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Vortex standup roller coaster at California’s Great America to go floorless rumor

There’s been quite a bit of chatter over those few weeks in regards to rides and attractions that could be coming down the pipeline, so I figured I’d take the time to address one in particular – Vortex at California’s Great America being next in line for a floorless conversion.

Let’s start with how this rumor even came about. Longtime Cedar Point Public Relations Manager, Janice Witherow apparently told the paper (and was printed as saying so) that, “…Cedar Fair plans to do the same with other aging coasters in its portfolio, including one next year at its park near San Francisco.”

I don’t think I’ve ever seen another park spoil the announcement of a new ride…for another park. Let alone one in your own chain. That being said…

Why this would be a good idea:

The facial expression on the riders says everything...

The facial expression on the riders says everything…

1.) Standup coasters were a fad. They require two different locking systems which slows down capacity – and they aren’t the most comfortable riding position. Basically, it was throwing the adage of, “…don’t stand up on a coaster” to the wind. But that was about it. The last new standup to be built: 1999’s “Georgia Scorcher.”

2.) Also, the conversion could theoretically smooth out the ride, the second B&M ever built. It’s a marketable product with a minimal investment. Seems like a safe, economical idea. Even if the conversion isn’t that popular, it’s only about the same amount as the revamp of Planet Snoopy – as opposed to a new, $22 million hypercoaster from B&M.

Why this would be a bad idea:

Great America 40th Logo

1.) This is the park’s 40th anniversary. It’s been through some rough times in the past decade, but most will argue the park has emerged from the doldrums and is making strides to become a destination park. This addition (if true) just screams, “meh” to me.

But, upon further research, recent “anniversary” celebrations haven’t been very stellar or marketable at this park for awhile:

2001 – 25th Anniversary: Removal of the beloved Scenic Railway for cancelled S&S Hypersonic coaster. Addition of Psycho Mouse and used Wave Swinger from Carowinds.

2006 – 30th Anniversary: Survivor: The Ride re-named Tiki Twirl.

2011 – 35th Anniversary: Invertigo removed; three new shows; Halloween Haunt expansion.

You have to go all the way back to 1996 and the 20th anniversary season to see a record breaking or marketable new attraction in an anniversary year: Drop Zone Stunt Tower.

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Medusa at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is three times longer and twice as high as Vortex.

2.) The park’s direct competition (Six Flags Discovery Kingdom) already has a taller, faster, longer and smoother version of this ride. (Medusa). I can speak from personal and direct experience – Rougarou didn’t make Mantis much better, if better at all. It’s still rough in spots, although the capacity is slightly higher now due to faster loading. Not that we waited longer than 10 minutes to ride (Millennium Force and Maverick had hour long waits while we were there, for comparison).

Let’s just hope that if the conversion takes place, it’ll include a covered loading station…like they should have done back in 1991 when it first opened…

Now, this is ALL conjecture – no official announcement has been made – but if the park does decide to convert Vortex to floorless, they’re going to have one HELL of a time in a market that is already ultra-competitive for entertainment dollars. Plus, we haven’t even addressed that RMC rumor up in Vallejo…

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