Tuesday Top5: Roller Coasters I’ve Ridden the Most

Millennium ForceWelcome to Positively Nerdy! Yesterday was Memorial Day and while the calendar may not agree, that means that summer has begun! And among everything else summer brings with it that means fairs, carnivals and amusement parks which in turn means, if you’ve got the stomach for them, roller coasters! So this week I’m kicking off my multi-part series of Tuesday Top5’s dedicated to roller coasters! First up, the five roller coasters that I’ve ridden more than any other! So remain seated, keep your hands and arms inside the car at all times and here we go:

5) Kumba

Tale of the Tape:
Length: 3.978ft
Height: 143ft
Drop: 135ft
Inversions: 7
Speed: 60mph
Duration: 2:54

kumbaI’ve only been to Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida once. I was there with my family as part of our (usually) annual trip down to the Sunshine State. All the willing members of my family, as well as the family friends we were visiting with, had just ridden Kumba when the group decided to take in one of the many animal themed shows. Not me. I wasn’t done with this amazing coaster, not by a long shot. I was fifteen at the time but in my family that was young enough for it to be a big deal that I had somehow convinced my mom and dad to let me stay behind and ride Kumba some more. My mom told me they’d meet me at the exit when they were done. There were no lines for the Kumba that day so every time I get to the bottom of the exit ramp and didn’t see my family, I got right back on. I was able to that 16 times before I ran into the family again. But I squeezed one last ride in as some of the group was ready and willing for a second go.
At that time there were only two other roller coasters at Busch Gardens Tampa, the Scorpion, which was down for repairs and the brand-new Montu! I rode Montu twice that day, at the beginning and end of the day since it was located near the front entrance. Somehow, despite my multitude of rides on the Kumba, I left the park that day with a Montu t-shirt!

4) Millennium Force

Tale of the Tape:
Length: 6,595ft
Height: 310ft
Drop: 300ft
Inversions: None
Speed: 93mph
Duration: 2:20

Millennium ForceI’m very fortunate to live within a reasonable driving distance from Cedar Point, the roller coaster capital of the world. These days, with work and attempting to be an adult and all that mess, a three hour trip seems like a much greater distance but in high school, as soon as my friends and I could drive, Cedar Point was a trip we would make multiple times a year. In all those glorious summers during and after high school, we were never more excited for a new coaster than we were for Millennium Force! When it debuted it was the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world. In the beginning we marveled at its technological achievements, from its sheer height and speed to the cable lift system and the smoothness of the overall ride. I’ve never stopped marveling at this magnificent roller coaster. It’s no surprise to me that the Millennium Force is consistently ranked the best roller coaster in the world!

3) Raptor

Tale of the Tape:
Length: 3,790ft
Height: 137ft
Drop: 119ft
Inversions: 6
Speed: 57mph
Duration: 2:16

raptorRaptor beats out the Millennium Force because I’ve been riding Raptor since 1995. For those five years prior to the debut of the Millennium Force, Raptor ruled Cedar Point as riders were encouraged to ‘kick the sky’. Located right near the entrance of the park, it was the ride everyone flocked to first thing in the morning. Well, not everyone. The other school of thought was to run right by it and make your way to the back of the park (hello, Mean Streak!) and then work your way back to the front. Let the lines dies down, if the park wasn’t too busy, and then come back later in the day. But there’s really never a bad time to ride the Raptor. Raptor runs right up the midway so I especially enjoy it at night, which is usually my second or third ride of the day.

2) Rock’n’Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith

Tale of the Tape:
Length: 3,403ft
Height: 80ft
Inversions: 3
Speed: 57mph
Duration: 1:22

RockNRollerCoasterThe final two roller coasters find themselves at the top of the list due to fact that I worked at the parks that the rides call home. In 2001, from June through December, I participated in the Walt Disney World College Program. I was part of the Fastpass team as well as working frequently with Special Events (crowd control at parades, Fantasmic!, etc, not as exciting as it sounds – though I did do some press events). This was shortly after the debut of Fastpass and before the Fastpass duties were designated to their individual attractions. I spent a lot of time that summer in the courtyard outside of the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and nearly every chance I could inside riding it. I had visited the park the previous year on Spring Break and fell in love with the attraction that combined my fascination with roller coasters and my fandom of Aerosmith. I’d go in early to ride the coaster and if I was working at that end of the park that day, I always rode it before I went home. Many of my days off were spent in the parks as well and even though I worked at the Disney/MGM Studios (as it was called then) I usually found my way there then too. I’ve ridden it a few times since the College Program, most (not-so) recently at Star Wars Celebration V’s: Last Tour to Endor event, behind Adrianne Curry. Probably should’ve bought that photo…

1) Shivering Timbers

Tale of the Tape:
Length: 5,383ft
Height: 122ft
Inversions: None
Speed: 57mph
Duration: 2:30

ShiveringTimbersReturning to Michigan at the end 2001 was bittersweet to say the least. I was happy to be home and back among my friends and family, but I missed Walt Disney World something awful. The next summer I tried to get as close as I could to recapturing that time in Orlando and in Michigan that means a summer working at Michigan’s Adventure. The drop from Disney to Michigan’s Adventure was staggering and at times hard to deal with but that’s probably a story for another day. But the job certainly did have some great perks. For instance at the beginning of the season, before the park had opened for the summer, I got to ride Shivering Timbers over and over again, for about three hours straight, as they made sure the ride had survived its winter hibernation. Relax, it’s not as dangerous as it sounds, this was about the third day of testing and they need the weight on board. Why let all those jugs of water have all the fun? Three hours on a giant wooden coaster like Shivering Timbers is no picnic. Most opted out after a few rides, which was really all the testing that was required, but the bragging-rights contest to ride the longest had already begun and believe it or not, my three hours straight didn’t even put me in the top ten! It’s still my favorite wooden coaster (since Gemini isn’t technically a wooden coaster) and one that I’m always too happy to ride just one more time.

There they are, the five roller coasters I’ve ridden more than any other and the stories that go with them. Come back next week for the coasters that I have yet to experience in my Top5 Roller Coaster Wish List!




1 comment

  1. Rob June 3, 2014 2:14 pm  Reply

    Millennium Force is the best 2:20 of roller coaster ever in my mind. While loop-the-loops and dangling feet are fun, nothing beats pure speed. Well, pure speed with duration anyway…Top Thrill is just a bottle rocket.

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