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Awesome Roller Coasters: Part 2

Life Lessons Of Roller Coasters

One of the things I hadn’t brought up until now is that at Cedar Point and Kennywood my 11-year-old daughter largely stood to the sidelines holding our backpacks because she was too afraid to get on the big rides.

So, slowly through the course of the first couple of days of the trip I eased her into the idea that she would regret not overcoming her fear. I told her how hard it was to watch her standby while we enjoyed the big coasters. I shared with her that most of the people who saw our family post’s on social media were simply asking one question: where is your daughter in the photos?

A Moment Of Bravery For My Daughter

One moment of confidence came after her brother had already won two basketballs for her at two different parks on the trip by burying two impossible shots into a bouncy rubber backboard. I said to her, it’s your turn and I paid for three shots for her. She stepped up for her first shot and threw up an air ball. She started to hang her head and her brother asked, “do you want me to shoot the next one for you?”

She looked at me and then looked at him and said nope and proceeded to shoot another air ball. At that point I thought, well maybe she will have him take the last shot, but then it happened, she grabbed the ball, took two steps farther back and jumped forward letting loose a shot and swishing a perfect basket to win her own basketball. I cannot tell you how awesome it was to see her excitement, to see the people around her cheer and the look of respect by her brother and the guy who gave her the prize. Amazing how that changed her confidence.

Confidence Kills Fears

Hershey Park, Pennsylvania

By the time we got to our third park my daughter was ready to overcome her fears and give the big rides a shot. When we got to Hershey Park she felt even more confident and said, “Let’s go on the biggest best ride in the park to start the day.” I told her how proud I was of her, and we got on the Candymonium and during that first run she screamed, “we’re going again!” We not only rode Candymonium several times that day and went on to ride every other ride in the park and every other ride on the trip. 

Kings Dominion, Virginia

This park reminds me so much of Busch Gardens in Tampa Florida. It has several thrilling roller coasters and a great layout for enjoying a full day at the amusement park. Most of all, it has the Intimidator 305.

The Dominator gave (4 OFs) and boast’s speeds of 62 mph for a rediculous 4,200 feet, holding the record for the longest, floorless rollercoaster in the world. It never slows down! It packs 5 inversions and includes one of the largest vertical loops in the world.

The Intimidator 305 with (5 OFs) is one of the most thrilling rides on the planet and is justifiably called “The Intimidator”. This ride was designed by a racecar driver and is appropriately named after the late great NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt a.k.a. ‘The Intimidator’ and is rated in the top 10 in the world. This ride deserves accolades and as much respect as The Intimidator himself earned on the racetrack.

It’s the second highest in North America at 302 feet and dives down at a 79° rate of dissent at over 90 mph lasting 3 minutes. People say (me and my family experienced this personally) this ride causes you to gray out. Graying out is another way of saying, “I almost fucking passed out on this ride.”

My 11-year-old daughter was the only one who didn’t experience some sort of graying out feelings and unfortunately she forced the rest of us to go on it twice. In my assessment, if you’re NOT a test pilot for the U.S. Air Force or an astronaut, this ride will kick the living shit out of you and probably grey you out.

Believe it or not, it’s not the height or the speed of decent that almost causes you to black out, but it is a immediate hard banking right turn that actually makes your hands and feet tingle and your eyes roll back in your head. I read an article where it was said that when it opened in 2015 people complained about passing out on the ride so they made it slower. I can’t imagine being on that ride and going any faster than we did and although it was quite scary, it was the most exhilarating and amazing experience.

A few other must sees are: Anaconda(4) OF’s (144 ft. drop, 50 mph, 360 degree vertical loop and an underwater tunnel.) Flight of Fear (3.5) OF’s first linear induction motor LIM-Launched coasters in the world (indoor catapult from 0-55 in 4 seconds) Backlot Stunt (3) OF’s Coaster was sneaky good (0-40 mph. in less than 3 seconds) Twisted Timbers (3) OF’s (109 ft. barrel roll drop – 20 airtime hills – 55 mph.)

Carowinds on the North Carolina/South Carolina border gets (5 of 5 OSs)

This park is where my mother-in-law, affectionately known as ‘Nana’ joined the tour. Nana lives outside of Charlotte and this was the perfect park to grab her and finish our tour. This park boast’s four of the most thrilling and outrageous roller coasters on the planet.

The Big Four

First of the big four is After Burn and it it gets (4 OFs) from me. This ride is like a fighter Jet simulator and for those of you who like Top Gun (that’s my Jam all day!}, the 113 foot drop, 6 inversions, speeds up to 60+ MPH during barrel rolls and a 2,956 foot long distance that last’s for almost 3 minutes is the ride for you.

The NightHawk also gets (4 OFs) Is the one ride I’ll not ride again! Oh My God!! It is the closest thing to flying without wings but you get spun around and beat you up. Riders began on their back’s facing backwards and almost immediately are flipped up under the track facing the ground, like a bird as you fly straight towards water. Nighthawk does have the most unbelievable views of the park (if you open your eyes and I did NOT) with a 115 foot drop and 5 inversions with speeds over 51MPH. This ride covers almost 3,000 feet and last’s for 2 minutes of non-stop thrilling experience.

roller coasters

The Intimidator at Carowinds (4 OFs) is a hyper-coaster that’s one of the tallest, fastest and longest in the South East and is a lot like its sister coaster, the Intimidator 305 at Kings Dominion. At over 230’ high this ride drops at 74 degrees with speeds up to 80 MPH, This thriller has 7 extreme drops and will make you scream but wont black you out. It is 5,300 feet long lasting over 3 1/2 incredible minutes.

Of all the big four, the The Fury 325 with (5 OFs) is the tallest, fastest, longest giga coaster in North America and is by far the #1 roller coaster on our entire tour (maybe on Earth). Opened Spring of 2015, this roller coaster peaks out at 325 feet high! (twice the height of the Statue of Liberty) hence the name Fury 325.

It drops at an incredible 81 degrees on dissent and a 91 degree overbanked horse shoe turn that reaches speeds up to 95 mph. Spreading over 6,600 feet (over 8.4 acres) and lasts a never ending 3½ minutes. It has a massive 190 ft. tall barrel roll turn and a high speed s-curve hitting speeds of 95 mph. Fury is the longest steel coaster in North America at 1.25 miles long.

We rode this coaster (that stretches over 2 states, N.C and S.C.) three times including in the front row on the last ride of our tour. I actually opened my eyes at the top and what did I see? A 747-air liner on approach to Charlotte International Airport and could pretty much see the scared faces of the people in the windows of that flight gasping at the mere size of the roller coaster that’s only 1 mile away. This coaster is definitely one of those top 10 bucket list things. Its 2,700 ton steel beast is the world’s tallest, fastest giga coaster and one of the greatest engineering feat’s of all time. 

BTW, You’re never too old.

So for those of you who might say “I’m too old for this shit” frankly, you’re full of shit. My 70-year-old my mother-in-law rode every ride and walked every step with us at Carowinds Park. She rode the fury 325 twice! She rode their version of the ‘Intimidator Carowinds’ as well as the ‘Nighthawk’ which took you upside down and backwards while lying in a coffin like position on your back and she rode the Fury twice.

If you have a fear of heights close your eyes on the way up and open them on the way down. If you think your body can’t handle it physically, make a chiropractic appointment after your trip like I did… just do it! And have the time of your life with your children, your grandkids, your wife, friends or simply by yourself.

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About The Author
Marc Serota
Marc Serota
As a Portrait photographer Marc Serota has lensed iconic athletes and celebrities for CORBIS and GETTY as well as major brands such as Sports Illustrated, ESPN, the NBA, NHL and the NFL. Serota is a renowned award winning photographer having logged 25+ years with news agencies such as REUTERS, Getty Images, The Associated Press and UPI shooting the biggest entertainment, news and sports stories from the early 1990’s to the present. Marc has covered numerous Super Bowls, Olympic games, NHL Stanley Cup’s, NASCAR races, ATP and PGA events. Visit Marc's website: marcserota.com. Follow Marc Serota @G_O_A_T_shooter on Twitter and @marcserota on Instagram.
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