by Danny Miller
As the 2012 season gets underway this weekend for many parks across the country, I thought we could take a look at something that every park goes through when building a new ride, giving it a name. Over the years, we have seen some pretty strange names pop up at parks like Terminator Salvation, Evel Knievel, and even Thunder Dolphin is an oxymoron of sorts. The first two mentioned are property of Six Flags and now have been renamed due to license agreements expiring. Respectively they are now called Apocalypse, and American Thunder, names that still raise an eyebrow for some people, but are still much better than before.
On the other hand, Six Flags has also come up with some of the best ride names that describe roller coasters perfectly, such as Titan, Nitro, and even the multiple Superman and Batman rides that litter the chain. This is where I will make my first point. Now I understand that Six Flags has owned the rights to DC Comics characters for years, and to their credit, they have done a great job using that to advertise their rides to the general public. However, seasoned enthusiasts will point out how the parks have gone a tad overboard with using the characters for names and themes, extending them now to Green Lantern rides and rebranding two coasters as the “All New Bizarro Coaster.”
On the other side of that argument, at least when recycling names such as Batman: The Ride and Superman: Ultimate Flight, they rides are clones of each other, so in a way it makes sense that they be called the same thing. One exception to this would be at Six Flags Mexico, where their Batman is actually a Vekoma SLC, not a B&M clone like the rest of them. The other exception is recent, as a new Superman: Ultimate Flight is opening at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, which will be a brand new ride from Premier Rides that has never been done before.
That is one side of the coin. The other side would be using the same name for rides that are completely different. This is where we get to the name Goliath. Goliath is a great name for a roller coaster. It gives the impression of being big, fierce, and scary, which is exactly what the first Goliath at Six Flags Magic Mountain was. While Six Flags had a short stint of owning parks in Europe, Six Flags Holland (now Walibi World) opened their own Goliath, a green mega coaster from Intamin. Different colors, layouts, manufacturers, and being on different sides of the globe made this one okay.
Then came Six Flags Over Georgia with their Goliath, a B&M hyper coaster that consistently ranks in enthusiasts top ten lists. I was still okay with this one because again, they were all far apart from each other and it was unlikely that the general public would know of the other two. Meanwhile, in Montreal, La Ronde soon opened their own Goliath (La Ronde is also a Six Flags property). This is where it started to get a bit annoying in my opinion. Was Six Flags running out of names for all of their coasters, or was it a matter of just drawing more attention to their new rides?
Enter Six Flags Fiesta Texas with yet another Goliath, but this time it wasn’t an airtime and speed machine like the previous four. This time it was…a Batman clone? That’s right. Rather than take the easy way out with Six Flags New Orleans’ Batman clone and using the same name and theme, the decided to be original and call it Goliath. To the parks credit, at least this one was blue and yellow instead of orange like the two already in the United States.
We thought that the name games were over, but now in 2012, Six Flags New England has taken in Déjà Vu from Six Flags Magic Mountain and has called it…you guessed it…GOLIATH! Now it has just gotten old with this name and quite frankly, I’d much rather have it called Déjà Vu. At least it makes sense for a ride of its type. What doesn’t make sense is why they put a “Giant Inverted Boomerang” right next to their “Boomerang” model, but that’s another story.
Six Flags isn’t the only guilty party, as Cedar Fair has done their fair share of recycling coaster names as well, although not on the scale Six Flags has. Thunderhawk is the moniker shared by Dorney’s 1923 wooden coaster and Michigan’s Adventure SLC model. Intimidator and Intimidator 305, while not technically not sharing the same name, share the same theme and idea behind the ride, as well as similar color schemes. The former Paramount parks also left Cedar Fair with the challenge of renaming certain rides once TV show and movie title licenses expired, leading to names like Flight Deck, and Flying Ace Aerial Chase, as well as Vortex remaining in the chains.
An interesting fact in that regard is also that many Cedar Fair parks have rides with some form of the word “hawk” in their name, including the two aforementioned parks with Thunderhawk rides, Kings Island with Firehawk, Carowinds with Nighthawk, and Cedar Point with their giant swing ride, Skyhawk. Other bird themed rides among the chain include Raptor, Talon, and even Patriot at Worlds of Fun has an eagle as its logo.
This isn’t a complaint by any means against any of the parks or rides mentioned here because they are all great parks and great rides, I just wish that the parks would be a bit more creative when coming up with ride names. I know that it doesn’t really affect the ride experience, but after all, the ride names are what the public associate with the rides. I have no problem with recycling names every once and a while. After all, there are only so many things we can come up with to make these rides sound exciting, but let’s not lose all of our creativity please. What do you think?
When I See an Elephant Fly: Why Storybook Circus is Better Than Its Predecessor “Mickey’s Toontown Fair”
by Zachary Fakterowitz
I’m not a fan of the Circus, but I am a fan of Storybook Circus. In fact I would argue that Storybook Circus is one of the most impressive things I have see at Walt Disney World since the early 2000’s. That statement is pretty Ironic. First of all Storybook Circus is only half complete, secondly Storybook Circus doesn’t include any new attractions (at least for the moment it doesn’t).
However before I can explain why I enjoy Storybook Circus its important to understand the history of this area of the park.
Storybook Circus is the first phase of the New Fantasyland expansion at the Magic Kingdom. Storybook Circus was also the phase I was least excited for, it seemed like a boring concept. Storybook Circus was a re-theme of Mickey’s Toontown fair. Mickey’s Toontown fair was a temporary land built in 1998 and was called Mickey’s Birthday land (To celebrate Mickey’s 60th birthday). The land was popular and stuck around. The land eventually was renamed to Mickey’s Starland and a few years later re-named Mickey’s Toontown fair.
Mickey’s Toontown fair was where visitors to the Magic Kingdom could visit the cartoon world of Mickey and friends. Highlights included Mickey and Minnie’s country houses, Donald’s Boat and Goofy’s Barnstormer Rollercoaster (A Vekoma Rollerskater themed to Goofy flying a Bi-plane around his farm).
Mickey’s Toontown Fair always felt temporary. The Barnstormer and Mickey and Minnie’s houses were the only “attractions” in the area that really felt permanent. The rest of the land felt very thrown together, most of the architecture aside from what I just mentioned was made up of tents.
When the New Fantasyland Expansion was announced in 2009 surprisingly Storybook Circus was not in the plans. Originally Mickey’s Toontown Fair was going to be replaced with a Pixie Hollow land (That’s where Tinkerbell lives). About a year after the announcement Disney came to the realization that the New Fantasyland expansion shouldn’t just be aimed at the young female demographic and re-tooled the plans, replacing the Pixie Hollow plans with plans for Storybook Circus.
The plans for Storybook Circus called for the demolition of most of the land (Which wasn’t too big in the first place) A re-themeing of the Barnstormer coaster, a new location for the Dumbo attraction, a children's water play area, a re-themed train station for the Walt Disney World Railroad and plans for something called “Pete’s Silly Side Show” (at the moment no details have been released on this and we are unsure if this is a character meet and greet or a gift shop).
So the expansion really doesn’t sound the exciting. Out of all aspects of the New Fantasyland project this is the part I was the least excited about.
So this poses the question. Why did I think it was so great? Let’s take a walk through the New Storybook Circus and I’ll point out some of my favorite aspects.
Fantasyland/Storybook Circus Train Station
Let’s start with the Train Station. The old Mickey’s Toontown Fair train depot was a metal structure with a blue and white striped awning above it. To put if frankly, it was ugly.
The new train station though it absolutely beautiful! The new backstory of the train station is that it is a 1940’s era Train Station and roundhouse for a little town called Carrollwood (a reference to the name of the miniature railroad Walt Disney built in his back yard called the Carrollwood Pacific railroad, the railroad was the inspiration for Disneyland) . Well one day the Circus (The Circus used to come to town by train you know) came to town. The Circus was so popular that is stayed put for good.
The Fantasyland Train station is richly themed. One of my favorite details are the luggage carts on the station platform. All of the baggage has great humorous references to Disney History (and some of the references are really obscure! Brush up on your 1930’s-40’s Disney history if you want to get all of the great jokes!)
Attached to the Train station building is the roundhouse. Train tracks embedded in the pavement actually run across this area of the the land (In the next few months the Casey Jr. Splash and Spray play area will be open across from this building, Casey Jr. Is a train and there has to be tracks for him to get back into the round house at night!). The roundhouse proves a very practical purpose too, the roundhouse actually houses the restrooms. It gets better though, the restrooms are themed! That’s right, the train tracks (in the form of tiles) run right through the restroom (at least the men’s restroom, I’ll assume the women's restroom is the same.) How can you not love this level of detail!
The Barnstormer featuring the Great Goofini
Walking away from the Train Station the first attraction you come upon (at least until the Casey Jr. Splash and Spray opens) is The Barnstormer. Yep, its the same coaster. It was repainted and received some new trains. The biggest change to the attraction is in terms of the themeing. The first major change in that is that the Queue line is now where the exit used to be and the exit is now where the queue line used to be. Secondly the ride was completely re-themed. Gone is the giant barn that the trains “Crash” through, now guests crash through a large billboard promoting Goofy’s....er....the Great Goofini’s latest Circus act! While it may seem like a detractor to remove the large themed barn, it actually might improve the ride. The ride area looks much more open. This is good for those young kids that want to see the entire attraction before deciding if they want to ride.
Like the Train Station, this area is now heavily themed. Guests enter the queue passing a ticket booth (non-functioning of course, its just for themeing to make you feel like you are at a circus) and wind through a queue passing old props for the past acts of the Great Goofini. From the condition of some of the props you’ll learn that Goofy may not be the best “Dare-Devil” out there. Again, many great jokes and tributes can be found in this area. My favorite is a reference to the short lived EPCOT Center show “Skylaidescope”.
I didn’t ride the Barnstormer, but really enjoyed taking some time to look at the scenery and watch the ride. I many more doing the same.
One last thing to note about the Barnstormer is that it will feature Fastpass in the near future. I am unsure if this will be part of the X-Pass program that Disney will be rolling out in the next few years. For now Fastpass is not being used for this attraction.
Dumbo-The Flying Elephant
Everyone knows what this ride is, that simple ride where you get on an elephant and manipulate a control stick to make your elephant fly “Up or Down” around in a circle. Nothing new or exciting, yet one of the world’s most classic and famous attractions.
The old Dumbo was boring and popular. The new Dumbo solves those problems. First is the popularity issue, currently Dumbo is only operating one set of flyers. However in the near future the original Dumbo attraction will re-open directly next to the new Dumbo spinner. The project is jokingly being called Dueling Dumbos. The new Dumbo will also feature an interactive queue inside a Circus Tent. This part is really interesting and Disney is being very quiet on what will be inside (They’ve said nothing, which is very rare).
For the moment you can still ride the new Dumbo spinner and boy is it beautiful. This is arguably the nicest Dumbo in all of the Disney Parks. The new feature is the Water, you see because of the low water-table in Florida it isn’t possible to dig down to deep. Well when Walt Disney World was under construction it was decided to have a giant basement underneath the park to allow for cast members to work behind the scenes unnoticed. So essentially all of the Original Magic Kingdom is on the second floor. Due to the problems water would’ve caused, the original dumbo attraction never featured a water feature. Toontown Fair was built on an expansion pad for the park on a location without a basement underneath allowing for the water feature to be added. The water is illuminated at night and the fountains change colors to the musical score of the attraction (Which is a great long running loop of music you might hear at a 1940’s Circus).
Lots of intricate details have been added to Dumbo. One of my favorite is the mural paintings (similar to a carousel) that are around the base of the attraction. Obviously they tell the story of Dumbo. A nice touch.
When you think about it Disney really could’ve cheaped out on this project. Dumbo and Barnstormer were already fine attractions for children. Did they need to be re-themed so extensivly? Of course not. However the effort that Disney put into this project has now made Storybook Circus a really great location.
If you’re heading to Walt Disney World defiantly go and see the land. You don’t have to ride anything (I didn’t), but take in the atmosphere. Even if you’re pressed for time take the Train into Storybook Station, walk around and catch the next train (They run every 7 Minutes).
If Storybook Circus is any indication of what great experiences are coming to New Fantasyland consider myself even more excited. Stayed tuned to Coaster-net.com for the next 2 years as we continue to cover New Fantasyland!
Ready to "Brave the Black Forest"
by Danny Miller
It was August of 2009, and I had less than a month to get to Busch Gardens Europe in Williamsburg, Virginia until Big Bad Wolf closed forever. I had never been to the park, and had been trying to plan a trip since the announcement that the Arrow Suspended coaster would close forever in early September. I finally convinced my father to head down on a Saturday where hurricanes and thunderstorms threatened the Williamsburg area all weekend long. We left at 5am, getting to the park shortly after 11am, and left the park around 5:30pm, getting us home just before midnight. I rode BBW twice, once in the front and once in the back, and loved every minute of both rides.
Fast-forward to September 2011, over two years after BBW has closed, and rumors of a replacement ride have finally become official, and the multi-launched Verbolten will become a reality. Busch Gardens Williamsburg continues the trend of trying to “one up” their sister park in Tampa, Florida by adding a similar ride just over a season after Busch Gardens Tampa received Intamin’s Cheetah Hunt, which out of over 200 coasters I put in my personal top twenty. In 1997, the park received Alpengeist on the heels of the success of Montu in Tampa, and the instant accolades from SheiKra brought Griffon to Williamsburg just two seasons later in 2007. This time however, it is neither B&M nor Intamin who will be providing the thrills, but rather Zierer, of Germany, who is best known for their small coasters including multiple coasters at the Busch/Sea World parks.
Verbolten has some big shoes to fill replacing a ride as legendary and loved as BBW, but it can certainly be done. As one who absolutely loved the drop down to the river on BBW, I am tickled pink to see that the park has decided to pay tribute by duplicating the maneuver with the new ride, but also making the drop slightly higher. Hopefully this may mean that it could be more thrilling. The themed bridge that the trains pass through just prior to descending the rides largest drop has come along nicely too, typical of Busch Gardens theming.
The drop is not what has everyone talking however. The “hook” if you will for Verbolten will be the challenge of “braving the black forest” inside the ride’s show building, where the ride will feature numerous special effects, including expected lights, sounds, fog, and plenty of other things you could imagine in your head. After meandering around for a bit, the trains will be launched into the show building for what we hope will be an experience unlike any other that the coaster world currently offers. Only time will tell before we find out for ourselves.
By the way, did I mention that Verbolten’s show building will feature the first-ever vertical free-fall track section in the U.S.? That’s right. After racing through the darkness, the trains will come to a full stop, and the entire thing, train and track included will free-fall in the dark to a lower level of track which will immediately launch the train out of the building as it approaches that aforementioned drop.
I have to admit, while I am extremely excited about Verbolten, I can’t help but think that it may end up being under appreciated. 2012 will offer the best set of new rides we have seen open in some time, and with this ride being made by a lesser-used manufacturer, it is obvious that some may have their doubts. It is unfortunate that there will be some who won’t like the ride simply because nothing could ever replace BBW, but that isn’t what this ride is meant to do. It is supposed to be a brand new experience that just happens to sit where an old ride used to be.
Some also question the Car/Autobahn theme for the ride, which I find slightly comical. Why doesn’t a sports car theme fit for a multi-launched ride? I think that the mix of the “Black Forest” is the perfect twist to turn this from a typical “car ride” into a very memorable experience with a bit of pizzazz that is just crazy enough to work.
The ride began testing recently and it was reported by a few that the ride had an incident with its yellow train. It should be noted that the yellow train is in a maintenance bay and the ride has continued to test its other trains and has successfully completed multiple circuits without issues.
There is no doubt in my mind that the theming of this ride is what will make or break it. It is about the same length as BBW at just under 3,000 feet long, so it is not a long ride length wise, but it will last over three minutes. In order for it to be successful, the theming must be top notch and it must consistently be working rather than effects being removed gradually to the point where ten years down the line they are all gone. If Busch Gardens can accomplish these things, I have no doubt that they will have another hit on their hands.
by Danny Miller
Ever since Laser was removed from Dorney Park in Allentown, PA, many locals like myself have wondered what may take its place. It has been talked about numerous times that perhaps it would be a great starting point for a wooden coaster that would snake its way behind the Steel Force station and restrooms in the wooded area normally occupied by the “Backwoods” haunt during the Halloween Haunt event.
For 2012, Dorney has seemed to have taken up both areas, and neither will be occupied by the wooden coaster that Dorney fans so adamantly desire. Instead, this season will see the wooded area behind Steel Force opening the smallest of the Dinosaurs Alive! attractions that are now littering the Cedar Fair parks, while the former Laser plot will feature Stinger, the relocated Vekoma “Invertigo” model from California’s Great America.
As far as the dinosaurs go, most reports from the parks that already have them have been generally positive. It should increase the educational value of the park for the numerous local schools that take science related field trips to the park, and Dinosaurs Alive! will be one more way to draw in schools.
The big story however has been the relocation of Invertigo to Dorney where it will open as Stinger this season. The ride was supposedly moved from California’s Great America because it was a fairly easy ride to relocate, and with the future of CGA still up in the air, it seemed like a smart choice to move the ride. Dorney has become famous over the last few years for getting relocated rides from within Cedar Fair. In 2008, Geauga Lake’s Steel Venom was moved to the park and opened as Voodoo (now Possessed). In 2010, Cedar Point’s Demon Drop ride appeared at the park.
Despite being a clone, and another recycled ride, the mood around Dorney has been very upbeat, and many people including family and close friends have asked me about the ride and have expressed excitement to go ride it this season. As a side note, the addition of Stinger also gives Dorney the claim to the most inverted coasters in the world with three. Some parks have three if you include suspended coasters (Cedar Point with Raptor, Wicked Twister, and Iron Dragon), but Dorney is the only park I know of that can claim to have three true inverted coasters, Stinger, Possessed, and Talon.
A few weeks ago I was at the park for job orientation for the summer, as I will be working on the Possessed ride group this coming summer, and I was told that Stinger should be ready to open to the public on opening day, something that Possessed was not able to do. I was also lucky enough to catch it testing on my way out of the park, and for the most part it looks to be running pretty well, and based on sound, there doesn’t seem to be too much rattling going on. I have been on the Kings Island version, and I was happily surprised at the minimal head banging that normal “Boomerang” models usually possess.
Once the ride opens up we will see just how reliable and popular the ride will be, but overall it is a good fit for Dorney. It remains to be seen if the general public will think that Stinger and Possessed are the “same ride,” but I don’t think that will be as big of an issue as some are making it out to be. Most importantly, Stinger will quench the coaster thirst for at least a season or two until we start licking our lips for something brand new at Dorney.
Skyrush Nears Completion
by Danny Miller
It was about a year ago that mysterious markings started popping up in the Comet Hollow section of Hersheypark during the 2011 season. As is true with most events of this sort, immediately coaster fans started discussions about the possibility of Hershey adding their next coaster. With the limited space however, many wondered how the park could shoehorn another major attraction within its fences.
Cue the “leak” of the layout for the ride, which featured a lift hill of 200 feet, and a “figure-eight” type layout more or less that immediately had people comparing the ride to a miniature version of Intimidator 305. By all accounts, it seemed as if it would most certainly be an Intamin ride with the style of track and supports displayed in the layout.
As information started to get out, it was fairly well known that by the time of the August announcement, the name, Skyrush, and the manufacturer, Intamin, had already been figured out. That however, didn’t stop the park from shocking us all, including myself, who watched the announcement live on my phone during my lunch break at work. The news that Intamin would be unveiling all new “winged” coaster trains came as a surprise to most, if not all.
As construction began, horrible storms through the region caused flooding numerous times that saw construction halted. Not to be deterred, Hershey trudged on, and by the time my November and December breaks from college came along, there was significant progress to check out as I made my way to numerous Hershey Bears hockey games. Before we knew it, the lift was topped off and track was being installed lightning fast thanks to relatively cooperative weather aside from a few of the aforementioned storms.
I must say that when I first took a look at the layout, I was both excited, and yet a bit disappointed. The track falls short of 4,000 feet long, which is typically the bare minimum of a coaster of this type, and it seemed like perhaps the park just didn’t have enough room to do everything they wanted to do or could have done.
That was in August. Here we are in April now, and with the park opened for “Hersheypark In The Spring” for a few weekends, many people have already made their way to the park to snap photos from inside the park, including our own Tori Finlay. Now that construction has come along and is nearly complete, this may be the ride of 2012 that I am most excited for. From the far right seat (facing forward), the first drop comes mere inches from the ground, or so it seems. It has become evident that the second hill that follows the main drop is less than half of the height of the 85 degree first drop. Can you say “airtime?” Some may argue that the hill is too stretched out, but when you hit a top speed of over 75 MPH, I think that a hill less than half the height of the drop does warrant a bit of length. Can you say “prolonged airtime?”
The third hill passes under the second, which we can only assume will have more airtime, before entering an element many of us overlooked, a Stengel Dive. From the looks of it, this part of the ride should be an extremely fun element that will nicely break up the airtime laden first half and the finale that will most certainly pack more of that excellent floating action.
Although it is still at least a month or so until we get to ride, this ride has already impressed me in terms of what we should be expecting. Hersheypark has always set the bar high when they add new rides, and Skyrush will be no exception. If it were a typical Intamin hyper coaster, it would have high expectations, but the fact that it is Intamin’s new attempt at a “winged” coaster makes it that much more exciting. There is no doubt that Hershey is expected to have a hit on its hands, and perhaps we will start to see Intamin join B&M in a race to start building “winged” coasters, but the short length of the ride still has me just a bit worried about what coaster fans may think. Regardless, I cannot wait to get to Hershey as soon as it opens and see just how good this ride will be.
by Danny Miller
As a college student in Rochester, NY, I know multiple people who hail from the Buffalo/Niagara/Rochester region. Many of them have been to Darien Lake multiple times, and I myself attended the park for the first time on opening day of last season. It should come as no surprise then, that many people had come to me to ask my opinion on the July 8 incident, that saw Sgt. James Hackemer, an Iraq War Veteran, be thrown from the Ride Of Steel roller coaster at the park to his death.
In case you are not familiar, there are numerous other articles regarding the incident on the site here, but essentially what happened was that Hackemer, who had lost both legs in the war, had approached the ride, and was permitted to ride. At the bottom of the first drop, the ride makes a large left hand turn that hugs the ground. It was here that the dynamics of the train banking hard to the left is what caused Hackemer to leave the ride vehicle, ultimately resulting in his death.
After investigation, it was determined that the ride had not malfunctioned, and everything had been working properly in terms of the mechanics of the ride. It was determined, however, that the operators of the ride did not observe proper safety measures, and that Hackemer should not have been permitted to ride according to rider safety policies.
Now the first thing is to clarify the nature of the situation in terms of what operators were dealing with. Hackemer had lost one leg completely and part of a hip, while having the other leg amputated at the knee joint. Keeping this in mind, we also know that Ride Of Steel’s harnesses are simply a seat belt and a lap bar that pins riders in at their waist. From my experience as a ride operator, larger coasters, regardless of restraint type, usually require riders to have at least three sufficient functioning extremities (that would be legs BELOW the knee or arms BELOW the elbow), as well as an appropriate center of gravity. If this is the case, then an argument could be made that Hackemer met the three extremities requirement, but with a good portion of weight absent from his lower body, this would shift his center of gravity up above the waistline, which would easily explain the lap bar not pinning him into the vehicle properly.
In addition, while highly unlikely given the circumstances, it is also possible that Hackemer was wearing long pants, in which case it may not have been evident of his condition, which technically speaking is something the operators may not be able to ask about unless the rider makes his/her condition known. Judging by the results of the investigation, this was not the case, but at the time of the incident, it was a reasonable possibility.
All things considered, this unfortunate event did take place and the ride operators were at fault, but Darien Lake has now taken increased measures to ensure their operators are properly trained as well as taking additional precautions. Unfortunately, in an unrelated incident, the chain lift of the ride had broken in August, closing the ride for the remainder of the season shortly after reopening following the Hackemer incident. There is no doubt in my mind that the ride is safe, and will only open for riders when it had been determined to be safe for all riders who meet the rider admission policy. The park and the ride are slated to open on May 12.
For Darien Lake as a whole, it is crucial that they keep Ride Of Steel running everyday throughout the season. It is an exceptional ride despite its age, and the park has not seen any major additions recently, with the Motocoaster being the last roller coaster that has been added to the park in 2008. The coaster lineup features an average lineup with only one wooden coaster that is aging and in need of some attention, as well as some older rides and a few clones. Despite Ride Of Steel being a clone of sorts of its own, it is no doubt the star attraction at the park and the one big thing that will draw people to the park until more additions come. That makes 2012 a season where everything must be running properly and everyone must be on top of their game, as the park can ill afford to lose their star attraction for any length of time this season.
by Danny Miller
As we move closer and closer to summer, the new attractions for 2012 continue to come along at a brisk pace. Perhaps one of the most anticipated ride for this coming season is Leviathan at Canada’s Wonderland. The Swiss masters at Bolliger & Mabillard have been a staple in the industry for over twenty years now, and just about every park worth mentioning in conversation has at least one B&M masterpiece.
In 2007, there were a few parks, mainly the parks formerly owned by Paramount that still lacked a B&M coaster to “close out” their lineup in ways. Kings Dominion eventually got Dominator relocated from the now defunct Geauga Lake, and Kings Island installed Diamondback in 2009. Canada’s Wonderland was perhaps the largest park in terms of coasters to not have a true signature ride.
That all changed when B&M installed Behemoth, the tallest and fastest coaster not only in the park, but also in all of Canada. The ride is a great offering at B&M’s hyper coaster, and was my 200th coaster back in September. With the incredible success that Behemoth was, coaster fans were ecstatic when Wonderland announced their plans to shatter their own record, with a 300 foot monster, dubbed Leviathan, which would be B&M’s long awaited first crack at a giga coaster. Ironically, in ancient history, Behemoth was the ruler of land while Leviathan ruled the ocean, making for a nice little connection between the two rides.
The comparisons do not end at the names however. Many people questioned the move, stating that this ride was essentially a bigger Behemoth. To give my two cents, anyone who goes beyond calling the rides “somewhat similar” is sorely mistaken. One look at Behemoth and it is clear that it was built for airtime, with multiple camelback hills. A quick glance at Leviathan, it does actually look similar, but a closer look shows two high speed overbanked turns, two speed hills, a hammerhead turn, and two larger airtime hills. While Behemoth mostly focuses on just airtime, Leviathan offers a very healthy mix of airtime, speed, and intense positive G’s.
Testing has now been underway for about two weeks or so, and already it is noticeable how fast the trains are flying though the course, especially as the wheels start to break in a bit. I have been impressed with some of the videos that have surfaced so far, and I can’t wait to see what this thing can do once it is broken in and the temperature rises. It is my thinking that this could be a memorable B&M coaster not just because it is their first giga, but because it has the potential to be one of their best coasters ever, as long as Wonderland lays off those trim brakes…
All things considered, this coaster means much more than just another coaster. It marks a milestone for B&M as a company, showing that they will indeed continue to build bigger if they are asked to. It also turns Canada Wonderland from what five years ago was just a large park with no signature rides, into another player in the big park market, with no real competition nearby. Lastly, it gives Cedar Fair another park that is now on enthusiasts’ radar, making it a destination to go to as the chain looks to build on their record attendance from 2011. While we have to wait a bit longer to ride Leviathan, at this point I will say to B&M and Canada’s Wonderland, good luck with the final preparations, and hats off to a job well.