Specific Type: Surfrider
Ever since it opened in 1992, the iconic Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, has been a sprawling landmark and massively popular tourist attraction for the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Located in the heart of the mall is the Nickelodeon Universeamusement park , formerly Camp Snoopy (1992) and The Park at MOA (2006). In mid-july 2007, the park got a new licensing deal with Nickelodeon, and owners immediately sought to imprint not only the new brand on the park, but bring in some fresh staple attractions along with it. In 2008, the park brought in the Rock Bottom Plunge roller coaster, Splat-O-Sphere drop tower, and Avatar Airbender.
Themed around the TV series Avatar: The Last Airbender, Avatar Airbender is an Intamin Half Pipe Coaster that sets riders spinning up to the roof. Located at the very center of Nickelodeon Universe where the Snoopy Fountains used to be located when the park was Camp Snoopy, the ride helps provide a central focal point. Because of the ride’s height, it was actually built below the floor level of the mall, with its highest points extending into the triangular skylights above the rafters. Linear Synchronous Motors (LSMs) in the station power the ride up each end of the halfpipe, though given the lack of any elements other than the halfpipe ends and the LSM power in between freefalls, many struggle to classify the ride as a “roller coaster.” Regardless of the rides classification, one thing that can’t be argued is that the thrilling ride will make riders dizzy, literally.
Passengers load up onto one of two circular sets of seats, set on top of a skateboard style platform. Once the over-the-shoulder-restraints are locked and the floor and gates drop out of the way, the LSMs begin to power the vehicle up the halfpipe spikes on either side. While the halfpipe concept may not seem all that interesting, the twist comes in the form of free-spinning seats. Each of the two, six-passenger circular seating sets is completely free spinning once the ride starts, meaning that the ever-changing weight distribution will make every rise and fall, and for that matter every ride, just a little bit different. The ride experience is almost like that of a tilt-a-whirl set in a halfpipe. The first pump up each end of the spike helps build up speed, and is followed by 10 full blasts to glass ceiling of the mall, 5 up each side. Even when the ride slows and stops in the station, the vehicle can continue to spin if it still has momentum, but eventually riders are set free.
"Ride a ‘wave of air’ rocking back and forth to reach heights of 70 feet as air and fire forces rage in battle around you!"
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