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Roller Coasters

NEWS
June 2, 2012 | By Jon Healey
It's been almost three years since the U.S. recession officially ended, but the country remains stuck in a roller-coaster economy. The table above from the Bureau of Economic Analysis says it all -- economic growth speeds up, then slows down, then speeds up, and now it's slowing down again. It's as if there's some kind of invisible ceiling that we can't break through. What's worse, the ceiling isn't all that high -- GDP growth between 3% and 4%. If the United States is to recapture the low unemployment rates of the mid-2000s, before the subprime mortgage meltdown, it needs a sustained run of GDP growth that's solidly above 3%. In the first three months of 2012, by contrast, GDP grew a meager 1.9%.
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NEWS
May 28, 2012 | By Brady MacDonald
The smooth, quick and quiet Manta family coaster that debuted over Memorial Day  weekend at SeaWorld San Diego is just the type of thrilling ride the marine park sorely needs. PHOTOS: Manta roller coaster at SeaWorld San Diego The knock on the sea life show-heavy park has always been that it doesn't have enough rides. Over the past few years, SeaWorld has added a number of kiddie rides, but this summer the park finally got around to satisfying the tween set. For a 30-foot-tall family coaster with a top speed of 43 mph, the $35-million Manta manages to pack a lot of surprises into its modest proportions while even delivering a pair of firsts for a U.S. coaster.
TRAVEL
May 27, 2012
If you go Cedar Point, 1 Cedar Point Drive, Sandusky, Ohio; (419) 627-2350, http://www.cedarpoint.com . 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, http://www.kennywood.com . 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.
TRAVEL
May 27, 2012 | By Brady MacDonald, Los Angeles Times staff writer
SANDUSKY, Ohio - As an amusement parks blogger, I have visited most of the big theme parks in Southern California and central Florida, but my roller-coaster résumé was a little thin when it came to the parks in between. So last summer my wife, Nancy, our 11-year-old daughter, Hannah, and I climbed aboard more than 70 coasters in 10 days at theme parks in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We each had established a few rules for our journey across America's Coaster Belt. Hannah was willing to ride coasters reaching 65 mph, topping out at 200 feet and going upside down three times.
NEWS
May 2, 2012 | By Brady MacDonald, Los Angeles Times
Six Flags Magic Mountain will reclaim sole ownership of the Roller Coaster Capital of the World title with the announcement that arch-rival Cedar Point will remove one of its 17 coasters before the start of the summer season. PHOTOS: Cedar Point vs. Magic Mountain Citing declining ridership and increased maintenance costs, Ohio's Cedar Point said it will remove and demolish the 1979 Wildcat coaster to make room for the upcoming $6-million Luminosity nighttime spectacular, which is set to debut on June 8. PHOTOS: Luminosity nighttime spectacular at Cedar Point "Cedar Point remains committed to being the roller coaster capital of the world," the park said in a statement.
NEWS
March 13, 2012 | By Brady MacDonald, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
A racing wooden roller coaster debuting this spring at a Chinese theme park will feature a first-of-its-kind element in which riders in dueling trains reach out toward each other and attempt to exchange high-fives. Dubbed the High Five by the American ride designers, the wooden coaster opening in April at Happy Valley Wuhan will be officially known as Dragon Wings. Riders traveling in parallel trains along banked tracks during the unique High Five element will tilt inward 90 degrees, allowing their upward raised hands to almost touch during the near-miss moment.
BUSINESS
March 13, 2012 | By Hugo Martín, Los Angeles Times
For most people, a 400-foot free fall from a steel tower is a hair-raising adventure. Not for thrill-ride enthusiast John Gerard, who can't wait to try what Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia is billing as the world's tallest vertical drop ride, set to open Memorial Day. "I'm really excited about this," the San Diego doctor said. "I think there are many others like me too. " The ride is the latest example of what theme park fans call the thrill ride "arms race," global competition among theme park operators to set world records for speed, height, distance or greatest number of corkscrew turns in a ride.
OPINION
January 4, 2012
City Councilman Jose Huizar is asking his colleagues to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles. It's a great idea. Or rather, it would have been a great idea three or four years ago — before the city purported to regulate the storefront cannabis-selling shops. The idea would not be to ban dispensaries forever but to track court rulings, determine what regulations are and are not allowable, and then construct a smart and enforceable ordinance. But it's too late for that now. L.A. city government took its seat on a legal roller coaster when it first signaled that it couldn't or wouldn't block dispensaries from opening, then stayed for a second ride when it adopted and tried to enforce ordinances regulating where and when purveyors could operate.
NEWS
December 2, 2011 | By Brady MacDonald, Los Angeles Times staff writer
It already looks like 2012 will prove to be a good year for globetrotting ride enthusiasts as theme parks in Asia, Europe and South America are planning to roll out major new attractions. > Photos: Best new international theme park rides for 2012 Theme parks around the world are preparing a highly anticipated slate for 2012 that includes record-setting roller coasters, one-of-a-kind attractions, pulse-quickening thrill rides and family-friendly themed lands. Since it is still early, I'll update my Top 20 over the coming months as new projects are announced.
WORLD
November 4, 2011 | By Anthee Carassava and Henry Chu, Los Angeles Times
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou will keep his job, for the moment. Papandreou squeaked through a confidence vote in Parliament early Saturday, but only by indicating he would step down if necessary to allow formation of a unity government that would carry out Europe's latest plan to combat a raging debt crisis. Papandreou's narrow win, on a 153-145 vote, capped a roller-coaster week that saw him wreak international havoc by calling a referendum on that same bailout plan, a move he later retracted under heavy pressure at home and abroad.
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