Home » The Highly-Anticipated 2020 Coasters That Became 2021 Coasters…

    The Highly-Anticipated 2020 Coasters That Became 2021 Coasters…

    Iron Gwazi's entrance plaza

    It would be an understatement to say that 2020 was an unexpected year for the theme park industry. With COVID-19 shutting down parks across the world, the majority of new-for-2020 coasters were pushed back due to constraints in funds, labor, and safety. Some coasters did manage to make their debut in the 2020 season, like Candymonium, a B&M Hypercoaster at Hershey Park, and Texas Stingray, the tallest, fastest, and longest wooden coaster in Texas (which actually managed to open just prior to COVID-19 closures). In addition, there are also some 2021 coasters that were announced as 2021 coasters, like Universal’s VelociCoaster, or TMNT Shellraiser and its fellow coasters that opened alongside the indoor Nickelodeon Universe park. 

    VelociCoaster promotional image
    Image: Universal

    But what about the forgotten coasters of 2020, the ones that were quietly pushed back due to these aforementioned restraints, the 2020 coasters that became 2021 coasters?

    Iron Gwazi  

    Iron Gwazi promotional image
    Image: Busch Gardens

    There’s no lack of discourse surrounding this record-breaking RMC, but the hype surrounding this upcoming Busch Gardens coaster has only grown since it was pushed to the 2021 season. After being widely considered the most highly-anticipated coaster of 2020, it’s defending that title for the second year in a row, as Busch Gardens fans and coaster enthusiasts are so ready to flock to the park next Spring when Iron Gwazi makes its long-awaited debut. It’s driven fans (present company included) wild seeing this massive coaster standing but not operating for the past few months, but we’re closer than ever now. In recent weeks, the queue line and entryway have taken shape, and the coaster is seen running quite frequently.

    Iron Gwazi, known as infamous dueling coaster Gwazi prior to its overhaul, will open as the world’s tallest and steepest hybrid coaster. Rocky Mountain Construction, the beloved manufacturer behind the project, specializes in their groundbreaking I-Box track, taking past-their-time wooden coasters and making them into beasts of steel and wood like we’ve seen in the likes of Steel Vengeance and New Texas Giant. To get a deep dive on Iron Gwazi and its rocky history, check out this oral history. You can catch a ride on Iron Gwazi in spring 2021, but if you really can’t wait, the park recently dropped its official POV. 


    Pantheon promotional image
    Image: Busch Gardens

    Another mammoth of a Busch Gardens project, Pantheon was first announced in August of 2019, flaunting the title of “Fastest Multi-Launch Coaster in North America,” reaching speeds of 72.5 miles per hour. This Intamin multi-launch coaster will feature four launches (one of which being a backwards launch) and a 95 degree drop off a massive top hat element. Virginia coaster fans were naturally excited about this addition to the park. Though it came only a few years after Tempesto, another multi-launch coaster, this one manufactured by Premier Rides, the two coasters have massively different focuses. While Tempesto is a cloned attraction with a small footprint, focused on its tall inversions and quirky non-inverting loop, Pantheon broadens the scope. This is a massive ride, spanning a large section of the park with two inversions and a height of 180 feet.

    The coaster still displays its honor of “Top 10 Coasters of 2020” on the Busch Gardens Williamsburg site, but they may have to go to bat to retain that title as we enter the 2021 season, as Busch Gardens quietly pushed back the ride’s opening in the summer of 2021. It shouldn’t be a difficult task—Pantheon is unlike anything Virginia, even America, has seen before. While Cedar Point’s Maverick is an Intamin multi-launch as well, it is of a former era of Intamin coasters, with starkly different track, trains, and elements. Intamin has come a long way in the past ten or-so years, bringing their talents to the European market in rides like Taron at Phantasialand and Taiga at Linnanmäk, and American coaster enthusiasts are about to see just that in Pantheon.

    Jersey Devil Coaster 

    Jersey Devil Coaster promotional image
    Image: Six Flags

    This RMC will debut at Six Flags Great Adventure as the world’s fastest, longest, and tallest single rail coaster, but New Jersey parkgoers have a little longer to wait until they can experience this airtime-packed coaster. Though it was announced in August of 2019 and underwent a good amount of vertical construction in the latter half of the year, crowds never did get to ride this coaster in 2020.

    This is not the first single rail coaster we’ve seen. RMC’s daring model, in which guests’ legs rest on either side of the track, allows for quick and snappy transitions and a mind-boggling amount of ejector airtime. It can be seen currently in Wonder Woman Golden Lasso at Six Flags Fiesta Texas and RailBlazer at California’s Great America, but while these rides are mirrored clones of one another, with a third clone coming next year, Jersey Devil Coaster is a completely original ride design. While the original clones of this model are compact and whippy, Jersey Devil features a layout that is drawn out and more of a standard out-and-back.

    Note: An out-and-back layout is exactly what it sounds like. The train leaves the station then returns, usually in one to three laps and usually bursting with airtime hills. Some beloved out-and-back coasters are rides like The Voyage at Holiday World, Mako at Sea World Orlando, and El Toro, which can be found in the very same park.

    Great Adventure has been a premier amusement park for years now, and Jersey Devil Coaster further cements its place as one of the best thrill parks in the world.

    Honorable Mention – AQUAMAN: Power Wave 

    AQUAMAN promotional image
    Image: Six Flags

    AQUAMAN: Power Wave was announced as the 15th coaster at Six Fags Over Texas in late 2019. Though this Mack Rides contraption is technically a water coaster, the first of its kind in North America, it is still considered a coaster due to its use of a coaster-like track and gravity as a source of speed. (The debate as to what is and isn’t an “official coaster credit” is a hotly debated one in certain circles.) The ride features a halfpipe-style track that will catapult riders back and forth, reaching speeds of over 60 miles per hour, and will ultimately plunge them into a pool of water at the bottom.

    The reason AQUAMAN: Power Wave is an honorable mention rather than on the main list is not because it contains water elements, but because this ride was delayed, not until 2021, but until 2022

    Sea World Orlando skyline
    Image: Sea World

    2020 has presented an array of challenges for the amusement industry, but if these delayed coasters show us anything, it’s that there’s always room for a re-do.

    What is your most-anticipated new-for-2021 coaster?