Riker Rants: All About Roller Coasters

Hey guys! There is nothing quite as exhilarating or intense as a roller coaster. The Tyrannosaurus Rex of the amusement park rides, you either love them or hate ‘em. I count myself as a roller coaster enthusiast and have ridden some of the craziest thrill rides on the East Coast. Today, I will talk about all kinds of roller coasters, so buckle up and enjoy the ride!

The modern roller coaster originated in Coney Island in New York with the invention of the Switchback Railway in the nineteenth century. This coaster, the first coaster designed for the entertainment of its riders, had wooden rails and ran only off the momentum of the car. This coaster ushered in what became known as a Golden Age for roller coasters and sparked national attention. Today, with prominent theme parks like Disney World, Six Flags, Cedar Point and my favorite HersheyPark, roller coasters have become an essential part of the amusement park experience and are forever ingrained into American culture.

There is seemingly no limit to the ingenuity and variation of the roller coaster. These five rides are what I consider, based on my years of experience, to be the best ones around.

I’d give an honorable mention to the Kingda Ka roller coaster located in Six Flags in New Jersey. To be clear, this honorable mention is for me, not the roller coaster, because I rode it and it was insane. Kingda Ka ranks as the tallest roller coaster in the United States at 456 feet, which you’d think would equate to a totally enjoyable ride. But it does the opposite- it saps the coaster of the ability to have any other features other than the drop. The coaster hurt my head, was way too short time-wise, and didn’t have enough cool features to make it great. But I rode it and lived to tell the tale. Now, to the real top five.

 

  1. Space Mountain (Disney World)

I last rode this indoor thriller when I was about eight, but I remember it being fast and dark and thrilling. This coaster was my favorite ride in the Magic Kingdom.

  1. Fahrenheit (Hershey Park)

This newer coaster starts with a high climb and then shoots riders through a series of loops and flips. The only downside is a tendency for long lines.

  1. Superman (Six Flags Maryland)

Another big dropper, this ride gets bonus points for the addition of virtual reality glasses and is definitely entertaining. Even without the glasses, the view, which includes the Redskins’ stadium FedEx Field, is spectacular.

  1. Great Bear (Hershey Park)

One of the classic suspension roller coasters, this is one I do every visit. I recommend taking off shoes and going at night for the ultimate experience on this leg-dangler.

  1. Superman (Six Flags New Jersey)

The Superman roller coaster in New Jersey is in a league all by itself. The seat is like a leg dangler, but then it tilts back 90 degrees so riders are on their stomachs and can fly like Superman. My favorite by far.

 

As I previously mentioned, I love roller coasters. Yes, they can be scary, but the fright element adds to the thrill and adrenaline. Even as a person that gets motion sick, I can enjoy the occasional roller coaster as long as I keep them in moderation. There’s also something remarkable in the science and engineering of the coasters and that creates a sense of security even during freefall. And when the ride is over, you feel so accomplished.

The metaphor of a roller coaster can be so applicable to many aspects of life, and that has been especially true for me. In athletics, I run track and this month we had our county, regional and state championships. For me, that three week stretch had a lot of ups and downs and thrills- just like a roller coaster. Thankfully, I ended on top with an awesome experience running a near-personal best in the 1600 in the state meet. In academics, my grades dropped at some points of the month and then shot up, though now I’m happy to say that I’ve recently enjoyed more consistency. To add one more, relationships with friends can be dramatic and can bring you from the highest of heights to the lowest of lows. All three can be enjoyable and fantastic, but when the peaks give way to the valleys, the going can get tough.

Roller coasters in life are something I’ve dealt with and dealing with them is a task that is easier said than done. But if I’ve learned anything this month, it’s the importance of a strong and solid foundation. For me, this consisted of my family, friends, and faith, all parts of my life that I could rely on when the outlook seemed bleak. Another important truth I learned was the necessity of staying positive and knowing that even when life is tough, things will eventually get better. To quote Batman’s butler Alfred from Batman Begins, “Why do we fall, sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.” Roller coasters can be tough, but enjoy the highs and stay tough through lows.

I hope you guys enjoyed this episode! The format and topic are different but I hope that this talk was helpful and made you think. Riker Rants has been on a hiatus recently because I was working on the documentary The Rise, The Fall, and The Return of Nicky G, which will have its link in the description, but I should be producing more frequent content this summer. Leave your comments below, make sure to subscribe, and see you round!

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