Theme Park Ranger
9:31 AM EDT, May 30, 2013
Two new coasters have rolled into Orlando. White Lightning and Freedom Flyer are now open to guests and are part of Fun Spot America's $25-million expansion plan.
Neither ride falls into the world's fastest, tallest, longest or most dramatic categories. But they manage to put more of the namesake fun into Fun Spot, near International Drive.
Walk toward the lightning
One title that White Lightning can claim immediately is "only wooden coaster in Orlando."
It certainly looks the part, with an out-and-back route and bright, white support structure. Lightning has an L-shaped design, with one leg consisting mainly of the big lift hill and the other featuring hills and valleys with sharp, throw-you-on-your-side track twists.
It also sounds the part, with clack-clack-clack noise accompanying the 12-passenger car up to its 75-foot peak. From there, the car makes a twisting turn to the left and downward, a dramatic fall when seen from the front row. It seemed like more of straight-down experience aboard the coaster than it did on solid ground.
That coincided with my first of several "Wow, this is fun" moments. Top speed is 48 mph, but speeding by the surrounding area — including the traffic on nearby Grand National Drive — is exhilarating.
We rollicked with small air time — man, that tight lap bar was holding me down — out to the corner where the coaster banks strongly to the left to begin the return trip. That's when I was happy I had secured my keys and left electronic devices in the car.
Heading back to the station on a lower trek, I was reminded of riding the Racer at Kings Island amusement park near Cincinnati in my teen years. But primarily I was happy not to be tossed about too much. Other wooden-coaster experiences have made me worry about breaking a hip. White Lightning is smooth sailing.
Gonna fly now
For Freedom Flyer, I took a back-row ride and was rewarded with a nice kick heading down its first hill. That was an eye-opener. After that, gravity does much of the work.
There's a winding stretch that has riders dangling above Fun Spot's new plaza, and the ride gives a good view of the double-decker carousel and a new ride called Enterprise, which I heard two teens refer to as "the insane Ferris wheel."
The steel coaster is most intense at the end, with a spiral descent that elicited the most screams. That's followed by a curiously abrupt stop, but, hey, that's better than slowly gliding into the load station.
There are no loops, so no over-the-shoulder restraints are required. I am a known gripper, the kind of rider who doesn't put arms up in the air, but I appreciated the liberation of movement that Freedom Flyer gives.
Both coasters will be part of Fun Spot's grand reopening on June 8. All-day bands will sell for $15 until noon.
Before then, guests can pay $39.95 for a pass that includes almost every Fun Spot attraction, including go-kart tracks. You can go a la carte, although $9 per coaster ride is pretty steep considering each is about one minute long. Parking — and just watching — are free.
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Fun Spot America
Where: 5700 Fun Spot Way
When: 10 a.m.-midnight daily (closes at 11 p.m. on Sundays)
Cost: Fun Spot rides all day for $39.95 ($29.95 for guests shorter than 54 inches)
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