Last weekend, Six Flags Over Georgia closed the Georgia Cyclone as we know it for good. The real question now is whether or not we will get to ride Georgia Cyclone in a new form come the 2018 season. Rumors and speculation abound, there’s no guarantee just yet what is to come, but we can expect to find out just what exactly is going on around the end of the month. As someone who very much enjoyed the Georgia Cyclone (and who made a special trip just to ride it on its last day of operation), here are my top five reasons why we’ll miss the Georgia Cyclone.
1 – IT WAS BETTER THAN THE ORIGINAL
A sacrilegious statement to some, this is the honest truth for true wood coaster fans. As someone who lives not far from the original Cyclone at Coney Island, I’ve had my fair share of rides on it, and the Georgia Cyclone took all the exciting things about the original version and kicked it up a notch. It was bigger than the original and upped the intensity. Georgia Cyclone always had a touch better pacing and, in my opinion, always had more airtime than the original. It’s a bold statement to make if nothing else because the original version has always been a fantastic ride, but, in the opinion of this seasoned enthusiast, the Georgia Cyclone was simply the better ride.
2- THE BACK ROW WAS AN AIRTIME LOVERS DREAM
All enthusiasts love airtime, and, for most of them, it’s the single most important element that makes up a great ride. There’s floater airtime, there’s ejector airtime, and then there’s the “yank your chair out from under you” airtime that I like to call the “oh sh*t” moments that make a coaster truly great. In the age of smooth steel coasters, we’ve lost the appreciation for a coaster that can truly scare you by pulling the train out from under you just a bit too quick for comfort, and the Georgia Cyclone may have done this better than any other wood coaster out there. There’s at least seven or eight moments where the train was utterly and indisputably removed from beneath you with such ferocity that a first-time back-row rider would be certain that the lap bar was attempting to embed itself in your thighs. From the first drop to the last, the back row gave one of the wildest rides on any wood coaster anywhere.
3 – IT WASN’T FOR EVERYONE
Unfortunately, this reason is also the main reason why the ride is no longer. I’m not here to convince you that Georgia Cyclone was a smooth ride because it wasn’t. I’m also not here to convince you that it was a ride everyone could enjoy, because it wasn’t. Skyrush, Voyage, and Boss all have one thing in common; they can be uncomfortable for some, but those who are willing to pay the price get an amazing ride experience. Georgia Cyclone was no different. Those who chose to enjoy her aggressive, battering nature were rewarded handsomely with a wild, out-of-control coaster that would make Harry Traver proud. If intensity and aggression were coveted by all, the Georgia Cyclone would be around for many years to come. Unfortunately, those things aren’t what most people want, and those of us that crave that rough, aggressive wood coaster are left to pay the price with the winds of change.
4 – THE FOURTH DROP
As mentioned earlier, there are some coasters that have amazing elements, and then there are coasters that have downright scary moments where, if only for a brief second, you think you might be leaving the ride vehicle altogether. The first drop of Tennessee Tornado, the fifth drop of Raven, and the double-down of the Kennywood Jack Rabbit all come to mind. Perhaps better than any of those moments was the fourth drop of the Georgia Cyclone. The first three drops provide plentiful ejector airtime for those in the rear of the train, but none of them can prepare you for the shear insanity that awaits just above the base of the lift hill. A leisurely left hand turn ends with an abrupt drop off that leave some riders screaming for their lives, and others simply unable to breathe at all. Whatever the reaction, it is undoubtedly the signature moment of the ride, and perhaps one of the greatest drops in the history of roller coasters. It’s often imitated, but never duplicated. I long for the day where another coaster can provide a drop that leaves me as terrified as the Georgia Cyclone’s fourth drop did… every time.
5 – IT DID THE WOOD COASTER PROUD
As I said before, I’m not here to convince you that the Georgia Cyclone was for everyone because it wasn’t, and it certainly wasn’t the most sought-after ride out there for a marathon. Built in 1990, Georgia Cyclone was built during the first coming of the steel coaster wars of the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was a refreshing taste of a forgotten era during a time where the latest and greatest technology reigned supreme. The classic, old-school wood coaster has always been intense, aggressive, rough, filled with airtime, filled with laterals, and a ride that makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something once you’ve ridden it. The Georgia Cyclone did all of these things and did them with character, pride, and determination. It was one of the finest examples of what a true wood coaster ought to be, and, for a time, the top of the lift hill even proudly proclaimed that it was “the most a coaster can beeeeeeee…” For once, the marketing hype was utterly correct.
At the end of the day, the Georgia Cyclone was a phenomenal ride for those who enjoyed a rough, aggressive, and intense ride. Unfortunately, with the evolution of the steel coaster and the emergence of Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC), it seems the old-school, rough-house wooden coaster may slowly become more difficult to find. It is an unfortunate necessity in this industry that is constantly evolving and needing to attract more guests through the gates, and, when a ride is too intense for a good portion of guests to enjoy, it’s likely to get the axe at some point. What we can remember Georgia Cyclone as is exactly what it was, a great, classic, old-school wooden coaster that was everything a wood coaster should be. Every park has an attraction that seems to be its heart and soul, a ride that is a must-ride, a ride that a visit to the park isn’t complete without. For Knoebels, it’s the Carousel. For Knott’s Berry Farm, it’s the Calico Mine Ride. For Kings Island, it’s the Beast. For me, at Six Flags Over Georgia, it was the Georgia Cyclone.