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Roller Coaster Madness: 2013 Summer Amusement Park Vacation Planner

The temps are rising into the 70s. The sun is emerging from its winter hiatus. It’s about that time to start thinking about what you’re going to do this summer. If you’re a roller coaster junkie like me, at least one trip to a theme park is a must every season.

Over the past few months (and years) here at WGN-TV, I’ve been able to ride, and report on, some of the Midwest’s premiere attractions. I thought I would put all of those stories and posts into a collection here on the site to give you a better look at all of your options this summer.

We went to ride Batman Backwards at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee. I drove down to Branson, Missouri to check out Silver Dollar City and their looping wooden coaster Outlaw Run. I was at Cedar Point for their big premiere of GateKeeper, a record breaking wing coaster. I’ll also share a few posts on rides I’m dying to ride – like Hades 360 at Mt. Olympus in the Wisconsin Dells, the Iron Rattler down at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, and more attractions from across the country.

Have fun this summer and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @MarcusLeshock and on Facebook at Facebook.com/leshock.

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On tonight’s WGN News at Five, we’re taking a look at all of the new roller coasters and attractions opening at theme parks across the Midwest and the nation.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE FULL 2013 SUMMER AMUSEMENT PARK PLANNER!

On tonight’s WGN News at Five, I’ll be reporting on a new twist for an classic attraction at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee. Batman: The Ride opened in 1992. It was the world’s first suspended looping roller coaster. Popularity, and lines, were off the charts – it remains one of the park’s most popular coasters to this day.

For a limited time this summer, Great America is running the coaster in reverse. I was able to ride it a few days ago, and we’ll be sharing that with you at 5pm. The story will be posted here after it airs. Here’s more information on the park…

Six Flags Great America | Gurnee, Illinois | Open through October | Tickets available online for $41.99 at SixFlags.com/GreatAmerica

This week is the big media preview of Iron Rattler, the anticipated steel/wood hybrid coaster at Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio. Watch a preview video from some of the ride’s test runs above. I’ll add the official POV when it’s available! Here’s more info about the park…

Six Flags Fiesta Texas | 17000 IH-10 West, San Antonio, TX | (210) 697-5050 | Tickets $41.99 online | SixFlags.com/FiestaTexas

Dollywood will be opening its first Water Coaster this season, portions of the ride will be more than 230 feet in the air. Watch a preview in the video above. Here’s more info on Dollywood…

Dollywood | 2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd, Pigeon Forge TN | 1-800-Dollywood | Adults 12-59 $56, Kids 4-11 $44, Seniors 60+ $51 | Dollywood.com

Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park is currently in the process of adding a barrel roll to its wooden roller coaster Hades – now calling it Hades 360. Not only will it feature an inversion, but Mt. Olympus is planning to utilize Gravity Group’s Timberliner trains, which are meant to give the smoothness of steel to a wooden coaster. Rocco Casella and Scott Schaffer of One Wheel Productions got a behind-the-scenes tour of ride construction. Their interview is posted above. We’ll update this post as we get more word on construction. Here’s more on the park….

Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park | 1881 Wisconsin Dells Parkway | 800.800.4997 | Tickets $29.99 online | MtOlympusPark.com

And here’s the ride animation….

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEtAtcDA8iM

As seen on tonight’s WGN News at Five, Santa’s Village is once again back open as the Santa’s Village Azoosment Park. Here’s more information…

Santa’s Village Azoosment Park | 601 Dundee Ave. | 847.426.6751 | santasvillagedundee.com

It’s been a long week of roller coasters for me. Before I head to the chiropractor, I thought I would wrap up our coverage at Cedar Point with the full POV (point of view) video of GateKeeper. Here is a look at the full ride from the front car looking out to the track, along with the camera looking back at me riding. Enjoy!

Follow Marcus on Twitter @MarcusLeshock and on Facebook at Facebook.com/leshock.

On the WGN Morning News, we were Around Town at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. They were hosting the grand opening of their new record-breaking wing coaster GateKeeper.

Watch our first live hit from the park in the attached video. Here’s more info about Cedar Point…

Cedar Point | Sandusky, Ohio | Opens Saturday, May 11 | Tickets $44.99 online, available at cedarpoint.com

On the WGN Morning News, we were Around Town at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. They were hosting the grand opening of their new record-breaking wing coaster GateKeeper.

Before we got to that, I talked with CP’s Rob Decker about some of my other favorite rides in the park – Top Thrill Dragster, Millennium Force, and one I’ve always wanted to ride, Maverick. Watch our first live hit from the park in the attached video. Here’s more info about Cedar Point…

Cedar Point | Sandusky, Ohio | Opens Saturday, May 11 | Tickets $44.99 online, available at cedarpoint.com

I’ve been talking about it all week. I was among the first to ride the record-breaking wooden roller coaster Outlaw Run at Branson’s Silver Dollar City.

But I wasn’t the ONLY one.

LESHOCK ON RIDE

On tonight’s WGN News at Five, we’ll be talking with all of the coaster enthusiasts who were there to take a ride, and show you some of the amazing video they shot on board. We’ll also talk to Rocky Mountain Construction’s Fred Grubb, who created and built the ride alongside designer Alan Schilke. Fred told us all about RMC’s new technology that lets Outlaw Run take riders upside down three times.

If you’d like to visit Silver Dollar City, they open today. Here’s more information about the park…

Silver Dollar City | 399 Silver Dollar City Pkwy,  Branson, MO | 417-336-7100 | $58 adults, $48 kids 4-11, kids 3-under FREE | www.silverdollarcity.com

Besides the many, many times I was able to ride Outlaw Run, the coolest part of the trip was meeting the people behind all of those amusement websites I’m wasting time on at work (don’t tell the boss). Here’s a link to the people you’ll see in the story (and some that didn’t make it), along with an Outlaw Run video from their site…

One Wheel Productions - Rocco Casella and Scott Schaffer put together this awesome Outlaw Run video cut to Frank Sinatra’s “Come Fly With Me”….

 

Roller Coaster Database – The IMDB of roller coasters. This is where you go to find ANYTHING about ANY rollercoaster ANYWHERE. Or close to it.

Theme Park Review – You probably know all about Robb Alvey by now, but just in case, his ThemeParkReview.com has a review/video of pretty much every roller coaster you can imagine. Here’s some video he shot of Outlaw Run from the back of the train…

 

ThrillRide.com – We talked with Chris Godsey. Click here for a link to all of their ride reviews.

CoasterForce.com - The guys behind CoasterForce were on site as well. They have all kinds of coaster videos on their site. Here’s their video with all of the first Outlaw Run riders on Silver Dollar City’s opening day….

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