Specific Type: Shuttle Loop
When it was opened in 1995 at Elitch Gardens, Sidewinder was one of the many Arrow shuttle loopers. Originally built at a park named Magic Springs & Crystal Falls, its first name was Roaring Tornado. Before it was dismantled and moved to Elitch Gardens, it served nearly a decade spanning from 1980 to 1989 when it was decided that it would be sold. The ride opened in Elitch Gardens the next year, becoming the park’s first Arrow shuttle and only Arrow shuttle. It was built at Magic Springs & Crystal Fallsfor $300,000 USD, and was later sold to Elitch Gardens due to financial troubles. It was actually Colorado’s first looping coaster.
hile many would consider the ride tame in today’s term, when it was released the first time it was innovation. It was one of the first looping coasters, and was considered to be a quite intense ride. Still revered for high airtime of the flight down to the loop, it is a classic for thrill seekers looking for a ride to take them back in time to the Arrow innovation age. Being Colorado’s first looping coaster, Sidewinder is one of Colorado’s historic coasters, loved by coaster history fanatics and hailed as one of the designs that brought inversions to coasters as a whole. Today, loops are being used on nearly half of the coasters built, and are a huge part of the industry. It has also evolved past just loops, to new inversions. Many credit this to Arrow coasters much like Sidewinder.
While Arrow loopers are seemingly quite common to find in parks all around the world, Sidewinder is one of the rare kinds. It is one of only four Arrow launched looping coasters and only one of two that has the same design. Sidewinder’s clone is Irn Bru Revolution at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, except Sidewinder has 6 cars instead of 4. Sidewinder is also unique in the fact that it has two operators, one at each end of the coaster.
Sidewinder has had quite a history of moves and closes, and one can only hope that the huge piece of coaster history will stay in operation for another decade. Showing signs that Elitch Gardens is attempting to do so, it repainted Sidewinder for the 2010 season with a more lime green tint compared to the darker shade that it was before. Earlier in the coaster’s history it had been painted the darker color over the blank white it had been earlier.
The ride itself is pretty simple; as it could easily be summarized as a simple launch down a hill into a loop up another hill and back again. But there is more to it than meets the eye. To start, the station is quite abnormal, being completely open. Not only that, you have to walk up 50 ft of stairs which brings you to the simple station. You get into the coaster, and the ride op on the station side sends you off, launching you down a 47 ft hill at a 47 degree angle into the one and only inversion: the loop. You hit a top speed of 45 mph, completing the loop. You then go up the second hill, leading you to a brake run that stops you in your tracks (literally). The second ride op lets you gather yourself for a bit before launching you backwards down the same track you had just traveled. The ride ends as you hit the station brakes, and you begin your 50 ft journey back down the stairs.
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