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San Diego: Belmont Park adding a third thrill ride this year

It's been a busy year for Belmont Park and it's about to get busier. By the end of 2010, the San Diego seaside amusement park will have added three attractions that bundle big thrills into small packages while putting visitors in control of each experience.

The prototype Octotron flat ride, which will make its debut by the end of the year, will simulate a looping roller coaster experience over an undulating Himalayan-style track. (Watch a video of this jaw-dropping ride)

Sitting two abreast in roller coaster-style seats, riders control the forward and backward direction of a spinning car as it rotates around a circular course. If looking at the garish green, yellow and red beach-ball theme of the ride doesn't make you sick, then the potent "twin-spin" effect certainly will. The nauseous need not apply.

Ride manufacturer Chance Morgan earlier this year installed the first of these rides, known as a Unicoaster, at Nickelodeon Universe in the Minneapolis Mall of America.

Belmont Park hopes to open Octotron in time for Christmas, shooting for a Dec. 18 debut. I can't wait to try it. Octotron will take over the location now occupied by the Tilt-A-Whirl, which will replace the departing Chaos ride.

This summer Belmont Park opened the Sky Ropes Adventure course and the Control Freak thrill ride.

Sky Ropes Adventure is an elevated ropes course in which climbers, tethered by a safety harness, navigate over, under and around a series of obstacles. I tried a version of the ropes course last year at the International Assn. of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) show in Las Vegas. I had a great time traipsing up teeter-tottering staircases and across tightrope-like bridges. The best part was that I could plot my own path and set my own pace.

The first-of-its-kind Control Freak thrill ride lets riders in the twin cars stop and start the spin of their cars with the push of a button. Control of the spinning ride switches from one car to the other halfway through the ride. Once again, this one's not for the faint of stomach. (Watch the video)

I tried a prototype version of the ride at IAAPA and once was enough for me. The ceaseless spinning made me feel like my head was going to fly off my shoulders.

Belmont Park recently closed Control Freak after the ride's safety restraints inadvertently released while riders were on board. Nobody was injured in the incident, amusement park officials said. Control Freak will remain closed until Moser's Rides, which manufactures the ride under the name Gyro Loop, inspects it and adds safety redundancies over the next few weeks, officials said.

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