There's no major news or updates today that I know about, so this will be more of a fun analytical post. Now that two major parks have announced GCI terrain coasters for 2017, let's compare them to see who has the superior ride.
Analysis: Mystic Timbers is obviously the winner here. While InvadR is being branded as more of a family coaster, it is not very long and does not choose a side. It is too large to be a true family ride, but too short to be a massive thrill ride. Mystic Timbers is being billed as a thrill ride from the beginning. I'm sure that families will end up loving both models, and Mystic Timbers just has so much more to offer when it comes to airtime and curves. I will say that I like InvadR's first drop better, as it isn't the traditional airtime killing GCI curved drop. But overall as a coaster, if InvadR was 1000 feet longer, only then would it be able to be toe to toe with Mystic Timbers. Winner: Mystic Timers
Analysis: While it will have a shorter height requirement, 46" is still a little tall for a family coaster. Most family coasters are in the 36" to 42" height range, and many kids may not be able to ride InvadR for a few years. I get that the trains will be heavily renovated, but they are also used from a very rough coaster and may not operate as efficiently. Mystic Timbers has trains with a unique design and despite having a slightly taller height requirement, are brand new and will operate more smoothly. Winner: Mystic Timbers
Neither coaster is immensely themed, which isn't a surprise considering the park we are working with here. Also, both coasters are terrain hugging wooden coasters, and have a good use of the surrounding land. But Mystic Timbers takes it a step further. It has a tunnel, a themed station and transfer area, a better name, and finally, "The Shed." While nobody knows its contents yet, it will definitely add an element to a wooden coaster that nobody has seen before. Winner: Mystic Timbers
Fits into lineup:
Let's face it; Busch Gardens needed a wooden coaster. Besides maybe Alton Towers or BGT, how many major parks can you name that do not have some sort of wooden or hybrid coaster in their lineup? Without a large scale family or wood coaster, Busch Gardens is really killing two birds with one stone here. King's Island could have much rather used a Giga or Wing coaster to compliment their lineup with some of the largest wood coasters in the world. InvadR was long overdue. Winner: InvadR
On paper, it was hard to find categories that InvadR could beat MT, but this is one that I think many people will agree on. Marketing and teasing for the rides have been similar. Many teasers have been sent out by the parks and announcements were big and came earlier than usual. Both names have been highly scrutinized by coaster enthusiasts for some reason, so let's call them equal on that. But, InvadR offered a never before done interactive element with its name. It allowed people to vote for it with three choices, and that is truly unique. Instead of just slapping some corporate jargon onto the ride, the people could pick the best fit. I think personally I like the name Mystic Timbers better, but the voting element means... Winner: InvadR
It might be a little unfair to compare the two coasters. Mystic Timbers is just so much larger and has more to offer. But there are a few things that Busch Gardens has done right this year. A wooden coaster is something that they desperately needed and is long overdue. In the end though the count is: Mystic Timbers 3 - InvadR 2
Had InvadR been longer, it would be able to match up better to MT. It is a great little layout, but feels like it ends too soon. These coasters both are going to be some of the best work that GCI has put on in a while. For once, I am excited for a GCI announcement, and I hope that they continue down this path. It's no surprise that Mystic Timbers would win for probably anybody reading this, but my big hope is that if Busch Gardens builds a wooden coaster again in the future, it will be much larger scale than this sort of "prototype".
Either way, the biggest winner out of this matchup if GCI. They are finally producing balanced coasters with the right amount of twists, and actual airtime. I also like that they are testing out straight first drops on some models too. With their outstanding work over the past few years, they are one of the busiest manufacturers in the industry, and have made Gravity Group nearly extinct in America besides their family projects. If this continues, they may become a top 5 manufacturer for me.