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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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
Despite seemingly countless delays, it appears Cedar Fair has decided to move forward with adding more “Windseeker“‘s to their parks in 2012. Carowinds, being the first to announce. With the Wright Brothers creating the first successful airplane in the Carolinas, it is natural that the park will continue the theme of flight with Windseeker.
Reaching a maximum height 301 feet, Windseeker will become the talest ride in Carowinds. Other facts about the ride include: 32 arms with 2 passenger swings for an hourly capcacity of approximately 960 guests an hour, the arms will reach an angle of 45 degrees at a top speed of 30 mph, an onboard audio system playing more than 18 different tracks, and the Windseeker’s now trademark LED light show on the ride’s structure all for a cost of $6.5 million.
Unfortunately Carowinds has appeared to have gone with the ugly and typical grey-blue-red color scheme used at the northern parks. However, when Knott’s announced their Windseeker it also showed the same color scheme which was later changed to a far more attractive Orange, blue, purple and red color scheme. Hopefully Carowinds also finds a more attractive color appropriate for the park.
Speaking of Knott’s Berry Farm’s Windseeker, the first (and so-far only) Windseeker on the west coast is finally open. After changing locations, and the prototype nature of the ride, Windseeker was greatly set-back from it’s original early summer planned opening. While the 3 other other Windseekers opened in late May or early June, Knott’s officially debuted their Windseeker early last week.
Windseeker is certainly not revolutionary for neither Carowinds or Knotts however, it’s a solid family ride addition that brings another ride to the park’s line up. Nothing to complain about there. If anything, Windseeker will create a more exciting skyline for each of the parks.
So far Windseekers are or are planned to be installed at Cedar Point, Kings Island, Canada’s Wonderland, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Carowinds. Is this the end for Windseekers? I highly doubt it. Rumored parks to soon add Windseekers include both King’s Dominion and Worlds of Fun.
Have you ridden a Windseeker? Is it at your local park? Will it be at your local park? Leave a comment with your Thoughts below.
Today, I’m happy to announce that a Disney Park staple has been returned to it’s former glory and is now open to guests: Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room has now reopened at the Magic Kingdom. After a fire in January of this year, Disney has been refurbishing the attraction to restore it to it’s original show.
Many amusement park enthusiasts may not...
The 2011 summer season is hitting it’s final stretch over these next few weeks, and while most parks are contiuing to coast on their 2012 additions, some parks are just finally opening their new rides. Two parks in particular, Knott’s Berry Farm and Busch Gardens Williamsburg, have had their fair share of problems.
Knott’s announced their Windseeker the same day as the...
August is announcement month and while many parks have already had their plans leaked or revealed, 2012’s best kept secret (that we know of) is Canada’s Wonderland 2012 coaster. With no rumors or hints of any sorts, earlier this Summer the park began construction on footers near the the employee parking lot and the area around Dragon Fire. Footers continued...
It’s been a while since I visited my home park, California’s Great America, opening day in fact. However, with very little happening in the park since, I felt no rush to return to the park. With some friends I made a visit today, with picture taking, new gathering, etc not being a priority. In addition, activity is minimal on property...