What Makes Great Coasters "Great"

By , March 24, 2013
Nathan Rubin

I’ll be honest. Coming into this internship, I wanted to design roller coasters that pushed the limits. I’m a huge fan of crazy negative g’s and insane, wacky elements. Not to say that my love for intense rides¬†has changed; however, spending this past Saturday at Dollywood really made me appreciate what Great Coasters does and why our coasters are truly “Great.”

After a behind the scenes tour of Blazing Fury, the group I was with headed over to Thunderhead for a few rides before the park opened to the public. I wasn’t sure what to expect, as I knew it would be a very different ride than my current #1, El Toro. To say that Thunderhead blew me away would be an understatement. The rapid transitions and changes in laterals, combined with abundant airtime is a completely different experience than any ride I’ve ridden thus far. The pacing on the ride is excellent, and everything from the use of the surrounding terrain to the smoothness of the Millennium Flyers really contributes to the overall ride experience. However; this is not my favorite ride I’ve ridden because of the intensity of the ride, or the physical attributes of the ride. It’s because of the atmosphere and variety that Great Coasters rides add to the theme parks I’ve been to.

Pictured below is Patsy, who was at the park when we began riding at 9 AM and was operating Thunderhead until the park closed at 8 PM. Today happened to be her birthday, and if it were my birthday, I’m not sure that I would want to be operating a ride for 11 or 12 hours straight. However; Patsy and all the ride operators in the station exhibited a ton of energy from open to close, invoking conversation with the riders and even going as far to high-five them as the ride left the station. Patsy could not stop going on about how much she loved this ride; from how it twists beautifully through the forest to how every age group loves it and how proud she is to operate it. This is when I realized why Great Coasters is such a great company. It’s because our rides offer something for everyone, and provide an attraction that all ages can enjoy. It’s thrilling, yet at the same time, re-rideable over and over. Thunderhead, while just a ride, means so much to the people who ride it, the people who operate it, and the park who owns it. It truly is a ride that defines the culture of the park, and I would argue that many of our other rides do the same.

Just after riding the last train of the day, I asked Patsy if I could take a picture with her. This is because I wanted to share this with all my friends and GCII fans. The best part of my experience wasn’t even the ride at Dollywood, but the pure joy that Patsy exhibited when seeing the smiles on people’s faces riding the ride and hearing all the positive commentary about the ride. Thunderhead had many amazing moments, but my favorite and most memorable was getting a high five from Patsy every time the train left the station. There’s something about the culture that the antiquity of a smooth, wild wooden coaster embodies that cannot be rivaled or matched anywhere else. I am thankful that I was able to go to Dollywood this weekend, as it truly reminded me why I love this industry Nothing can compare to seeing the smiles and enjoyment of the people able to experience the amusement industry


Me and Patsy.

One Response to “What Makes Great Coasters "Great"”

  1. Hi Nathan. I am an employee at Dollywood. I recently was moved to an area where I’ve met Patsy. I told her how awesome it was that you wrote this and how awesome she is. She asked me if I could get an address from you cause she would like to thank you. If there is any way you could email me you address, I would gladly pass it on to her. Thank you for the kind words about Dollywood. We are all so happy you enjoyed your time with us.
    Sincerely, Jennifer Thoms

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