Specific Type: Steel, Weight-Drop-Launched, Shuttle-Looping
Back in 1978, Anton Schwarzkopf's shuttle loop coaster was a big deal: getting launched through a complete loop at 57 miles an hour, blasting 138 feet into the sky at 70 degrees, and on top of that, repeating it all in reverse. Theme parks throughout the United States were quick to order shuttle loopers from Schwarazkopf, with over half-a-dozen appearing in all parts of the country in the first few years. One park to thrill their guests with the shuttle-looper model was Illinois' Six Flags Great America, where the concept was brought to the Midwestern U.S. for the first time as Tidal Wave. The themed blue and white coaster used a weight-drop located inside of a main support tower to launch its train, unlike later Schwarzkopf shuttle rides. After thirteen years operating at Six Flags Great America, Tidal Wave's life was cut short when a
newer steel coaster replaced it in 1992, and the coaster would sit in pieces for the next few years. But 1996 would be the year that thrill seekers would get a second chance to experience the ride, when it was shipped south to Six Flags over Georgia near Atlanta where it reopened with a new theme and name: Viper. But five years later, the same scenario unfolded: a newer steel coaster took the place of the coaster, leaving it in pieces. Luckily, this coaster wasn't finished. Viper was trucked back to the Midwest where it went up at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom and opened for a third time on the 25th of April, 2003 with the new name Greezed Lightnin' to match Six Flags only other Schwarzkopf shuttle-looper remaining in North America. And in a day where the coasters can accelerate over six times as fast and be built over three times taller, the twenty-five-year old coaster thrilled nonetheless, just as it did before.
A maximum of twenty-eight riders board Greezed Lightnin's classic Schwarzkopf train, securing no over-the-shoulder restraints, no harnesses, but only good old lap restraints, and sitting back in anticipation of the launch to come. The weight-drop yanks the train from the station, and six seconds later, riders are traveling at a good 57 miles per hour and staring straight towards the Vertical Loop. The train hits the 360-degree maneuver and starts upwards as several g's of force press passengers down into their seats, continuing the speedy element until the world is upside-down with the green track ahead ushering the ride on through another hundred and eighty degrees of looping action. After hitting the bottom, the track starts skyward up the first reversing tower, a slope of 70 degrees, and the train gradually looses speed as is ascends the 138-foot spike of track. The shuttle coaster does its thing as it starts rolling backwards and plunges all 125 feet back to the bottom, giving riders a different perspective of the ride as it sends them back through the vertical loop in reverse, then down the launch track again. Flying back through the station like Greezed Lightnin', the train hits the back spike, another 70-degree incline, with riders in the back cars getting the best view this time. After a brief moment of deceleration, the ride descends back into the station where the brakes do their thing.
Greezed Lightnin' has proven that a twenty-five-year old steel coaster can still thrill, and the Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom shuttle-looper is one of the few coasters of its make and model still in operation today.
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