Summer Vacation & Roller Coasters

So you think Christmas is the greatest time of the year?  Think again.  Because I have two words for you:  Summer  Vacation.  If you disagree then you were never ten years old… or you were home-schooled.  In which case, well– I’m sorry.  Sure, in some circles “summer vacation” may be seen as controversial, but quite honestly, to heck with those guys.  Personally, I didn’t like school much and summer vacation was a much needed reprieve to recharge my batteries for the oncoming school-year.  Plus, summer vacation had plenty of other benefits too.

For me, my vacation of choice as a kid was Disney World.  Now sure, there are multiple theme parks within “Walt Disney World Resort”, such as Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but when I think of Disney World, I think of the Magic Kingdom.  Don’t know what that is?  Have you ever seen that castle in all of Disney’s logos?  Yep, that’s the castle in the Magic Kingdom.  Suffice to say, if you try to imagine Disney World without ever actually being there, you’re probably picturing the Magic Kingdom.  So why is Disney World my favorite vacation?  Because I love theme parks, and unlike other theme parks, Disney World is a true destination.  It’s a resort, where you’re supposed to stay and have fun for a few days instead of just making a day trip out of it.

If you prefer day trips though, then you’re in luck, because there’s a Disney World built just for you—Disneyland!  I’m originally from California, and let me just say that even though it’s not a full out resort, Disneyland is still awesome.  While most simply describe Disneyland as being smaller than Disney Word, that’s not entirely the case.  Disneyland isn’t smaller so much as it’s just “The Magic Kingdom” without all of the other theme parks and attractions surrounding it.  That said, the park has expanded greatly over the past 20 years with California Adventures built right across from it, as well as downtown Disney nearby.  Disneyland is cumulatively the most popular them park of all time, and in 2009 it was the second most visited theme park in the world.

The only problem with Disney parks are the roller coasters.  To be fair, they’re perfect if you have young children with you, so it makes sense that Disney’s roller coasters would be tame.  If you’re a big kid though, then you might want to get yourself over to Six Flags New England in Agawam, Massachusetts.  Six Flags New England is home to what many believe to be the greatest roller coaster in the world: “Bizarro”.  What’s interesting about “Bizarro” is while it isn’t a game-changing record breaker, it’s still an absolute favorite among roller coaster fans for simply being a fun, well made ride.

“Bizarro’s” closest rival is without doubt “Millennium Force” at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.  During its first year (2000), “Millennium Force” was the tallest closed-circuit roller coaster in the world.  Today, it’s still the longest steel roller coaster in the United States, and third overall with “The Beast” and “Son of Beast” at Kings Island being the two roller coasters that surpass it.  “Millennium Force” is another example of a ride that despite losing many of its world records has continued to be a favorite among fans simply because it is so much fun and well made.

Speaking of “The Beast” and “Son of Beast”, I couldn’t just mention those rides while just glazing over them.  The Beast, is quite simply the longest wooden roller coaster in the world.  It’s sequel, “Son of Beast” is the tallest, and fastest wooden roller coaster.  Up until 2006, “Son of Beast” also had a vertical loop.  (The trains had to be replaced with lighter models due to an unrelated accident, so the loop had to be removed.)  Even without the loop though, “Son of Beast” is still a record holder.  Unfortunately, for the past few years the ride has been closed.  Roller coaster fans world-wide eagerly await its reopening.

If you’re looking for the actual tallest and one of the fastest roller coasters in the world, then you’re looking for “Kingda Ka”, located at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey.  The ride features a 418 foot drop– and let’s just think about that for a moment.  That’s the equivalent of falling off the top of a 40 story building.  The ride then goes on to reach a top speed of 128 mph.  Suffice to say, this is a ride of extremes, and while roller coasters such as “Bizarro” and “Millennium Force” may win out for over all fun, this is a ride designed for bragging rights.  It’s one of those rides you need to go on at least once just so you can say you’ve done it.

With summer fast approaching, I’m looking forward to my kids finishing up school for a few months so we can hop in the car and head out for some sunshine filled fun.  Whether it’s Disneyland, a roller coaster, or heck—just going to the beach, what makes summer activities the most fun is doing them with your friends and family.

photo credits: pattyequalsawesome, Andrew 94,

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