Specific Type: Steel, Looping
A storm in the desert can bring glorious rain to fend off a drought and feed a small oasis of hope, or whip up sand and create dangerous lightning, threatening your very life. In this instance, perhaps it’s a bit of both, a terrifying twisted creation and mass of steel nestled at the heart of a small amusement park in the amusement park-dry desert of Phoenix, Arizona.
Built in 1980, the small theme park known as Castles N’ Coasters has stood alone in the desert of Phoenix as the only real theme park in the state of Arizona, and much of the Midwest. Starting off mainly with an arcade and 72 holes of mini-golf, the park looked to expand its horizons in the 1990s. In 1992, the park decided to go big by adding Desert Storm, the biggest coaster in Arizona.
Desert Storm would be constructed by O.D. Hopkins, a company more well-known for their log flumes than coasters, and stands as the fourth and final looping coaster the company built. While relatively small by most standards, the coaster’s 90-foot height makes it by far the tallest in Arizona, and its two somewhat awkwardly shaped loops are the only two inversions in the state.
The green and white structure towers over most of the park, and runs over countless attractions along its route, including the Li’l Indy go-kart track, Splashdown log flume, and several kids rides. Upon boarding the unique set of trains, riders are hauled up 90 feet to the top of the lift. Upon cresting the lift, the coaster takes a sharp turn and dives to the left in a steep dive 70 feet towards the ground, dropping into the first loop at top speed. The first loop is an unique shape, ending higher up than it enters the loops, sustaining the high g-forces throughout the exit. The train rises up a shallow hill, begins turning left, and swoops through a wide turnaround that leads directly to the second loop. Like the first loop, the second also has a unique shape, this time twisting to the right midway through to line the train up for the lefthand turn that follows, creating a surprising kick of lateral forces from the back seats. Spiraling up and to the left over 360-degrees, the track passes through the loop from which it just exited. The lefthand turn then widens, almost straightening out before tightening into another 360-degree upward helix, ending in the final brake run.
Because of the small size of the park, which can be walked from one side to the other in just a minute or two, and the coaster’s placement over much of the park, the coaster is visible no matter where you are. The lift heads towards the kiddie rides and over the log flume, and the first drop and loop are above the go-kart track. The loop is next to a walkway which also crosses the go-kart track, while the second drop crosses over a walkway leading to the rides station. The second loop whizzes overhead of guests waiting to get their chance to ride, and the final helices are built entirely over the go-kart track, bumper boats, and the log flume.
It’s not the biggest, tallest, longest, fastest, or loopiest coaster by any means amongst most well-traveled enthusiasts, but to the local residents in Arizona, it holds all of those records
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