Specific Type: Inverted Coaster
An International Exposition has founded a few amusement parks. Expoland, World Expo Park, and Isla Magica were all left wake. But the Exp ’67 was a really raucous one, with 50 million visitors, 30 million more than the entire population on Canada at the time. So, naturally, a really large park was left behind. So, now with 10 coasters, La Ronde is one of Canada’s largest amusement parks.
But back in 2002, the park was a quiet place. Montreal City-owned La Ronde hadn’t received a roller coaster since 1995. The park was acquired by Six Flags in 2000, and after the dust settled, new plans were in the works. But going into the 36th season, Six Flags invested 30 million dollars (Canadian of course. It’s 30,114,000 US) into attractions for the park. There were other projects, but the one that made headlines is the roller coaster, Vampire.
The ride was dubbed “high tech” in the press release, and the ride certainly was strong in that suit, but high tech does not equal innovative. Designer Bolliger and Mabillard has made nearly identical rides (Called Batman: The Rides, based off of what Six Flags usually themes the rides as) for eleven other parks at that point, and there are currently thirteen identical around in 2010. But it was a safe bet for Six Flags, and was up and running by May, though without the Batman motif. Since the park did not have a Six Flags name, it didn’t have licensing from DC Comics to use Batman. So the ride went completely unthemed.
But a lack of theming is forgivable if the ride can support it. And even though it’s been done eleven times, Batman certainly looks like it can. The first draw is the train. Most coasters since their invention have ridden above the track. However, on the Batman model, the cars hang below the track. That means that the riders are suspended with their feet dangling above the ground, just 105 feet down, if this ride is Vampire.
After climbing the lift hill to get this high, the ride starts with a bang. It plummets down to the ground, taking a surprisingly hard right (This is actually different than on the standard Batman, usually they turn left. Vampire is actually a mirror image of the standard, but it doesn’t really affect the ride.). This is followed by a really tight loop, whipping riders over the top. Without a turn or anything, the loop goes straight into a zero-gravity roll, which is pretty much a hill with a 360-twist inserted that is taken at (spoiler) zero gravity.
Next, once again without rest, is another loop. After pulling out of those the g-forces, the riders get a rest, albeit short. The ride coasts around a 270 degree right turn, changes direction coasts around a left turn. Done, right? Well, immediately after pulling out, there is a corkscrew. It is like a zero-gravity roll, except moves laterally instead, in this instance to the right. It yanks the train out of this and into a hard, highly-banked left turn. It levels out into a small, concrete trench, then yanks the train over a left-going corkscrew. It is all tied up with a fairly mundane right turn into the brakes, returning the train to the station.
The ride was intense. The entire machine is either inverting or turning throughout. The guests must have enjoyed it as well, as three more coasters were added to the La Ronde regime in the next eight years, including Ednor: L’attaque, which was a Vekoma Suspended Looping Coaster, or SLC. The SLC was Vekoma’s answer to B&M’s Batman, and the addition of Ednor made La Ronde the only park to have both copies. But the original Vampire is still holding strong to this day, thrilling guests at La Ronde for eight years and probably many more.
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