Specific Type: Suspended Looping Coaster
Back in 1995, the future of the Magic Springs amusement park was in dire jeopardy due to financial troubles and instability the park had suffered since its opening in 1978. In 1995, the park closed, and the parks future looked grim, at least until Fitraco, a Belgian company, purchased the park at its foreclosure auction that year. Ed Hart of Themeparks LLC, now best known for his work with Kentucky Kingdom, was approached by the company and agreed to help reopen the park. In 2000, the park reopened as Magic Springs and Crystal Falls, but attendance dropped off nearly 25 percent after its first year (from 362,500 to just over 270,000 in 2001). The park continued to expand its ride offerings and tried to gain ground, but little was made.
Finally, in 2004, the park added its first major coaster since 1992’s Arkansas Twister, the Vekoma SLC Gauntlet. As a result, attendance figures topped 400,000 that year. The Gauntlet is a Vekoma Suspended Looping Coaster (SLC) model (689 m Standard) clone, seen at countless parks throughout the world. It was originally built for Jazzland, now known as Six Flags New Orleans, but the sale was never completed and Ed Hart acquired the ride for Magic Springs instead. The Gauntlet was also the first Vekoma SLC to feature a newly redesigned wheel assembly designed to provide riders with a less bumpy, more comfortable ride.
The ride starts off with a 115-foot climb up the rides lift hill, at which point the train banks to the right and swoops down in a curving drop towards the ground. Just feet above the ground, and reaching speeds of nearly 50 mph, the train ends its highly banked and swooping first drop, straightening out and then pulling up into a double-inversion called a Roll Over. The inversion essentially consists of a half-loop, followed by a reversed in-line roll (starting and ending upside down), and finishes with a half loop that runs parallel to the entrance of the inversion. From here, the track rises and banks almost completely sideways, putting the train nearly perpendicular to the ground before the train dives down to the left, just feet above the ground.
Pulling out of this drop, seemingly inches above a small pond, the train enters its third inversion, the Sidewinder, also called an Immelman Loop, where the exit of the Immelman-style inversion is twisted to a greater angle. Exiting this inversion, the train twists to the right and pulls through a tight, 270-degree rightward helix that flows straight into a Double In-Line Twist, the last two inversions on the coaster. The train then rises slightly and banks heavily to the right again, dropping to the ground again before twisting and rising slightly into the final break run, ending the 2,260-foot long ride.
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