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Your biggest positive surprise?

Matt N

CF Legend
Hi guys. Looking through the forums, there seem to be a lot of threads about "biggest disappointment" and "most overrated coaster", so I thought I'd try and spread a little positivity and make a thread about those rides that exceeded expectations! So, what have been your biggest positive surprises? I actually have quite a few:
  • Wicker Man (Alton Towers) - Now, during 2017 when Wicker Man was being constructed, I was probably more enthusiastic about it than most people. I thought it had the potential to be a pretty good family coaster, but I'll be honest; I wasn't really expecting it to be much more than that. I was just sort of expecting a Thirteen-esque thrill level at the highest, and I certainly wasn't expecting it to be my new favourite ride at Alton Towers by a long way. So imagine how surprised I was when I first stepped off it in March 2018 and it was actually a pretty fantastic wooden coaster! Even though the airtime was somewhat lacking, the pacing was fantastic and overall, I just thought it was a really fun and surprisingly forceful coaster! The thing that was even better was that I managed to have 3 rides on it during the course of the 2018 season, and it somehow managed to grow on me with each further ride I took, to the point where it is now my overall #8 and only 1 spot behind Nemesis in my overall rankings! So if I manage to grab a ride towards the back in 2020 now that the ride has worn in a little, I could potentially see it usurping Nemesis as my favourite ride at Alton Towers! Now that's an outcome I wasn't expecting in 2017!
  • Slinky Dog Dash (Disney's Hollywood Studios) - I managed to ride Slinky Dog Dash for the first time in April 2019, and it was perhaps one of the biggest surprises of my entire 2019 season! I went in with quite low expectations, as the reviews weren't fantastic, but I thought it was a fab little coaster for what it was! Sure, there are some places where it could go a touch faster, but I found it to be surprisingly nippy and well-paced for most of the ride with some fun little pops of airtime! It reminded me of a mini Icon; I liked it a lot more than I'd expected to, and it does actually make the lower end of my top 25 coasters (#24, to be exact, out of 67 ridden). I may have preferred rides like Tower of Terror and Rock'n'Rollercoaster within Hollywood Studios, but if the queues had been shorter, I would have loved to have reridden Slinky Dog Dash!
  • Kraken (SeaWorld Orlando) - This was another example of a ride that didn't have brilliant reviews when I went to ride it. I was expecting a very rough ride with little forces based on the reviews, but when I rode Kraken for the first time in August 2016, I thought it was brilliant! The ride had surprising power and pace throughout its long layout, and I didn't think it was anywhere near as rough as reviews suggested; I would probably have said it only had a slight rattle, and it was probably the smoothest of the 3 sit-down B&M loopers in Florida (Kraken, Hulk & Kumba). Overall, I enjoyed Kraken more than expected, for sure, and it still sits at #9 in my top 10! Combined with my overall #1 coaster in Mako, SeaWorld Orlando certainly has a strong one-two punch in Mako and Kraken, in my opinion!
  • Shockwave (Drayton Manor) - Now, I went in to Drayton Manor with very low expectations for Shockwave. The standup coaster ride type doesn't tend to receive particularly glowing reviews in general, so I wasn't sure I'd enjoy my first standup coaster that much. However, while I did admittedly find the position strange, the coaster itself exceeded expectations, with the first half of the layout especially being stronger than expected! Admittedly, it did grow a bit shaky towards the end of the ride, but it was smoother than expected for the most part! Overall, while Shockwave was far from my favourite coaster (#33 in my rankings, to be precise), it certainly wasn't anywhere near as bad as I was expecting!
  • If we're allowed to include parks, then Epcot would definitely make the list; I went in with low expectations, but it was very close to being my favourite WDW park!
So, what have you guys' biggest positive surprises been?

Liam williams

Roller Poster
The 3 that stand out for me are

balder- going to liseberg, all the hype was around helix, and I went there expecting that to be a top coaster.. however after Having 3 rides on each, i was shocked to be walking out the park saying balder is the most enjoyable coaster there (for me). I’m not a fan of woodys, but I’d never done an intamin woody before and honestly I can’t wait for the next!

Colorado adventure- Jesus Christ this isn’t a family ride? I done a front row first time riding and thought it was rough and had no intentions to ride again. However I decided to give it a second try on the back row and wow! It gives good airtime, it throws you out your seat & I’d say it’s definitely the most enjoyable and intense ‘family’ coaster (that I’ve done)

this coaster didn’t interest me at all tbh. I had no intention of going to Poland to ride it. I had way more intamins higher up in my bucket list to even care about this coaster... but with the opening of Zadra earlier this year I thought let’s go! All my hype and intentions was around that! I figured Hyperion would be good, but that’s it.
well Ileft energylandia with Hyperion as my number 1 coaster, I had 10 rides on each Zadra and Hyperion and as much as Zadra was better later on in the day(s), Hyperion was just consistently brilliant every time!
I think the two biggest surprises of my coastering career would have to be:

Hades 360- Holy crap, it's brutal wood, relentless, and just so much fun. Any coaster that I'm laughing the entire way around is a winner in my books. I had zero expectations going into it, and yah some parts are a bit rough but it didn't detract from the experience. The only bad thing was that the queue was too long for rerides! Absolutely loved it.

Boardwalk Bullet- I thought it was done when it was only halfway through the circuit, and even then I was impressed! Another coaster that has faded into the background that deserves to be in the limelight more than it is. I've always heard good things about it, but those night rides, my God!

Other honourable mentions go to Lightning Run (packs a big punch for being so small), Storm Chaser (which I thought would be one of the weakest RMC coasters and ended up being one of my favourites second only to Steel Vengeance), and Revenge of the Mummy (so much fun).


The Legend
Staff member
Social Media Team
Cornball Express and Mine Blower. Both I had never heard of before I rode them and expected little to nothing. Blown away by both and both immediately made it into my Top 10. After re-rides years later, still hold up as amazing rides.


Staff member
Social Media Team
The ones that come to mind from this season:

Valkyria - I wasn't expecting much (think Krake), but ended up being a really, really good ride. Good drop, great layout and some nice forces throughout. Really enjoyed it.

Mine Blower - I wasn't expecting this to be so ****ing excellent!


Strata Poster
Speed at Energylandia - Pretty much all the comments I'd heard about the ride type were negative, so it ended up being a pleasant surprise when I enjoyed the coaster and found the finale splash hilarious

Matt N

CF Legend
Mine Blower.
Mine Blower - I wasn't expecting this to be so ****ing excellent!
See, Mine Blower was an interesting one for me. Don't get me wrong, I thought it was absolutely fantastic, and definitely my favourite wooden coaster, but it didn't surprise me, personally, as I had very high expectations to begin with based on reviews.

In fact, at the time, I almost think I was a touch underwhelmed by it, although I think that was more down to me having unrealistically high expectations in hindsight. To tell you the truth, I was expecting Mine Blower to make my top 3 and potentially unseat Mako as my number 1 coaster. In the end, it made my #7 spot, although it did eventually move up to #5 after I rerode some things and did some reshuffling later on in 2019. It definitely wasn't a disappointment, far from it in fact (it was a fantastic little coaster!), but I almost think I was expecting to like it a touch more than I did.


Hyper Poster
Raging Bull - not one of the better Hypers but still very good.

Wickerman - pure fun from start to finish.

Magnum XL 200 - doesn't seem to get much love but just about squeezed into my top 5. Love it.

Joris - punches well above it's weight, best airtime of all GCI's.

Untamed - didn't think it would be *that* good. It's complete perfection.

Storm Runner - another one that's rarely takes about, overshadowed by Maverick I guess but it's top drawer


Roller Poster
Lightning Run for sure. I actually enjoyed this more than Storm Chaser. It's a fantastic ride and I have no idea why another park hasn't built one since. Kentucky Kingdom seriously have a winner on their hands with this!


Roller Poster
Definitely Colorado Adventure, I didn't expect it to be as intense and fun as it was. Also Winja's (fear, I think? the good one), backwards airtime hill after the first drop is unreal. I also didn't expect to love Nemesis Inferno at all, but this year I rode it for the first time and was pretty blown away by it. Admittedly it's not a nemesis or a black mamba, but it packed a punch and I thought the pacing and swoops where it didn't invert were excellent fun. And that first drop into the loop packed punches I wasn't expecting!

And Valkyria: I wasn't expecting much given the vest restraint but it made my top 10 and was surprisingly forceful in some of the inversions and the over bank is just DROOL worthy.

Geeky Pastimes

Mega Poster
Apocalypse was a crazy surprise for me. It doesn't look like much and I hadn't heard much about it, but it's just relentless all the way around and has some surprisingly good theming for a Six Flags ride. Went on it again this year and was surprised all over again, it's easily one of my favourite rides at Magic Mountain.

Twister at Grona Lund. Again, a woody, I just love how much this ride packs into a tiny footprint (like everything in the park) and the near misses are exciting without being terrifying (looking at you BPB Wild Mouse memories)

Lisebergbanan when I was reading about Liseberg before we went, I figured we were pretty much going purely for Helix and Balder. For me, this is better than Balder. It's everything a family coaster should be, it's forceful but not uncomfortable, it looks beautiful at night, it never gets boring, and the brakes are ridiculously harsh and make everyone laugh at the end. I love this thing.


The Legend
Staff member
Social Media Team
See, Mine Blower was an interesting one for me. Don't get me wrong, I thought it was absolutely fantastic, and definitely my favourite wooden coaster, but it didn't surprise me, personally, as I had very high expectations to begin with based on reviews.

In fact, at the time, I almost think I was a touch underwhelmed by it, although I think that was more down to me having unrealistically high expectations in hindsight. To tell you the truth, I was expecting Mine Blower to make my top 3 and potentially unseat Mako as my number 1 coaster. In the end, it made my #7 spot, although it did eventually move up to #5 after I rerode some things and did some reshuffling later on in 2019. It definitely wasn't a disappointment, far from it in fact (it was a fantastic little coaster!), but I almost think I was expecting to like it a touch more than I did.

Yeah I didn't have reviews! I didn't look at POV's, didn't hear about it short of a few folks here and there. Everyone loves Mako and BGT. I got off that and was just blown away.

Also I think part of your problem was that you expected it to be Top 3. Never do that. Ever. Because you lose surprise.. and those random coasters you THINK may have potential like Mine Blower to blow you away even more.


Strata Poster
Gonna dig into the vault a bit for mine...

X (circa 02) I mean, this was before forums and the internet, but I can still remember my first ride. I always forget how amazing it is until I ride it again. If there is any reason for me to visit Japan and China, it is literally for the bigger siblings of this beast.

Kraken: I expected an absolutely ass floorless, but I was shocked at how good it was, and smooth.

New Texas Giant: I remembered being stupid hyped for it, but when I got on it at media day, it blew my mind. Now, it's lost some simply because of how great RMC had become.

Mystic Timbers: Expected kinda ass, but loved it. Rain probably helped.

Sent from my Pixel 4 XL using Tapatalk


Matt SR
Staff member
Social Media Team
Two biggest would be some of my top-most ranked:

1. Storm Chaser - This was far from the first RMC I had ridden, and went into this coaster not expecting much vs. Outlaw Run, Iron Rattler, and NTG. Surely it was too short, too little, and didn't have much to offer. Quite wrong! What stands out most on this coaster is its tenacity, and giving a phenomenal ride in each and every seat. And when KK improved the wheels in 2017, it went even faster!
2. X2 - One of the most famous roller coasters in the enthusiast community of the decade, X2 carries a lot of flack as being bumpy, meandering, and a chronically long wait. Honestly hadn't a clue what to expect when I rode this back in 2012, but it over delivered regardless. One of the most innovative rides I have ever ridden still; it's a shame there are only two Arrow/S&S 4D coasters in the world. One of the greatest night rides I have ever experienced.

Edward M

Strata Poster
Helix comes to mind. I was expecting something great, don't get me wrong. But it truly blew my expectations out of the water. Everything it does is so graceful and masterful. I think it's a perfect layout, and its hillside setting is wholly unique.
Kumba was another one where I didn't think much of it going in, but it ended up being my number one for a while (until Outlaw took the crown). It has a fantastic mix of old school B&M intensity with a rather lush environment. It just really clicked with me!
Storm Runner looked like your run of the mill Intamin accelerator with a few extra elements, but it turned out to be such a quirky and memorable coaster. Loved it! Will also mention Comet across the park for having far more buzz bar airtime than I ever would have anticipated.
I rarely hear about Rampage in Alabama these days, but I think it's one of CCI's best creations. Chock full of airtime with a long layout and enough roughness to give it some character. Rollin' Thunder is a clone of that horrendous Thunderbolt at Coney Island, but I found its Alabama clone oddly wonderful. They fixed my issue with Thunderbolt's restraints which made its hangtime and intense ejector much more enjoyable.
While Winjas deserves a mention for being the best spinner I've done, Shredder at the new Nickelodeon Universe was shockingly great! It has a surprisingly intense layout winding around Shellraiser, and it's insanely long. Definitely the sleeper hit of that park.

That was probably more surprises than anyone asked for, but


Strata Poster
Probably Ravine Flyer II. Heard that it had gotten rough and just was more or less a shadow of its former self. Going in, I still thought that it might crack my Top 20 at best. But it was phenomenal. Just non stop action, throwing you around all over the place. One ride I accidentally elbowed the kid I was riding with in the head multiple times.

Only rode it in the dark, but three rides later... BAM... straight into my Top 5.


Mega Poster
Full Throttle. In the time that it was being constructed, I was kinda not really following it and didn't know much about it other than basically that it had a really big vertical loop. So yeah, we went into the tunnel and then OH MY GOD WHAT ARE WE DOING

S:ROS at SFNE also really surprised me -- I know, I know, that coaster has been questionably #1 for xyz years, but see, when people rave about something -- that's when my little red flag goes up. So I was expecting very little and I got a lot, haha.

But probably the biggest positive surprise I've ever had was Mystic Timbers. My expectations and the reality were totally miscalibrated and it just blew me away. I think maybe I was like "Well, jeez, RMC is where it's at, bro, so how good can this possibly be I mean come on." And..shut the front door.

Matt N

CF Legend
Let me tell you all something that I realised I forgot to mention in my first post; as well as coasters, I've also had some massive surprises from non-coasters and parks!
  • Tower of Terror (Disney's Hollywood Studios) - Now, I had very high expectations of Tower of Terror before I rode, but it still managed to exceed those expectations! In terms of its acclaim as an immersive experience, this is definitely well deserved, as the theming is fantastic, and the ride sets up a wonderfully eerie tone that really immerses you into the experience from start to finish! However, the main element of surprise for me was in Tower of Terror's actual ride experience. With the drops on the ride not being overly tall and with Disney's usual effort to appeal to families, I was expecting some fun airtime and forces, but nothing too thrilling. How wrong was I! The raw shock I felt going down those drops is a feeling I will never forget; they were actually deceptively forceful, and with the very minimal restraint, the sustained airtime I got was outstanding! I was absolutely speechless getting off Tower of Terror, and as an overall experience, I'd say it was my favourite new ride I rode in 2019, my favourite drop tower by some distance and probably one of my all time favourite rides! I only got one ride on it, but I would have ridden it over and over again had I had the chance!
  • Logger's Leap (Thorpe Park) - During my earlier years of theme park visiting, the types of log flume I was used to were rides like The Flume at Alton Towers, which was OK, but overly long and nothing particularly remarkable, in my opinion. So naturally, I went into Logger's Leap with quite low expectations, only expecting a light spray at best. However, I actually got pretty wet! The drops were really fun, the ride was just the right length, and overall, Logger's Leap was a very positive surprise, and it became a firm favourite in our family that we would be sure to ride whenever we visited Thorpe Park! Unlike The Flume, it's certainly a ride that I really miss, and I hope Thorpe Park eventually builds a new water ride that lives up to it in fun factor.
  • Frozen Ever After (Epcot) - Now, I wasn't really sure what to expect from Frozen Ever After, as it's not really a Disney dark ride that's talked about too often, and I wasn't a massive fan of the Frozen film itself. I decided not to elevate my expectations too high, but I was expecting a reasonably good ride given this is Disney we're talking about. However, Frozen Ever After turned out to be an absolutely wonderful dark ride! The animatronics were fantastic, the theming was wonderful, and overall, I just thought that it was a real feel-good ride that was very well done, and a huge surprise considering I didn't particularly like Frozen!
  • Hangover (Travelling) - Yet another drop tower makes my biggest surprises list, and this one was quite the surprise! When I was at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, I decided to give Hangover a try based on a recommendation from a forum member. I was looking forward to riding, but I decided not to raise my expectations too high, as it was only a travelling ride and I hadn't really heard much hype for it. However, it turned out to be excellent! Despite often hearing that taller drop towers lack force in comparison to smaller ones, I'd actually say that Hangover was one of the more punchy drop tower drops I've done, and I also liked how the operator varied the ride experience each time! Overall, I thought that Hangover was an excellent drop tower that really exceeded expectations!
  • I only really have one major positive surprise in terms of parks, and that surprise was...
  • Epcot - Now, I must admit that I don't tend to rate Disney parks as highly as some on the whole, and after hearing some people's reviews (including my own family's), I went into Epcot with quite low expectations. However, I absolutely loved Epcot! While Future World was a touch on the dated side, World Showcase was a simply wonderful area, with loads to look at! The park as a whole was also wonderfully landscaped, and it had such a lovely, relaxed, positive vibe to it! To me, it seemed like one of those parks where you could ride nothing and still have a lovely time! Overall, Epcot was probably one of my biggest surprises of the 2019 season; I went in with low expectations, and I came out questioning whether it was my favourite WDW park!