Ravine Flyer II: An Impressive World-Class Wooden Coaster
I’d been excited for Ravine Flyer II since I learned about it last winter. It’s the product of 15 years of work, planning, and local politics. The Gravity Group designed hybrid woodie was my top pick for the new coasters opening in 2008. The New York Times even quoted me when I dubbed it the “Sleeper Hit of 2008″. So needless to say I was looking forward to getting to Waldameer Park in Erie, PA to see if Ravine Flyer II was as good as expected. Ravine Flyer’s climb seems exceptionally slow, which is by no means a negative. This gives riders time to take in the breath-taking view of Lake Erie towards the top. I felt like I was looking out onto an ocean. You can even make out waves breaking on the coast. Park owner Paul Nelson told me that at dusk a mist comes in off the lake that greases the tracks making Ravine Flyer II even faster. Just as riders admire the view with ‘oohs and ahhs’ their attention is snapped back to the drop below as the trains dives down off of the hill its situated on. The train just rose 80 feet, but the opening hill is a 115 foot drop that banks gently at the bottom. There’s a great pull over the crest in the back seat and the hill feels much longer back there.
Out and Back – Down the Ravine & Over the Highway
At the bottom, the train immediately flies through the first tunnel with surprising speed. Then up into the arched bridge over the highway with a short pop of air. In the banked, twisted turn around (similar to a section on Hades) the train climbs a hill that seems to momentarily sap some of the rides energy, but its followed by another great drop and a trip back across the highway.
The Twisted Section – Speed, Airtime, & 90-Degrees!
The rest of the ride is non-stop speed and thrills with no letting up whatsoever. Much like Gravity Group’s Voyage, Ravine Flyer II is seemingly possessed or like the energizer bunny for a nicer analogy. It’s jam-packed with pops of air and banked turns. Nelson explained that this is Gravity Group’s secret to success as it keeps the rides initial energy going. There are nearly no sections of just flat track anywhere. The highlight of the second half is the 90-degree banked turn to the right. It’s shorter than sections on The Voyage, but still exciting. The train seems like it could’ve continued on for longer, but the brake run finally puts the beast to rest.
Early videos of Ravine Flyer II looked fun, but they don’t really do the speed and intensity of this ride justice. It’s much faster than it looks on video. And though you get thrown around a bit on the turns, I couldn’t find a moment of roughness on the whole ride. Gravity Group has done it again. Congratulations to Waldameer Park! For their persistence they’ve got a world-class woodie that’s built to last and will thrill thousands for years to come.
RFII flies its way into my Top Ten landing as the 8th best of the nearly 160+ roller coasters I’ve ridden and the 5th best wooden coaster. It has also received my 7th ’10′. If you’re anywhere near Erie, get to Waldameer. Final Rating 10 (Superior)