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Highs and lows of a roller-coaster trip

May 27, 2012

If you go

Cedar Point, 1 Cedar Point Drive, Sandusky, Ohio; (419) 627-2350, Must: Cedar Downs Racing Derby, one of the last racing carousels in the world. Miss: The miserable Mantis stand-up coaster, which left my head aching.

Kennywood, 4800 Kennywood Blvd., West Mifflin, Pa.; (412) 461-0500, Must: The Sky Rocket is ideal for kids transitioning from junior coasters to metal monsters. Miss: Garfield's Nightmare, a glow-in-the-dark comic strip makeover of the 1901 Old Mill ride that ruins the park's oldest attraction.

Idlewild, 2574 Route 30 (Lincoln Highway), Ligonier Township, Pa.; (724) 238-3666, Must: Dizzy Lizzy's Four Quarters Saloon, a haunted swing ride that creates the optical illusion that riders are rotating head over heels. Miss: The tired-looking Confusion Hill, a walk-through tilt house that left the family feeling woozy.

Lakemont Park, 700 Park Ave.; Altoona, Pa.; (800) 434-8006, Must: The Skyliner wooden coaster, a classic. Miss: It's hard to recommend a visit for any other reason than to ride Leap-the-Dips.

Hersheypark, 100 W. Hersheypark Drive, Hershey, Pa.; (800) 437-7439, Must: We all loved Fahrenheit, another tween coaster. Miss: The rough and rocky Sidewinder coaster proved too much for my wife, Nancy, forcing her to retreat to the hotel for some R&R.

Dorney Park, 4000 Dorney Park Road, Allentown, Pa.; (610) 395-3724, Must: The 200-foot-tall Steel Force, which delivers tons of airtime. Miss: The Demon Drop, an earlier version of the now-ubiquitous drop towers.

Knoebels, 391 Knoebels Blvd.; Elysburg, Pa.; (800) 487-4386, Must: The Skooter bumper cars really smash into each other, turning a mundane ride into a miniature demolition derby. Miss: The spinning Satellite spaceship is one of the worst rides I've ever ridden.

Six Flags Great Adventure, 1 Six Flags Blvd., Jackson, N.J.; (732) 928-1821, Must: Houdini's Great Escape, a thrilling haunted swing with a magic theme. Miss: The horrible Dark Knight and Skull Mountain indoor dark coasters.

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