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“Size isn’t everything”… or is it?


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Hi guys. Whenever the topic of records and stats comes up in discussion, I’ve noticed that enthusiasts often like to trot out the age-old mantra of “size isn’t everything”, “it’s not the size that matters, it’s what you do with it” or something of that general ilk. But one does have to ask whether this saying always holds true. So my question to you today is; do you think this saying holds true in every instance? Can a ride ever benefit from being bigger? Can a smaller ride ever be held back by the fact that it isn’t bigger?

 

Personally, I’ll admit that I’m not sure that the adage of “size isn’t everything” is necessarily true in every instance, and I can raise a number of case studies to explain why I think this.

 

Before I begin, I’d just like to clarify that that doesn’t mean that I think it’s wrong by any means. There are absolutely instances where I think this saying can be vindicated. You can absolutely build a small ride that’s truly brilliant, and by the same token, you can absolutely build a big ride that’s a flop. For instance, the height record breaker Kingda Ka does not seemingly have a very high reception among enthusiasts on the whole, and many even rate Stealth, which is less than half the height and effectively does the same thing, more highly. Many of the other record breakers also often leave enthusiasts distinctly non-plussed, due to them either being uncomfortable, boring or a combination of both. By the same token, many rides that don’t leap off the page stats-wise are very highly rated. Nemesis. Phoenix. The Intamin Mega-Lites. There are way more examples than that, even.

 

However, I’m not sure that the mantra of “size isn’t everything” is necessarily as true in every case as some make out. And I’ll use a few case studies to explain myself.

 

I’ll start with one ride type that I possibly feel goes against this mantra; the B&M Hyper Coaster. There seem to be 3 subsets of this ride type in terms of size; the gigas (300ft+, 5,500ft+), the regular hypers (200ft-300ft, 4,500ft-5,500ft), and the mini hypers (<200ft, <4,500ft). And these subsets do seem to follow the same order in average rating as they do in size; as much as the length figures I used in particular are quite rough parameters, there does seem to be a correlation between size of B&M Hyper Coaster and average rating. The gigas seem to be rated higher than the regular hypers on average, and the regular hypers seem to be rated more highly than the mini hypers on average. And even if you delve into these subsets, it’s often the largest that is the most highly rated on average. Take the gigas, for instance; Fury 325 is the longest by a good 1,000ft and the tallest by a good 20ft, and it’s also the most highly rated on average. And if you look at the regular hypers; Shambhala is the tallest by a good 10ft, and also seems to be the most highly rated on average. While this isn’t a hard, fast rule by any means (there are some B&M Hypers that loiter right around the 200ft mark that are pretty highly rated, and some bigger ones that are seen as weaker), there does appear to be somewhat of a positive correlation between height and/or length of a B&M Hyper Coaster and how highly that B&M Hyper Coaster is rated.

 

Now you could argue “B&M Hypers are designed to be big, so of course they aren’t going to follow that mantra”. But I would like to raise another ride type/manufacturer, one who arguably made their name by following the “size isn’t everything” mantra… it’s every enthusiast’s favourite 3-letter acronym, RMC. Over the years, RMC has made many smaller coasters with very high ratings; many of their earlier creations that made them their name fell firmly into the small/moderate size category, often being under 150ft in height and under 60mph in speed. But when they began making big behemoths, that neared and in some cases exceeded 200ft in height and 70mph in speed… it’s those massive RMCs that have hogged most of the column inches ever since. While this of course won’t be true for everyone, it appears that the current holy trinity of RMCs for most enthusiasts are Steel Vengeance, Zadra and Iron Gwazi. These are also the only RMC coasters to exceed 200ft in height at present. One does have to wonder whether that’s a coincidence. A lot of RMC’s small and midsize coasters seem to fly under the radar somewhat these days, even when newer; for instance, Twisted Cyclone and to a lesser extent the first two Raptors, while respectably reviewed, got a far more muted response than Steel Vengeance in 2018. SteVe is twice the size of any of the “competing” RMCs from the same year. In 2016, when the company built Wildfire, Lightning Rod and Joker, it was Wildfire and LRod, the two vastly larger coasters, that got all the praise; poor old Joker, at barely above 100ft, didn’t even get a look in compared to those two, and even now, it’s among the lowest rated RMCs while the big two from the same year are among the highest rated. Again, while this isn’t necessarily a hard and fast rule, it does appear that there might be a positive correlation between size of an RMC and how highly it’s rated on average.

 

For yet another two examples of manufacturers who are arguably famous for following the “size isn’t everything” mantra; Gravity Group and GCI, the two traditional woodie manufacturers. Both of these companies produce many compact and small rides that are big hits among enthusiasts; Gravity Group in particular are renowned for getting big thrills out of small packages. But looking at the highest rated rides from each company would suggest that size might even benefit these champions of compact. If you look at Gravity Group; their most highly rated coaster in most polls seems to be Voyage by some distance… and Voyage is also their largest coaster, being a truly massive, sprawling ride. If you look at GCI; their most highly rated coasters among those who’ve ridden seem to be Mountain Flyer and Python in Bamboo Forest, and while exact stats for this duo are limited, they appear to be GCI’s two biggest coasters by a fair margin. And even if you look among more widely ridden GCIs; the tallest and fastest is Wodan, and that does often tend to fall among the most highly rated GCIs too.

 

I could use other examples, but in essence; I do think size can be a contributing factor to how highly rated a ride is in numerous cases, and the saying of “size isn’t everything” isn’t always true, in my opinion.

 

But what do you think? Do you agree with me? Or do you think that the age-old mantra of “size isn’t everything” is always true?

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To be honest, I don't think size has anything to do with quality of a ride. My two favourite B&M inverters for example are Katun and Nemesis. One is absolutely mahoosive and the other is tiny. Quality normally holds out so GCI for example, generally are a excellent manufacturer whether thats Wodan or Wicker Man. 

 

B&M Hypers, I think at the end of the day is personal preference. Not much separates any of them, in fact for me the only 300ft one I've done is Leviathan and that was nowhere as interesting as Behemoth in the same park. 

 

The highest ride I've done I hated. Much love Dragster, but I hate everything about you. 

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