by Danny Miller
Well it has yet to be confirmed, but all signs are pointing to Hersheypark removing the Roller Soaker roller coaster after this season. A co-worker of mine attended the “Rush The Sky” event at the park a few weeks ago, and a worker at the park mentioned that the number of coasters at the park would be changing come 2013.
Over the last few days, many have noticed that Roller Soaker is actually listed for sale, so it is likely that it is indeed being removed. While it will bring the park’s coaster count back down to eleven, it in my opinion is a smart move for the park.
Hersheypark’s Boardwalk is a fairly new water park, and it has not seen many changes since it opened back in 2007, the only additions being small ones in 2009. The water park is really due for a nice expansion, and although Roller Soaker does fit in to the water theme, the plot of land it sits on offers some great space to do something special for the Boardwalk.
Roller Soaker is a very fun coaster thanks to the interactive water guns, jets, geysers, cannons, and the tanks of water that riders can drop on the guests below. It is a unique ride if nothing else, with very few like it in existence today.
The problem from a business stand point however, is that the ride suffers from extremely low capacity. A few hundred people riding per hour would be generous assuming the ride is being loaded and unloaded quickly, which is not always the case.
I have only ridden the ride once despite having been to Hersheypark more than 5 times over the passed three seasons. That one time, we waited nearly an hour to ride, and while it was certainly fun and exciting once on the ride, it is not something I will continue to do if it costs me over an hour per visit.
I believe it is more of the “we can do a lot more here” approach than the “this is a bad ride” thinking, but that is the correct thing to do in this situation. The water park is very successful, especially in the hotter summer months, and even in the colder months when the park is open for Halloween, Christmas, and early spring, Roller Soaker isn’t a ride that runs with the water features anyway, rendering it simply a low capacity ride that builds a long line quickly if it even runs.
All in all, I will be sad to see it go even though I am not much of a water park person, but from a business stand point it makes all the sense in the world, and let’s hope that what the park does to replace it can be just as fun without the long lines. Thanks for the memories Roller Soaker. You truly were a special and unique ride.
by Danny Miller
As we learned on Thursday, Silver Dollar City has caught everyone’s attention with the announcement of Outlaw Run, the 2013 Rocky Mountain Construction product. The new wooden coaster will feature numerous never-before-seen elements for wooden roller coasters, including an 81-degree first drop and three inversions, including a double barrel roll and an outside overbanked turn.
After the announcement, it seemed that just about everyone was in agreement that this ride would be spectacular, and if nothing else, revolutionary. It will become the world’s steepest wooden coaster in terms of a first drop. It will become the only wooden coaster with inversions, as well as the first to feature an inversion other than a vertical loop. It will also be the first time a wooden coaster will feature inversions that actually uses wood in the structure. The loop on Son Of Beast was made from steel, as most of us know.
I too believe this ride will be incredible, as long as a few simple things go right. First, the trains have to be designed to navigate such extreme twists and turns both safely and comfortably. As an engineering student, I am pretty confident that RMC has taken all of this to consideration. With the success that is the New Texas Giant, I expect nothing but great performance from their own vehicles on their own ride.
The second major thing is the rides overall smoothness. With the use of RMC’s “topper” track, this ride is likely to be very smooth and not age as poorly as other wood coasters of this size have done over the years. This should also lower maintenance costs for the park and allow them to use that money elsewhere.
Now I will get to my major point. Now that we have finally seen something completely new and groundbreaking from a wooden coaster, I wonder if we will start to see other parks and ride companies try similar things. The Gravity Group has been on the record stating that they have designed coasters with inversions, but no one has asked them to build one for a park yet. Does this open that door for them?
Although I am fairly young, I still like the classic feel of most wooden roller coasters. I think one of the best examples of a wood coaster is Ghostrider at Knott’s Berry Farm. It’s not insanely tall, but not small by any means, it has some good speed, great airtime, great lateral forces, it dives through its own structure, and it throws you around a little bit without being unbearable.
When Intamin began building the “plug and play” woodies, they highlighted the comfort and airtime of wooden coasters, but in a way sacrificed the classic feel of wooden coasters by taking away some of the roughness and out-of-control feeling you might get. In defense of Intamin however, these giants new woodies would never be able to survive if constructed the traditional way without major track work and refurbishing just about every year.
Companies like Great Coasters International and The Gravity Group have built some of the best coasters in the world while still using traditional methods and focusing on everything wooden coasters should be, and everything they have been for decades now. Less than twenty years ago, inversions on wooden coasters were considered something only possible on sketching paper or in people’s minds.
Outlaw Run now opens the door to a whole new age and a whole new breed of wooden coaster. Now that doesn’t mean that everyone is going to go out and start building these new, crazy wooden coasters, but we will see a fair share of them in the coming years I think.
I’m not saying I don’t like El Toro, because I love it, and I’m not saying I don’t like Outlaw Run, because it looks incredible. I just hope that this ride doesn’t make us lose focus of what a wooden coaster can and should be while still being “traditional” so to speak. With all of the new things steel coasters can do, it is certainly nice to see something new with the wooden coasters. My hope is that not everyone wants one if this ride is successful, because not only would it seem to end an era of exceptional traditional wooden coasters, it would then understate the sheer genius that this ride is mixing the old WITH the new.
by Danny Miller
Though I have only been lucky enough to visit Kings Island once in my life back in 2008, I have been one of the lucky (or unlucky) people that have been able to experience Son Of Beast. When I rode, the loop had already been removed, and the lighter trains from the former Myrtle Beach Hurricane were being used. It was a rough ride indeed, and one that has had more than its fair share of issues.
If you are reading this looking for a Son Of Beast history lesson, I will not be going through that here. Instead, I highly recommend you take a look at this editorial done by our own Mike Strobel, a Kings Island local and expert, a few years ago. Rather, I will go through a few options I think Kings Island would be likely to consider when deciding what will replace Son Of Beast.
Since the announcement regarding the removal of Son Of Beast, there have been a few things people have speculated that Kings Island will add in its place. The most likely for me would be a custom-designed inverted coaster from B&M. So far, the park has Invertigo, a Vekoma “Invertigo” model, and Flight Deck, an Arrow suspended coaster that is still a very fun ride. These two rides along with Son Of Beast all sit in the same area of the park, so some have said it would be very odd to see another “hanging” coaster added there.
I will counter that by pointing to my own park, Dorney Park, which has Stinger, an “Invertigo” model, and an Intamin “Impulse” coaster, Possessed, literally right next to each other. We have certainly seen stranger things, and the one thing Kings Island is missing since the addition of Diamondback is a standout inverted coaster, and we know that B&M is the company that can provide that. An inverted coaster would also nicely compliment Vortex, Kings Island’s Arrow looper.
The next option I wouldn’t be surprised to see is a B&M floorless coaster. Until last season, we had thought that the floorless concept has just about died out, but with the addition of Hair Raiser at Ocean Park in Hong Kong, it seems that B&M hasn’t completely moved on from them just yet. Although I think an inverted coaster is more likely, a floorless coaster would be another signature looping coaster on the opposite end of the park from Vortex.
B&M has built many floorless and inverted coasters, and generally speaking, a lot of them feature the same types of elements in different orders and with slightly varying transitions. The giant plot of land where Son Of Beast is located would be a great opportunity for B&M to add a little bit of spice with one of these types of coasters, much like they did with Hydra at Dorney, widely considered to be the most unique B&M floorless coaster.
Another type of ride that may be slated for Kings Island would be one of the new wing rider coasters, although I think this is by far the least likely of the B&M styles I have mentioned thus far. These rides are just too new and unproven yet for a park like Kings Island to test the waters with one. Kings Island is a park that really needs to keep momentum going from Diamondback, and they could do it with another B&M that is of an proven style. Some have said that they hope for a B&M giga-coaster like Leviathan. Kings Island would be following in the footsteps of Canada’s Wonderland here, adding two similar B&M rides only a few years apart. I can’t personally see the park doing it just because the giga-coaster from B&M is a style they have only tried once, although I would still say it is more likely than a wing rider just because the gigas are similar to the hypers, a style that B&M has tons of successful experiences with.
In the “Kings Island Future” forum topic, Mike has said that Kings Island has always shied away from “experimental” rides under Cedar Fair ownership, and with the wing rider coaster being a brand new concept, I couldn’t see the park replacing a problem-ridden coaster with something that may not work. He also pointed out how the Paramount parks always added a lot of prototype coasters, and that seems to be a rout that Kings Island doesn’t want to go again, as they have become famous for the Bat suspended coaster that failed, and now they have failed with Son Of Beast. Cedar Fair would almost be foolish to risk striking out a third time and subsequently earning a reputation as a park where all the news rides go to fail and fix problems.
Of course there are lots of options out there, but I will go back to saying that the most obvious choice in my opinion would be a B&M inverted coaster. Most, if not all of the existing ones perform very well, and have very little downtime. They are intense rides that still are very smooth and very enjoyable to ride. Kings Island is the perfect fit for another B&M coaster, especially with the success of Diamondback, and a ride like that would put the park on the map even more than it already is.