Specific Type: Steel, LSM-launched, looping, twister
Europa Park is a unique park among most others because it is owned not by a chain or a family, but by an amusement ride design company, MACK Rides. The result of this is that the park is mostly made up of Mack rides, many of which are prototypes of designs later used elsewhere. Mack has a diverse enough portfolio of ride design to support the park, but Mack lacked any huge designs to “headline” the park at the time, leading them to outsource their star attraction and largest roller coaster in the park to Bolliger and Mabillard for the 240 foot tall hyper coaster Silver Star.
This was true until 2008, when the park announced a new Iceland expansion, fitting in with the park’s theme around various countries in Europe. It featured a splash battle water ride themed to a whaling expedition, a water play area, several shops and museums, and the headliner, blue fire Megacoaster. (The Great Coasters International wooden roller coaster, Wodan Timbur Coaster, was added to this area in 2012).
The hard-to-correctly-capitalize ride was the largest ride Mack had ever constructed. Most of the company’s output had consisted of mine trains, wild mice, bobsled rides, and water coasters. Recently, though, the company had come through with several innovations, such as the E-motion coaster, which featured cars that rock back and forward. However, nothing had been even close to the height, speed, and length of blue fire. It is the first ride by Mack with an inversion, featuring four of them on the ride.
After the ride was announced, construction proceeded swiftly, beginning in September and ending in the December 2008. The park spared no expense on the ride, with the total cost coming to 20 million Euros, or 25.3 million U.S. dollars. The ride is the first launched roller coaster built by Mack, and it shares many similarities with the Intamin launched coasterMaverick at Cedar Point in propulsion system, restraints, and featuring a twisted horseshoe roll, these being the only two coasters with that element.
However, blue fire is also a heavily themed attraction. The ride is, rather bizarrely, sponsored by the Russian energy firm GAZPROM, who also has an exhibition nearby detailing natural gas extraction and shipment. While this is not the first time Europa has had an attraction sponsored by a company (Silver Star is sponsored by Mercedes Benz, who has a similar exhibition near that ride), it is a rather odd choice for an Iceland themed section to have ride sponsored by a Russian Company. Europa themes the ride to this natural gas extraction theme, first with the name blue fire, the color of burning natural gas, and with a dark ride segment on the ride in a malfunctioning factory. Outside, however, the ride is very Iceland influenced, weaving in and out of the rock walls that help define Iceland’s landscape. The blue track and nearby fishing scenery also help establish the ride as being located in The Land of Fire and Ice, a popular nickname for Iceland.
The trains on blue fire are also very unique. For one, there are five of them, more than on many roller coasters, leading to a very high capacity for the ride. The restraints on the ride utilize a lap bar that comes down from above, which sounds similar to the Over the Shoulder Restraints featured on many coasters, but the restraints do not cover the shoulders. This restraint style has been featured on several rides, such as the water ride Shoot-the-Rapids at Cedar Point, which was manufactured by Intamin. Lastly, the ride features speakers in the seats to deliver an on-ride soundtrack. The soundtrack features a blend of classical and electronic elements, representing the old-meets-new of Iceland culture and modern thrills as well as providing a thrilling score to enhance the already thrilling ride.
The ride begins with the dark ride section in a dangerous factory, possibly a natural gas refinery. The train passes several mannequins operating machinery among several light and fog effects, and the soundtrack swells, all building suspense as the train pulls up to a closed door. Suddenly, the soundtrack cuts out, and an alarm sounds. The door opens, and all the suspense releases in one thrilling climax- a 0-62 mph/100km/h launch in an incredibly short 2.5 seconds. The launch is achieved through Linear Synchronous Motor, the same system on the rides Verbolten at Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coasterat Disney Hollywood Studios
The riders blast out of the factory and into the light, racing down the track, through a rock wall, and into the first element, a large, turn that climbs to 124 feet 8 inches/38 meters and leaves its riders dangling at 90 degrees before racing back down. This leads to the first inversion of four- a forceful 105 foot/32 meter vertical loop. It is the second largest on the continent of Europe (The tallest is Dragon Khan at PortAventura). The loop pulls out into a small overbanked turn, similar to the Stengel Dive element on Maverick. It takes the turn at very high speed, pulling many positive and lateral g-forces as well as pulling up into a mid-course block brake.
When the train finishes this, it snakes back down through another rock wall into another unique element, a twisted horseshoe roll. Only previously used on Maverick, it involves two corkscrew-like elements, except with a bit less lateral movement, separated by a harshly banked turn. The ride takes a breather from this intense element with a slower curved airtime hill and banked turn before the finale, the in-line twist. This element is a 360-degree, zero-gravity roll into a rock trench, providing an exciting finale to an exciting ride. A banked turn then serves as falling action, bringing to train back to the station after the 3,464 ft./1,056m ride.
The ride was an instant success at the park, attracting many positive trip reports from lucky visitors. It also helped push Europa Park to its first 4 million attendance record in park history in the 2011 season. The park then added to Viking-themed GCI wooden coaster Wodan next door for the 2012 season, but blue fire Megacoaster remains the star attraction of the area, and possibly the park.
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