They're called 'Alpine Coasters,' and simply put...they're awesome!
I recently paid a visit to a favorite area of mine, in east Tennessee. Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are two neighboring cities filled with dozens of tourist attractions. Together, they provide some of the most unique roadside attractions in the world. Of all there is to offer, my favorites are the mountain coasters.
Above is the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster, the first one to come to Tennessee. Even though there's now three more alpine coasters next door, it's still the longest of the four.
If you watched the point of view video, the first thing you'll probably notice is how long these rides are. This is a common characteristic of alpine coasters, since they take so much time to get to the top of the mountain. Typically, each ride involves going up multiple lift hills. The more lift hills, the longer the ride is back down.
When looking at the pros and cons of these cool thrill rides, the pros by far out way the cons. Sure, it may not be cheap to ride, but anyone who's looking for a good thrill will say it's worth it. One of the things I specifically love about these rides is their appeal to a wide audience. Because it's a gradual descent back down to the bottom, there aren't any large drops or loops to potentially scare customers away. All elements stick to twists, turns, small little bunny hops, and helices. (which is still super fun!)
Another great thing about these alpine coasters is your ability to control the top speed. Situated to the side of each sled are a set of brakes. Once you climb in and fasten your seatbelt (safety first), you'll be instructed on how it works. Hold the levers down to go full speed, and gradually raise to slow down.
The final aspect about mountain coasters that I know parents will appreciate is that pretty much anyone of any age or size can ride. Smaller visitors can ride in the same vehicle as an adult. And thanks to the speed customization aspect, if a child isn't a fan of going around turns that fast, the adult in the vehicle can simply slow down a tad. Each sled is also equipped with emergency braking, so if a sled in front of you slows down and you're going too fast, the automatic brakes will kick in to avoid a crash. Completely safe.
So where can you go if you want to ride one? If you're coming from the U.S., the best location by far is Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg Tennessee. There you can choose between four options: The Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster, The Coaster at Goats on the Roof, The Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster, and Ski Mountain Coaster at Ober Gatlinburg. If you can't make it there, Branson Missouri just welcomed a new alpine coaster called The Runaway Mountain Coaster. Other popular locations include Park City, Utah, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Colorado, and several spread out in the New England region.
Of the ones I've ridden, I got to give my personal favorite to Goats on the Roof. Love the coaster, but the added bonus of goats on the roof makes the experience that much more enjoyable.
If you'd like to learn more about alpine coasters, I'm happy to answer any questions you may have. You can also find more alpine coaster footage on my YouTube channel, Coaster Studios: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheCoasterguy14