Your New Best Nightmare: Lake Compounce's Phobia Phear

Maybe it's spiders that scare you. Or snakes. Or even clowns. Everyone is a little afraid of something, but your first sighting of Phobia Phear, Lake Compounce's new 15-story steel roller coaster, is meant to terrify you.

"You're literally being accelerated at tremendous speeds, from zero to 70-plus miles an hour, with a magnetic wave. It's pretty amazing," says Jim Seay, president of Premier Rides, the designer and manufacturer of the coaster.

Phobia is the only triple-launch coaster in New England, though you can find clones at Busch Gardens and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. The cars are launched forward, backward and then forward again, traveling vertically and continuing into a terrifyingly slow barrel roll at the ride's highest point.

For many, the scariness of that roll is exaggerated by what coaster enthusiasts call "airtime."

"You feel like you're coming out of your seat," says Thomas Osip, a 15-year-old roller coaster enthusiast who was one of the first to try Phobia on its opening weekend in May. "And that's what makes this one of the best attractions in the area." Phobia was his 149th coaster ride.

"I haven't been that scared in a while," says Peg Batchelder, of Cheshire, who has ridden more than 500 coasters.

But that doesn't mean you should let your fears get the best of you.

"It's a very short ride so if you have any kind of fearfulness about riding a roller coaster, it's over very quickly," says Rus Ozana, New England regional representative for American Coaster Enthusiasts. Phobia was his 836th roller coaster. "It's very fast, very smooth, and it tickles your tummy, and it's just a lot of fun."

It's been 16 years since Lake Compounce added its coaster Boulder Dash, which has been ranked as one of the best wooden roller coasters in the country by the National Amusement Park Historical Association and by the periodical Amusement Today. Phobia is the park's second steel coaster; the other being the Zoomerang, a boomerang-style coaster added to the park in 1997, named for the way it runs its course and then runs in reverse.

But Phobia is "scarier than anything else we have here," says Sara Frias, director of marketing for Lake Compounce. "The past few years we've really been adding a lot of rides that are for families and that are for the younger end of the families. … We just felt like it was really time for us to add something that's not just for kids."

Lake Compounce, 822 Lake Ave. in Bristol, is open Thursday through Sunday (and Memorial Day) through May, and daily starting June 1 through Aug. 28. General admission tickets range from $20.49 to $42.99. For complete park hours visit lakecompounce.com, 860-583-3300.

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