In 2018, at IAAPA, GCI unveiled a very interesting model that showed a dueling hybrid coaster with inversions. With it they introduced the Infinity Flyer, a next generation train that could handle more extreme forces and tighter maneuvers. A year has passed but there was no news about this new concept, however off the trade show floor at Fun Spot Orlando after IAAPA 2019, GCI unveiled their version of steel track. The fact that it is not in their product catalogue and not unveiled at the IAAPA trade show may signal that this is not a product that they are ready to sell, but like many of you I am already interested.
At first look of the track it looks very similar to the Iron Horse track system RMC produced, it is steel, a shape beam, and most importantly flat. The flat track that RMC has been using has been widely praised by riders for the smooth yet intense rides. The GCI track has some unique details that sets it apart. The track system that GCI showed off contained no welds, everything was riveted and bolted together. GCI has been very proactive about assisting customers with maintenance work, and providing retracking services even to parks who do not have GCI coasters. GCI did extensive work in the past on the Dragon Coaster at Playland Park, Legend at Holiday World and Ghostrider at Knotts. A steel track that isn’t welded together to create a seamless and continuous track could change how aging coasters are maintained, even leaving open the possibility of retracting elements to restore them. The other detail that stuck out about their construction was that the surface where the road and guide wheels would touch are removable and replaceable. (I did not attend the event and am basing my impressions on images and video I have seen. I do not know if the upstop wheels have a removable surface as well, however it is likely) This would also lend itself to simplifying maintenance and of course creating a replacement part that is proprietary, unlike wood.
While we do know the new track and Infinity Flyers will offer new possibilities that GCI could not offer with their Millenium Flyers and traditional wood track, we do not know how versatile this new track system may be to GCI’s business. The impressive model that was unveiled at the GCI booth last year was back this year and shows that they want to create ground up coasters with this new technology that would push boundaries. However this new track system could advance their restoration business as well. GCI has re-tracked coasters and replaced old PTC trains with their Millenium Flyers, with mixed results. Ghostrider’s renovation has been enthusiastically praised by those who have visited, however the heavier trains have been blamed for making the ride on other projects worse. Since the trains are heavier the span the laminated track covers between bents, or structural supports deflects. This deflection creates movement that was not part of the original design and basically created a bouncy rough experience that devolves into jackhammering. If the steel track was used to re-track a ride that was going to receive modern trains this issue would be eliminated and the track system would be rigid, and not susceptible to deflection between supports. There is another more exciting possibility. Could GCI be looking at edging into RMC’s Iron Horse conversion business? Could GCI reimagine an existing coaster’s layout and add elements like inversions to create a new experience? This is a truly dynamic shifting possibility. Even though RMC was the innovator and pioneer they have created the roadmap and example. While some of RMC’s crazy elements have influenced the competition this would be a step farther if a competitor was to be moving into this unique space RMC created. So the question stands, when will the first RMC be GCI’d?