Our Most Unusual Roller Coaster Experiences

Editorials

With hundreds of roller coaster rides under our collective belts, we thought it’d be fun to share our most unusual roller coaster experiences. We figured since we’ve visited as many parks and strapped in to ride roller coasters as many times as we had, there’d be some odd experiences we could share. Just in time for April Fool’s Day, here are a few of those experiences.

Getting Stuck on a Roller Coaster Launch Hill

Maverick at Cedar Point has a single rider queue – at least it did when I last visited – and I was paired up with another single rider who insisted upon sitting in the back. This would be my first ever ride on Maverick and I thought that the back row might be too rough so declined to ride and waited for the next train. A ride op directed me to the front row and as luck would have it, after dispatch the train got stuck on the launch hill. It was low enough on the hill that the riders could easily have walked off but because we were locked into the restraints – the old, hard ones no less – this was not feasible. And this is where I have a problem with established protocols. The ride ops could not release the restraints and allow riders to exit without permission from a supervisor.
Maverick at Cedar Point
So I sat there on the launch hill, baking in the hot sun, for a good 40 to 45 minutes before a ride op finally released the restraints and allowed us to walk off. I ended up with the worst sunburn of my life. In retrospect I should have ridden with the guy who wanted to sit in the back; at least his train didn’t get stuck. The only good thing to come out of this was that Cedar Point gave us passes for immediate access to Maverick (once it reopened), Millennium Force and Top Thrill Dragster as compensation for the inconvenience. When I got to Top Thrill Dragster a ride op asked me “Are you from Maverick?” Yup.

– Bobbie

Acting on a Roller Coaster While Keeping Your Hands Down

For me, I’d have to say it was a really unusual experience when I rode roller coasters at Carowinds while filming TV shows. I joined the filming for Afterburn and Intimidator for Bert the Conqueror and also Afterburn for Insane Coaster Wars. Each time there were a few dozen riders or so that were invited by the production companies. First, the filming took place when the park wasn’t open to the public. So it was already strange seeing the park empty, but not completely lifeless as groundskeepers were hard at work making sure the park looked pristine.

Riding roller coasters for TV is quite different than your standard experience. There was a lot of standing around and waiting for the crew to set up cameras on and off the ride. And then it was showtime. Each time I probably rode the rides 6 to 10 times each among all of the different takes. We’d play musical chairs and be re-positioned on the train so it wouldn’t like the same riders on the trains from different takes.
The shows needed to see the roller coasters in action with enthusiastic riders. The most unusual part was riding Afterburn, a B&M inverted roller coaster that I love. While I enjoy it, my job was to play to the camera and show how much I enjoyed it. My normally excited, but cool exterior wouldn’t do. So the times when I was in the front row with cameras aimed right at us, I channeled a less experienced rider and did my best to give the camera “surprise” and “wonder”. You’re welcome Carowinds. You’re welcome.
Bert Rides the Intimidator at Carowinds
For the Intimidator filming we were asked to keep our hands down. I’m assuming that this was because it’s standard operating procedure for parks to instructs riders to keep their hands and feet inside rides. Keeping my hands down on Intimidator was one of the weirdest, most counter-intuitive things I’ve ever done. Some of the enthusiasts and I had to remind ourselves as we climbed the lift hill.

– Joel

Riding a Flying Roller Coasters for the First Time

Here goes mine! Considering the question of most unusual experiences I have had on a roller coaster brought a few thoughts immediately to mind. The first time I had bugs splattered all over my face, the first larger-sized portable roller coaster I had ridden being way more forceful than I was expecting, and my first white-knuckle flying roller coaster experience.

I have to go with #3, a ride on X-Flight. It was a Vekoma Flying-Dutchman model that was first located at Six Flags Worlds of Adventure (Geauga Lake) and which is now Firehawk at Kings Island. It seemed not too intense in the two hours my friends and I waited in line its opening summer and watching it run. It didn’t seem to be going that fast, it only had one vertical loop, and it wasn’t that tall (it was heights that used to get me). But as soon as that thing flipped over and we took a dive, I definitely thought I was going to be splattered all over the ground below. Judging from my ride-mate’s expletives and screams, they seemed to be in the same boat. We loved it.

– John

Being the Sole Rider on a Floorless Coaster

Only once have I experienced a solo excursion on a coaster. Bizarro at Six Flags Great Adventure had been down due to “technical difficulties” for most, if not all, of the day. At about 7 PM I happened to notice that one of the trains was completing the circuit so I headed over there. A couple of people ahead of me had just been dispatched on a train but when I got to the loading station it was completely empty, probably because no one else was aware that the ride was up and running.
Bizarro at Six Flags Great Adventure
The air gates opened so I took my customary end seat in the back row. I was curious as to whether the ride ops would dispatch the train with only me on it or wait until more people showed up. Well, they did dispatch the train and this was quite a novel experience. Whereas I was accustomed to seeing dangling feet and hearing people scream, I saw or heard nothing of the sort. It was weird but a lot of fun, almost like having a private jet. Have you ever been the only rider on a roller coaster train?

– Bobbie

What’s Your Take?
What strange or unusual experience on a roller coaster have you had? We’d love to hear them. Share them by leaving a comment below. Maverick image 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.

2 Comments

  1. Great stories, everyone! I think I have one that’s comparable: a ride on Great Bear at HersheyPark. My best friend and I went on a day we’d calculated to be perfect for short lines: a weekday in September, after school had restarted, cool and cloudy with a slight chance of rain. We were right; the lines were almost non-existent all day. We decided to ride Great Bear (a B&M invert) from the front row, for the view. As we were going up the lift hill, the skies opened and “slight drizzle” became “torrential downpour.” When rain hits your face at coaster speeds, it hurts quite a bit. The front row was exactly the worst row to be in, and our “great view” ride turned into a “no view” ride as we tried to shield our faces with our hands, but with the bulky B&M restraints, we couldn’t quite manage it. I was wearing a waterproof windbreaker, and when we got off, several pints of water came pouring out of my sleeves. The shower only lasted a couple of minutes, so were the only people in the park who’d gotten soaked like we’d ridden the splashdown ride instead. We laughed about it later, and rode Great Bear several more times.

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  2. My most memorable experience on a coaster took place on Volcano at Kings Dominion. I was visiting the park a few years ago with two friends. We snagged seats near the back of the train and coasted into the heart of the volcano, then commenced with the first launch. Everything seemed to be normal until the second launch when we did not quite make it out of the top of the volcano. You got it … a ROLLBACK! There was plenty of drag on the train as we drifted back down into the depths of the volcano where we eased to a stop in the darkness. The first thing I noticed was that it was absolutely quiet. Then, a voice in the darkness called out, “What the #@$! was that?!” “A rollback!!”, someone called out enthusiastically. I’ve always wanted a rollback, but I guess I had always thought I would get it on Top Thrill Dragster or Kingda Ka. I had never expected something like that to happen on a tame-to-me ride like a Volcano. A few minutes later, crew members arrived to assist us in disembarking from the train. It was a bit tricky because the flooring below us was more like stepping stones than a solid walkway. We had to do a few hops before landing on solid ground. Front-of-the-line passes were given and could be used once the ride had reopened.

    My most memorable non-coaster experience happened directly across the midway from Volcano on The Crypt. A friend’s tennis shoe went flinging off of her foot during the ride and landed in the pool below. Once we got off the ride, we were informed that crewmembers were not allowed to fish things out of the water and maintenance would be called. In the meantime, the ride was shut down until the arrival of a maintenance worker dressed in what looked like scuba gear! By the time he arrived, the shoe had floated to the side of the pool so that all he needed to do was bend over, grab the shoe with his hand (NOT with the long-handled hook he was carrying!) and return it to us. I wish I had a picture of the outfit!

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