New Rides & Attractions - Coaster Roundup - August 2018

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The Class of 2018

Mike Bederka, Juanita Chavarro Arias, Scott Fais, Juliana Gilling,
Arthur Levine, and Keith Miller contributed to 2018’s annual roundup.

THE CLASS OF 2018 IS FULL OF SUPERLATIVES. The attractions industry’s new additions are not only memorable for their own claims of growing higher, faster, and steeper. Rather, they’re innovative, revolutionary, and downright impressive. What starts years earlier as conversations at IAAPA Expos in Asia, Europe, and Orlando, lead to sparks of ingenuity, followed by dialogue, meticulous engineering, detailed fabrication, and, finally, construction and commissioning. Ultimately, the process blossoms, resulting in machines of delight.

This year, we welcome roller coasters with vehicles that freely rotate while inverting, trackless dark rides where an ever-evolving story guarantees a custom ride experience, and spinning devices that provide not just a thrill, but also connect as kinetic art in motion.

The summer of 2018 will be remembered as one of transformation. Old attractions are new again, thanks to modern technology and love from those who dare to dream. With each new idea, comes the quest to excel further. The mantra of building upon the past, moving forward, and striving to come back better than before is at work in the attractions industry, where the same spirit can provide inspiration in our own lives.

Innovative, revolutionary, and impressive. This is The Class of 2018.

PHOTOS COURTESY: Blackpool Pleasure Beach; © Disney. All rights reserved.; Gardaland; Jora Vision/Alterface; Legoland Florida Resort; Martin & Vleminckx; Movie Park Germany; Puy du Fou; Sesame Place; Six Flags Entertainment Corp.; Six Flags Over Georgia; TRANSFORMERS and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro and are used with permission. © 2018 Hasbro. All Rights Reserved. Licensed by Hasbro.; Yas Waterworld


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Anakeesta Rail Runner

Brandauer  |  Anakeesta
Gatlinburg, Tennessee

The terrible wildfires that ravaged areas in and around Gatlinburg, Tennessee, in late 2016 impacted Anakeesta, a local 70-acre outdoor family adventure park, in an unexpected way. The vacation town lost numerous trees, but Anakeesta found the loss opened up great views of Great Smoky Mountains National Park for the new single-rail mountain coaster, “Anakeesta Rail Runner,” built by Brandauer in Rußbach, Austria.

“It’s the first Brandauer coaster in the United States,” shares Michele Canney, marketing director for Anakeesta. “We’re located at the top of a mountain, elevated 600 feet above the Gatlinburg Parkway, and the coaster will extend 1,500 feet down the mountain and then riders will take a lift back up. People will have a beautiful scenic view.”

Riders will glide through downhill twists and turns, including a 400-foot vertical drop, and coast through tunnels and across bridges at speeds up to 25 mph. The coaster journey will end with a scenic uphill ride back to the top of Anakeesta Mountain, for a total journey of 2,100 feet. Guests can ride solo or in tandem with a small child, but the combined weight cannot exceed 270 pounds, and riders under the age of nine must ride tandem with a companion. The “Anakeesta Rail Runner” is expected to open in late 2018.

www.anakeesta.com

—Keith Miller


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Electric Eel

Premier Rides Inc.  |  SeaWorld San Diego
San Diego, California

Replicating an eel’s twisting and turning motions, “Electric Eel” at SeaWorld San Diego in California is a multi-launch coaster featuring loops and inversions, giving riders an upside-down view of Mission Bay.

At the start, “Electric Eel” takes thrillseekers through several launch experiences, propelling them forward and then backward through the ride’s station before finally accelerating forward up the coaster’s first vertical twist, reaching a speed of more than 60 mph in seconds. After soaring nearly 150 feet, riders travel through an inverted “heartline” roll and a twisting loop. To complete the experience, the train again passes through the station, climbs up the ride’s opening vertical twist one last time, and then descends backward to stop inside the station.

The new ride that SeaWorld San Diego dubs “San Diego’s tallest, fastest roller coaster” opened in May 2018 and features a train holding 18 total passengers at a time with six in each of the three cars.

“This new, first-of-its-kind coaster at SeaWorld [gives] riders the rare opportunity to feel what it’s like to move like an eel as they twist and flip along nearly 900 feet of undulating track,” SeaWorld San Diego’s Park President Marilyn Hannes says in a statement.

“Electric Eel” is the third roller coaster experience at SeaWorld San Diego, joining “Manta” and “Journey to Atlantis,” both from Mack Rides. Guests looking to dive deeper into the world of eels can visit the California moray eel habitat in the park’s Ocean Explorer area and embark on a virtual deep-sea adventure through “Mission: Deep Discovery,” an interactive learning and gaming experience where players can learn more about the marvels lurking under the ocean’s surface.

http://seaworld.com/san-diego

—Juanita Chavarro Arias


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Fēnix

Bolliger & Mabillard  |  Toverland
Sevenum, Netherlands

Toverland theme park in Sevenum, Netherlands, marks 2018 with an expansion that includes the opening of a new entrance called Port Laguna and a new themed area named Avalon. The headline attraction in Avalon is “Fēnix,” a new wing coaster from Bolliger & Mabillard. “Fēnix” flies in as one of the longest wing coasters in Europe and the first in the continent’s Benelux region.

The wing coaster seats four guests abreast, with two riders on each side of the track, resulting in a unique flying sensation. 

“It’s been a sneaking desire of the management of Toverland to offer its guests a unique flying experience. Because the cars run on either side of the track, an unforgettable feeling of freedom–say flying–is created,” says Tessa Maessen, Toverland’s communications manager.

“Fēnix” is the first roller coaster in Toverland’s history that contains a loop.

The ride soars 40 meters in height, 813 meters in length, and reaches a speed of 95 kph. The park touts the ride’s three inversions: one that begins with a half corkscrew and ends in a half loop, an Immelmann, and a zero-G roll. There are two trains with six cars each seating a total of 24 riders.

Because of the coaster’s status in the new Avalon area, Toverland emphasized the ride’s backstory: “Fēnix” is the almighty and ancient ally of the kind-hearted magician Merlin. He continuously rescues Merlin in fights against the ice witch Morgana and her dark magic. Once every 777 years, “Fēnix” turns to ashes, after which it miraculously rises to life.

That story comes to life with each ride.

“‘Fēnix’ has just risen from the ashes and is ready for its first flight over Avalon,” Maessen explains. “Visitors can take a seat under its wings. But be warned: ‘Fēnix’ is still young and inexperienced, so during the flight, you will loop and experience several ‘near misses.’” She observes that the ride’s queue is inside the castle ruins where Merlin lives in a tower. The queue spirals through several staircases and chambers, and in one chamber, portraits will come to life. 

www.toverland.com

—Keith Miller


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HangTime

Knott’s Berry Farm  |  Gerstlauer Amusement Rides
Buena Park, California

“HangTime,” the latest coaster to join the lineup at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, California, features a number of distinctions. Its 16-passenger trains climb a 150-foot vertical lift hill, nudge slightly over the apex of its top hat tower, and come to an abrupt halt while hanging at a precarious 60 degrees. For about 10 seconds (which feels more like 10 eternities), riders get to take in the view and contemplate the madness that is about to ensue.

At a beyond-vertical 96 degrees, the drop is the only roller coaster plunge in California to exceed 90 degrees. From the vantage point at the ride’s highest point, the track seems to disappear—thereby amping up the anxiety. Knott’s is billing its new attraction as California’s only dive coaster. “HangTime” is an Infinity Coaster model that is custom designed with a pre-drop stop from Gerstlauer Amusement Rides in Germany.

The coaster is nearly as much fun to watch as it is to ride. Befitting its Boardwalk area location at Knott’s, “HangTime” sports a surfing theme. Located smack in the middle of the land, the attraction makes a bold statement with its coral-green track. Its high-back seats look like mini surfboards, each one featuring a different design.

At night, the ride really shines. Thanks to a sophisticated lighting system crafted by KCL Engineering, tracer lights follow the trains as they make their way through the course, and the structure can be bathed in a variety of dramatic colors.

“At Knott’s Berry Farm, we take great pride in our heritage, but always with an eye toward our future,” says Jon Storbeck, the park’s vice president and general manager. “‘HangTime’ enhances the fun and thrills and brings a truly unique experience to the Boardwalk area that evokes images of our beloved SoCal beach culture.”

www.knotts.com

—Arthur Levine


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Harley Quinn Crazy Coaster

Skyline Attractions  |  Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
Vallejo, California

Small coasters packing great thrills into a compact footprint are a growing trend in roller coaster design. This year, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, California, got in on the trend with “Harley Quinn Crazy Coaster,” the first Skywarp coaster from Skyline Attractions in Orlando, Florida. 

“Our team is very excited to once again be the very first to debut a unique ride, and this one has so many great elements packed into it,” says Don McCoy, president of Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. “With this coaster in particular, the two dueling trains with the dramatic flyby moments will make this a must-see and must-ride experience.”

Six Flags first learned about Skyline Attractions’ prototype coaster model, Skwarp, before Skyline officially unveiled it at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2016 in Orlando. A meeting with the ride manufacturer during the Expo brought the parties together.

The 362-foot-long coaster is striking in appearance, as it features a figure-8 design positioned in a vertical profile reaching a height of 62 feet. Two connected trains “duel” with each other while passing through twin Immelmann loops at 35 mph. Since the trains are connected, whether they should be regarded as two trains or a single train is open for coaster fans to debate. Taken as a whole, they accommodate 32 riders in 10 cars, with the front and back car on each train seating two riders and the six middle cars seating four.

“We’re thrilled for our guests to experience the world’s first dueling looping coaster, themed after one of DC’s most popular supervillains,” McCoy declares. “As Six Flags is a world leader in innovation and thrills, this new ride is the perfect addition to our lineup of DC Super Hero and Villain attractions.” 

www.sixflags.com/discoverykingdom

—Keith Miller


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Hyper Coaster

Mack Rides  |  The Land of Legends Theme Park
Antalya, Turkey

This year, The Land of Legends theme park in Antalya, Turkey, introduced “Hyper Coaster,” a 1,287-meter steel coaster and the park’s signature ride. It rises to 61 meters at 4 meters per second on a chain-driven lift hill and reaches its highest drop at 59 meters. This takes riders to a speed of 115 kph.

“Hyper Coaster” offers two inversions. It features two trains seating a total of 24 riders in six coaches, configured in two rows per coach with two riders seated abreast. The trains have individual lap bars with no shoulder restraints. 

www.thelandoflegendsthemepark.com

—Keith Miller


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Icon

Mack Rides  |  Blackpool Pleasure Beach
Blackpool, U.K.

A new “Icon” emerged at Blackpool Pleasure Beach this summer.

Riders on the U.K.’s first double launch coaster enjoy unique thrills as it interacts 15 times with other rides including “The Big One,” “Steeplechase,” and the “Big Dipper.”

“The action never stops,” says Andy Hine MBE, chairman of The Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain.

“Icon” is a coup for the U.K. and another milestone in Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s 122-year history. The £16.25 million coaster from Mack Rides represents the Thompson family’s biggest investment yet in the park.

“We have an iconic ride that is going to amaze you all,” says Amanda Thompson OBE, managing director at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. 

“It’s a beautiful family thrill coaster, which you will want to ride over and over again,” adds Michael Mack, Europa-Park CEO and member of the executive board of Mack Rides.

The launch of “Icon” in May marked the culmination of “an intense design and engineering process” to bring “the first-of-its-kind ride to the U.K.,” according to Nick Thompson, deputy managing director of Blackpool Pleasure Beach. 

Serpentine in style, “Icon” slips 1,143 meters of track into the challenging, ride-intensive site. Mack’s double-launch design provides two powerful bursts of acceleration (0 to 80 kph in 2.25 seconds), overcoming height restrictions to achieve a prolonged and thrill-packed ride lasting 161 seconds. 

“Icon” reaches heights of 88.5 feet, with drops of up to 82 feet, delivering hang time, moments of airtime, and panoramic park views. Riders praise the coaster’s flowing and flying sensations. Mist-filled tunnels and a dramatic soundtrack enhance the atmosphere. 

“It’s a smooth and stunning ride,” says Amanda Thompson OBE.

She drew inspiration from Asia for the ride’s look. Guests enter the queue line through grand Japanese-style gates, cherry blossom murals adorn the walls, and “Icon’s” glossy logo resembles a golden ceremonial dagger.

www.blackpoolpleasurebeach.com

—Juliana Gilling


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Jungle Trailblazer

Martin & Vleminckx  |  Fantawild Asian Legends
Qingxiu, Nanning, Guangxi, China

Martin & Vleminckx Rides (MVR), working with coaster designers The Gravity Group, has built around a dozen wood coasters in China since 2009. This number is even more impressive when considering these are not small rides—all of them exceed 3,000 feet in length. The latest is “Jungle Trailblazer” at Fantawild Asia Legends park in the Qingxiu district of Nanning, Guangxi, China.

MVR has actually built several Gravity Group-designed wood coasters in China sporting the “Jungle Trailblazer” name, including a couple of others for Fantawild parks. The ride is a 3,200-foot-long coaster reaching a height of 108 feet, with its tallest drop at 101 feet. It hits a top speed of 54 mph and features two Gravitykraft trains. The trains set riders two abreast in 12 cars for a total of 24 riders per train.

“Based on the wood coaster installations from MVR in China, experience shows that MVR wood coasters are always the most popular attractions in the park, says Eve Melanson, marketing director for MVR. “Often when the gates open, the people run to queue for the wood coaster before any other attraction.”

www.fantawild.com/en/park.shtml

—Keith Miller


Lightning Speed

S&S Worldwide  |  Sun Tzu Cultural Park
Guangrao, Dongying, Shandong, China

1808_NRAA_Coaster_Lightning_SpeedS&S Worldwide designed a new air launch coaster for the Sun Tzu Cultural theme park in Guangrao, Shandong, China. Sun Tzu Cultural Park is the first and largest military cultural theme park in China. The park is designed to promote the Sun-Tzu culture and create a tourist destination. Sun Tzu Cultural Park is filled with military cultural exhibition buildings and more than 30 rides.

S&S says the ride named “Lightning Speed” utilizes a compressed air launch to rapidly attain a top speed of 83 mph. At a height of 197 feet, it will be the tallest launch coaster in East China and feature a dive loop. 

“The train is made of six chassis with four seats per chassis for a total of 24 passengers per train,” says Chalis Jenkins, sales and marketing assistant at S&S Worldwide, “The train is similar to those on the OCT Happy Valley Beijing launch coaster.” 

—Keith Miller


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Steel Vengeance

Rocky Mountain Construction  |  Cedar Point
Sandusky, Ohio

Like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, the transformation of “Steel Vengeance” is nothing short of beautiful.

The new roller coaster from Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC) takes flight following two years of construction and unprecedented interest from enthusiasts and the press alike.

Towering above Frontier Town at Cedar Point, in Sandusky, Ohio, “Steel Vengeance” is billed by the park as the world’s tallest, fastest, and steepest hybrid coaster (a roller coaster using a wood structure with steel rails).

“It is the wildest ride we have ever built,” says Cedar Fair Corporate Vice President of Planning and Design Rob Decker. Decker would know—for the last 20 years, his office has sat under the shadows of “Steel Vengeance.”

Although new this season, “Steel Vengeance” has a storied past. The former “Mean Streak” debuted in 1991, at a time when it was heralded by Cedar Point as the world’s tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster. A quarter century later, the park needed a change. 

“Mean Streak had its day, but this was the time,” Decker confirms. He began a conversation with RMC founder Fred Grubb that included going for a spin on the former roller coaster to analyze the structure.

“That’s when the excitement starts,” Grubb tells Funworld. “You go, ‘Oh, my God. We can do this! We can do that! We can make it happen!’”

Famed roller coaster engineer Alan Schilke says he joined Grubb on creating a design for “Steel Vengeance” four years ago.

“My first go at it didn’t turn out,” Schilke admits. “It just didn’t have the ‘wow’ or ‘wildness.’” Back to the drawing board Schilke went, reimagining if the lift could surpass 200 feet tall. Today, Schilke looks at the finished version like a proud father.

“This turned out to be way better than any of my other options,” he says with a grin.

Cedar Point spokesman Tony Clark will tell you the old ride is dead—and he is right. 

With a coaster soaring nearly 50 feet taller, speeding 30 mph faster, packed with four inversions, and saturated with 27.2 seconds of airtime (more than any other roller coaster Cedar Point boasts), there’s a new crown jewel sparkling on Sandusky Bay.

“Steel Vengeance” also uses a new train design, allowing for greater articulation.

“These [new] trains have a steering axle that steers and follows the track,” Grubb explains.

The trains ascend a 205-foot-tall lift hill, before dropping straight down at a 90-degree angle. At the bottom of the first drop, riders reach speeds of 74 mph. Next, riders climb two large hills—one with an outwardly banked turn that creates more airtime for good measure—before spiraling through an upward barrel roll. 

“It’s the best feeling,” Schilke admits. The coaster he designed holds three more inversions, two of which are concealed inside the structure, along with plenty of airtime moments right up to the end of the ride, where applause is readily heard—and well deserved.

www.cedarpoint.com

—Scott Fais


Twisted Cyclone

Rocky Mountain Construction  |  Six Flags Over Georgia

Austell, Georgia

Check the forecast for the west side of Atlanta and find a tropical storm brewing daily.

The new “Twisted Cyclone” sports a hurricane flag atop the boarding station and windows boarded up in the queue, both signaling something wild just blew in.

The addition of the new roller coaster at Six Flags Over Georgia in Austell by Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC) is the final piece of a five-year improvement plan that started in 2014 with the addition of Six Flags Hurricane Harbor water park, according to Dale Kaetzel, park president of Six Flags Atlanta Properties. To mark the milestone, he invites guests to a celebration.

“You’re going to a cyclone party in your 1950s sports car,” says Kaetzel. “Once you hit the top of the lift, you’re twisting and turning. It’s thunder meets lightning. It’s steel meets wood, and the payoff is incredible,” Kaetzel says of the backstory to “Twisted Cyclone.”

In July 2017, Six Flags Over Georgia closed the “Georgia Cyclone.” Modeled after the legendary “Cyclone” still operating at Coney Island in view the New York City skyline, the “Georgia Cyclone” underwent a 10-month transformation at the hands of RMC. The ride reopened with royal blue steel tracks atop the formerly white ride structure.

“I think we’ve created something magical and special for each one of our guests,” Kaetzel says of his new addition.

Riders climb 100 feet before dropping at a 75-degree angle while reaching 50 mph. Next is a reverse cobra roll maneuver, where trains navigate a hill and flip upside down once, before flipping upright, only to invert again and then drop into a valley. At one point, the trains speed by perpendicular to the ground before they invert a third time.

“To see the look on people’s faces who have ridden it for the first time really validates everything we thought this ride could deliver,” Kaetzel concludes.

www.sixflags.com/overgeorgia

—Scott Fais


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Twisted Timbers

Rocky Mountain Construction  |  Kings Dominion
Doswell, Virginia 

Nobody will say exactly what happened at the Hanover Orchard outside Richmond, Virginia. The glowing orb that fell from the sky a half century ago created a massive hole in the earth. The impact tossed trucks like toys and led to the orchard becoming overgrown after the mysterious incident closed the apple farm—until now.

“Everyone’s been terrified to go there, so now we invite them back to take a tour of the orchard and ride the ride,” explains Rob Decker, Cedar Fair corporate vice president of planning and design, keeping in character of “Twisted Timbers.”

The backstory of an apparent meteor shower sets the stage for Kings Dominion’s “Twisted Timbers” hybrid coaster from Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC).

Much like the ride’s storyline, Kings Dominion retired the former wooden “Hurler” roller coaster in 2016—and then stayed mum.

Two years later, RMC took the existing wooden structure of “Hurler” and created a new ride that is relentless in its pacing, delivery of thrills, and smoothness.

“’Twisted Timbers’ was a great opportunity to make a new ride out of the ‘Hurler.’ Once you get the steel track on top of it, we were able to take the ride where we wanted it to go,” says Decker like a proud father.

After passing through the towering brick gates of the Hanover Orchard, guests stroll past clues of what happened when the aforementioned astronomical phenomenon shook the grounds. A glowing orb appears to have crash landed, creating a swirling pattern made of rock, coming to rest next to a rusting 1939 Ford truck. 

While RMC repurposed much of “Hurler’s” wood structure, Kings Dominion removed much of “Hurler’s” cement queue line. Rows of metal railings were replaced with rows of flowering trees. New covered queue structures were created to resemble sheds found on a farm.

“We put in a grove,” Decker says excitedly. “Instead of putting in a bunch of canvas for shade, you actually walk between all the apple trees.”

Once at the boarding platform, traces of “Hurler’s” former doll factory theme have been removed in favor of empty apple bins, apparently left abandoned decades ago. 

Riders board trains themed to look like a rusting 1930s era truck before climbing 111 feet.

“Twisted Timbers” starts with a non-traditional drop, rather a barrel roll inversion that spins riders upside down as they navigate the traditional first drop. 

“It’s so perfect. The setup is phenomenal!” Decker exclaims. 

The element sets the tone for the rest of the ride that includes two more inversions scattered over 20 airtime hills experienced at speeds up to 54 mph.

www.kingsdominion.com

—Scott Fais


Oscar’s Wacky Taxi

Gravity Group  |  Sesame Place
Langhorne, Pennsylvania

1808_NRAA_Coaster_Oscars_Wacky_TaxiAs Sesame Place’s first new roller coaster in two decades, “Oscar’s Wacky Taxi” makes guests feel like they’re zipping through the city for a curvy cab ride with Sesame Street’s grouchy trash-loving driver as the guide.

The wooden coaster by Gravity Group features a first drop of 40 feet and 11 airtime moments. Reaching a top speed of 33 mph, the bright yellow train takes guests over 1,200 feet of track and through a 100-foot tunnel. “Oscar’s Wacky Taxi” is one of the largest new attractions in the park’s history.

Park President Cathy Valeriano says the new roller coaster represents a “significant investment” for the company. 

“We’re always looking to evolve the guest experience,” Valeriano says.

Customers 40 inches and taller can ride with a supervising companion age 14 and older; they must be a minimum of 46 inches tall to ride solo.

Given the shorter height requirements compared to many other thrill rides and the park’s target age demo, “Oscar’s Wacky Taxi” likely could be the first roller coaster experience for many guests, Valeriano says. Plus, adding the ride may help to attract more young coaster enthusiasts to the facility in Langhorne, Pennsylvania.

Sesame Place’s other coaster, the steel “Super Grover’s Vapor Trail,” opened in 1998 as the park’s first mechanical ride. Valeriano describes the two rides as the “perfect complement” to each other.

www.sesameplace.com

—Mike Bederka


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RailBlazer

Rocky Mountain Construction  |  California’s Great America
Santa Clara, California

A fresh and unique track design awaits riders on “RailBlazer,” the new roller coaster concept at California’s Great America in Santa Clara, California. The coaster’s trains race along 1,800 feet of single-rail track. Seating guests in eight single-rider rows directly above the track’s centerline creates a low center of gravity that allows for vibrant turns and inversions.

The single IBox rail was first introduced by the coaster’s manufacturer, Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC), at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2015 in Orlando. RMC touted the track as being able to deliver exceedingly dynamic and smooth transitions between elements, and that’s just what the 15.5-inch-wide Raptor Track used on “RailBlazer” delivers (RMC’s larger single-rail track, called “T-Rex,” is 24 inches wide). A second single-rail RMC coaster opened at Six Flags Fiesta Texas this year. 

With no one seated on either side of riders and only the single rail beneath them, the configuration affords unobstructed views as the coaster’s three trains speed along the track at up to 52 mph. After ascending a 106-foot-tall chain-lift hill, riders drop immediately into a rock-encased tunnel, followed by a dive loop, a corkscrew, and an over-banked curve.

Raul Rehnborg, vice president and general manager of California’s Great America, likens the ride to intense four-wheeling.

“The design spirit of ‘RailBlazer’ is reflective of an off-road adventure, with immersive sensory theming that embraces the great outdoors of the Bay Area and Central Coast,” Rehnborg says. Theming and physical elements during the ride, like rockwork and water features, enhance the northern Californian feel of the ride. Even before sitting down, guests pass through rocky canyons and over scenic waterways in the queue line, while the station showcases Northern California coastal theming. 

www.cagreatamerica.com

—Keith Miller


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Time Traveler

Mack Rides  |  Silver Dollar City
Branson, Missouri

Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri, went to the drawing board four years with one goal: create a roller coaster like no other. 

“Part of our objective was to be the first of something, but be really, really good at what we do,” says Peter Herschend, Silver Dollar City co-founder and IAAPA Hall of Fame member.

The collaboration with Mack Rides resulted in a new species of ride: the Xtreme Spinning Coaster.

“Time Traveler” utilizes a new vehicle that features a controlled 360-degree spin using a patented magnetic disc sitting above the train’s chassis and resting just under riders’ feet. 

The result is a gentle rotating sensation while traveling across 3,020 feet of track. 

If spinning was not enough, riders will encounter two speedy launches using linear synchronous motors and three inversions. 

Some riders in will enter the loops forward, while others in the same vehicle will enter backward, thanks to back-to-back seating. At other times, all four riders in a  car will navigate a loop sitting sideways. Positioning all depends on what direction a car spins.

“Now I am looking at the guys behind me; now I am looking sideways; now I am looking forward; and now I am looking back,” explains Herschend of the spinning sensation.

The rotation element guarantees no two rides will ever be the same, forwarding Silver Dollar City’s mission of “creating memories worth repeating.”

“Time Traveler” begins without a lift hill or launch. Instead, trains exit the station and dive 10-stories down a 90-degree vertical drop into a valley made from the rocky terrain of the Ozark Mountains at 53 mph. The first launch accelerates rides from zero to 47 mph, while the second launch pushes trains up a hillside at 45 mph.

While Mack Rides first produced a spinning coaster in 1989, the new train design is a departure from prior concepts.

“It’s the first one in the world, and I am really excited to see what the reaction will be in the industry,” says Mack Rides Chief Executive Officer Christian von Elverfeldt.

www.silverdollarcity.com

—Scott Fais


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Valkyria

Bolliger & Mabillard  |  Liseberg
Gothenburg, Sweden

As officials at Liseberg in Gothenberg, Sweden, pondered a new coaster for the 2018 season, they had to decide what style of ride would be best. 

“We were playing with a couple of different concepts,” says Andreas Andersen, CEO and president of Liseberg, “But the dive coaster kind of stuck, especially because B&M (Bolliger & Mabillard) managed to create a really interesting—and for a dive coaster—long layout within a very compressed space.”

While riders ascend the lift hill, they are afforded a view over the Mölndalsån River. Then the first drop looms at 50 meters, making “Valkyria” one of Europe’s tallest dive coasters. The plummet includes a dive into an underground tunnel, where the coaster reaches its maximum speed of 105 kph. 

After exiting the tunnel, guests experience two inversions—a zero-G roll and a heartline roll. 

The floorless ride’s three 18-passenger trains, arranged in three rows of six riders, are situated in the park’s new Myths and Legends section, themed on Norse mythology. The Valkyries were enormous winged creatures in this folklore that carried fallen warriors from the battlefield into the afterlife.

In the past five seasons, Liseberg has opened two world-class steel coasters, the first being “Helix” in 2014.

“Valkyria will be part of a really strong and diverse coaster mix. [It] will complement the double-launch ‘Helix,’ a terrain coaster with multiple inversions, our wooden coaster ‘Balder’ with its perfect pacing, and our runaway mine train ‘Lisebergbanan,’ a Schwartzkopf classic and one of the best family coasters on the planet,” Andersen says proudly.

www.liseberg.com

—Keith Miller


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Wicker Man

Great Coasters International  |  Alton Towers
Staffordshire, England

With a cloud of smoke swirling and flames looking as if they’re igniting its wooden structure, “Wicker Man” at Alton Towers in Staffordshire, England, has become a spectacle for riders and non-riders alike in the United Kingdom.

The 2,028-foot-long wooden roller coaster featuring a 72-foot drop and a tunnel represents a £16 million investment that has been in development for four years. 

“When considering any new attraction, we always start by thinking what we can offer that is truly unique and innovative and will delight our guests so they want to keep coming back for more,” says Lizzie Roberts, the park’s head of PR and media relations. “Wicker Man” is the first wooden coaster to open in England in two decades.

“Alton Towers has never had a wooden roller coaster, so we knew ‘Wicker Man’ would add something different and be a great complement to our world-beating steel coasters, plus the special effects and theming make it an attraction like nothing else in the world,” Roberts adds.

One of the most memorable features of the coaster, built by Great Coasters International, is an enormous “Wicker Man” structure straddling the track and featuring a human face on one side and a ram’s head on the other. It seemingly bursts into flames as the coaster’s train pass through it. 

Holovis and Merlin Magic Making created a pre-show for the coaster and then produced media consisting of complex audiovisual elements, including projection mapping, throughout the ride. Surround audio and immersive media punctuate the queue, pre-show, station loading zone, enclosed sections, the exit, and even within the “Wicker Man” structure. 

The reception from riders is everything Alton Towers had hoped for and more.

“In the first month of opening, over 100,000 guests enjoyed the ride, with most of them giving it a resounding 10 out of 10 in our on-park surveys,” Roberts boasts. “What’s really pleasing is that it genuinely exceeds guests’ expectations, and it has a truly broad appeal.”

Roberts admits there were “many passionate enthusiasts” who lobbied the park for years to build a wooden coaster.

“We’re excited that we can now introduce a new generation of fans to the joys of wooden coasters,” she concludes.

www.altontowers.com

—Keith Miller


1808_NRAA_Coaster_Wonder_Woman

Wonder Woman Coaster

S&S Worldwide  |  Six Flags Mexico
Mexico City, Mexico

Since 2015, Six Flags has installed five S&S Worldwide 4D Free Fly (marketed by S&S as 4D Free Spin) coasters in its parks. Now Six Flags Mexico becomes the location of the sixth installation with “Wonder Woman Coaster.” The ride features a vertical chain lift and a steel track that loops back and forth in the same vertical plane across the footprint of the coaster.

The looping track is 1,019 feet long and allows the coaster to reach a speed of 38 mph. The eight passengers in the coaster’s five trains are seated two across, in two rows on each side of the track. Following vertical ascent to a height of 120 feet, the coaster’s eight-passenger trains freely spin as they run down the track. A magnet and the strategic placement of spin fins along the track induce the rotation, which can be oriented at any point for a different experience each ride. The park can control the spin through the implementation of adjustable dampers.

“The groundbreaking 4D Free Fly design is the only one of its kind in Latin America,” says Lorena Zamora, Six Flags Mexico’s senior manager of public relations. “We are absolutely sure that riders will display the same courage and fearlessness as Wonder Woman as they experience endless upside-down flips on this innovative new coaster.” 

www.sixflags.com.mx

—Keith Miller