Ravine Flyer II
Specific Type: Wooden
Back in the early 1920s, when Waldameer was still a young and growing park, the owners wanted to add another coaster to their lineup of attractions to join the Figure Eight, and perhaps replace the Scenic Railway, which was taken down in 1919
For the 1922 season, the famous team of John A. Miller and Harry C. Baker teamed up once again to give the park a new wooden coaster, to be called the Ravine Flyer. This roller coaster was not only famous for its location in a small valley in the park, but for its unique road crossing. After the first drop, the track curved around and swooped over a small road in a valley, known as Peninsula drive, turned around and returned back over the road again.
Tragedy struck the ride in 1938, when a man was killed on the coaster, indirectly resulting in the rides closure. On the evening of August 8, 1938, a train on the Ravine Flyer did not make it over the hill after the bridge that crossed Peninsula Drive and proceeded to roll back and forth over the road. As the story goes, a woman became panicked and when her brother got out of his seat to calm her down, the train suddenly stopped and he fell to his death. While an investigation afterwards revealed some rotten supports, the roller coaster was demolished because the owner’s wife was devastated by the event.
Though the park would feature several other roller coasters throughout it’s history, none would match the scale or uniqueness of the original Ravine Flyer. As the years passed, the parks desire to rebuild the old ride grew greater, but the 1980 Bluff Act prohibited construction on such a ride. Despite this, the park had entered talks in the early 1990s with Custom Coaster International (CCI), the top wooden coaster company at the time, to design a roller coaster very similar to original. Finally in 1999, the park announced it would be building a new version of the old Ravine Flyer, Peninsula Drive crossover and all. Unfortunately, a number of long-lasting legal battles and the bankruptcy of CCI in 2002 would cause the ride to be delayed for nearly 10 more years.
With the demise of CCI, the park picked up talks with Jeff Mason of the Gravity Group, a new coaster company which was formed by several former CCI engineers. With a new firm to design the coaster though, the park would still have to face years of delays and battles to receive permits and variance waivers. The biggest battles the park faced were the nearby campground, and the road they would have to build over. In the end, Waldameer won out, and the park was allowed to begin site-preparation in the spring of 2007, aiming to have the new coaster operating by 2008. At a cost of $6 million, the ride would feature a number of airtime hills, a 90-degree banked turn, and its predecessors famed road crossing. The one concession the park had to make was to cover the track that crossed the road to avoid distracting drivers as much as possible. After nearly 20 years in the making, the Ravine Flyer II would finally open in May 2008.
The ride starts out by ascending an 80 foot lift hill at the back of the park, very near the adjoining campsite. After a brief moment enjoying the view, riders then plummet down 115 feet into a ravine, pulling to the right as they approach the ground. The train then continues its shallow curve as it rockets through a wooden tunnel at 57 mph, emerging into the blue mesh-tunnel that indicates the road crossing. At the road and in the “tunnel,” the train then blazes over a long, low bunny hill over the entire road before snaking into a rising S-curve turnaround. Here, the train fakes right, then breaks into a quick left before spiraling upward to the right to finish the turnaround. At the end of the turnaround the track rises sharply then drops back down 105 feet to the ground, curving slightly to the left as it falls. The track lines itself back up for the cross back over Peninsula Drive, directly next to and parallel to the outgoing track, and proceeds to fly over a second long, low bunny hill only slightly smaller than the “out” crossover.
Leaving the road-crossover the train enters a second wooden tunnel and curves left, parallel to the first tunnel, then rises into a half-enclosed double-up. After the double-up hill, the train drops slightly into a very short third tunnel and banks hard to the left, rising and turning to the left before leveling out at the top of the turnaround. The track then drops slightly as it straightens out, then rises over a bunny hill, diving back to the left once again into a figure-eight style section of track. Curving back towards the point where it entered the left-hand drop, the track then rises and turns to the right as it drops slightly, paralleling the curve after the third tunnel. As it begins to turn, the train picks up speed as it drops, and the track banks heavily to the right. Here, the train goes completely perpendicular to the ground, banking 90-degrees to the right before dropping back to the earth parallel to the third tunnel. Flying along the ground and still turning slightly to the right, the track then rises up into a right-hand turn, passing under the rides lift-hill and paralleling it. The track straightens out and drops slightly as the train heads into a final bunny hill followed by another right turn into the brake run.
The Ravine Flyer II was rated as the Best New Ride of 2008 by Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Awards, and holds the record for the tallest drop on a wooden roller coaster in Pennsylvania at 115 feet. The road the coasters crosses is State Route 832, better known to locals as Peninsula Drive.
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