The Ultimate

8

 
Lightwater Valley
Black Pearl
Black Widows Web
Caterpillar Coaster
The Eagle's Claw
Falls of Terror
Flying Cutlass
Ladybird Coaster
Lightwater Express
Lightwater Wheel
Powder Keg
Raptor Attack
Skate Karts
Skull Rock
Sky Rider
Swan Pedal Boats
Trauma Towers
Twister
The Ultimate
Whirlwind
Wild River Rapids

When it comes to talking about the UK's greatest roller coasters this is one I feel is often overlooked. Being built just before the golden age of the mid 90's when we got Nemesis, The Big One, Shockwave and Megaphobia doesn't help, as it's time in the spotlight was short, but it's still a ride I think should garner more attention.

One thing of note is this is a rare example of a hybrid coaster. The track is steel but a lot of the supports and structure are wooden. I had to rename a category in the charts section to account for this. I opted for the wooden one, partly to boost the numbers, and the layout is reminiscent of a lot of traditional wooden coasters.

Another notable fact is it's Europe's longest roller coaster, and used to hold the record for the longest in the world. It doesn't hold this record anymore, but it's still near the top of the list.

 

The fact the layout was designed with a record breaking length in mind does lead to a few flaws. The last section of the ride feels like an over long transfer section to the station, but it's the first part of the ride between the first and second hill lift that the main problems occur. It's a long strait section of track, consisting of a number of dips and bumps. It starts at a good exciting pace, but it soon looses momentum to the point where it feels more like a scenic train ride than a roller coaster.

Luckily though things pick up after the second hill lift. The lift has a large flat section at the top, which is a good chance to look back and really appreciate the scale of the ride, as you see how far it is back to the station. You may even spot how little of the second part of the ride you see, as it's all hidden in the woods.

The second part is where this ride really delivers the goods. It follows a relatively simple layout, consisting of a series of banked turns back towards the station, with a final helix in to a tunnel before emerging for the sedate trundle back to the station. Before this though it takes everything at a fast and exciting speed. This on it's own would be enough to make an exciting ride, but the excitement is enhanced by being enclosed in a woodland location, and the fact the ride stays close to the ground adds to the sense of danger.

Overall it's not quite up to the standards of some of the most elite British coasters, thanks to a few flaws, but it still ranks up their as a great exciting ride, and deserves recognition for doing this.

 
The Ultimate - Second Opinion

8

 
 

Thanks to  Robert Brooks for writing this review for me.

A roller coaster with an interesting layout, history and experience.  This ride just has to be seen and ridden to be believed.  You can look at all the videos and pictures you like but they won’t give you a single idea about the beast that awaits you; and they certainly won’t prepare you. 

As you enter the large wooden station you are greeted with music that has been personally chosen by ride operatives and this, for some reason is usually dance music; probably to keep them motivated and upbeat throughout the working day.  This slightly detracts from the initial build up to the ride which, if you have no idea where it goes or what it does can be quite daunting.  Especially when you know you have 1 and a half miles of track to ride on.

This coaster is a rare hybrid coaster, consisting of steel tracks, but with a wooden structure supporting it. It consists of two large lift hills which take an age to get to the tops of with their accompanying drops and a series of long speedy straight sections and majorly rough banked turns.  When I say rough that is an understatement by the way; this coaster thrashes you from side to side like nobody’s business and certainly, repeat certainly, is not for the faint hearted.

The quality of the coaster experience then; well aside from the poor track work is actually really exhilarating and the rush through the trees whilst the sounds of petrified screams and the roar of the coaster train fill the air is brilliant.  The tension built up on, particularly the second lift hill as you clunk your way gradually toward the drop’s precipice does not end up unrewarding. 

A lot of people come of this ride complaining of headaches and other gibberish pains, I say they’re wimps quite frankly; you won’t find a coaster rougher than this I can tell you but it’s rough in a good way because it’s fun and makes you want to ride again and again and again not to mention the memorable factor of it.  This is what put Lightwater Valley on the map and thousands of people flocked to the park during the early 90’s to experience it.  It was also consequently what plunged the park into serious amounts of debt and the main reasons why you don’t see any other brilliant rides introduced at the park after The Ultimate’s birth.

If this was a music genre it would defiantly be hard dance with an excess of 200 beats per minute or some sort of heavy metal shouting.  They used to call this ride the T-Rex of roller coasters; personally I think that it is completely true.