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 Review of New Mexico Rattler @ Cliffs Amusement Park
1 Rating Posted by: Timberman on 8/8/2008 6:56:00 PM
Now this is what I&#39.m talking about. I&#39.ve had this coaster in my sights ever since I read Big John WC&#39.s 2002 review, which put New Mexico Rattler in the same category as the CCI standouts Cornball Express, Legend, and Raven. New Mexico Rattler easily holds it own not just among that distinguished trio but against just about any mid-sized wooden roller coaster operating today. It is scandalously underrated and well worth seeking out, especially for those who appreciate the classic wooden roller coaster experience. Diamonds in the rough like this are what keep my love for roller coasters alive.

Having ridden most of the major GCI installations and found them wanting, I have often wondered if I could ever love a twister. I can. This is it. If Raven and Thunderhead produced a love child, it would probably be something like New Mexico Rattler. The ride rarely tracks in a straight line, but when it does, it&#39.s plunging down sharp, air-time producing drops. Coupled with a layout that winds in and around itself and the park, the coaster delivers a ride that, unlike the GCI lookers, provides a complete roller coaster experience in 2,700 short feet. While you&#39.ll want to ride again and again, the circuits seem surprisingly long and will never leave you feeling cheated.

Along with its welll-conceived layout, New Mexico Rattler has an assertiveness just shy of aggression. None of my dozen or so rides delivered the all-out insanity necessary to push this coaster into the rarified 10 category, but New Mexico Rattler was consistently and satisfyingly intense. Nearly as important, it was never abusive or grueling. Instead, it achieves an almost Pheonix-like combination of rideability and non-stop action. Perhaps, like Raven, it kicks into another gear after dark. If so, a perfect score might be within reach. I unfortunately was only able to ride New Mexico Rattler doing the day, however, and while it never went totally berserk, the ride dynamics still beat the best of the GCIs. PTCs remain the standard in my book, both for ride characteristics and restraint systems (even with the unfortunate individual-ratcheting lap bars). Something about the PTCs&#39. interaction with the track just imparts more excitement. What the Millennium Flyers gain in &quot.tracking,&quot. they seem to loose in momentum. I also experienced serious ejector air in the back right seat of New Mexico Rattler, something that is impossible with Millennium Flyers&#39. boat anchor restraints.

The era when I would travel long distances specifically to visit a large corporate park with a dozen or more roller coasters is more or less behind me now. These days only a handful of artisanal destination coasters, usually at small, out-of-the-way parks, still prompt me to study maps, travel websites, and gas prices. When I finally get to the 10 or so of this species that I have yet to ride, I will either have to venture overseas or wait for the next Gravity Group project to spark my wanderlust. Hopefully Cliff&#39.s will continue to maintain this little wonder in its present excellent condition to serve as a beacon for those still willing to seek out thrills in far flung places.


Review Comments

shag9004 on 8/9/2008 12:03:01 PM said:
So many of these parks I'.ve hit in the past couple of years have been on the way to someplace else so with limited time I feel that sometimes I don.t get enough laps in to fully appreciate them. The Rattler was a the highlight of this trip out thrown the barren west and I was just a little disappointed I guess. I don.t know, but it just seemed a little ".stiff". when compared to Thunderhead and the Rumbler hence the bump down to an 8. I liked it and would like to spend more time riding it, but there just seemed to be something missing.
detroit_jc on 8/10/2008 2:29:28 AM said:
a different approach to writing from what im used to hearing from you timberman. i mean that in a good way. your enthusiasm and agressive marketing approach really express the great features of this coaster.
Timberman on 8/10/2008 5:40:18 PM said:
Thanks, Detroit_jc. I actually wrote most of this review in an airport, which may account for its rather prosaic quality. Wood coasters can deliver widely varying rides, so I may have caught NMR on one of its better days. Whatever the case may be, I was impressed, all the more so because Cliff'.s apparently built the last half of this ride in-house when CCI went bankrupt and was unable to continue construction. Cliff'.s is a tiny little park with only one other coaster (a bone stock Galaxi), a handful of so-so flats, and a few unspectacular water attractions. New Mexico Rattler is clearly the big draw, and the park seems to be treating it quite well. That little independent parks like Cliff'.s can spring up and survive is a minor miracle in this day and age, and I'.ll be an advocate for them wherever I find them.
shag9004 on 8/10/2008 9:42:58 PM said:
Amen brother!!! It'.s great for places like Cliff'.s, Waldameer, and the like to hang on and even prosper. I have found myself preferring these small family type parks more and more as time progresses. I very rarely ever stay at a 6 flags or Cedar Fair Park more than half a day but places like Knoebels/Waldameer/Lake Compounce can hold my attention for the entire day due to the atmosphere.
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