Roller Coaster Therapy in 2 Sunny States
I’ve never had a knack for romanticism. Or gift giving. Or even delivering well-timed compliments. For me, Valentine’s Day may as well be called “the day before the week that I can buy really cheap candy.” But for those who have neither a date nor a taste for drugstore chocolate, Valentine’s Day can be a bit of a stress-fest. That’s why I’m renaming the 15th of February “roller coaster therapy day.”
If you think about it, it’s a perfect post V-Day solution. Instead of the ups and downs of a long-term relationship, you get the twists and turns of a 70mph roller coaster ride. Butterflies in your stomach? Sweaty palms? Yep. It’s like all the adrenaline of a first kiss plotted out over 4,000 feet of track. And in the sunny states of California and Florida, you can find great thrills even in February. Here are a few of my favorites:
Most people know Anaheim as the home of the family-friendly Disneyland® Park. But while much of its attractions are tailored to kids, thrill seekers are hardly excluded. The Matterhorn Bobsleds, Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Space Mountain are all classic coasters offering plenty of switchbacks and turns, while California Screamin’ (offered across the way at Disney California Adventure™ Park) takes riders for a loop.
Knott’s Berry Farm®
For those who want more aggressive thrills, Buena Park’s Knott’s Berry Farm® offers nine roller coasters of varying intensities, including the corkscrew-like Boomerang and a towering wooden coaster called GhostRider. For unique excitement, check out the Sierra Sidewinder. Each of its four cars rotate as you fly along the bright red track.
Six Flags Magic Mountain
“More coasters than any other theme park on the planet.” It’s quite a claim, but this Los Angeles area Six Flags backs it up with a total of 18 roller coasters. And these coasters are fierce. Superman: Escape from Krypton hits speeds of up to 100mph and shoots you up a 41-story tower. The Riddler’s Revenge is a stand-up fling through several startling loops. As for Scream, Viper, and Apocalypse? I think the names say enough. Come prepared.
When I think of SeaWorld, I think of fat little penguins and tanks full of sea lions. But in Orlando, the entertainment goes beyond aquarium-browsing. Check out Manta for a face-down, head-first ride through loops, curves, and corners, or steel your nerves and hop on the Kraken–a floorless roller coaster with the longest drop in Central Florida.
Busch Gardens Tampa
With 12 different thrill rides, Busch Gardens gets high marks for variety. ShieKra hits speeds of up to 70mph and boasts a 90-degree drop. Kumba cranks through seven inversions and climbs to skin-prickling heights. And Montu whips you through another seven inversions at 3.85 Gs, which is enough to make anyone giddy.
Universal Studios® Orlando
This Hollywood-inspired park offers rides as twisted as a celebrity romance. Climb 17 stories on the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit before shooting through the world’s first non-inverting loop. Go from zero to 40 in two seconds flat on the aggressive green Incredible Hulk Roller Coaster. Then, slip into the Islands of Adventure area for a ride on a Harry Potter-themed dueling coaster: the Dragon Challenge.
Walt Disney World® Resort
When you want just a little bit of adrenaline, the Walt Disney World® Resort is the perfect Florida solution. You’ll find the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster–a high-speed ride in a stretch limo-shaped car–at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Theme Park. And if you’ve picked up a ticket for Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, the high-altitude Expedition Everest coaster is a quick fix for any adrenaline junkie.
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My name: Kate Beall
How I earn my keep: Writing for Travelocity.
Best meal I've ever had: There are three: the mofongo at Jimmy'z Kitchen in South Beach, the lomito completo at Fuente Alemana in Santiago, and (for the sheer novelty factor) the cuy chactado in Arequipa, Peru.
First thing I do in a new place: Hit the shower. Anything more than an hour in transit gets me fantasizing about soap.
View that took my breath away: Seeing the endless stretch of the Sierras as I flew in to Reno/Tahoe for the first time. In the winter, it's an aching field of white all the way to the horizon, like a world wiped clean. Looking out at it gives you this unmatched feeling of eternity.
Most challenging travel moment: Sharing a pull-out couch in a cramped New York apartment. The heat wave of 2010 was in full, humid swing and the air conditioning was D.O.A. There was nothing to do but soak your clothes in the sink and hope to pass out before they dried. ...then wake up in an hour and do it all again.
Favorite way to get around: On foot. I'm still working on the motorcycle license.