Top 3 Most Underrated Wooden Roller Coasters

Top 3 Thursdays

After my post last December on the most overrated roller coasters, a visitor asked me to write the opposite. A post about the most underrated roller coasters. For this week’s Top 3 Thursdays, I will be covering the unsung heroes of the wooden coaster world. Here they are in no particular order:

Hellcat (Formerly Avalanche) at Timber Falls Adventure Park (Wisconsin Dells, WI)
For a such a diminutive roller coaster with such modest stats, Avalanche is a marvel. It’s the perfect illustration of how bigger is not always better. Located a short drive from Mt. Olympus Theme Park in the Wisconsin Dells area, Avalanche sits at the front of Timber Falls Adventure Park a small amusement park with put-put golf and an assortment of small rides. The S&S Power designed woodie runs a double loop around a few other attractions. The turns are extremely banked and seem so tight at times that your mind can’t fathom how the train is going to traverse them without flying off the track. Check out some images of Hellcat.

Rampage at Alabama Adventures (Beseemer, AL)
Rampage has found the fountain of youth. It’s over 10 years old and it runs like its brand new with speed and intensity without roughness. It offers both ejector air (in the back seat on the first) and moments of floater air throughout. Rampage was surprisingly smooth while still offering that out of control feeling you want in a woodie. Read my full Rampage review.

Viper at Six Flags Great America (Gurnee, IL)
On my trip to Six Flags Great America, I was caught by surprise by the park’s Coney Island Cyclone-clone Viper. It was much smoother than Six Flags Over Georgia’s Georgia Cyclone which gave me a beating back in ’02. I can’t imagine how rough it could be today. Viper’s a really fun ride that’s often overlooked as just another Cyclone copy.

Honorable Mention: The Legend at Holiday World (Santa Claus, IN)
I wouldn’t say that the Legend at Holiday World is underrated per se, but it is overshadowed by the park’s other coasters. Enthusiast favorite Raven and world-renowned mega woodie The Voyage seem to get more attention than Legend, but it’s an awesome roller coaster in its own right. Legend boasts a  very cool and unique terrain layout including a double helix/tunnel combo reminiscent of the Beast. Here’s an official video (POV section starts at 1:56) of Legend created by Holiday World:


Note – This video was filmed by professionals with permission from the park. For safety reasons, please DO NOT take a camera on a roller coaster.

What’s Your Take?
What are some wooden coasters that you consider underrated? Also, if you have an idea for a future Top 3 Thursdays post let me know. Leave a comment below. Images courtesy of CoasterImage.

Founder of CoasterCritic.com. My favorite coasters are B&M hypers and gigas. I'm also a huge fan of terrain roller coasters.

22 Comments

  1. Hey Coastercritic,

    Nice article about the underrated coasters. I am also a huge fan of the Viper at SFGA. I was also wondering when you would put up your review about Intimidator at Carowinds. I'm really excited and interested for what you will say about it!

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • I'm tempted to put my "Queue" (Upcoming Posts) back in the sidebar, but since I haven't I'll let you know that the Intimidator review is coming. It'll either be my next post or two posts away; right after Part 2 of the 10 Best New Roller Coasters. And I hope to publish both of those in the next few days. Thanks for your interest.

      Reply
  2. I have a timeshare @ MT. Olympus, so I son't really need to go anywhere else for amusmant. Hellcat is an exception I want to make. I see it at least 3 times I'm in the Dells, so it is torture driving past it knowing that I won't ride it. I rode Viper a couple times while I was in Illinois last summer. The main reason that I rode it was because I heard it was a Cyclone-esque clone. I still want to ride the original though. CC, as for the little note you put under the Legend video, I remember seeing a post on Screamscape a couple days ago where Kingda Ka shattered a guy's camera. I also remember that you have seen Final Destination 3. Remember what instrument that "Death" used to cause the bloody, gory (and extremely entertaining) incident on Devil's Flight?

    Reply
    • I'll have to check out that ScreamScape post. I've got a post coming up in about a week about POV videos and people sneaking cameras on rides. And I only saw FD3 once. I don't remember, but I can imagine.

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      • Youtube.

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  3. "It was much smoother than Six Flags Over Georgia’s Georgia Cyclone which gave me a beating back in ‘02. I can’t imagine how rough it could be today."

    I rode it last month and took a serious beating near the back of the train and an even worse one in the front. Tried again the next day and mid-train was a little better (2 laps). The first drop cuts to the left a bit and really hurts when you aren't expecting it. The rest of the ride is just plain rough.

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  4. Viper at SFGA is, IMO, the best coaster in the park. It's very smooth but still has a great woodie feel, has tons of airtime and some great head choppers. I'm glad to see you picked it.

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  5. GA Cyclone? Rough? Yeah you can say that again. That coaster caused me to hate coasters for a while (until I tried a steel coaster). It's so bad like Judy said at the first drop, but also on the second- or third-to-last hill that's just a little bump that you the trains rips you over at a relatively high speed. It feels like one of the wooden planks holding the ride up just drove through your chest. CC, if you could give it a rating, what do you think it would be? Just curious. I think that was the first coaster I tried to look up on your site. Always have wanted to know your thoughts on it.

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  6. The Yankee Cannonball at Canobie Lake Park in NH is by far the most underatted roller coaster of any kind i've ever been on. Its very small but it packs in tons of airtime! It's a lot like the Blue Streak at CP, but with much better airtime.

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  7. A ride that I didnt expect much out of but was very suprised with was boardwalk bullet in kemah texas. This ride packed a punch the laterals were fantastic and the intensity was extreme.

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    • I second that!

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  8. IMO, El toro is just a little overated. It's definiteley a great woodie, and coaster overall. believe me or not, it gave me a hedache, a small one, but stiil, i wouldn't say it's smooth as glass. Not to far off, but I don't think it's smoother than any other coaster. and that one airtime hump at the end didn't hold what I expected. it's amazing, but just not as amazing as people make it seem.

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  9. Colossos at Heide Park. It was such a shame to see it coming 18th on the Golden TA awards list, behind rides like Cyclone (at Astroland) and Shivering Timbers, both of which are nothing compared to Colossos. I haven't ridden this one, but "Fireball" at Happy Valley, Beijing, looks like it should be somewhere on the list, but it's not there.

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  10. Uh guys, my ride on Viper was… Well…….. FORCELESS. I honestly felt like (while I was on the ride) that I was literally sitting in the back seat of a convertible on a newly paved, long, flat road. It was boring for me.

    Reply
    • That's surprising Michael. I guess I could see how it might not be very intense because it was so smooth. I remember it being a lot of fun though. A similar design, but completely different experience can be found on Six Flags Over Georgia's cyclone clone. That thing is definitely not forceless.

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  11. I would add Six Flag Chicago's other wooden Gem, Screaming Eagle to the list.

    It's a better coaster than Viper. It's better than almost any other woodie I've ever been on. AMAZING air throughout this ride including the last hill at the end – a great coaster that saves it's best for last. I was SHOCKED at how good this thing was when I rode it yesterday. Took about 10 rides on it. Love this coaster – alongside Raging Bull the best coaster in the park. ANd you never hear about it. THAT'S underrated.

    Reply
    • Cool to hear that American Eagle is so good. I hope to take it for a spin when I'm at Great America for X-Flight.

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      • ^ American Eagle.

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        • Thanks! I changed it.

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          • No worries. The American Eagle is a very good woodie! Not sure why it`s so underrated. The back of the train is excellent!

  12. SFGAm has the two most underrated wooden roller coasters ever! American Eagle and Viper are awesome rides, and are very fun! Legend is kind of underrated too… I actually like it more Raven. Another wooden coaster that I consider to be underrated is Comet at Hershey Park. It was one of my first wooden coasters that I have ridden, and I ride it every time I visit Hershey Park.

    Reply
  13. Blue Streak is actually very underrated. You can get on it with no line and it has as much airtine as magnum. (Both are listed at 23 seconds)

    Reply

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