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Published: Friday, 1/5/2001

Six Flags Ohio to erect `flying' roller coaster

BY KIM BATES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

AURORA, Ohio - Cedar Point debuted its record-breaking Millenium Force last year.

Now Six Flags Ohio is touting plans to open a “flying” roller coaster in May.

Six Flags, formerly known as Geauga Lake Park, yesterday announced construction of the X-Flight, a coaster that will take riders backward up a 115-foot hill before dropping them in a “flying position'' at speeds up to 50 mph.

Riders will feel as if they're flying because they will be locked in by a harness only, not by doors.

“I think people are excited we're getting something different here at Six Flags Ohio,” said Shannon D'Sidocky, a park spokeswoman. “It's something different. It's something unique. It's something no one else has.”

She said the Flying Dutchman-style roller coaster will resemble one at Paramount's Great America amusement park in California. But she said Six Flags will have the only one in the Midwest.

Bill Linkenheimer, president of the American Coaster Enthusiasts, said his group is thrilled with the new ride.

“We are pleased that Six Flags Ohio is the first park in the Midwest to build one,” Mr. Linkenheimer said. “It complements the park's great variety of world-class coasters and adds a truly distinctive dimension of powerful thrills.”

Ms. D'Sidocky said X-Flight will become the 10th roller coaster at Six Flags Ohio, with construction of the last six in just four years. She declined to reveal the cost of the ride.

A spokeswoman at Cedar Point in Sandusky said yesterday her park doesn't fear the competition of X-Flight, even though it won't debut any coasters this year.

“We think it sounds exciting for them,” said Janice Lifke-Witherow. “We certainly wish them all the best with it. However we really don't think it's going to have an effect on Cedar Point at all.”

Ms. Lifke-Witherow said Cedar Point plans to pump $14 million this year largely into construction of a luxury campground for its visitors.

She said Cedar Point typically builds roller coasters every other year.

The park last May opened the $25 million Millenium Force, which at the time was the tallest and fastest coaster in the world, with a 310-feet drop and speeds of 93 miles per hour.

Ms. Lifke-Witherow predicted that X-Flight won't serve as direct competition to their Millenium Force, which she said is in “a league all its own.”

“I don't even think it's in the same category as Millenium Force,” Ms. Lifke-Witherow said.

Recently a battle erupted between Six Flags, Inc., and Cedar Fair, L.P., the owner of Cedar Point and four other amusement parks, over which company will have the highest number of roller coasters at its park.

Six Flags Magic Mountain in California recently announced that it will build three coasters, which would give it one more than Cedar Point's 14.

However, Cedar Point officials have challenged whether one of Magic Mountain's rides is truly a coaster.

Ms. Lifke-Witherow said there is no debate over the X-Flight.

“We don't take any aim at their claim that it's a real roller coaster,” Ms. Lifke-Witherow said. “It is a real roller coaster.”



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