairly narrow and crowded with tables and shops, so it felt very cramped.

    One place where the closed-in feeling was welcome was in Comet Hollow, a tiny river valley between two hills. Into this tiny space, they've managed to squeeze in the Comet, Sooperdooperlooper, a flume ride, and most recently, Great Bear. By having all these rides share the same space, the park looks great here. Everywhere you look, there's a support pole for at least one ride weaving through the structure of another.

    Poor signs actually made it hard to find the park's entrance from the parking lot, and even inside the park it was sometimes hard to find our way around. But hey, next door, in Chocolate World, they give you free chocolate.

Kennywood Logo

    Date of visit: July, 2002

    You can't be acrophobic and live in Pittsburgh: this town is all about vertical. Kennywood takes advantage of its cliff-side setting by placing a 250 foot tall freefall ride overlooking the river valleys that surround the city.

    Beloved by the people who live near it, Kennywood is a rare family amusement park not owned by one of the large corporate chains. It's a lovely park with a good variety of rides, including mild family rides, wild thrill rides, old and rare classics, and a few good coasters, too.

Kings Dominion Logo
. Kings Dominion

    Most recent visit: June, 2002

    One of the geekiest things we've ever done as coaster enthusiasts was to take part in a publicity stunt to promote the re-opening of the new and improved Volcano: The Blast Coaster in 1999. Days before the park opened for the season, we camped out in a tent just below the Volcano on a cold March night. Early the next morning, we were rewarded with two hours of ERT (exclusive ride time) on the finally-fully-working ride. But we didn't see the rest of the park until three years later.

    King's Dominion is a very good park with a wonderful ride selection. Much of the park, and much of many of the queues, are shaded, and landscaping and theming are attractive throughout. The employees are friendly, and even the park map is excellent. Luckily for us, our visit was on an uncrowded early-summer weekday, so we had plenty of time to hit all the rides multiple times, even though this large park has so many worth reriding.

Knott's Berry Farm Logo
. Knott's Berry Farm

    Date of visit: December, 1998

    By pure luck, we arrived at Knott's Berry Farm (or, since it was mid-December, "Knott's Merry Farm") just two days after the opening of the Ghostrider roller coaster. It's a good thing, too, or we would have been disappointed in this park. Knott's was obviously geared more towards "family entertainment," since most of the rides were either designed explicitly for children, or were somewhat mild. But in 1998, the park (and its new owners, Cedar Fair) began expanding into the thrill ride category. They installed a 250-foot tall S&S Sports Turbo Drop called Supreme Scream, and followed that up with the opening of Ghostrider. Although still a small and friendly park, Knott's has a good variety of rides.

    In the kiddie section of the park, they have a wonderful, child-sized version of the Supreme Scream. It's so cute, Jon had to ride it (all the way to the top of its towering 19-foot structure!). Look for a picture here in the future.

Lake Compounce Logo
. Lake Compounce

    Most recent visit: Summer, 2003

    The oldest theme park in America, Lake Compounce has been open since the mid 1800s. Run by the same people who operate Kennywood, this park has a greatly reduced admission for people who just want to enter the park but don't want to ride any rides. This helps promote the park's family feel. The park is clean and brightly colored, with a fairly small number of well-maintained rides. There is also an actual Lake Compounce, with a paddle-wheel ship, and pedal-powered boats. A small water park also includes a few slides and a small, splashing wave pool. Recently, the park has added a few major rides to its lineup of small-time carnival rides. Yet it retains that feeling of a small, friendly park that the large, corporate-run chains of theme parks just can't match.

Morey's Piers Logo
. Morey's Piers

    Date of visit: July, 1996

    One of our first coaster trips together was to Morey's Piers in the summer of 1996, before we got engaged. Our love affairs with coasters, and with each other, were just beginning. We were spending a quiet week "down the shore" at a friend's beach house, and managed the short trip down to Wildwood. Scattered on three different amusement piers, Morey's offers pay-as-you-go or pay-one-price alternatives. There are also a lot of other rides (and now, other coasters) squeezed onto the boardwalk to take advantage of.

Pacific Park Logo
. Pacific Park

    Date of visit: December, 1998

    Pacific Park, on the Santa Monica pier, is a cute little amusement pier on the beach. It's just what one could hope for in an amusement pier. It has a carnival atmosphere, gift shops and arcades, a junior roller coaster, and a small collection of rides that includes the carousel seen in the movie "The Sting" and the world's first solar powered ferris wheel, which we rode at sunset and (I am not making this up) got stuck on after the sun went down.

Pacific Park Logo
. Playland

    Most recent visit: August, 2001

    Rye's Playland is Jon's original "home" park, the park of his childhood, and it's where he rode his first coasters. Originally afraid of them, he succumbed to peer pressure one summer night and rode the (no longer there) wild mouse as a warm-up, then headed over to the Dragon coaster. His first "big boy" coaster ride was a scary and exhilirating experience. He's been hooked ever since.

    Playland is a very unusual park. It's old, and has retained much of its original character more than probably any other park in the country. The park has a Derby Racer (the only other one in the country is at Cedar Point) that's like a carousel on steroids. The ride operators jump on and off the moving platform -- no easy feat -- with a kind-of shuffle step dance that's thrilling just to watch. They also still have a House of Mirrors, a haunted house, and an Art Deco look while still hosting some state of the art rides.

    Interestingly, the park is owned by the county government (the only such park in the USA). This park was seen in the movie Big.

Quassy Amusement Park
. Quassy Amusement Park

    Most recent visit: Summer, 2000

    Although Jon grew up near here, he had never before visited this tiny little park until our first visit on a gloomy day in 1999. On that day, the park appeared rundown and shabby-looking. Most of their rides are small and looked like traveling carnival rides that were dropped off here when they were too old to maintain. We did ride their Tilt-a-Whirl where we tilted, but alas, did not whirl. Despite the fact that the park was nearly deserted, the ride operator did not offer us a second chance on the ride. Disappointed, we wrote about our experience here on this web site.

    The following spring, we received a very nice email from the park asking us to return and see the recent changes they had made. We accepted the invitation and returned to Quassy in the summer of 2000. This time, the park was alive and jumping on a warm, sunny afternoon, yet the lines for all the rides were short. This park is not a destination for thrill seekers, but it is a nice little place for families with young children. There is no admission fee (but they do charge 3 dollars for parking), and all rides are pay-as-you-go. There is also a picnic area and a lakefront offering swimming. We sampled the caramel corn (after the food service worker told us enthusiastically that it was good) and received a generous portion of freshly-popped, still-warm popcorn slathered with caramel and butter. We also met with one of the owners who had invited us to return after our initial report. It's always nice to see parks that genuinely care about their guests, and we applaud the management of Quassy Amusement Park for making the effort to ensure we enjoyed our visit.

Six Flags America Logo
. Six Flags America

    Most recent visit: June, 2002

    Although Jeanne lived near this Maryland park for several years before we were married, we finally visited this park in June of 1998, and we were disappointed. We felt this park was poorly run. The biggest problem was the shortage of ride operators, and lack of experience in the ones that were there. As a result, lines moved slowly, even when the lines were short. Also, well over half of the food and merchandise vendors were closed. We're not sympathetic to excuses such as that it was early in the season and some of the park's employees were still in school. The park was open, we'd paid our admission, and we expected the park to be fully operational (except for those rides whose closings have been posted at the park entrance). As park guests, we do not want to be concerned with the park's staffing problems, business concerns, scheduling conflicts, etc. We just want to have fun. Also, the park is laid out poorly: it's in a spoke pattern, but with no outside rim, so it's often difficult to get from one part of the park to another.

    However, at that time, the park was known as Adventure World, and had been run by a succession of different owners over the previous few years, and supposedly was, by then, much better than it had been. But it still had a long way to go to be a great park. Now, the park has been sold and renamed, again, to Six Flags America. Although new and impressive rides have been added, the overall operation of the park does not seem to have changed much, and it's still difficult to navigate around the property. We can only hope the newest management team continues to improve this park.

Six Flags Great Adventure Logo
. Six Flags Great Adventure

    Most recent visit: October, 2004

    Our "home park," for which we sometimes have season passes. This is a large park in New Jersey and it can get very crowded. In 1999, this park added a large number of rides in an attempt to reduce the lengths of lines throughout the park. When all these rides are operating, the lines are fairly short. But we like to go in October, when it's cooler and the lines practically disappear.

Six Flags Magic Mountain Logo
. Six Flags Magic Mountain

    Date of visit: December, 1998

    "Mountain" is the key word here. The park is built on a hill in such a way that you must climb this hill to get between the front and the back of the park. It's a little steep but not too much trouble, if you're in good shape.

    Magic Mountain has a good collection of roller coasters. They have a large number (9 when we were there) and a variety of kinds - wood, steel, inverted, suspended, stand-up, racer... But they don't have very much else. They have few flat rides, their carousel is made with molded plastic horses, and they don't even have a Tilt-a-Whirl.

Six Flags New England Logo
.Six Flags New England

    Most recent visit: Summer, 2002 (maybe?)

    Our first visit to this park, late in the 2000 season, was also the park's first year as a Six Flags park. Jon used to go to this park in the early '70s when it was still called Riverside, but the park has changed quite a bit since then. Most notably, Six Flags has installed a number of steel coasters, including the precedent-setting Superman: Ride of Steel. In fact, this coaster was so great, that we didn't pay much attention to the rest of this park on our first visit. The rest of the park is OK, there's a fair variety of rides, and a waterpark, but it's too easy to be distracted by the great coaster to pay notice to the rest of the place.


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