Since Cedar Fair acquired Knott's Berry Farm in 1998, the Southern California amusement park has added several impressive thrill rides.  It began with Supreme Scream, one of the world's tallest S&S Drop Towers was added. Near the end of 1998, the park opened Ghostrider, which is still one of the highest rated wooden coasters in the world.  In 2000, the park added another record-breaking ride, Perilous Plunge -- the world's largest and steepest water ride.

In 2002, Knott's decided that they would continue the tradition with the addition of Xcelerator, the world's first rocket coaster.

Designed by Intamin A.G., Xcelerator is the first roller coaster to utilize a hydraulic launch.  Using this launch mechanism, the ride is able to catapult riders from 0-82mph in 2.3 seconds.


8.jpg (173911 bytes)Standing 205-feet in the air and reaching a maximum speed of 82mph, Xcelerator is the tallest and fastest coaster at Knott's.  The massive structure has drastically changed the Knott's skyline, and can be viewed from almost anywhere in the park.

Xcelerator, which uses a 1950's theme, is located in the area where the former Windjammer operated.  Several 1957 Chevy's are located near the ride, which add to the theme.

51.jpg (269020 bytes)A large neon sign that reads 'Xcelerator' (who would have guessed?) is located in front of the entrance to the queue.  Adjacent to the queue entrance there is a test car where you can make sure that you are able to fit properly.  The large queue is located under the ride, and allows you to get extremely close to the various elements.  Scattered around the queue are miscellaneous car parts.  Also visible is the ride's PLC and the housing for the launch system, which are themed as well.

Near the end of the queue, the line splits in two -- the left side is for cars 2-5, and the right side is for those who wish to wait for the front row.  Just a quick warning: with the current capacity, waiting for the front row could mean an extra hour or so.


Once I reached the station, I was assigned to car 5, which is the very last row.  Once you sit down in the car, you must tighten your seatbelt, but may not pull down your lap bar.  The operators insist on pulling down the lap bar for you to make sure it is as tight as possible.

2.jpg (249543 bytes)Once all the restraints are checked and the ride is clear for launch, you slightly roll back about a foot.  At this point, it takes 5 seconds until take-off.  Signal lights are used to count it down.

Within moments, we were blasted out of the station, accelerating from 0-82mph in 2.3 seconds.

The launch is simply incredible and is the most intense launch I have ever experienced.  The launch track is only 157-feet long, and leads into the ride's signature element, the 205-foot Top Hat.

46.jpg (150986 bytes)Coming over the Top Hat, there is extreme involuntary airtime.  You are out of your seat for several seconds no matter how tight your lap bar is.  And with a 90 degree descent coming back down, the Top Hat also offers an amazing drop.

From the bottom of the Top Hat, you head into the first of two overbanks, this one standing at 110-feet.  To be honest, the overbanks really did not do much for me.  I am not a huge fan of the overbanks on Millennium Force either, but I prefer those to Xcelerator's.

23.jpg (112994 bytes)From this point, you head over the second overbank, which stands 90-feet in the air and is wrapped around the Top Hat.  This overbank has a bit more punch than the first, but it still did not excite me.

Following the second overbank, you head into the magnetic brake run, which you enter at very high speeds.  Still, they stop you very smoothly and efficiently.  From here, you slowly head through a turnaround and back into the station.


Overall, I found Xcelerator to be an incredible ride.  But it is not perfect.  The ride needed a few more elements;The addition of a helix and/or a few bunny hops would have greatly improved the layout.  The only other problem I had with the ride was the overbanks, which I mentioned earlier.

But despite its few flaws, Xcelerator has definitely become one of my top steel coasters and I highly recommend it. I can only hope we will see many more Rocket Coasters in the future.

Rating: 8/10


  • Incredible Launch

  • Tons of airtime

  • Top Hat element

  • Comfortable trains

  • Highly themed


  • Very short

  • Slow dispatch times

  • Unexciting overbanks

-Jeff B.