Serial Killer

Let's get one thing straight: I'm no roller coaster novice. During the misspent days of my junior high youth, I was addicted to them. I've attacked The Rebel Yell (old, wooden, lots of big drops), The Shockwave (stand-up with loops), The Loch Ness Monster (fast as hell through tunnels) and The Anaconda (it goes under water, man!). I've even faced something called The Grizzly Bear, though my best friend's sister's ex-boyfriend's nephew supposedly died on it. Seriously.

So I thought I'd be fine at AstroWorld's new Serial Thriller, which opened to the public just last weekend. The coaster, made of 2,172 feet of steel track and reaching a height of 102 feet, is designed to kick your ass with seven inversions taken at 55 mph in one minute and 35 seconds. It's a suspended, looping coaster -- the only one of its kind in the Southwest -- which means the track is above your head, and your feet dangle below.

But when I got to AstroWorld, I freaked. I'm no death-defying 13-year-old anymore, I thought. But with the encouragement of several ACE members (American Coaster Enthusiasts -- they ride coasters as often as you go to the mall), I managed to ride the damn thing. Here's my review:

Vomit Inducement Factor: A good coaster should gently tease you with the possibility of making you puke, but you shouldn't actually taste the bile in your mouth. The Thriller has an excellent Vomit Inducement rating -- frightening feeling, no bile. Don't ride it after lunch.

Shake Factor: As coasters become more insane and intense, they make your booty shake like a speed-addled club dancer. This may sound fun, but it's not too enjoyable when your head bangs against the guards. Thriller will shake you, so ride up front and keep your body pressed back into the seat.

Scream Factor: If a roller coaster pushes you, pummels you and whips you so hard you can't scream, what's the point? A good coaster should leave your lungs free for blood-curdling yelps. I knew Serial Thriller rated high in this category when a fellow rider complimented me: "You have the best scream I've heard in a while." Just like in junior high.

-- Jennifer Mathieu

AstroWorld, 9001 Kirby, opens daily at 10 a.m. through the summer. Closing times vary, so call (713)799-8404 for details. Tickets are $32.99 for adults and $16.50 for kids.

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Jennifer Mathieu
Contact: Jennifer Mathieu