The preparations for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom put me in a nostalgic mood for good — and occasionally harrowing — times aboard other Central Florida roller coasters. I've been having flashbacks of many ups and downs for some of our thrill rides. I'm not sharing about all the rides today, so you'll have to make your own anti-Yeti cracks for Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Ups: The Islands of Adventure coaster's sudden and surprising launch up the first lift hill is a sadistic pleasure. I like to casually ask the stranger next to me "Have you ever been on this ride?" If the answer is no, there's usually cussing right upon takeoff. I also like the attention-grabbing roar of this coaster.
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Downs: It once ate my cell phone. Yes, it was my fault for thinking my device could survive a trip tucked into my cargo-pants pocket. Lesson learned: Use the lockers that are provided for free, kids.
Ups: In the early days, when it was still known as Dueling Dragons and Harry Potter was not on the IOA landscape, I rode in the front row of the Fire side, got off, cut through the queue and got directly on the front row of the Ice side. Then I had to walk it off.
Downs: I miss the trademark near-miss element of this ride. The timing of the trains was staggered after passengers said they had been hit by debris from the other side. See locker comment above, kids.
Revenge of the Mummy
Ups: The special effects of this Universal Studios coaster are fun and creepy. And I really appreciate that it took the space once held by Kongfrontation and its endless, inhumane queue.
Downs: Insert your own Brendan Fraser joke here.
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
Ups: I like the selling point of this Universal coaster: picking your own soundtrack for the trip (not to mention the hidden track). For me, the fun part of the ride is the sideways crowd-surfing maneuver over folks waiting their turn.
Downs: I wasn't freaked out by the straight-up lift hill until we got on it and were forced to stare at the sky in an overturned-turtle position.
Ups: During a high-school trip to Disney World, we were on the PeopleMover skirting the edge of Space Mountain — and the lights were on, revealing the knot of steel. That made it scarier.
Downs: High school was a long time ago. Now, Space Mountain gives me aches, pains and an awkward moment trying to get out of the ride vehicle.
Ups: The first time I ever rode this overlooked coaster at Disney's Animal Kingdom, the spinning and sound effects were perfectly timed. We laughed and laughed.
Downs: That synchronicity hasn't happened to me again. (Plus, I'm not a fan of the carnivalish, Gatlinburg-esque look of the ride's Dinoland home.)
Ups: Hands down, this SeaWorld coaster sports the best riding position in town. Think Superman — or a manta, I guess. It's especially great soaring past the waterfall near the end.
Downs: The G-forces in the first dramatic loop are my Kryptonite. I cope by chanting that it lasts only a few seconds, but … aargh. Random quotes from my friends about Manta: "I should tell you I have a tendency to pass out on these things," one said in pre-flight. Oops. "That was awesome," said another, laughing. "I'm never riding it again."
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