What these two have in common is that they’re former wooden coasters transformed into steel/hybrid coasters featuring modifications to the layout while retaining a wooden structure by RMC (Rocky Mountain Construction), with amazing results. New Texas Giant was the first coaster to get an RMC makeover and Wicked Cyclone was the fifth.
Layout and Theming
New Texas Giant, operating with Gerstlauer trains themed after 1961 Cadillac Devilles, features an out and back layout whereas Wicked Cyclone, operating with RMC trains themed after – as could be expected – a raging storm, is a twister. Both have lap bars and seat belts as restraints; Wicked Cyclone has shin guards which are much more obtrusive than the minimalist leg restraints on NTG. For anyone hoping to have something to hold onto on either one for a sense of security, forget it!
New Texas Giant features a 79-degree 147-foot drop, double up and several overbanked turns interspersed with drops and airtime hills. The latter part of the ride has the train speeding into three separate tunnels. Wicked Cyclone is the smaller of the two, with a 109-foot lift hill followed by a 78-degree 109-foot drop, 120-degree overbanked turn, bunny hop and 200-degree zero-g stall. The ride includes additional overbanked turns, double down, numerous airtime hills – including the first ever double reversing bank airtime hill – and two zero-g rolls. I would have to give Wicked Cyclone a slight edge here for the diversity of elements.
Ride Experience and Airtime
New Texas Giant gets off to a strong start with the steep drop and double up into a 90-degree overbanked turn, drop, ascension into a 95-degree overbanked turn, drop and 115-degree overbanked turn. The pacing is superb and at 65 mph – it actually feels faster – things seem totally out of control. After the third overbank is an airtime hill leading into the mid-course brake run. From the brake run the train takes off like a bat out of hell (or more appropriately, like a fast car), veering sharply left and dropping. This leads up to a moment of airtime that had me more out of my seat than in it. In fact the combined airtime on this coaster is glorious. The remainder of the course consists of more turns and hills, and of course, the tunnels. One thing I really like about this ride is the element of surprise. I’ve ridden NTG probably a dozen times and never, ever, saw the tunnels coming up, even in broad daylight. The layout is such that it’s difficult to anticipate what’s coming next, even for someone fairly familiar with the ride. As to the tunnels, in which the train dips, they’re a blast. I couldn’t have hoped for a better ending. And let it be said that a night ride on NTG is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had on a coaster.
Wicked Cyclone likewise gets off to a strong start and there’s never a dull moment. The initial drop is pretty wicked, giving momentum to the overbanked turn that leads into the bunny hop preceding the zero-g stall. The latter element is original and provides some nice hang time. It’s followed by a couple of twists and wide left turn leading into several small hills which offer extreme ejector airtime. This is coasting at its best. Throw in a couple of zero-g rolls – pretty intense but exquisitely smooth – separated by airtime hills with crazy twists and turns, outward-banked airtime hill and double reversing bank airtime hill (basically an outward-banked turn) and you have a recipe for coaster nirvana. I’m not even going to try to describe the entire sequence because there’s so much going on with this relatively short ride that even after half a dozen rides I find it difficult to process. It’s quite a ride.
In this category NTG scores high for thrills and pure awesomeness while WC scores high for novelty and abundant negative-g hills.
And the winner is: Wicked Cyclone. Both of these coasters are so astonishingly good that this was a very tough call. From a purely subjective point of view, I prefer New Texas Giant. It offers a longer ride, as well as a longer drop, and this is the coaster I would ride if I had to choose between the two. However, from an objective point of view, I consider Wicked Cyclone to be – slightly – the better coaster. The reason I think it’s somewhat better is that it surpasses NTG in airtime. The airtime on Wicked Cyclone is absolutely phenomenal. The inversions are a plus although not the deciding factor. A hybrid coaster doesn’t need inversions to be great; NTG certainly doesn’t need them. But in this case the inversions are particularly good, and that combined with the airtime makes this a winner.
What’s your take? Have you ridden New Texas Giant and Wicked Cyclone and if so, which do you think is better?