The Art of Attractions | A Spike in Rider Interactivity
I recently got to ride “Bolt: Ultimate Sea Coaster,” the roller coaster atop Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras ship, and absolutely loved it. In addition to the sheer thrills it delivered and the novelty of experiencing the first coaster at sea, what really floored me were the ride’s interactive controls.
Passengers in the front seat of each two-person vehicle have a motorcycle-like throttle and a boost button at their disposal.
It’s the first coaster model to give passengers control over the ride experience, and it’s a hoot and a half.
Technically, “Bolt,” which Maurer Rides built based on its Spike line of coasters, is not a traditional roller coaster. It uses a rack and pinion system to propel the vehicles. Because the cars maintain constant traction with the gear drive, they never freely coast. The unique Spike system allows the ride’s computer controls, as well as the passengers, to accelerate or decelerate the vehicles at any point along the track.
This has made it possible for Maurer to build a true racing coaster, “Desmo Race,” at Mirabilandia in Italy. The interactive dueling coaster pits passengers, in two vehicles themed like Ducati motorbikes, against each other as they drive like the wind through the course on side-by-side tracks.
According to Steve Boney, executive business development for Maurer, that’s only the beginning of Spike’s interactive possibilities. “It opens up a creative person’s mind,” he says.
Among the concepts that the creative minds at Maurer have been dreaming up is the Spike Cat and Rat. Designed for younger children, it would give passengers in animal-themed vehicles the chance to chase one another on a track with a Mobius layout. The more sophisticated Spike Maze would test passengers’ reaction skills by challenging them to strategically speed up or slow down to intercept or avoid themed laser sensors. It’s a bit like the coaster version of Tom Cruise in that “Mission: Impossible” vault heist scene.
Maurer is also considering an interactive track concept in which an LED-embedded track would light up whenever passengers are able to achieve a prescribed level of airtime by properly timing when to accelerate or brake their vehicles. It would likely be as much fun to watch as it would be to ride. Then there is the coaster that would respond to decibel levels.
“This is my favorite, the Scream Coaster,” Boney says. “The louder passengers scream, the faster the ride would go. I think kids would love that.”
I know I’d love that.
Consider bringing interactive features to your rides and attractions. I’ll see you at the parks. I’ll be the one having a hoot and a half, screaming my lungs out on the coaster.