As 2012 gently glides into the final brake run, a few of my fellow coaster bloggers and myself thought it would be fun to write posts about our best single ride experience of 2012, whether it be a roller coaster, flat ride, dark ride, or any combination of the three. Unfortunately, unlike last year, I didn’t make it out to any new parks in 2012. However, I did finally catch a ride on a roller coaster that has eluded me since it opened ten years ago, Xcelerator at Knott’s Berry Farm. Since some of my favorite features on a roller coaster are speed, height, and a launch, I thought for sure that it would be my uncontested best single ride experience of the year. Sadly, after finally experiencing Kingda Ka last year, it felt a bit underwhelming. Therefore, not only was it not the best, but the best wasn’t even a roller coaster at all.
Even though I am known as The Coaster Guy, I have no qualms awarding my best single ride experience of 2012 to Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom, located at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Built by Intamin in 2012, LL:DOD is the tallest and fastest drop ride in the world. Attached to the side of the 415′ tall Superman: Escape from Krypton tower, the LL:DOD gondola drops from 400′ high and reaches 85 MPH during a 5 1/2 second free fall. It’s an incredibly thrilling ride, reaching dizzying heights and unprecedented speeds. If you’re a thrill junkie, you’ll like this ride as well.
After having watched this ride be built over the course of a few months, my first opportunity to ride it came on Media Day. I was part of a contingent of American Coaster Enthusiast (ACE) members who showed up pre-dawn, to fill the seats on the ride while the network news teams filmed their live morning broadcasts. For this ride, I was actually a little nervous to get on – the first time I’ve felt that way in as long as I can remember. I’ve been on plenty of drop towers, including the Big Shot hovering 1,000′ over the Las Vegas strip, but this one was different. I’ve never dropped the equivalent of 40 stories before.
The seats are actually quite comfortable. The restraint is over the shoulder, but nothing actually touches your upper body. It’s just a way to get the lap tray down to secure you into the seat at the waist. It was cold and foggy on my first ride. I specifically remember thinking on that first trip up that we had to be getting close to the top based on high high we seemed to be. Then I looked over and saw that we weren’t even as high as the top of Goliath’s 255′ lift hill, so we were only about half way there. My mind started racing, and I was thinking to myself “What have I gotten myself into?!?”
As we continued to rise, I’ll never forget what happened next. We suddenly broke through the top of the fog bank and were presented a beautiful blue sky with the sun just starting to come up over the horizon. The entire Santa Clarita Valley was covered with fog and we were looking down on it. Other than the very tops of the surrounding hills, the only other thing poking up through the fog was the Magic Mountain Sky Tower. I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful it was. We only had a few seconds to take it all in because before we knew it we were plunging back towards Earth, punching a hole through the fog as we fell back into the dark and cold.
I rode LL:DOD close to 20 times that day, and I must have logged at least 100 rides total since it opened. I really like the openness of the seats, the views from up top, and that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach as you free fall 40 stories. Even if you’ve been of every other drop ride out there, do yourself a favor and ride this the next time you’re at Six Flags Magic Mountain. It’s a fun experience and you can brag about having been on the tallest drop ride in the world.
Be sure to click on the links below to read what some of my fellow bloggers said was their best single ride experience of 2012.
I fully expect to do more traveling in 2013, and hopefully I’ll end up close to some new parks to visit, and new coasters to experience. In the mean time, let me hear from you. Leave a comment with what you feel was your Best Single Ride Experience in 2012.
The Coaster Critic – 2012 Best Single Ride Experience of the Year
Theme Park Rides – Most Memorable Ride Experience of 2012
Coasterblog – My Single Favorite Ride on a Coaster this Year
Coaster 101 – Best Ride of 2012