Specific Type: Wild Mouse
If you enjoy irony then you might be interested in the Wild Mouse at Idlewild & SoakZone located just outside Pittsburgh in Ligonier, PA. This is possibly one of the most unique coasters with a wild mouse layout. This familiar layout is most commonly referred to as a wild mouse. Beginning in the 1950’s they were first constructed as wooden coasters. The last remaining wooden and oldest wild mouse is the example at Blackpool Pleasure Beach in England. Then starting in the 1960’s steel wild mouse roller coasters started being installed at parks worldwide by nearly every manufacturer of amusement park rides. The wild mouse became very popular with parks and guests alike. Parks liked them for their compact footprint, and guests enjoyed the strong lateral forces, and fun ride experience that could be shared by the whole family.
You might think that this makes the Wild Mouse very common, but that is not the case. As wild mouse coasters were built, installed, and moved to and from different locations about 270 currently operate worldwide, but only the Wild Mouse at Idlewild was built by Vekoma. Vekoma is a company known for producing standard coaster models that are mass produced and sold to parks all over the world. While they have made custom models, this is not really how they are most well known. So the wild mouse concept is a standard layout that many manufacturers have built each with their own take, but the Vekoma Wild Mouse is the only one the company ever produced, a surprising custom coaster. It started out in Weiner Prater in 1985, was then moved to Alton Towers, and finally to Idlewild in 1993. This particular Wild Mouse does feature the familiar hairpin turns, but it is slightly taller than other similar models. It also suffered from really abrupt harsh air brakes, but they were replaced in 2002 with magnetic brakes.
Each car on the ride is dispatched individually and is shaped like a mouse. The mouse can carry four rides in two rows of two, the combination of the cars being wider than the track and the track being unbanked gives the sensation that the car is going to come off the tracks and crash. This is further exaggerated by the front wheels being set back to about the middle of the car, so the mouse’s nose goes past the turn before the car whips around. After the car is locked and checked it is dispatched from the station with a left hand turn to line up with the lift hill. At the bottom of the 56 foot tall hill is a sign instructing you to brace yourself with a picture of the proper riding position, not a good sign. As the car chugs up the lift you might notice rather worryingly it seems to be uneven, and tilted to the right like the construction crew lost their level. This lean is from its days at Alton Towers where a tunnel was placed over the lift that rotated to disorient riders on the way up. At the top of the lift is another warning sign, and then the mouse is loose. The riders are treated to a series of 180 degree switchback turns threatening to crash the car into trees and the lift hill. The layout strays from the norm as it approaches the far side of the layout where the cat dives and ascends into a spiral of turns, and dives to do it again. The dips and turns continue to wind the track though the structure until the 1,640 foot circuit is completed and your mouse lands back at the station. So next time you are at Idlewild try this custom Vekoma version of a mass produced ride.
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