Specific Type: Wooden, intermediate, twister
Nineteenth-century author and naturalist Susan Fenimore Cooper once said that "Of the infinite variety of fruits which spring from the bosom of the earth, the trees of the wood are the greatest in dignity." That couldn't be more true when it comes to amusement parks. From Cedar Point, to Oakwood Leisure Park, to Kennywood, the local trees have been a defining characteristic of amusement parks since the beginning. The rides have also paid homage to the trees that blanket our parks and our planet with names such as Sequoia Adventure, Timberland Twister, and almost any park's fill-in-the-blank Log Flume. Back in 1898, a recreational park opened just outside of downtown Bowling Green, Kentucky, named Beech Bend Park for its identity as a place to relax beneath the winding groves of beech trees. The family could pack the picnic, hop in the wagon and head over to Beech Bend for lunch and a swim in the neighboring Barren River.
Along with swimming; bowling, dancing, and skating became a part of the experience five decades later when Charles Garvin came along. Then, a ferris wheel and racing tracks went in, and before long the Starchaser and Wild Mouse coasters complimented a collection of flat rides. Sadly, the park passed away with Garvin in 1979, but then Dallas and Alfreda Jones bought it and brought it back to life throughout the 1990's with new reasons to visit such as Power Surge and Looping Star (now known asBrief Encounter). With the help of twelve million dollars invested in new rides from 2000 to 2005, Beech Bend was bigger and better than ever, boasting three smaller coasters and the adjacent Splash Lagoon water park. The humble resort under the beech trees had come far in a century. Now, it was time for trees to be used for another purpose.
Another milestone in Beech Bend's history will arrive on May 6, 2006 when it's the beauty of southern yellow pine that's bending around the park; bending to form a twisted over half-mile of rumbling wooden coaster track and the Kentucky amusement park's first major coaster. Critically-acclaimed Great Coasters International, creator of wooden twisters such as Gwazi at Florida's Busch Gardens Africa, Lightning Racer at Pennsylvania's Hersheypark, and Thunderhead at Tennessee's Dollywood, was called upon to design a coaster wilder and twistier than ever. Once again, they certainly came through. The Kentucky Rumbler's 2,827-foot layout will be twisted into fifteen curves, fifteen crossovers, and a dozen descents, leaving barely a straight section of track.
Along with the exaggerated twister layout, the wooden coaster will have to its name a unique three elements flying by the loading station within feet of future riders, the first time at the top speed of forty-eight miles per hour; a concept introduced on modern coasters by Tornado at Finland's Särkänniemi Amusement Park in 2001 and popularized by the aforementioned Thunderhead
in 2004. The layout won't shortchange riders of that coveted sensation of negative g's either, with a total of a dozen pops of airtime. For an additional old-fashioned, out-of-control dimension added to the experience, the ride will also feature Great Coasters' now-standard Millennium Flyer trains. But aside from the trains, the actual layout of this beauty will reflect on days gone by with a tribute to a classic scream machine of the past.
The most prominent section of the ride will be the unique post-lift element, based on the legendary Fredrick-Church-crafted Aeroplane Coaster at Playland Park in Rye, New York. The design of the now-defunct 1928 wooden twister's ninety-foot drop will now rise over the highest topography of the acre-and-a-half site in a 225-degree swoop leading into a first drop that would have surely made Church proud. As the layout winds along, the train will work its way back to the top of the site to rage back around the first swoop and drop's structure, then careen downhill from there, gaining speed as it approaches the brakes. From the top of the lift hill to the base of the lowest valley, a ninety-six-foot height difference will create interesting speed variation throughout the ride.
After following the line of beech trees down Beech Bend Road and into the park, visitors will have no problem finding their way toKentucky Rumbler as it stands at the corner of the 368-acre property. To help pass the time while future riders wait for the single train, they may find themselves watching the photogenic coaster in action as the train flies through the layout surrounding the station building. The train crosses over the left side of the station at top speeds, then parallels the opposite side from where guests are standing. Finally, it crosses over the right side and meanders its way through the layout back towards the station. When it arrives again, the next batch of riders loads onto the the old-fashioned, open-sided, fully-articulated Millennium Flyer train. With lap bars and safety belts in place over riders' laps, the train is free to move from the station around a first right-hand turn. Then, with a dip, a slight hop, and a U-turn to the right, the train finally reaches the chain lift.
The train is towed over the station building to the top of the wooden structure, climbing high over the twisted wooden tracks snaking along their paths below. Just ahead, the ride's signature first drop disappears as it winds to the right. Cresting the lift hill at around the same height as the original Aeroplane, the train begins the element anew that thrilled coaster fans eighty years before. It's almost time to rumble. Dipping and picking up speed, the train begins rounding the element and rising slightly, then plunging at last. Wooden and steel beams fly above riders' heads while the track plunges diagonally through the lift hill. Towards the base of the drop, the rails begin veering leftwards, bending forty-five degrees to level out while careening forward at just under forty-eight miles an hour. Full speed ahead, the Millennium Flyer crosses over a perpendicular track and then flies over the station with a major airtime hill. At the end of the hop, the wooden track banks steeply to the right and sweeps around a wide, unraveling 270-degree curve lining riders up for the second station fly-by.
Crossing under the first perpendicular pass, the track performs a parallel pass with the station flying past on the right side of the train. Kentucky Rumbler's track rises and curves to the left just shy of a U-turn, then dips back down to ground level and underneath the first drop, heading straight back towards the lift hill. The rails bank gracefully rightwards to wrap around the exterior of the pre-drop element, rising as they curve with wooden bents passing by on the right. Continuing to retrace the top curve, the track dips, rises, and then dips again for the conclusion. Passing under the start of the 270 the train just completed, the track heads upwards again and veers slightly leftwards for the third station fly-over, an element almost identical to the first fly-by. Passing over the front end of the building, the hill crests for some exceptional airtime, then descends and ends with a slight right. The coaster leaps over the pre-lift curve and end of the first hop, then dives under two more layers of track, gearing up for the grand finale.
With plenty of speed to spare, the track banks heavily to the left for a 135-degree curve and levels off at ground level, running parallel to a roadway on the right. A speedy, unexpected hop sends riders straight back up into their lap bars once again, then back down and banking steeply for another left-hand turn. Sweeping around 180 degrees of counter-clockwise action, Kentucky Rumbler completes the last turnaround at the lowest point of the ride's site, back at ground level and speeding relentlessly ahead. The track rises once more, banking around a sharp right and then leveling off. The brakes pour on and slow the train to a stop as it passes over a dual layer of track and slows to a stop. With a slight clockwise bend, the Millennium Flyer re-enters the station building and arrives back at point A after 2,827 feet of insane twister action.
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