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Rewind Racers coaster delivers big-kid thrills for pint-size riders

The first-of-its-kind ride in the U.S. sits on a compact footprint at the pocket-sized Adventure City

The new Rewind Racers at the family-run Adventure City amusement park is a cool little roller coaster that’s perfect for preteens looking for big-kid thrills.

The $2-million family shuttle coaster marks the largest investment in the two-decade history of Adventure City, located on the Anaheim-Stanton border in the twin shadows of Knott’s Berry Farm and Disneyland.

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Built by Germany-based Gerstlauer, the first-of-its-kind ride in the United States sits on a compact footprint at the pocket-sized amusement park.

While most shuttle coasters like Knott’s Boomerang or Montezooma’s Revenge feature looping inversions, Rewind Racers is more like Knott’s Sierra Sidewinder in terms of speed, height and thrill level. A shuttle roller coaster reverses course mid-ride and retraces the same track backward without ever making a complete circuit.

Driving past the aging strip malls and no-tell motels of Beach Boulevard, it’s shocking to see the orange track and yellow supports of Rewind Racers jutting up along the edge of the 8-lane suburban street. About 10 feet separate the coaster track from the telephone poles and power lines lining the busy thoroughfare.

Inside the small park, it’s clear the demographic is similar to Legoland, with lots of young mothers pushing strollers and kids ranging in age from 2 to 12 years old.

Like most of the rides at Adventure City, Rewind Racers is designed for parents and kids to enjoy together. The new coaster has a modest height requirement of 39 inches for kids riding with an adult, which means most 4-year-olds can ride.

Tucked in the back of the park, Rewind Racers is bit hard to find from the main entrance but it’s easy enough to just follow the excited kids who clearly know the way.

“Hurry up, mom,” said one little girl eagerly pulling her mother along by the hand. “Come on. Let’s go.”

Once inside the elevated station, the Rewind Racers train is themed to look like individual race cars with colorful graphics and numbers. As you load into the cars, Max the mechanic explains via video the safety rules and sets up the back story of the ride: It’s race day at Adventure City and the green flag is about to drop.

Departing from the station, the ride begins in reverse with a backward climb up the first lift hill. The top of the 40-foot-tall hill offers a panoramic view of Stanton, with traffic zipping along Beach Boulevard below and a Pick Your Part auto junk yard across the street.

After a brief bit of narration at the top of the hill, the train races forward through the station at 30 mph, which seems much faster thanks to the screaming riders and enclosed confines.

The 600-foot-long track is fairly basic with a banked turn, an airtime hill, a headchopper element and a spiraling helix.

After climbing to the top of an adjacent lift hill, Rewind Racers retraces the course backward before coasting into the station to a checkered flag playing on the video screens.

By far the highlight of the ride is the backward segment, which plays on the unexpected unknown of what comes next -- even though you’ve just experienced it all.

“That was super fun,” said one young girl as she ran to ride Rewind Racers again, offering the consensus opinion of the preschool and grade school set who will most enjoy the new coaster.

Rewind Racers replaces Tree Top Racers, a rare wild mouse coaster built by Oregon-based E&F Miler in the mid-1950s and relocated to Adventure City.

The park has another E&F Miler ride called Freeway Coaster that abuts the new attraction.

Opened in 1994, Adventure City is located just five miles from Disneyland and two miles from Knott's. The two-acre amusement park features about a dozen rides, including a carousel, kiddie drop tower and spinning flat rides.

Rewind Racers is a rather throwback name to choose for a modern roller coaster, seeing as most of the kids at the park (and some of their parents) may not be familiar with the original use of the word “rewind.” Between the early 1970s and the late 1990s, cinephiles and audiophiles used to rewind the spooled magnetic tape in video and audio cassettes, media formats that predate DVDs and CDs, which predate YouTube and iTunes.

Before the end of the year, Adventure City plans to add a pit stop garage to the top of the dual lift hills that will feature video and special effects to accompany the existing audio narration.

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