Specific Type: Wooden
Iowa is one of the last places you’d think of when thinking about roller coasters, but currently six exist in the state, two at Arnolds Park and four at Adventureland in Altoona. Tornado is the tallest of these six, making it the tallest coaster in the state. The ride opened on July 4th, 1978 with the park saying, “Another Tornado has hit Adventureland!” Tornado was designed by William Cobb, who also designed other coasters mainly at Six Flags parks, including Six Flags Over Georgia’s Great American Scream Machine, the now defunct Rolling Thunder at Six Flags Great Adventure and Texas Cyclone at the defunct Six Flags AstroWorld.
Adventureland is home to three other coasters including Outlaw, a CCI wooden coaster, Dragon, a Hopkins looping steel coaster, and Underground, an indoor CCI wooden coaster that is more similar to a dark ride. Outlaw is known for its 1999 fiasco when a disgruntled employee wanting to be fired decided to let the coaster run through its course twice, the first time without brakes, per cycle. This was not only cause for his termination, but also for 5 years wear and tear on the ride.
Tornado has had one incident in its 36 year life, in which three people were injured when a stray wooden board resting on the tracks was run over by the train in July 2006. One eleven-year-old girl was hit in the head and was knocked unconscious. She underwent surgery and survived the incident. Investigators found that the stray board was left by an employee and the ride was reopened.
A ride on Tornado begins with a wide left turn into the lift after passing the transfer to the storage track. The ride’s lift is situated at the very edge of the park, with a traditional Iowa farm to the right and the double looping Dragon to the left. At the top of the 93 foot lift, the ride seems to pause before plummeting down the drop and reaching a speed of 58 MPH. Riders rise into the second hill and crest it with barely enough speed to move forward it seeems. The track dips down half the distance before rising up and completing the drop. After a slight left turn, riders soar once more in another airtime hill before rising up to the turnaround. After dropping out of the turnaround, riders go over three airtime hills following the same path as the “out” part of the coaster. Riders then come into the final brake run and gradually slow down into the station.
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