Crow’s Nest to accompany Thunderbird at Holiday World

Posted on December 11, 2014 in News by

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Holiday World has announced that they have relocated their Zamperla Vertical swing ride over to the surrounding area of the new Thunderbird B&M launched wing coaster. The ride, currently called “Sparkler” in the 4th of July themed area of the park, will be renamed and rethemed to “Crow’s Nest” in its new home alongside Thunderbird in the Thanksgiving area. Sparkler originally opened in 2012. This should certainly bring some additional life to the new midway while providing outstanding views of the park’s shiny new B&M flying around it. The ride has already been moved to its new home and the park has a video of the transformation.

This is one of the surprises that Holiday World has thrown in with the new coaster, and they are still teasing some near-miss ride elements that will be added to Thunderbird prior to its opening.

Track work on Thunderbird itself was actually completed last week. This, along with the installation of the Crow’s Nest ride are certainly making the new area of the park take shape. The 2015 season is fast approaching!

Silver Dollar City’s 2013 Project: Is it an inversion?

Posted on July 8, 2012 in Thoughts, Updates by

Image via ACE

When construction images of Silver Dollar City’s “its-not-really-there” Rocky Mountain wooden coaster emerged, it was undoubtedly one of the most spectacular projects we’ve seen in a long time.  Never before has wood been twisted in such extreme ways, from the immensely steep drop to the immediately following twist.  As more bents went up, the track appeared to be going into a zero-g roll.  It would be the only inversion on any wooden coaster in the world, since Son of Beasts had its removed in 2006.

But when the above image surfaced on ACE’s Facebook page, users were even more surprised to see that it was in fact not a zero-g roll.  Right when the ride is about to invert, the track swings back in the direction in came from flattening out.  Without a doubt it is a first of its kind element.  Things got even more “twisted” when Theme Park Review posted this image earlier this morning:

Image via Theme Park Review

Now the element appears to function the same as an overbank, but at the crest of the turn, reverses its banking before return back to its original entry direction.  Rocky Mountain Construction Co. clearly wants to push the boundaries of coaster design, especially with this element.  But it does leave one questioning:

Is it an inversion?

The element clearly does not reach 180 degrees, but many of today’s inversions don’t either.  Nearly all modern imelmanns, dive loops, and cobra rolls do not achieve exactly 180 degrees on all axises.  But is the ride banked significantly enough that is more than just an extreme, quasi-overbanked turn.  With that, is there even a way to quantify an inversion?  Lets do a few quick measurements on the above two photos:

Images via Theme Park Review and ACE

After measuring each image, multiple times, it was clear from those two images, the angle of the highest bent is 33 degrees.  Meaning, that according to these measurements, the track is inverted at 147 degrees.  Now, obviously we can’t achieve that degree of accuracy with the images provide, so we’ll round and assume a range of 140-150 degrees.

Before anyone cries fowl over these measurements I’ll share with you exactly how these were taken: I created a horizontal guide in photoshop and then aligned it to the wooden cross beam directly below the metal bent.  As a whole, the image was tilted about a degree or so.  Then, I used another, parallel guide and moved it up so it was clearly intersecting the bent.  With the ruler tool, I drew two lines, one exactly on the guide the other following the edge of the metal bent.  After doing this 2-3 times on each image, I always got an angle between 33.0-33.9 degrees.  The lines drawn above are simply mock ups, not the actual method of measurement.

So does that qualify as an inversion?  Well my first thought would be “Not really…” as its a full 30+ degrees off from being truly inverted.  The vast majority of inversions are more banked than this element.  However, there are certain examples that make me question the conclusion, most notably, the inclined loop.

Image via Flickr user CoasterMadMatt

This element is the inbetween of a vertical loop and horizontal helix.  As far as the question of inverting goes, I would say its difficult to argue for the older models that the element isn’t an inversion.  But nowadays, B&M seems to use the term very loosely, as The Swarm advertises having 5 inversions, with one of them being an inclined loop.  But as CoasterMadMatt’s photo clearly shows, the trains barely crack 90 degrees, let alone 150.  Additionally, Hydra’s “inclined dive loop,” which is also considered an inversion by the park and RCDB does not come anywhere close to inverting.

Image via RCDB

So where does that leave us?  While RCDB is a great resource, I question its classification of inversions.  Even Bolliger & Mabillard a manufacturer seems to very loosely define them. From the message boards, it is clear there is a large following that believes its an inversion. So, will I consider this an inversion? No.

The reason is rather simple.  If Rocky Mountain Construction wanted an inversion, they would have clearly made an inversion.  Between the rapidly change banking and the general directional changes of this element, its far more complex than had they just built a traditional zero-g roll with a straight entrance and exit.  The marketability of the “World’s Only Wooden Coaster” is huge and having this “questionable” element would not cut it.  Silver Dollar City would have ordered a clear inversion if they wanted to market it that way.

But does it really matter?  Inversions don’t make or break rides.  Many of the world’s top coasters are inversion-less, and its not as if classifying this element as an inversion or not an inversion will change the overall experience.  Its a matter of words on paper (or webpage), and nothing more than that. Discussing whether or not this is an inversion is turning into the new, “Is El Toro a wooden coaster?” topic.

Who knows what the park will call it? I’ve been dead wrong about coaster construction in the past, and Rocky Mountain has continued to blow peoples minds time and time again with construction of this wooden behemoth.  Perhaps the ride will have 3 corkscrews, a vertical loop, and drop section.  Who knows.  Either way, the rumored name Outlaw seems very fitting as this ride is certainly breaking all the laws of current wooden coaster design.

So what do you think? Is it an inversion? Does it even matter? Leave a comment with your Park Thoughts below.

Why coaster awards and polls will never be accurate or fair

Posted on June 30, 2012 in Thoughts by

Every fall the Amusement Industry eagerly awaits the results of Amusement Today’s Golden Tickets. While the best new ride categories can be rather unpredictable, the other categories are usually consistant year to year. Since 2000, Millenium Force at Cedar Point and Bizzaro at Six Flags New England have had a tug of war for the #1 steel coaster spot. Coaster enthusiasts scream that the results are rigged and that Millenium Force has never deserved the #1 spot. So are the results rigged? Not by Amusement Today, but by the voters themselves.

World's of Fun proudly shows off Prowler's Golden Ticket honor

Think about it. How many people in the Amusement Industry have been on every coaster in the world? There are very few that have even come close to achieving the feat and all of them are enthusiasts rather than employees of an attraction. You’ll never be able to create a coaster award program that has enough fair data. It’s impossible because the industry is so huge.

To answer the calls that the Golden Tickets are unfair/rigged/just promotional material, Mitch Hawker created the Best Roller Coaster Poll for both steel & wooden. This allows enthusiasts to have their say in what they think is the best in the world. But still, it’s unfair and swayed. Very few enthusiasts have been to more than a few parks. A large majority of enthusiasts make claims about coasters from what they read online. A few enthusiasts with large online followings use it to their advantage and play up coasters they like. They don’t explicitly say “hey, vote for so and so,” because people would come running in with red flags slapping them. Instead they over emphasize in posts on forums, tweets, and Facebook statuses. Those over emphasized posts stick with people. It tilts their brain towards thinking it’s the most amazing coaster in the world. If the top players in the enthusiast group said a Eurofighter was in the top 10 in the world the rest of the enthusiasts would follow.

The only way we’ll ever be able to have an accurate coaster awards or poll system is by asking people in person and only allowing them to vote on parks they’ve been to. Who would do this? No one. It’d take an extraordinary amount of time and money to pull off an “accurate” poll, and I’m sure even this poll would tilt some way.

Expedition Everest may not be in the top 10, but it's loved by millions throughout the world

Despite all these awards and polls, people will always have a favorite coaster. How many millions of people have a Disney coaster as the top spot in their mind? The amusement industry is just like the film industry: we can hand out awards left and right to what the “experts” say is the best, but people will still believe in their own preferences. If you don’t like the Golden Ticket results, just ignore them. It’s not a sin to. You have all the right in the world to still think Barnstormer is the greatest coaster ever. Just don’t try to hold the awards & polls hosts accountable. They’ll never be able to make an accurate system. It has been, and always will be, a tilted system.

Do you agree that coaster awards and polls shouldn’t be taken so seriously and that we’ll never be able to come up with a system that works fairly? Leave your Park Thoughts below.

The Windseekers Rise

Posted on January 24, 2012 in News by

Whether you like it or not, Windseekers are taking over the Cedar Fair chain; Six of out of the twelve theme parks currently operate or are building one. Cedar Fair is hooked on these 300 (excuse me, 301) foot swing sets, and it’s understandable why; simply put, it’s a gimmick, and the general public eats them up. I can already...

Alton Towers Secret Weapon 7: Revealed

Posted on January 7, 2012 in News, Thoughts by

The UK has a funny way of making parks go very public with their future additions long before they are announced to the public.  Thorpe Park was forced to released plans for The Swarm a full 8 months before it would officially be announced to the public. Fortunately for coaster fans, Alton Towers has followed suite and begun the permit filing process for their new...

Poll Results: Most Anticipated Wing-Rider

Posted on January 4, 2012 in Polls by

The last poll asked which under-construction B&M Wing-Rider you are most excited for in 2012.  The three competitors of this global showdown included The Swarm at  Thorpe Park, X-Flight at Six Flags Great America, and Wild Eagle at Dollywood. Each had their own merits, which was shown in the relatively close poll.  However, the winner with 45% of the votes is Wild Eagle at Dollywood.

Which 2012 B&M...

JAWS makes room for Harry Potter expansion at Universal Orlando

Posted on January 3, 2012 in News by

A Universal Studios Florida original attraction, JAWS, has officially closed.  Opened with the rest of the park in 1990, JAWS was a unique Intamin-conceived, water-based guided tour that reenacted some of the most iconic scenes with the giant shark.  The 5 minute tour was heavily influenced by the often crazy skipper guides who narrated the entire journey.   Although it...