by Danny Miller
It has become perhaps one of the most talked about rides over the course of the last decade…and it hasn’t even opened yet. Flying Turns at Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg, Pennsylvania has become the punch line to many a joke among the enthusiast circles since 2006. However, after nearly eight full years of construction and testing, it seems that the ride may finally be ready to make its grand debut.
After several reports and videos of testing have surfaced this summer, the park officially posted a point-of-view video on their Facebook page this weekend. While not promising anything, the park did mention that Labor Day Weekend is the goal they have in mind for an opening date. With that in mind, there are several things this means for the park and the Flying Turns concept.
IT CAN BE DONE – Recently, several have suggested that perhaps the Flying Turns concept was extinct for so long for a reason, and that it is something that just can’t be done properly or successfully this day in age. Personally I had always thought, “if they could do it before, why can’t they do it now?” That question in particular comes to mind when I see rides likeAvalanche at Kings Dominion, and while different in construction, in concept they really are quite similar. If the ride finally does open as hoped, it will be proof that even though it has taken far longer than anyone could have expected, it can in fact be done.
SMALL TOWN PARKS – Knoebels is one of only a few parks that could possibly pull this off. Holiday World comes to mind as another. The reason is that if a large corporate park tried something like this, they would simply be bombarded with negative publicity after a very short time. A small park like Knoebels only recently has started to get some bad comments, and even then, many folks are still excited and encouraged. It is quite the situation, but Knoebels is just one of those parks that can try something like this and not suffer from bad press even after all the trouble they have had with it. After saving Black Diamond, it will be quite the feat to finally successfully bring back a forgotten breed of coaster.
ANTICIPOINTMENT – If you are a regular reader, you will have heard me use this term before. Anticipointment is the feeling you get when you have high expectations for a ride (or high anticipation) and it fails to meet them, resulting in disappointment. That does not necessarily mean the ride is not great, it simply means it did not live up to your hype. Some rides that are well known for suffering from guest anticipointment are rides like Expedition Everest, Gatekeeper,Windseeker, and Silver Bullet.
Again, these rides are not bad rides, but some folks hype them up to such high expectations that they don’t live up to, and I think Flying Turns will suffer from the same thing. There seems to be an exponential relationship between the time that it takes a ride to open to the expectations associated with it. Rides like Top Thrill Dragster and Kingda Ka were announced well in advance, and both experienced delays, so that of course heightened expectations, especially since Kingda Ka was closed for the vast majority of its first season. For Flying Turns, it hasn’t been weeks or months, but rather YEARS of waiting for it to finally open. Flying Turns will be a fun, nostalgic, unique ride, but too many people will expect it to be the greatest thing ever, and it will probably just be the third best coaster in the park.
DO IT AGAIN? – Whether people think it has been a giant waste of time or not, the fact of the matter is that Flying Turns looks like it will be opening before 2013 comes to a close. So now that we know it CAN be done, the question is, should it be done again? This writer says no, and it should be pretty obvious why. First off, the point about anticipointment tells me that this is not a type of rides a lot of other parks will want or need. The parks that would benefit from this type of ride may not have the time or funds to sink into research and development to build such a ride.
Another reason may be that if it takes eight years to get a ride like this up and running, few other parks will have the patience and resources that Knoebels has to make it happen. Knoebels is a special park, unlike any other park in the world, so it only makes sense that they will have a roller coaster unlike any other. Now that we will have a functional Flying Turns, the learning curve should benefit anyone who does try and do this again. That being said, I still don’t see another park trying to make it happen.
We will all be watching Knoebels like a hawk the next few weeks, waiting anxiously for Flying Turns to open. When it does, I will be there the first available weekend, whether it be Labor Day Weekend or sometime after, but I will ride Flying Turns before the season ends if I have anything to say about it. I will be sure to give a full report on what the ride is like, and whether or not it will be what we all want it to be. You can discuss your own thoughts with the COASTER-net community here. Until the ride opens, we will just have to do what we’ve been doing for eight years…wait.