I guess I am just a coaster enthusiast with weird coaster tastes, plain and simple. I know I am in a sharp minority here, but I actually like SLCs. I feel like I should be sitting in a room, in a circle, raising my hand: "Hi, my name is Nick and I like SLCs". "Hi Nick!"
The truth is, inverted coasters are one of my absolute favorite types of coasters, and although my favorites are easily the B&M variety, I have a soft spot as well for these "poor mans inverts" offered up by Vekoma. Their layouts are certainly thrilling, with some great pacing and tightly placed inversions. The biggest knock they get is their roughness. Perhaps Ive been lucky so far, but the 3 Ive been on werent too bad in that department either. There were some bad spots, but not enough to sour the ride experience for me. In fact, Thunderhawk at Geauga Lake was the smoothest of the 3 I have been on.
When it comes to appearances, a lot of these do look the same, as they are clones by nature. I rode this when it was still red and green, which was very ho-hum. The louder color scheme they went with shortly thereafter seemed better to me and at least gave the coaster some character. Thunderhawk did have a nice setting though, on the edge of the lake, which was very nice. Although it does own the lovely distinction of having the most overused name in Cedar Fair history! Cmon guys, can we get at least a little creative? Although the crews working the flats at Geauga left a lot to be desired, their ones on the coasters were quite good, and this line moved fairly quick and ran both trains, so that was a big plus.
As for the ride itself on Thunderhawk, I wont bore you with every minute detail, because "if youve seen one SLC, youve seen em all".
Anyway, I thought the curving first drop was very good and pretty smooth, and I love that first heart-shaped double inversion, which is very forceful. The one zero g-roll is also quite good as well. This coaster moved at a good clip, flowing rather nicely from element to element in the rather compact layout. I had a great time on all my rides on Thunderhawk, and had no hesitation at all to reride it later in the day. Look, Im not saying these rides are perfect. They are rather short, and probably start getting repetitive once youve ridden many of them. Also, while not as bone-jarring to me as some people indicate, they truthfully are not "smooth" either like B&Ms masterpieces. Yet, they offer a good ride with plenty of thrills, and I frankly think they deserve a bit more credit than the coaster enthusiast community tends to give them. Thunderhawk, though no B&M, is overall a good coaster with nice speed, a cool layout, and a good first drop. It also gets a half-point bump for being the smoothest SLC that I have ridden. Now, if youll excuse me, I need to get back to my "SLCers anonymous" meeting!
Final Rating – 7.5/10