Thunderhead Dollywood United States

(last ridden - 2007)

This violent free, yet beautiful thrill ride can be best described as a magic carpet ride filled with laughter and screams. Unnoticeably built into an undulating terrain, this ride seems out of control from start to finish like none ride before it. Perfect moments of air time, amazing banking and continuous speed make this ride a winner. The station fly through ( first on a woody) brings the general public as close to a speeding coaster as only enthusiasts and insiders have ever been. Impossible to figure out immediately and impossible to resist. Formerly #2 on my top ten list, until I experienced it at night, then it went straight to the top of my list. 

100' first drop, 3,230' long, 32 cross overs!

El Toro Six Flags Great Adventure United States

(last ridden - 2010)

Considering that I have always thought of myself as a non-biased critic of coasters, imagine my surprise when I found a top ten wooden coaster that exceeded all my expectations... in a theme park chain. Here, I found myself wanting to re-ride so much so I passed up a ride credit on another (new for me attraction). After a sprited lift hill that instantly says we're not playing, El Toro delivers a series of steep and deep hills that swallow a long train of riders. Not only is there freightening amounts of air-time, but plenty of well banked turns in places even the most critical would not expect. The train careens around turns and over hills at a relentless pace all the while giving a ride smoother than at least 50 steel coasters I could list. I don't care of the purist coaster enthusiasts dislikes the pre-fabricated track concept; because guess what... it works in flying colors. Kudo's to whomever should take credit for this attraction, at this park, at this time; I have learned that I have been biased and accept my failed thinking.

181' tall, 4400' long, 70 mph, ride time 1:41 - No Bull!

Hades (my 600th) Carts and Coasters (aka Mt. Olympus) United States

(last ridden - 2007)

Appropriately named, there is no ride that rules the underworld more than Hades; more or less an out and back that is to be reconed with. I truly did not give too much advance attention to this ride, thinking it would be just another tall fast shakey woodie. Instead, I found a ride that actually thrilled me and was a joy to ride. It was not to rough for what it did and it's underground portion has to be expereinced as it is beyond description. Wilder than heck beginning, faster than heck and a heavenly trip for thrill seekers.

140 foot lift, 4,700 feet long

Troy Toverland Netherlands

(last ridden - 2008)

Troy is Toverlands signature ride, although much like Thunderhead, but slightly less spirited. The course has as many subtle nueances as it has unexpected moves. The looming presence over the park features classic turns and a good balance of low and high profile sections. The fast, smooth ride experience is wherin lies the beauty, so distant from other Netherlands parks and so close to big German parks Troy had to be and is the perfect fit. A big ride for a small park; that in the end is simply a great ride.

3,412 feet long, 56 MPH, 110' tall

Cyclone (and Back-Fire) Coney Island United States

(last ridden - 2010)

I still find my way to New York every few years just for a go, forget the Empire State Building or 5th Avenue. The Cyclone embodies the spirit of New York; historical, spirited, strong and unpredictable. Until just recently it featured one of the steepest first drops on a wooden coaster in existence. Unlike some parks who build a thriller and alter it to make it less thrilling... The Cyclone remains as it did since it's inception in the 1920's. Like an old car, she has good days and better days. If running rough its a test of strength and endurance. If running smooth a whole different test of bravery is needed, it's variable speeds reveal surprising lateral and negative G's  If you're a real trooper ride the backseat ALONE, this is a recommendation and a warning. I had the opportunity to ride "Backfire" (Cyclone Backwards celebrating it's 50th anniversary) once and only once. Still today, no seat dividers, no mid-course breaks and no headrests. The Cyclone is indeed a classic thriller and not for everyone and getting to know all of it's nuances is half the fun.

Built in 1927, 85 foot 1st drop at 58.6 degree's, 2,640 feet long

Balder Liseberg Sweden

(last ridden - 2003)

Balder has all the joy and beauty of the wooden twister with no violence; this ride is smoother than many steel coasters that do less. Balder has a 70 degree first drop and completes the ride course with sustained speed. Prevalent is airtime, very high banked turns and speed right of an enthusiasts dream. However the smoothness strangely makes it feel less like a wood coaster than any other. Ride at it night and you'll agree Balder is named appropriately, this coaster in Sweden is next to Godliness.

55MPH, 3,500 feet long, 118 feet tall

Legend Holiday World United States

(last ridden - 2011)

Sharing features with the Raven; but with added height, length, speed and tunnels... The whole ride is filled with "stunts" a twisting 1st drop, spiral drop, and double helix all orchestrated beautifully. This ride packs a punch, featuring plentiful direction changes, riders can barely figure out where they are going next. Be sure to recognize the twisting drop that gets tighter instead of wider! Holiday World stepped up to the plate with modern thrills that reminds you of what a riding roller coasters should feel like.

4,042' long, 113' tall, four tunnels, wooded setting

Ravine Flyer II Waldameer United States

(last ridden - 2010)

With a deceptively short lift of 80' and limited views of the ride from the park, it's no wonder this ride can take guests by surprise. After being momentarily treated to a view of Lake Erie; a memorable steep twisting drop into a tunnel awaits. This tight steel structured, wood track ride has pleasant air time, subtle (yet daring twists) and effective tunnels. It may one for the history books that the ride crosses over a public road but it's not an idea that makes this ride good, it's quality design and use of terrain that is the real show stopper.

57MPH, 2,900 feet long, 80 feet tall

Thunderbolt Kennywood United States

(last ridden - 2010)

Look at that seemingly short coaster and those classic trains dragging their passangers into the valley. Later in the ride the train negotiats flat turns at high speeds and more hills, deeper yet, hidden in the valley. Classic unexpected thrills, in a wonderful park. This ride is even more thrilling at night, always fun after a big order of fries at the Potato Patch. Keep your hands hands in the car! Sorry no single riders, get a partner before getting in line! I've done in the back seat alone and understand why.

70 foot maximum drop, 45 MPH, 40 foot lift (yes it adds up)

Boulder Dash Lake Compounce United States

(last ridden - 2001) 

The year 2000 brought memorable coasters but this one scaled new heights and went the distance without breaking a record. This coaster hugs the ground, dashes around tress and large boulders; (hence it's name). In a rare adult moment I put this ride in my favorites partly because of it's construction and location; walk the length of the ride to see what I mean. This ride is smooth, fast, long, fun and oddly mysterious. There's nothing too weak nor too intense, an enjoyable experience- a very fine line to walk.

115' tall, 4700 ft' long, 60 mph and shady - Do you hear the rumble?