When you say the words “Mountain Coaster” to me, I flashback to my childhood and the times spent at Action Park in Vernon, New Jersey.
One of the iconic rides at that park was the Alpine Coaster. In reality, it was a poorly designed concrete track on which you rode shoddy sleds down a mountain. It was inherently dangerous (people died on this ride after being thrown from the track). My dad exited from one ride bloodied when his brakes didn’t work and he flew off his sled, getting a pretty bad case of road rash from the track.
They’re made a movie about the park, currently showing on HBO Max called Class Action Park.
So you can imagine, when we were in Georgia and our friends and we were considering going on a mountain coaster, I was hesitant. It wasn’t until I got to look at it close up that my fears began to fade.
Georgia Mountain Coaster
8409 S Main St.
Located right on the main street of Helen, the Georgia Mountain Coaster takes you on a twisting, turning, high-speed ride through the trees and down the mountain. An important thing to us about the attraction was that the cars were being sanitized between each guest and everyone had to wear masks while inside the building and while loading.
This was not a coaster from my childhood. This one is designed by Weigand, a Germany company with over 180 installations of their Alpine coaster worldwide. This just looked safe. No way for the car to leave the track. Brake levers that worked.
Since we visited on Monday, there was hardly anyone else waiting to ride. We purchased our tickets and were quickly loaded into our cars.
The cars are pulled to the top of the track and that’s when you get to start to control your experience. Riders can use their brake levers to slow down or speed up. All you are asked to do is not to stop on the track and to keep a safe distance from the rider in front (marked by signs throughout the ride.)
Let me say, this coaster picks up speed quickly. The website says you can reach speeds of 28 MPH, which I believe. Zooming down a mountain, curving through the trees, it felt even faster. It gave you the feeling that while perfectly safe, it still was a bit scary. Which I think was exactly what they were going for.
In what felt like no time at all, we were approaching the load/unload station.
While Sharon and I chose to ride separate cars for comfort, it was difficult for her to control the brakes (as you push forward to go faster and pull back to slow down) because her arms weren’t long enough to reach them well [Note from Sharon: although very short, I was tall enough to ride by myself. But a lot of what little height I have is in my legs]. Most families will ride with a parent and child in one sled and shouldn’t have this problem.
A ride on the Georgia Mountain Coaster costs $15 per person. Was it worth it? I guess so. It was entertaining and if I rode again, I’m sure I’d be willing to lean into the curves a bit more and carry some additional speed downhill. It was a way to spend an hour or so while on vacation and I’m glad I got to try it out.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary