10. Katun – Mirabilandia (Savio, Italy)
Nothing says “power move” like building a record-breaking B&M Invert when a Batman clone would have sufficed (although, if you consider this ride a 1-up of Gardaland’s Vekoma SLC, Blue Tornado, then maybe bigger really was better). At exactly 1200m long, Katun treated Italy to the longest inverted coaster in Europe – a record it still holds today – with a unique radiance that only B&M could provide. Massive, elegant inversions may leave fans of “snappy” B&Ms feeling less satisfied, but Katun’s alternating corkscrews separated by an underground tunnel is still one of the most impressive post-midcourse maneuvers anywhere.
9. G5 Diving Machine – Janfusun Fancyworld (Koo-Kung Hsiang, Taiwan)
One of the more obscure stars of the year 2000 was the unlikely combo of dramatic jungle terrain and a mirror image of Alton Towers’ unorthodox B&M prototype, Oblivion. Now more relevant than ever, B&M Dive Coasters were a slow burn that saw a 5 year gap between installations – G5, while thrilling and beautiful, was never meant to expound on the foundation laid by Oblivion – and so therein the one-trick-pony-bubble remained the concept for the first half of the 2000s. Having said that, G5 improves on Oblivion in all ways but technical: the ride’s 180ft drop and fan curve now highlighted by the sharp sloping hillside upon which the ride is perched, and the moody X-Sector aesthetic was swapped for bright colors and a delightfully curious Mandarin Chinese name translation (G5 Flying Submarine). And the view from the top? Breathtaking.
8. Boss – Six Flags St. Louis (Eureka, MO)
Something challenging about this article was how to approach defunct coasters; our 1999 article wasn’t complete without Gwazi and Dueling Dragons, but 2000 came with a much more inconsistent series of rides that didn’t make it to 2020 (some were so short lived that getting sufficient testimonies with which to rank them was virtually impossible). To say the Premier Parks era of Six Flags went crazy at around this time is an understatement (Six Flags Ohio? Walibi? Five marquee coasters themed to Superman?), but one of their more fascinating moves was the sudden obsession with “next gen” wood coasters. Of the six CCI coasters built by Premier Parks-era Six Flags (complete with ghastly fiberglass trains from a then-unheard-of Gerstlauer), only the Boss remains – a testament to Six Flags St. Louis’ longevity and, quite possibly, their inability to convince upper management to greenlight an RMC conversion. Plastic trains notwithstanding, Boss figuratively and literally soars through the trace edges of Ozark landscape, CCI’s iconic fan turns scalloping the hillside and taking their rightful place in the spotlight. There might be a little less Boss to speak of now that the helix is gone, but that’s not what anyone came for anyway.
7. Goliath – Six Flags Magic Mountain (Valencia, CA)
The ironic thing about the two biggest coasters in the US in 2000 – which were built by the two biggest coaster parks in the country – is that neither really focused on airtime. Millennium Force’s best defense was that the airtime-heavy Magnum XL–200 is in the same park, so what’s Goliath‘s defense? It doesn’t have one – Six Flags Magic Mountain was basically devoid of a good airtime coaster until Twisted Colossus. What makes Goliath special are those absolutely redonkulous G-forces. What possessed Giovanola to design a roller coaster with a helix that practically steamrolls its victims? Nobody builds rides like this anymore. Perhaps even more so than any other coaster on this list, Goliath continues to accrue value with each passing year as other mega coaster designers shy away from strong positive G’s.
6. Lightning Racers – Hersheypark (Hershey, PA)
Based on feedback from our Pennsylvania Top 10, we found out that most people wouldn’t rank Lightning Racers as the 6th best coaster(s) in the state. Well guess what? Now it’s #6 on this list too. Maybe we’re just suckers for a gorgeously choreographed dueling wood coasters with chaser lights and a checkered flag at the finish line, but honestly we’re surprised that people don’t seem to be *quite* as crazy about this GCI masterpiece as we are. Maybe people would like Lightning Racers more if it had an enclosed brake run with light polluted, B-movie-style monster animations projected on the walls.
5. Millennium Force – Cedar Point (Sandusky, OH)
Disclaimer: This is us meeting you half way. For every person that needed Millennium Force at #1 on this list, another one needed it off the top 10 entirely, so here we are. To be honest, our general wave of dislike for Millennium Force did break this year – something about the ride being twenty now makes us want to view the its shortcomings as charming quirks rather than missed opportunities. We never thought that a giga coaster could claim to have character, but again – here we are. Those little tunnels? Adorable. That knotted mess over Forbidden Frontier? Charming. That straightaway before the last turn? Still dumb but we’re over it now. That first drop? Still flawless.
4. Legend – Holiday World (Santa Claus, IN)
Fun Fact: CCI coasters at Six Flags parks weren’t the only ones that received Gerstlauer trains. For its first season, Legend featured them as well, and their performance (or lack thereof) was enough to drive Holiday World to switch to PTC trains the following year. Built as a follow-up to the immensely successful Raven, Legend went higher, faster, longer, and for lack of a better word, weirder. And we like weird. A sweeping, curvaceous first drop and follow-up incline leads riders through a forest of waterslide towers and a variety of tunnels, with unexpected forces (particularly laterals) speckled throughout. The ride’s second half in particular – a giant camelback hill, an unbanked double helix, and a dive under the log flume – is pure poetry.
3. Dominator / Batman Knight Flight – Kings Dominion (Doswell, VA)
We were not among the fortunate few who rode Batman Knight Flight in its original overwater location at Six Flags Worlds of Adventure, but our understanding is that the setting made this strong ride even stronger – even in its grassy-bare hood ornament location at Kings Dominion, Dominator shines brighter than the average B&M. A clear winner of the year 2000 Floorless pedigree, Dominator‘s bizarre circular shape (which was the result of fitting the tight spatial constraints of Kentucky Kingdom’s front half, before the project was rerouted to Six Flags Ohio, of course) and a mere 5 inversions set the ride apart at a glance, but riding it pushes the point even further. The first drop and loop feel straightforward enough, but the superb 90º banked dirt turn and subsequent raised turnaround above the station quickly shake off expectations of the B&M formula. The ride’s lengthy post-midcourse segment bookends the otherwise conventional cobra roll and interlocking corkscrews with a series of strong non-inversion elements not found on Dominator‘s contemporaries, and we must admit the ride is all the better for it.
2. Boulder Dash – Lake Compounce (Bristol, CT)
The best wooden coaster of 2000 (and possibly the decade) as well as Custom Coasters International’s star achievement goes to none other than Lake Compounce’s Boulder Dash. Like a wilder, more scenic, and substantially more airtime-focused version of Legend, Boulder Dash remains a best case scenario for terrain rides, particularly in the case of its tree-obscured first half. Additionally, few coasters can boast a finale as strong as Boulder Dash‘s cacophony of varied airtime hills leading riders back to the station. Perhaps the hottest take on this countdown is Boulder Dash taking anything but first place, but we promise we have a good excuse.
1. Steel Dragon 2000 – Nagashima Spa Land (Kuwana, Japan)
We hope this isn’t too much of a hot take, but for us there was no other choice in our minds than Steel Dragon 2000. Though this staggeringly-large Morgan Manufacturing masterpiece was already a strong case for 2000’s best coaster upon opening, but the 2013 switch to custom B&M rolling stock (a move that could not have possibly been more mystifyingly divine if it tried) elevated the ride experience to utter nirvana. This is handily our favorite Giga Coaster, and quite possibly our favorite coaster over 200ft (though nearby Fujiyama is a fierce contender for that title), and easily one of our favorite coasters in the Eastern Hemisphere: Two-abreast B&M clamshell trains on 2,479m of track that features eleven (!) strong moments of airtime? It’s nothing if not sugoi.
And so concludes our year 2000 class reunion – we hope you enjoyed our ranking of the Top 20 coasters that turned 20 in 2020, and we look forward to seeing your thoughts on our social media platforms. Sayonara, 2020! Here’s to 2021!