Our Top 10 Biggest Surprise Coasters of 2019

5. Fēnix – Toverland

While I wouldn’t say that Fēnix wasn’t a key contributor in our decision to visit Toverland, it’s also safe to say that we would’ve visited the park regardless. With that in mind (as well as a somewhat lukewarm opinion of B&M Wing Coasters at the time), Fēnix totally bowled us over with its thematic integration, swift pacing, and unprecedented forces (for a Wing, anyway).

4. Steel Dolphin – Shanghai Haichang Ocean Park

As the park’s only (operating) coaster, Steel Dolphin was a ride that we were willing to accept as “just another credit” in a new park we visited out of sheer curiosity alone. Little did we know that Steel Dolphin would be the Maverick vs Cheetah Hunt composite of our dreams – with rolling stock and infrastructural interweaving that outclasses both of its US counterparts.

3. Rougarou – Cedar Point

As late as we were to the Cedar Point party (neither of us had visited since before Gatekeeper), we considered ourselves adequately prepared for what to expect from Rougarou – perhaps every Ohioan’s favorite B&M to hate. Nevertheless, we found the ride to be an infectious melting pot of some of our favorite B&M-isms, bubbling over the brim and oozing with character. Head-banging? What head-banging?

2. Walrus Splash – Chimelong Ocean Kingdom

This extended Mack SuperSplash was the third of three major credits we hit at our new-favorite-park-in-progress, Chimelong Ocean Kingdom. With the dynamic Polar Explorer Mack Water Coaster still in our rear view mirror, we couldn’t help but ask ourselves if two water coasters were necessary. As Europa Park proved years before, the answer is an emphatic “yes” – but Chimelong Ocean Kingdom proved that there’s always room for two water coasters, even when they make up 66% of your marquee coaster collection. Walrus Splash reads like the underdog on paper, but in practice it’s the more memorable of the two Macks, its visionary presence more than making up for being the park’s less “coaster-y” water coaster.

1. Dinosaur Mountain – China Dinosaurland

A quick Roller Coaster Data Base search gave us a vague idea of what to expect from Dinoconda‘s indoor parkmate, but that was months ago and we were tired. “What was this ride again? I don’t remember. It’s a surprise now.” And surprised we were – inside the unassuming steel box was an 80ft non-launched Zamperla Motorbike (velociraptor) coaster with a killer first drop, unexpected Gs, and hypnotic, glowing scenery. We didn’t know you had it in you, Zam! Literally!

And so another year of coasters comes to a close – we can’t wait to see what surprises next year (and next decade!) has in store!

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