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:
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:
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.
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…
They say “What goes around, comes around,” and in the case of the new Dare Devil Chaos opening at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom next year, that’s quite appropriate.
According to the park, “Dare Devil Chaos is a single looping thrill ride that builds anticipation as riders seated back to back travel backwards and forwards until momentum takes them at top speed revolutions, only to stop upside down at 70 feet high and reverse direction.”
They add, “The new ride brings the number of ‘coasters’ at the park to nine along with Medusa, Roar, V2, Kong, Boomerang, Cobra, Road Runner Express and SUPERMAN Ultimate Flight. Dare Devil is expected to open in spring 2015.”
Now, I put the word “coaster” in quotations because there is some controversy with the way these rides are being marketed. Many in the industry are saying that while Six Flags is marketing these attractions as roller coasters – they are in fact, not. While the manufacturer’s website claims their “Super Loop 22m” is a “compact coaster,” experts in the industry are vehement in their opposition to the marketing:
“In perhaps the most disappointing announcement for the 2015 season, four Six Flags parks are to install pendulum style thrill rides typically associated with traveling carnivals and county fairs. Adding insult to injury, Six Flags is intentionally misrepresenting these rides as roller coasters.”
– Brady MacDonald, Los Angeles Times
“For the record, I applaud Six Flags for trying to finally add more flat rides, but don’t lie to people and promote them as coasters.”
– Lance Hart, Screamscape.com
For comparison, Elitch Gardens – the first park to install this new model of thrill ride in the United States – does not market their model (identical to the four going into Six Flags parks next year) as a roller coaster:
“Lose your mind on Brain Drain, the All-New 7-story steel looping thrill ride that sends riders forwards, backwards and head-over-heels in an adrenaline drenched 360° revolution.”
While these rides are definitely fun and have the ability to be intertwined with others (imagine a ride passing through the loop) they’re constantly powered by drive tires and don’t actually travel on a track, the “train” is attached to one giant conveyor belt loop that’s ingeniously nestled inside the larger, outside loop.
If the ride looks familiar to you, it should. It’s a larger, permanent installation of the “Ring of Fire” attractions seen at carnivals around the world, from Larson International. Although, these permanent models lack the guy wires – they’re still quite thrilling.Just expect to wait for those thrills – hourly capacity is expected to be around 500 – 600 people per hour.
“This is a great new addition to our line-up of world class rides and attractions, and is sure to be fun for all,” said Don McCoy, park president. “What appears to be a simple track is really complex and riders will have a great time anticipating the inversion they know is coming.”
The announcement, part of a coordinated, chain-wide event for all the other Six Flags parks, coincides with the biggest season pass sale of the year.
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