Knott's Berry Farm asks roller coaster fans to dive in with HangTime

May 17, 2018, 7:08 PM · Surf's up once again at Knott's Berry Farm, where HangTime is remaking the park's Boardwalk with a wild new roller coaster experience for Southern California thrill ride fans.

Knott's is calling HangTime the first dive coaster on the west coast. But this is a Gerstlauer Infinity model, not a Bolliger & Mabillard Dive Coaster, the model most commonly associated with that term. So if by "dive coaster," Knott's simply means a coaster with a 90-some-degree drop, didn't Six Flags Magic Mountain do that already in this market with X, way back in 2002? (Not to mention Xcelerator, right next door on the Boardwalk.)

Okay, X didn't offer the forward-facing dive that has become the industry standard on all those B&Ms, but more of a reverse somersault into and out of its 90-degree, face-down drop. So rather than call shenanigans on the whole "dive coaster" thing, let's give Knott's credit for offering a new experience to roller coaster fans on the west coast.

And you can't beat the view from the top of HangTime, either. Knott's gives riders an exhilarating (or excruciating?) 12-second pause at the top of the lift to look over the Boardwalk and the surrounding Buena Park neighborhood before dropping you into an acrobatic series of overbanked turns and loops.

HangTime isn't about the 57 mph top speed, but all those flips and turns as it disorients you sense of what is up and what is down. If the coaster's opening moment is the hang time, the rest of this surfing-themed ride is the wipeout, as the waves throw you around, back toward the beach (aka unload).

Like Electric Eel, which opened last week at SeaWorld San Diego, HangTime doesn't stop to allow you a breath. The closest thing to a pause on the coaster are those moments when the train slows to "hang" at the top of its loops and turns. From the drop at the top to the final brake, I timed 42 seconds of non-stop action, during which I had only the vaguest notion of whether my body was riding upright or inverted.

But even though it's a wild ride, it never feels too extreme. Thanks to the relatively moderate speed of the coaster, I never felt the punishing G forces that I feared might make HangTime's movement unbearable for many riders.

Including me. I have to admit that my first experience on a Gerstlauer wasn't a positive one, so I came on to HangTime with some unusual trepidation. Dollywood's Mystery Mine kicked my ass — or more accurately, my head — the first time I rode it, so I wondered how smooth HangTime would feel.

No worries here. As smooth as an ocean breeze, HangTime slips from one element to the next, providing a comfortable ride in its bucket seats with a clamshell lap restraint. No over-the-shoulder harnesses or leg-pinching shin guards here. It's as comfortable a set-up as I've ever felt on a coaster.

And for all the great views on the coaster during the day, the off-ride view is just as amazing at night. I love how the track lighting follows the train after dark, forever chasing that wave.

So where does HangTime rank? Obviously, that decision is personal and up to each fan to decide. For me, HangTime is already my favorite coaster at Knott's and the best coaster I've ridden in Orange County.

Update: Here is the full video of tonight's opening ceremony for HangTime:

Replies (10)

May 17, 2018 at 8:02 PM

Nice job. I have a huge soft spot in my heart for Knott's anyway, but they really Knott-it-out-of-the-park ;) with not only the coaster but the theming.

May 18, 2018 at 12:57 AM

Robert, my only complaint is that you were riding alone. We all know that coasters are best when ridden with friends! Still, it looks like you had a great time riding what might be the second best new coaster in America this year ("cough,cough', Steel Vengeance,"cough,cough"). Great report!

May 18, 2018 at 7:16 AM

But hey, it looks like HangTime might be able to run more than one train at a time! (LOL)

May 18, 2018 at 8:04 AM

It will be interesting to see if they can keep the line moving. This coaster, like the RMC Raptors and Electric Eel, has a pretty low capacity. Granted Knott's is full of low capacity coasters like Xcelerator, Pony Express, and Montezuma's Revenge, so perhaps guests will not be bothered by the slow moving line on a coaster that can only push 16 guests through every minute or so.

May 18, 2018 at 8:05 AM

Excellent report, Robert! I got to ride this during pass previews last weekend, and I'm going back today for more rides. It really is the perfect fit for Knott's: thrilling without being too extreme, compact yet delivering a ton in a small space, and very smooth with a unique feel compared to everything else in the area. I can't decide whether I prefer it or Xcelerator, but HangTime is definitely up there among So Cal's coasters.

May 18, 2018 at 8:54 AM

Good, comprehensive review! This was my 3rd most highly anticipated coaster of 2018.Wish I could ride some of the coasters in CA but it's a trek from the east coast and I can't see of any way to get around except by car. (Although it's obviously a trek to get to parks in the UK, where I'm going next week, I have the option of taking a train.) Too scared to drive in CA and Uber is expensive when going that distance. Having recently run up close to $250 in Uber and taxi fares travelling between Springfield/Branson airport and Silver Dollar City, I'd welcome any suggestions about the easiest and cheapest way to get to Knotts and Magic Mountain.

May 18, 2018 at 9:19 AM

I was there two days before opening and it was 1 1/2 wait in line so I didn't go plus it was for season pass holders only but it looked so much fun hoping in a yr it'll be good too.

May 19, 2018 at 5:56 AM

Considering the height of the first drop, the hanging element seems rather futile to me.

May 19, 2018 at 6:35 AM

Trying to talk my kids into riding it.

They love GhostRider and California Screamin' over at Disney CA, but are afraid of Silver Bullet, Xcelerator, and Supreme Scream at Knott's. This new ride looks to extreme, especially that first hill.

May 19, 2018 at 11:28 AM

The first drop reminds me most of Maverick at Cedar Point. But HangTime pivots out of its inversions, which helps reduce the load of G forces on you, making this feel much less intense than SB, Xcelerator, or even Supreme Scream.

It's ironic that the lift hill is going to intimidate so many potential riders, because the experience itself isn't nearly as extreme as that first lift and drop look to be.

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