The Virtual Roadtrip hits some of the East Coast's top coasters

March 28, 2020, 2:06 PM · We've made it all the way across the country on our virtual roadtrip! I so wish that I could get out on the road and do this trip for real right now. There's no better "social distancing" than getting behind the wheel and driving solo, after all. Alas, many locations have banned nonessential travel, so virtual trips will be the only ones we take for now.

But that can't stop me from imagining being on the road. Load up the car with food and hit a takeout window now and then. Sleep in the back. We're all good... except for the whole "where to go to the bathroom" thing. I've got an electric car now, so I don't stop at gas stations (and some are closing their restrooms to the public anyway). With restaurants and coffee spots closing their dining rooms, that means my preferred bathroom stops are inaccessible. Of course, long-haul truckers find places to go, so I suppose I could, too. But I think I'm losing the thread of this entire exercise, so let's skip the urological logistics and get back to the roller coasters.

After leaving Cedar Point, we've got a six-hour pretend drive from the Lake Erie coast, bypassing Cleveland and Pittsburgh, then over the Appalachians on our way to Hersheypark.

By the time we all can make this trip IRL, the new Bolliger & Mabillard hyper Candymonium should be open, along with the new Hershey's Chocolatetown entrance to the park. For now, though, we'll start our virtual visit with a video ride on my favorite current coaster in Hersheypark, GCI's racing woodie, Lightning Racer.

I also love the inversions on the Intamin accelerator Storm Runner.

Fellow Intamin coaster Fahrenheit also features plenty of tasty inversions.

And then there's Thigh Crush, er, Skyrush... which has its fans.

For the rest of the day, let's head over to Hershey's Chocolate World before hitting the road for our four-hour drive past Washington, DC into Virginia and on to Kings Dominion.

Opening in 1975 as the "sequel" to Kings Island, Kings Dominion offers two our our top 50 coasters worldwide, making this a must-stop destination on our trip. Let's start with RMC's Twisted Timbers.

And wrap our quick visit with the Intamin giga Intimidator 305.

It's just an hour or so down the road now to our final stop on this leg, Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

We'll continue "The Russell Meyer Show" with video rides on four of the park's newest coasters, starting with GCI's InvadR...

Followed by the Premier Rides Sky Rocky II, Tempesto...

Then Zierer's Verbolten...

And the B&M dive Griffon.

Let's complete the line-up with our top-rated coaster at the park, Apollo's Chariot...

The B&M inverted Alpengeist...

And my personal favorite - the first "upside down" coaster I ever rode, the iconic Loch Ness Monster.

I know that this is a theme park roadtrip, but I won't be able to resist taking a day or two to visit Colonial Williamsburg and the rest of the attractions in the area, which along with BGW, make this one of my favorite parts of the country to visit.

And remember, for when the parks reopen, our travel partner has discounted tickets on its Kings Dominion and Busch Gardens Williamsburg tickets pages.

Theme Park Insider's Virtual Roadtrip:

Replies (4)

March 29, 2020 at 3:58 PM

Thanks for this, Robert. Watching roller coaster videos is a good way to break the monotony of being stuck at home. Lightning Racer is really fun to ride and I love the flying snake dive on Storm Runner. Yeah, Skyrush has its fans but I'm not one of them. The layout is a work of genius but uh, the restraints...I-305 is seriously underrated, Twisted Timbers is much better than I anticipated and the lineup at BGW is pretty impressive. Alpengeist was my 1st invert.

March 30, 2020 at 10:21 AM

For me, Storm Runner is definitely the best coaster at Hersheypark. I don't think it gets the recognition it deserves. While its launch is not nearly as powerful as other Intamin hydraulic launched coasters, the unique layout more than makes up for it. It's pretty incredible how they weaved this coaster into the park's landscape.

However, the rest of the coasters at Hersheypark (aside from Lightning Racer) are definitely mediocre bordering on worst in class. I really like the the layout and forces generated by Skyrush, but those restraints just kill the experience. I certainly hope Intamin has refined the design as Pantheon appears to utilize very similar lap bars.

Kings Dominion has an interesting history because of the changing ownership/management over the years. What started as a park filled with carnival-style attractions embraced highly themed attractions until they went through another period of stock rides and then another stretch where highly themed unique attractions were installed. Now they're trying to straddle the line by giving non-IP theming to some unique attractions with some recent success like Twisted Timbers.

BGW is obviously the class of the Mid-Atlantic, yet has thrived without much reliance on IP (aside from Sesame Street). While the park has a number of record breaking/setting attractions, the rides have remained popular because of their theming and overall attention to detail when they were installed. BGW is the perfect example of the need to do things right from the beginning instead of allowing costs and time crunches to allow seemingly less important details to fall by the wayside.

March 30, 2020 at 12:11 PM

Russell, I have long been of the opinion that Storm Runner is the best coaster at Hershey. However, I don't think that Fahrenheit is at all bad. Great Bear seems to have a lot of fans but the only part of the ride that struck me as vital was the zero-g roll. Although similar in some respects, this coaster can't hold a candle to Talon at Dorney.

March 30, 2020 at 1:10 PM

I don't think Fahrenheit is "bad" per se, but among coasters with vertical lifts and beyond vertical drops, it's pretty far down the list. It also has a tendency to be pretty rough and whippy at times.

Great Bear ranks at the very bottom of B&M inverts I've ridden, which is nearly 2 dozen.

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