Bolliger & Mabillard | Canada’s Wonderland
Vaughan, Ontario, Canada
The inspiration for “Yukon Striker” started with a laugh and headshake in disbelief.
Five years ago, Norm Pirtovshek, general manager of Canada’s Wonderland, was on a park tour with Cedar Fair then-CEO Matt Ouimet. During the stroll, Pirtovshek pointed to the helix of his park’s Arrow Dynamics suspended coaster.
“I said, ‘Right through the middle!’” Pirtovshek recalls. “Matt shook his head and said, ‘Only you!’ with a laugh.”
Thus, the spiral on “Vortex” became ground zero for the drop on the largest dive machine roller coaster Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M) has built to date. “Yukon Striker” drops 90 degrees, threading “Vortex’s” helix like string through a needle, before passing through a tunnel under the park’s central lake.
“It added a challenge into the design because we had to take the lake and ‘Vortex’ into consideration,” says Sophie Bolliger, vice president and head of sales and marketing with B&M. “In the end, these challenges actually enhance the experience.”
The experience begins with a 245-foot lift climb before trains pause at the top of the first hill for three seconds.
“You don’t see the track anymore.” Bolliger says. “Those three seconds—they feel like eternity!”
From there, riders plunge straight down at 80 mph through “Vortex’s” helix and under the lake and into an Immelmann loop. Three more inversions follow, including the first vertical loop found on a B&M dive machine.
Also new is the Frontier Canada section of the park, themed to the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896. Initial plans for the park’s opening in 1981 included a section celebrating Canada’s northwest Yukon territory.
“Because of cuts, the area got chopped,” explains Dave Phillips, vice president of marketing and sales at Canada’s Wonderland. Almost four decades later, designers used the park’s original plans drawn in the late ’70s to influence the architecture for “Yukon Striker’s” boarding station and signage.
“These new buildings have the same look and design,” Phillips says of the original plans. “We always said, ‘When the time was right and the ride was right, we want to make sure it’s big.’”
The new ride and area work together to tell a story of scaling the summit on a mountain and diving into an underground mine shaft that leaves riders craving another drop.