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What Was Your First Time...

July 29, 2015, 10:54 AM · ...On an upside down roller coaster?

Busch Gardens Williamsburg just uploaded an official POV video for its oldest coaster, the Arrow double interlocking-loop classic, Loch Ness Monster.

This coaster stands 130 feet over the park's Grove Creek... as well as very close to my heart. Nessie was the first roller coaster that convinced me to trust my life to the laws of physics. I was visiting Busch Gardens - The Old Country, as the park was known then, with my Boy Scout troop, so I had no parents or little sister there to comfort me had I decided to continue my tradition of only riding coasters where my head stayed about my feet at all times. No, my only companions were a few dozen other teen and pre-teen boys, who wouldn't hesitate to tease any fellow scout who showed the slightest fear of anything.

Loch Ness Monster

Taking a look at Nessie's unique design, I figured that since the loops were over water, should laws of physics fail me, I'd simply drop into the water, where I had a much better chance of surviving than if I'd plopped down onto hard concrete. So I climbed aboard... and enjoyed the best ride of my life. (Cue Homer Simpson: "So far.")

After my ride, I didn't hesitate as I bolted through the exit and ran back around to the entrance for another go.

I didn't visit the park again until a few years ago, when I brought my family to Busch Gardens Williamsburg on one of our cross-country summer roadtrips. And on that day, the Loch Ness Monster became the first upside-down roller coaster that my daughter ever rode, too.

When we finished, she didn't hesitate in grabbing my hand and pulling me toward the entrance to ride again.

What was the first upside-down coaster you ever rode, and what convinced you to put aside any fears and ride?

Replies (48)

July 29, 2015 at 10:57 AM · Nessie's tracks stood far above the tree line back in 1979, when I first rode it, making the ride seem all the more intimidating. And I still miss the in-tunnel effects, including the illuminated monster. Please, SeaWorld, show Nessie some love and come up with the cash to restore the Loch Ness Monster tunnel!
July 29, 2015 at 11:06 AM · Shockwave Six Flags over Texas summer of 1978. I was scared to death of those double loops but oh what fun it was!!
July 29, 2015 at 11:08 AM · I was the same exact way about my feet staying below my head, but my love of rock music and everyone telling me how cool the control room of Aerosmith's Rock n/ Rollercoaster was enough for me to face my fear. And I was thinking not being able to see would help my fear. Later in life I realized I really do prefer to see what's about to happen to better brace myself for what's to come.
July 29, 2015 at 11:13 AM · I was 8 or 9 years old when I first went head-over-heels. It was on Boomerang at Knott's Berry Farm, which means I logged my first six inversions in quick succession! I don't think I needed very much convincing, either! My older brother was very knowledgeable about physics and centrifugal force and I trusted his expert advice that there was no chance of me "falling out" in the loop. Of course, after that I never looked back.
July 29, 2015 at 11:14 AM · Coincidentally, my first time on an upside down coaster was also at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, on Alpengeist. I hated it, as this was early on in my coaster journey and going through inversions was torture until I got used to them and actually began to enjoy them. I'm confident that were I to ride it again I would love it. I may have an opportunity to revisit BGW at the end of August, re-ride Alpengeist and ride the Lock Ness Monster for the first time
July 29, 2015 at 11:46 AM · Riverside Amusement Park (Massachusetts) - There was this coaster that you had to climb many stairs, then there was this push cart that sent the train down the hill, did a loop, up a hill, stopped, sent you backwards down thru the same loop...And it was all over in 30 seconds.

Now this place\park is a Six flags New England...

I must admit this title threw me off a bit..hahaha

July 29, 2015 at 11:33 AM · For me it was The Mindbender at Six Flags over Georgia. When the ride opened, it was off on its own at the end of a trail beyond the park's Rail Road. That long walk to the entrance gave a person plenty of time to think about what they were about to face. I remember being pulled down during the first loop because of the forces, and knowing to sit up with more strength in the second loop. When it was over I wanted to go again. I still think it is one of the best coasters anywhere.
July 29, 2015 at 11:36 AM · I think it was American Revolution, at Magic Mountain in California. Boomerang might be a close second.
July 29, 2015 at 11:37 AM · Mine was Scorpion at Busch Gardens Tampa, and I was hoping that would by my son's first too. However, he was bouncing between 41.5 and 42" on our trip to Florida last fall and didn't quite measure up on the day we were at Busch Gardens. His first looping coaster ended up being The Demon at Six Flags Great America in May, and he couldn't get enough of it. I know that he would get on just about anything right now if he were tall enough.
July 29, 2015 at 11:44 AM · My first was Lightning Loops, Great Adventure, Jackson, New Jersey.
July 29, 2015 at 11:44 AM · My first was the Great American Revolution at Magic Mountain (not yet purchased by Six Flags). It was also the first modern coaster with a loop, I think. That was in the summer of 1976. I was 10 then. I'm old.

The rationalist in me said "if people were going to be falling out on the loop, I'd be seeing it happen, over and over." But they didn't, so I didn't mind trying it. I was a "seasoned" coaster enthusiast ever since my mom took me on the Giant Dipper at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk when I was 6.

The Revolution was a remarkably smooth coaster, and it goes through a short tunnel, where there used to be a strobe light. You could stand on the roof of the ice cream place which was right under the loop, and watch the loop close up, and keep an eye out for people losing their socks (the advertising claimed "it would knock your socks off!").

July 29, 2015 at 11:54 AM · Like Rob, my first time on a looping coaster was on Mindbender at Six Flags Over Georgia in 1979. Totally exhilarating. It seemed so odd to look up during a loop and see the tracks above you. Tried to re-ride as many times as possible but it was the new, big coaster at the park back then and the lines were considerable.

It holds a special place in my memory because it is the only looping coaster that I've ever been able to talk my wife into riding. (She still holds it against me.) ;>)

July 29, 2015 at 12:12 PM · My first big coaster was GhostRider, and when I rode that I was only 7 years old and had ridden less than 15 coasters. That ride terrified me and I refused to ride another big coaster after the experience. Therefore, my first inverting roller coaster ended up being the Windjammer Surf Racers at Knott's Berry Farm back in the year 2000. The ride looked cool, wasn't very big, the loop was above water, and I knew that the ride had been operating for several years without incident, so I decided to give it a try. The loop didn't bother me, but the rest of the ride did due to constant headbanging on the shoulder harness. At the time, I had been on less than 25 roller coasters and even then I thought the ride was terrible. I rode twice (so that I could try each track), and I wasn't disappointed when the ride closed a few months later.

Later that summer I went to Six Flags Magic Mountain, and while I was too afraid to ride Batman, Riddler's, or Viper, I did ride Revolution and despite some roughness I enjoyed it. I also gave Colossus a try and realized that big coasters aren't all super scary. However, the coaster that really convinced me to start trying more intense rides was California Screamin', which opened the following year. After that, I was still somewhat slow in expanding my coaster horizons, restricting it to one new feature at a time, but I made a point to try stuff even if I was a little hesitant. It took a few years before I was confident enough to ride everything, but now I absolutely love roller coasters of all types and it's been nearly ten years since I've hesitated before stepping aboard any thrill ride (Xcelerator was the most recent when I first rode it in 2006).

July 29, 2015 at 1:04 PM · White Lightnin' at Carowinds
July 29, 2015 at 1:12 PM · Corkscrew at Cedar Point, 1976. It was the first coaster with three inversions, and is still running. It's still fun to walk under the corkscrew portion and look up at riders looking down at you.
July 29, 2015 at 1:13 PM · Batman at Six Flags Great America. It used to hold a special place in my heart as a result, but because management has let the queue produce ghastly odors and maintenance has not been kind to the actual coaster (have not been to Great America this year so I don't know if it's still like this), I usually don't bother anymore. Tragic
July 29, 2015 at 1:18 PM · Montu at Busch Gardens Tampa! I'm afraid of heights but I was determined not to let that small detail stop me from any rides no matter how scary they were to me. I got into the front row and I was terrified and in ecstasy at the same time. Montu will always be special for me!
July 29, 2015 at 2:15 PM · For me, my first upside-down coaster was the Orient Express at the Worlds of Fun in Missouri

July 29, 2015 at 2:19 PM · First upside down was Dulling Dragons. I was afraid until recently, now I love them.
July 29, 2015 at 2:55 PM · Nessie was my first also. I was there for it's second year. The queue was really ahead of it's time back then. Yes, the tunnel experience was fantastic, as was the whole ride, looking over the world's most beautiful park. Busch Gardens the Old Country was really great in it's early years, as it captured the old Europe theme very well, and with their army of streetmosphere period costumed actors, made up largely of drama students from William & Mary, it seemed like you were transported back to that time period. It would be great if Sea World would loosen the purse strings and restore the Loch Ness tunnel & queue to it's early glory and bring back the large actor troupes.
July 29, 2015 at 3:07 PM · 1976, Turn of the Century at Marriott's Great America in Santa Clara, CA. And while the corkscrew element that flipped riders upside down twice was the main draw, it was the second and third airtime hills (replaced by vertical loops when the ride became the Demon in 1980) that really got my blood pumping. Great ride at a really great home park back in the day.
July 29, 2015 at 3:53 PM · Like many on the East Coast, my first upside-down coaster was Hershey's Sooper Dooper Looper, on a class trip in 1977...seventh grade. My second and third were in 1978, the first years for Loch Ness Monster and Lightnin' Loops at Great Adventure. Not sure which one I rode first...
July 29, 2015 at 4:15 PM · My first looper was also Nessie.
Followed by Anaconda at Kings Dominion.
July 29, 2015 at 4:57 PM · Off topic just a bit, but, Robert Niles was a guest on yesterday's Orlando United podcast and he was terrific. An hour of excellent theme park observations. Listen to it if any of you have the time.
July 29, 2015 at 5:10 PM · My first loop was the same as my mothers years before me, Revolution in Six Flags Magic mountain during the mid-90's. Fitting as it was the first looper ever as many of you guys have indicated, and was probably a first for many southern Californians during the 70's and 80's.
July 29, 2015 at 5:13 PM · It would have been in the late 1970's at Kings Island. It was their first looping coaster, The Screamin' Demon, which required riders to climb up five stories to reach the launch area. It would drop straight into the loop, go up the other side, stop briefly and then launch backwards back to the station.
July 29, 2015 at 5:18 PM · California Screamin at Disneyland Resort! I loved roller coasters, but I was nervous about loops. After my run on it, I've been Hooked since!
July 29, 2015 at 5:34 PM · American Scream Machine at Six Flags Great Adventure, but sadly they tore it down. :(
July 29, 2015 at 6:26 PM · My first roller coaster was Poltergeist, at Six Flags Fiesta Texas back in 2000 or 2001, and it just happened to go upside down - a lot. From pictures, it appears to be very similar to the Battlestar Galactica attraction at Universal Studios Singapore.

In any case, I was scared to death (figuratively speaking, of course) of a standard roller coaster's drop, and convinced myself that being launched would be a better alternative.

Now I love roller coasters, and it was all thanks to finding one that had a different way of accelerating.

July 29, 2015 at 7:47 PM · My first upside down coaster was the Carolina Cyclone at Carowinds (an arrow that was the first coaster to have 4 inversions apparently).
I was actually not as intimidated by the inversions as I was the drop to get to the inversions. I actually rode this on my "coaster journey" before I would ride Thunder Road (the wooden coaster that Carowinds is retiring this month).
I remember after getting past the drop I loved it (drops have always been my kryptonite..... and I have no intentions of trying Fury 325 for obvious reasons). I had already ridden an enterprise ride (the meteorite) that day that was basically like being in a constant loop..... so I was about as mentally prepared as one can be for the thrill of roller coaster loops and such. But still to this day..... The Carolina Cyclone is my favorite inverted coaster..... maybe one of my all time favorite coasters.... and of all the inverts I still think it has the best loops (it has those arrow loops that seem to go up and quickly come back down as oppose to the loops on some coasters that are so perfectly rounded).
July 29, 2015 at 10:05 PM · Mind Bender at Six Flags Over Georgia. I loved it so much I made my parents ride it over and over.
July 30, 2015 at 5:00 AM · Interestingly enough, one of the parks that I grew up on was Busch Gardens Tampa, and yet, my first inverted coaster was Rock n Rollercoaster at DHS. A few years prior, my dad tried to make my first inverted coaster the Scorpion, but once I saw that loop, I chickened out. And by chicken out, I mean I broke down and started crying. Then came Rock n Rollercoaster. As a really biased Disney fan, I of course had to give this one a shot. I knew this one would go upside down, so I was scared to death. And when I saw that launch at the queue, I nearly peed my pants. The one thing that kept me moving forward was that I really didn't wanna dissappoint my dad. When I rode, the loops were my favorite part. It was a new sensation that I had never felt before. A few months later I went on a field trip to IOA and rode Hulk and Dragon and enjoyed those too (this was about 3 weeks before Harry Potter opened). The following year we got the annual pass for both BGT and Seaworld and went on all those fun roller coasters... including Scorpion. Thank you to everyone who was involved in the making of Rock n Rollercoaster for expanding my roller coaster horizons and introducing me to what would become my most favorite musical genre, rock n roll.
July 30, 2015 at 5:41 AM · Great article, and some great comments.

My first loop would have been in the late 80s when I was about 9 - I went on Montezuma's Revenge at Knott's Berry Farm. I still remember my knees trembling and the slightly sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as I walked away afterwards.

Is Montezuma's Revenge even there anymore? I remember being quite amazed by the catapult start straight into a loop, something pretty commonplace these days.

In 2001 I was in the US for my brother's wedding and went with my family to 6FMM, the first ride we went on was the Viper. My cousin, about 10 years older than me (and I don't think had ever been on a real coaster before) was gung ho and ready for action. Following the Viper we moved onto I think the Ninja. Asked my cousin if he was coming? "Oh, I think I'll sit this one out." He didn't go on another ride for the rest of the day.

July 30, 2015 at 6:40 AM · My first was Knott's Berry Farm's Corkscrew in the old Roaring 20s area of the park (now the Boardwalk). I was 6, a little bit apprehensive but I was riding with my Dad and my older cousin, so I figured if they're not scared why should I be? It was fun and a great coaster. I still miss it now that for years its been replaced by the (IMHO) far lesser Boomerang.
July 30, 2015 at 8:27 AM · My first inversion was on California Screamin'.

Even though I was really scared, all my friends were going on it, and I didn't want to be left out. I ended up really enjoying it and the coaster helped spark my love of coasters.

July 30, 2015 at 8:56 AM · The Super Dooper Looper at HersheyPark. 1 Loop...that's it. For years I went with my family and watched them all ride while I stood at the fence and watched. I was certainly old enough but didn't have the backbone for it. The line for it was often 2 hours or more so someone was always told "your turn to stay with Sarah!" Finally around the age of 11, I got in line to experience "The First Looping Coaster on the East Coast!" With my eyes tightly closed and skin ashen white, I am amazed I am here today to tell the tale!

Today, there is a 5 minute wait for this coaster no matter how busy the park is. I still love it because of the memories but the thrill just isn't there. It did however launch my career as a coaster enthusiast because after that, there was no stopping me!! :D

July 30, 2015 at 10:19 AM · The Demon, Six Flags Great America, a wild steel coaster for its time, first rode it about 1982. Was scary at first (its demonic motif and cave didn't help a little kid) but soon got into it and been loving looping coasters since.
July 30, 2015 at 11:18 AM · I think I'm going to have to register here, as I'm commenting more and more! But for now, my first upside down coaster was The Corkscrew at Alton Towers in the UK. To be honest, I really didn't want to ride it, but my Uncle was in our party, and he was 'the cool relative'. Didn't want to look like a wimp by saying no, so I just sucked it in and went for it. Haven't looked back from that day on!!
July 30, 2015 at 2:31 PM · My first was a Demon.... The Demon at Six Flags Great America that is. This was back when there was a water fall within the Demon face mountain structure. Great picture spot. When Splash Water Falls left, I'm afraid that area just wasn't the same again IMO. It was a perfect first upside down coaster. Not too fast so you can actually enjoy the loops.
July 30, 2015 at 6:54 PM · My first loop was also Lockness! I watched my older brother do it first then I was brave enough. I liked it but I really fell in love with the big bad wolf. Still have a stuffed animal wolf somewhere I the attic ;-)
July 30, 2015 at 8:38 PM · The Incredible Hulk Coaster at IOA. Awesome experience, remember my dad saying the trip from Cancún, México to Orlando was worth it due to that coaster!
July 30, 2015 at 10:10 PM · Shockwave at Six Flags Over Texas. I was about 7. My mom convinced me that I would love it and took me and my little brother up the ramp to the platform. Upon arrival she told me I'd have to ride alone so she could take Matt. I ended up sitting with a stranger who told me if I scream or throw up do it on the other side so I didn't hit him. Changed everything. Made me the thrill ride junkie I am today!
July 31, 2015 at 6:19 AM · Shock Wave at Six Flags over Texas! Which was the tallest roller coaster in the world when it opened and seemed thousands of feet high to my young eyes. For years I was able to avoid riding it with a litany of excuses. That is until high school when I visited the park with a very pretty German exchange student named Susan who wanted to go on it. How could I say nein?
It looks like a kiddie ride now. I wonder if future generations will say the same about Top Thrill Dragster? Ha! Only 420 feet tall. Lame.
July 31, 2015 at 10:06 AM · Super Duper Looper at Hershey Park circa 1983. Couldn't get enough. OOOps I guess I am dating myselft here....
July 31, 2015 at 6:37 PM · My first loop coaster was also my first coaster -- Alpengeist at Busch Gardens Williamsburg when it opened in 1997. Growing up as an only child with parents who didn't ride rides, it was just never something I wanted to try.

I had just started dating my now husband and our first trip together was to Busch Gardens for my 33rd birthday. I did not want to admit I was terrified, so I didn't tell him of my coaster virginity until it was over. But I loved it! We found a passion we shared and over the next few years, rode over 100 coasters together.

Then marriage and kids came along and we haven't ridden much since. But we'll get back to it someday. We've taken the kids to a few parks, but they're more into water rides than coasters for now.

August 2, 2015 at 9:02 AM · THE Cockscrew at Knott's Berry Farm, followed almost immediately by the park's Montezuma's Revenge -- 1988
August 3, 2015 at 5:25 AM · Kraken at Seaworld Orlando was my first every upside down coaster! I was roughly 11 I think? Maybe slightly older. My mum convinced me (read: DRAGGED ME) on. But i'm so glad she did :)
August 3, 2015 at 11:46 PM · Mine was DHS's Rockin Roller Coaster!

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