Specific Type: MotoCoaster
Though usually not on the lineup of a park's best coasters, family rides are very important additions to parks. They attract families rather than individuals, which is a very important part of the amusement park business. Knotts Berry Farm had this in mind when they opened the 1,300 ft long Pony Express on May 24th, 2008. Themed to the famed Pony Express of the Wild West, the ride is quite different from most other family rides seen throughout the world, featuring a rare flywheel launch system that is similar to one of the parks oldest coasters, Montezuma's Revenge. The ride also features unique trains and seating arrangements, along with special harnesses and seats. Each train is very open seating, with two across per row and 8 rows. The seats are all modeled after horses, giving a unique Wild West feel and a ride experience not found anywhere else.
The ride manufacturer is also another unique feature to this ride, as this is only one of two Zamperla Motocoasters in the world, the other being Orange County Choppers at Darien Lake. Though the ride is only a little more than 30 seconds long, the ride boasts heavy theming in all parts, all to a Wild West setting. The ride is full of banked hills, and has a classic out and back layout that is not seen on many of the launched coasters of today.
As tame as the ride is, there has been a major accident involved with it. On October 7th, 2010, a train failed to launch with enough power due to a malfunction causing the train to roll back before it crested the first hill. The train then rolled into a train that already was sitting in the station, causing whiplash and some other minor injuries for ten riders. The ride was immediately shutdown for investigation and it was later found out that the launch system had a power malfunction causing it to not reach the needed launch speed. Luckily for the park, the problem was soon fixed and no law suits were filed. The ride reopened later in the season, and has had no issues since.
The ride starts just like any other; with the line. As you walk through the queue, you will notice the heavy theming that Knott's Berry Farm has put up, matching the rest of the Ghost Town section of the park. The station is standard, but with a slight Wild West atmosphere due to the old wood look and build of the station. Riders boarding the ride will notice the seats that are shaped like horses and the harnesses that make you feel like you are really riding a horse. The actual ride starts out like any other launched ride, with the short stop leading to the high speed of the ride: the launch. Riders launch to a speed of 38 mph in 3 seconds flat, and soon find themselves going around a banked turn/hill. The train then goes over a long hill which quickly turns into a banked drop. The train then goes over another banked hill, leading to a banked turn that takes place in a tunnel. Over then next hill awaits the brakes, putting the quick ride to an even quicker end. Riders looking for the horse-back feel should look no further.
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