ROLLER COASTERS 101
Memorial Day weekend heralds the official start of the beach and barbecue season. But it's also the time of year when amusement-ride buffs start hitting the parks in search of new thrills. Several dozen new rides have opened or are scheduled to open this year in parks from coast to coast. Here's a look at five of the biggest, baddest, most intriguing new roller coasters. We've included the inside skinny from Mark Cole, president of American Coaster Enthusiasts, who ranks the potential Thrill Factor of each ride on a scale of one (eh) to five (eek!!). -- Carol Sottili
WHERE: Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
OPENED: April 13
SPECS: 85 feet high. 1,811 feet long. 60 mph maximum speed. 2 1/2 minutes riding time.
OVERVIEW: Themed on a "long-abandoned mine with an eerie past," the ride uses audio and special effects to heighten the experience. Part of it is inside, and riders are at times immersed in darkness. Riders are turned upside down. Each car holds eight people in two rows of four.
EXPERT'S TAKE: "The appeal is that you can't see the ride before you ride it. You can only see parts of it. I'm definitely going to get there this summer."
THRILL FACTOR: * * * *