Before you spend hours in the car for the opportunity to
spend more hours sweltering in line for two minutes of thrills, check out Discovery
Channel's Top 10 Coasters to see if the trip is worth it. It could save you
$30 a head if even watching the ride proves too much for you.
The special shows us the top picks of the 1,500 members of
the National Amusement Park Historical Association. The countdown includes history and
statistics on each behemoth before taking viewers on a ride on each, accompanied by a fan
of that particular coaster. It's the view without the vomit.
If you're the kind of rider who forgets the tedium of
that wait in line as soon as you hear the ratchets of the ladder lift on the first hill,
this special may just have you planning your next vacation to Ohio or Pennsylvania, which
each have multiple candidates on the list.
Or you'll save up for a trip to Britain and a jaunt to
Wales for a ride on "Megafobia." This wood coaster is set in the lovely Welsh
countryside, the venture of a family who saw no future in farming. In went the coaster,
but the sheep still stay, grazing around the superstructure.
Its designated fan also boasts that unlike U.S. coasters,
Megafobia has no trim brakes to slow its descent until you hit that stopper at the end.
The rider's an enthusiastic advocate, but let's chip in and buy him another
adjective. If he said, "Brilliant!" one more time, I was going to hurl a pint of
Guinness at his noggin.
The trip on some of the steel hypercoasters -- such as the
"Steel Phantom" in Kennywood, Pa. -- is enough to give you sympathetic motion
sickness, especially when high-school physics teacher Ed Henke hosts the ride with a
homemade G-force meter showing that it provides more stress than a NASA rocket launch.
I don't think I'm ruining the special by
revealing that the top pick is a wonder of engineering that used the natural ravine on
which it is built to create a verdant dip for its speeding cars. The wooden
"Thunderbolt" in Kennywood tops the NAPHA's list, but the nostalgic should
know that the 70-year-old "Cyclone" in New York's Coney Island is not far
Top 10 Coasters debuts on Discovery May 30 at 8 p.m.,
followed by an hour of repeats of other roller-coaster and amusement-park features.