By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated May 12, 1999 12:00 AM
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With Memorial Day comes two givens: First, it’s now okay to wear white. Second, it’s time to visit nation’s roller coasters. And on Monday night in a Discovery Channel TV special, Americans rated the best hilly, thrilly rides, with top honors going to the wooden Beast at Paramount’s King Island, Ohio (height: 105 ft.; drop: 141 ft.; speed: 64.8 mph; duration: 3:40 min.), and the steel-framed Incredible Hulk at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando (height: 110 ft.; drop: 105 ft.; speed: 67 mph; duration: 2:15 min.). Offering a preview of the survey results on Monday’s “Today” show — the coasters were voted upon by riders who clicked onto the Discovery Channel Web site — David Escalante, a board member of American Coasters Enthusiast, sitting in the Hulk, was asked by Katie Couric which is the best seat on a ride, the front or the back? “I’m in it,” Escalante responded, “the front seat,” though he did concede that the backseat “provides the . . . experience of a giant whip.” He also confessed a devotion to the Centipede at King’s Island, because “it’s so quiet, all you can hear are the other riders’ screams. Plus, it looks like you’re plunging into Lake Erie.” In related news, Chicago native Richard Rodrigues is looking to set a world record for riding a coaster, reports the Associated Press. His goal is to ride for 100 days, and his coaster of choice is at the Holidaypark in Hassloch, southwestern Germany.