Amusement Parks


Beech Bend

The Ohio Valley has the greatest collection of major amusement parks in the world.. There are great parks everywhere, but they tend to be spaced out one to a nation or one to a region. Only in the Ohio Valley can you stay at one city---almost any city---and drive to a different outstanding park every day for a week. And Orlando is just a 14 hour drive down I-75. The heart of any amusement park is its roller coaster collection. And the coaster lineup in the Ohio Valley is phenomenal. In every category---woodie, steeler, out and back, compact, hyper, suspended, mine train, standup, wild mouse, terrain, kiddie or invert --- this one region has more top 10 examples than any other part of the U.S. or any other region of the world.

Much of this is due to heritage. John Miller, Harry Travers and other early coaster designers and builders lived and worked in this region. These states were industrial centers while other regions were still agricultural . The idea of the trolley park originated here, and the number of parks, many now gone, was phenomenal. Some have suggested that there have been more outstanding coasters torn down in this region than built in the rest of the nation. Pennsylvania and Ohio in particular are an amusement park paradise. People fly in from California, Texas and Florida to spend a week hitting a park a day. It is no accident that the great websites (Coasterbuzz, etc.) and magazines (Amusement Today, etc.) began here.

But this is not just a region for roller coaster lovers. The largest Whip, highest Log Flume, most beautiful Carousels and Swings, steepest gradient Rafting River, most scenic Turnpikes, snappiest Flying Scooters, and fastest Paratroopers are all here. Three of the top four amusement park restaurants, four of the top five park railroads, three of the top four classic arcades, five of the top six midway game collections, the largest total ride collection, the oldest continuously operating park, the largest number of remaining rides of their type, and the most scenic parks are all in this region.

And park hobbyists are fond of rankings. They will argue for a week over the ranking of woodies, steelers, dark rides, or anything else. Not to be left out, we offer here our own opinions of amusement parks in the Ohio Valley.

Parks : l. Kennywood (Pittsburgh). 2. Cedar Point (Sandusky). 3. Kings Island (Cincinnati). 4. Holiday World (Santa Claus, Ind.). 5. Dollywood (Gatlinburg). 6.Indiana Beach (Monticello). 7. Busch Gardens (Williamsburg). 8. Silver Dollar City (Branson). 9. Kentucky Kingdom (Louisville). 10. Carowinds (Charlotte).

Ranking parks is very subjective. Tastes differ. People get very defensive when defending their home parks. We asked, if we could only take one trip a season, which one would it be? If we could only take two trips, which parks would we visit? If we could only take three? And so on. Cedar Point is the largest park in acreage and total rides. But Kennywood has more rides that we want to ride. It has three of the world's top 15 woodies, the number one steeler, the number one indoor coaster and the most unique Wild Mouse. It has the most history, and is like a living history museum to the amusement park industry with either the largest, oldest or sole remaining example of many great rides. Kennywood also edges its rivals in food, landscaping, midway games, customer relations and architecture.

Wooden Coasters : 1. Voyage (HW) 2. The Beast (PKI). 3. Mean Streak (CP). 4.Shivering Timbers (MA). 5. Legend (HW). 6. Thunderbolt (KW). 7.Thunderhead (DW). 8. Kentucky Rumbler (BB) 9. Raven (HW). 10. Hoosier Hurricane (IB).

11. Thunder Run (KK). 12. Cornball Express (IB). 13. Racers (KW). 14. Wildcat (HP) 15. Wildcat (SDC) 16. Son of Beast (KI) 17. Villain (GL). 18. Jackrabbit (KW) 19. Raging Wolf Bobs (GL) 20. Gemini* (CP).

* Some would argue that Gemini is not a true wooden coaster. It has a traditional wooden frame, but runs on tubular steel rails. But it has to be ranked somewhere. It's not a steeler, hyper, or suspended. The fact that its trains are interchangeable with those on other wooden structures, its frame flexes and gives as do other wooden structures, and casual riders consider it a wooden coaster (only coaster hobbyists understand the technicalities of different tracks), cause us to rank it among wooden coasters.

Steelers : l. Phantom (KW). 2. Magnum (CP). 3. Top Gun (Carowinds). 4.Chang (KK). 5. Milennium Force(CP). 6. Vortex (PKI). 7. Tennessee Tornado (DW). 8. Alpengeist (BGW). 9. Borg Simulator (CW). 10. Big Bad Wolf (BGW). 11. Cyclone (CW). 12. Top Gun (PKI). 13. Top Thrill Dragster (CP). 14. Greezed Lightning (KK). 15. Iron Dragon (CP).

Steelers are dividing into subcategories : hypers, loopers, standups, suspendeds, prones, launched, and freespinners. In a way, ranking them together sets up apples and oranges arguments. However, we still prefer to do it, by asking one simple question : if we drive all the way to one park to ride one coaster 10 times and come home, which one would it be? A decade worth of votes gives us a close but valid decision : Kennywood"s Phantom, renamed Phantom's Revenge after its reconstruction. We dearly love Magnum, Top Gun and Chang, but Phantom's first twisting drop, the huge second drop over the cliff straight through the Thunderbolt, and those upward G hills back on the plateau, all at breathtaking speeds in the most comfortable trains out there, make it the ultimate coaster experience.

Some will question our low ranking of Top Thrill Dragster (shown, left). The ride is certainly spectacular. But maintenance problems only allow it to operate half the time, and it's the shortest coaster ride anywhere. You wait in line for 90 minutes for a 45 second experience, and it could be shut down while you're in line.

Like Us On Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/OutpostUSA/) To Receive Daily Outdoor Adventure News and Notes And To Comment
This Year's Unique Visitor Tally : 1,003,492 Contact us at Omlordw@aol.com Meet our writers at Staff