Bigger, faster, scarier.

Sounds like the tagline for a bad horror flick. But in the real world, it’s the mantra of hardcore amusement park rides.

Area thrill-ride seekers will be happy to learn that a new 200-foot coaster called Goliath – sporting speeds of up to 65 miles per hour – is opening this summer at Six Flags New England in Agawam, Mass. Although the park is about a three-hour drive from Portland, its total of 11 major roller coasters makes it worth the trip for serious coaster fans.

But Goliath isn’t the only thing that’s new at area amusement parks this year. Water Country in Portsmouth, N.H., has an extreme water slide with a 40-foot drop and a couple of loop-de-loops – in the dark. Closer to home, there are six new slides opening at Funtown Splashtown USA in Saco.

Most of the new attractions will be open for Memorial Day, so you can get your thrill on before summer officially starts. Or you can start planning your summer vacation getaway now and include rides that won’t be open until June.

Below is a list of some of the new rides planned for this summer at amusement parks in southern Maine, as well as a few within an easy drive of Greater Portland. For contacts and addresses, as well as information for other parks in the area, see the list at right.

FUNTOWN/SPLASHTOWN USA, SACO

Two parks in one! The amusement park, Funtown, is open now, and the water park, Splashtown, opens June 16. The latter is welcoming six new thrill slides in one attraction this year.

Collectively known as Mount Olympus, each slide is named for a figure in Greek mythology. Two of the slides start at 60 feet up — Poseidon’s Plunge and Triton’s Twist. These are body slides, so you stand in a capsule above the slide and then — poof! — the floor drops out, and you race down at speeds of up to 40 feet per second.

The four other slides comprise Amphitrite’s Challenge. They begin at about 49 feet up, and are lined up next to each other for racing down on mats. A new restaurant serving patrons of both parts of the park is also slated to open, and there will be a new candy store in Funtown.

The park is hosting a contest in which the winner gets to be the first to try out Mount Olympus. You can find details on the park’s Facebook page, but you’d better hurry — the contest ends May 31.

SIX FLAGS NEW ENGLAND, AGAWAM, MASS.

The 11th roller coaster at Six Flags is called Goliath, and is being hyped as the “tallest inverted boomerang”-type coaster in the country. It’s 200 feet tall with a 90-degree first drop, and reaches speeds of 65 miles per hour.

The ride begins with riders strapped into chairs suspended from above. Riders then travel face-down up a tower for a 20-story free fall. That’s followed by a 102-foot-tall vertical loop and a 110-foot-tall butterfly turn before heading up another 20-story tower. Just writing about it makes my stomach turn. 

WATER COUNTRY, PORTSMOUTH, N.H.

The new ride at this water park just over the line in New Hampshire is called Dr. Von Dark’s Tunnel of Terror. Park officials say it’s the only water ride of its kind in New England, and one of only seven in the country.

The entire 300-foot-long ride — including a 40-foot drop and two complete 360-degree loops — takes place in the dark. Riders travel in a “whirly tube” that spins as it speeds along on its course. Ride it if you dare! 

PALACE PLAYLAND, OLD ORCHARD BEACH

This beachfront park has a little bit of everything: Arcade games, kiddie rides and thrill rides. Not to mention a great view of the beach and proximity to lots of fried dough.

A new ride this year is of the thrill variety, and is called Riptide. People sit in one long row on the ride, facing out to the midway. The ride swings powerfully to the right repeatedly, then to the left repeatedly, creating a sensation of centrifugal force.

For smaller children and those less adventurous, there’s the Dizzy Dragon, another new ride opening this summer. As its name implies, it spins with you inside it. 

STORY LAND, GLEN, N.H.

This storybook-themed park is geared to families and younger children. The park introduced a new ride late last summer, so for lots of folks, it’ll be new this year. It’s called Splash Battle — Pharoah’s Reign.

Riders cruise down a 300-foot-long river in boats armed with “splash-blasting” water cannons, so you can spray and be sprayed. If a water cannon doesn’t get you, the water from the spraying Sphinx will.

 

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

[email protected]