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Posts tagged “thrill ride

Alpine Slide Close Call

Alpine slides are awesome. Most people forgo the whole “using the brake” thing and go out full force (not advised).

This guy was having a dandy of a time in Sweden – and it only got better when a rabbit decided to get a bit of a thrill – enjoy!

http://thechive.com/2015/05/25/rabbit-has-a-close-call-on-this-downhill-luge-video/

By the way – how about that Swedish ride commentary! 🙂


Insane Carnival Ride

Or…”how to operate a Huss Top Spin at level 11.”

Fun fact: while most “Top Spin” models here in the United States are on a pre-determined “cycle” meaning all the  ride operator does is push the button and a computer takes over.

However, most rides in Europe are run in the far more awesome “manual mode” meaning the operator has complete control over length of ride and intensity (as well as what music he or she plays during the ride).

By the way, note the lack of any safety gates at the end of the video. Good luck ever finding that here in the good ol’ USA anytime soon…


Tsunami Soaker a Watery Blast of Fun

Each amusement or theme park is different. They each “need” attractions based on their audience and climate.

Many park fans (and even general public guests) have argued that one ride Six Flags Discovery Kingdom was desperately missing was another water ride. The park had two Intamin water rides (both debuted in 1999), a standard 20-person splashwater and rapids flume. But that was it. With temperatures easily pushing above 90 during the summer heat waves, the park needed something more – something new.

For many years, a rumored “log flume” was on the books, designed to interact with the animal exhibits already in the park. Consider it a “Water Safari,” but for whatever reason, the ride never materialized.

So, it was with great anticipation that I rolled up to the park last week to test drive the new Tsumani Soaker – a Mack built “Aqua Twist.”

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The ride is deceptively simple: Four turntables (one large, three small) sink down into water when the ride begins and slowly rotate. Riders are seated in “barrels” that actually float, as they “battle” other riders, those waiting in line and would be passerby’s with water guns attached to their barrels.

As soon as the ride cycle starts, the entire platform sinks, revealing the water though the grated platform. From there – the best I can describe it is this: ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE. Water is flying literally everywhere – even the ride operator’s booth isn’t out of the firing line.

Part of the cool interactivity of the ride is the fact that you can still cool off – even if you never go on the ride. Five water guns are stationed outside of the ride’s fence, allowing non-riders to soak those on the ride. Just remember, you’re in range of the guns on the ride, too. You can even nail people waiting in line – which should be interesting to watch if people begin stampeding to try and stay dry.

And don’t let the small streams of water fool you – you will get soaked on this ride, there is no “wet.”

That being said, there are some minor flaws. All of the Great American Thrills team that day noticed a lack of a “long enough” queue line for the ride, which is bound to spill would-be riders into the midway.

I also imagine it’s a matter of time before the ride is modified, to include some form of seatbelt or restraint. Many riders on Media Day were seen standing up or switching seats to avoid the watery blasts. While riders were always safe and secure inside their barrels – most parks would rather you be COMPLETELY secured…in your seat.

The ride cycle is also quite long (this is a complaint?!?) but there’s a reason why this point ends up here. You see, all of the ride’s “guns” are built for right-handed people. We found that we had tired out from the one arm firing about halfway through the cycle (as did many of the other riders).

That being said, the long ride time also ensures no one will leave the ride dry. Scratch that – the ride’s cycle length ensures no one leaves the ride that isn’t drenched. Even with only one-fourth of the seats occupied, the entire Great American Thrills team was soaked to the bone. I can’t imagine how quickly you’ll be drenched when this ride is operating at full capacity.

Despite my qualms (and I’m a picky person), Tsunami Soaker is the perfect “family flat ride” that Discovery Kingdom desperately needed. It will be a welcome relief during the summer and if you bring an extra set of clothes. (You can always use the air dryer that’s now conveniently located at the ride exit too – though it’ll cost you $5.00 for three minutes).

WORD OF WARNING: Get a locker before going on this ride. Any electronic device is NOT safe from the inevitable drenching in your pocket, or in a backpack or other bay lying on the side of the ride.


Utah Olympic Park bobsled is the ride of your life

With the Sochi Olympics now officially open – the world will showcase the best in winter sports, many of which call to us thrill seekers.

But while most of us will never have the guts to try a ski jump or snowboard a half pipe – there is one Olympic sport that you CAN experience…and it’s one HELL of a ride, too! 

And the best part – you don’t have to travel all the way to Sochi, or even Vancouver to experience this thrill ride – it’s just a short flight away, in Park City, Utah!

Preparing for the 80 MPH thrill ride that is “The Comet” at Utah Olympic Park.

The first part of the experience is in the classroom – that’s where you’ll learn about the course, the sled and safety concerns – and there are many of them. The most notable of which – is how to react if the sled flips. Officials said it doesn’t happen often – but it DOES happen. Even with an experienced pilot at the helm – it’s still a risky sport:

Participants of this thrill ride are warned several times, that a flip is a real possibility.

Participants of this thrill ride are warned several times, that a flip like this is a real possibility.

Despite what it looks like on TV, the ride is rough…VERY rough – and puts an incredible strain on your body. In some instances, g-forces reach between 5.0 – 6.0 G in an instant as you enter the turns. So, if you weigh 200 lbs, like me – that means you feel like you weigh 1200 pounds in an instant. People with heart, neck or back issues – need not apply.

This may look like fun (and it is once or twice), but it’s an incredible amount of work to steer these bullets on ice – while concentrating though incredible g-forces…these folks are TRUE athletes to be able to make multiple runs in the sleds each and every day!

Ironically, the “bobsled” coaster (built by Intamin of Switzerland) was a mainstay of many parks. Even before Intamin was created, “Flying Turns,” made of wood – were in many traditional parks around the country. Knoebels, a park known for taking daring risks to preserve ride history – recently debuted their “Flying Turns” – a wooden bobsled coaster that MET modern safety regulations and codes.

Of course, there’s also the “de facto” bobsled coaster – the Matterhorn at Disneyland…

The Intamin Bobsled coaster saw a surge in popularity in the 1960's through the 1980's.

The Intamin Bobsled coaster saw a surge in popularity in the 1960’s through the 1980’s.

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Flying turns were found at many parks – and saw a resurgence when Intamin began to market steel, less maintenance-heavy versions in the 1970’s.

Even more ironic – the bobsled is directly responsible for the development and impetus for the roller coaster. As far back as 1650, there are documented reports of Russian ice slides, which eventually added wheels to allow for year-round operation. (Except in Siberia). Eventually, hills and loops were added – and the modern roller coaster was born. 

But, back to the present day – while Knoebel’s was able to bring back the tradition of the wooden “Flying Turns,” and Intamin had their bobsled coasters – they certainly don’t come close to the 80 mph top speed – but with that being said – they’re still definitely worth a trip to experience. 

There is no way to describe the rush of reaching down a pipe at nearly 80 mph, except to say, "Wow!"

There is no way to describe the rush of screaming down a frozen pipe at nearly 80 mph, except to say, “Wow!”

That being said – there is ONE thing about the Comet that puts off many people – the price. A single plunge will cost you $199. But, for the true thrill seeker, it’s a worthy investment to say you rode (barreled) down an Olympic bobsled run at 80 mph…on blades and ice. (If you visit in the summer, they still run the sled, albeit on concrete and with wheels – at a slower 70 mph.

So while you watch the bobsleds scream through the Olympic course these next few weeks – grab a ticket on the Comet – and experience it for yourself!

Special thanks to Great American Thrills® friend, Lydia LaPutka for allowing me to experience this once-in-a-lifetime thrill!


What are YOU thankful for this Thanksgiving?

There are many things us coaster and park fans should be thankful for this holiday season, so I’ve attempted to narrow it down to the top five:

5.) A stabilized, improving U.S. economy:

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The economy always dictates just how much “fun” we can have…

While the economy continues to trudge around, improving slowly – we’re starting to see parks re-invest in themselves once again, with larger, more ornate attractions. While it’s true – you can’t (and shouldn’t) add a coaster each and every year – it’s great to see parks and chains aren’t scared off to build by credit crunches, slumping attendance or instability in the market.

Speaking of re-investment…

4.) The remarkable turnaround of California’s Great America:

Carousel Columbia at California's Great America. Photo (c) copyright 2013 - Great American Thrills and Kris Rowberry

Still the tallest carousel in the world, Carousel Columbia makes for a stunning subject at night. Photo by Kris Rowberry, all rights reserved.

If you were to tell me five years ago that California’s Great America would still be open, let alone THRIVING in this new decade, I would have probably wagered a hefty sum against you. But, here we are in the ‘teens, and I couldn’t be happier to be wrong.

What once appeared to be a contentious relationship between Cedar Fair, the City of Santa Clara and the San Francisco 49ers (and subsequent de-investment in the park) finally improved. Even a minor spat over noise levels this past summer with neighbors couldn’t derail this parks’ epic climb back from it’s dark abyss of only a few years ago.

I have a confession to make: I have always had a soft spot for this park – my family took me there every summer for my Grandma’s company picnic. I unlocked my love of the thrill ride on a fateful launch of the Tidal Wave there in 1993 – to see a place I grew up in becoming healthy again; it should warm the soul of any long-time south bay resident.

For the first time in many years, the park has personnel in positions of power, who truly care about the direction of park and more importantly, what it means to the local community (and economy). From new paint and roofs, the return of themed park sound, upgraded shows and a truly stunning Haunt presentation – CGA has shown it’s fans and employees not only what it wants to be, but what it CAN be.

3.) The movement back to lap bars

Coaster Expert Kris Rowberry gets his thrill on

Getting my thrill on with the lap bar only “Superman: Ultimate Flight” at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, park fans saw an incredible amount of new inversions and combinations of ways to throw yourself upside down. However, it came at a caveat – riders had to be locked into restrictive OTSR (over the shoulder restraints).

But towards the latter end of the 1990’s, the industry began a switch – away from the sometimes painful “headbanging” OTSR restraints and into more advanced, sculpted lap bar restraints.

By immobilizing the entire leg – designers could now perform aerial stunts once thought unheard of without OTSR’s – and our heads and chests are still thanking designers for it!

2.) “@FakeThemePark” on Twitter

CaptureTweets

Let’s face it – we all need a good laugh every now and then. This Twitter account does it’s best to pretend to be a an actual park, but with situations that would make any good park spokesperson have a heart attack.

1.) Camaraderie amongst park fans:

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Hanging out with “The Coaster Guy” at California’s Great America – best time I’ve had at the park in AGES! Photo by: The Coaster Guy

Despite the efforts of an isolated few in the amusement park fan community – I’ve found that our common love of parks and rides (not affiliation to specific sites) is still what bonds us together…and that the bond is stronger than ever.

After more than a year of working on growing this brand, I’ve been blessed to meet so many new acquaintances that I now can call friends. And isn’t that the point of having a hobby…to meet others that also share in your interests, and to in turn enjoy that hobby with them?

That is the sign of a true enthusiast community – and the mark of a thriving one. So when you sit down and enjoy your turkey and gravy with friends and family – know we’ve got a ton to be thankful for this year and for the upcoming year as well!


Superman – Ultimate Flight Outfitted with Seatbelts

The train of Superman – Ultimate Flight at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom has been modified while the park was closed this past week.

The single train of 12 passengers now includes seat belts as well as upgraded, metal side guards. Originally the ride included only plastic guards along the sides of the seats, however, they were continually broken due to guests leaning on them in order to enter the train.

Riders on Superman - Ultimate Flight will be greeted by an additional restraint the next time they ride. IN addition, they are being asked NOT to lower their restraints. Photo by CGA Insider, Billy D'Anjou. Used with permission.

Riders on Superman – Ultimate Flight will be greeted by an additional restraint the next time they ride, and are asked not to lower their own restraints. Photo by CGA Insider, Billy D’Anjou. Used with permission.

Superman Train Modifications, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Metal, more resilient side guards have also been installed on Superman’s trains. The old ones were plastic and broke easily. Photo shared by CGA Insider, Billy D’Anjou. Used with permission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to riders on the coaster this weekend, the seatbelts have made the ride uncomfortable, with a “pinching” effect on the vertical drop.

Seatbelts seem to be the “new norm” on coasters across the country, in addition to the ubiquitous lap bar roller coaster restraint. It would appear the “dual restraint system” is here to stay – especially with the ride in litigation against parks in recent years. We shall see if it affects operations as the year goes on. (Superman’s crews are traditionally the most efficient in the park due to the single train design of the ride).

As for the side guards – these should prove to be much better and resilient than the plastic ones that debuted with the ride in mid-2012. These trains are not the easiest to get into our out of – so a more solid place to lean on will be a welcome addition!

Thanks to our site partner, CGA Insider (Billy D’Anjou) for the photos – you can visit his page at: au13watch.blogspot.com


“Lost Parks” – Preserving History One Park at a Time

Part of the fun of doing the “Lost Parks” series, is knowing that we’re preserving history on film. That being said, we certainly didn’t think we were *THIS* close to losing one of our recent shoot locations:

http://www.scottsvalley.org/downloads/council/2013/11-20-13.Agenda.pdf

According to the latest Scotts Valley City Council meeting, the permit for building houses on the former Santa’s Village site has been changed – to add a demolition permit for the Polo barn (the last piece of the park still standing). 

The Polo Barn also holds an incredible secret – we won’t give it away – but you should definitely check out our Santa’s Village episode when it debuts next month!

The Polo Barn, which dates back to the 1930's - and is the last piece of Santa's Village still standing - is now scheduled for demolition as soon as possible, according to the latest City Council minutes. Photo by ACE NorCal - used with permission.

The Polo Barn, which dates back to the 1930’s – and is the last piece of Santa’s Village still standing – is now scheduled for demolition as soon as possible, according to the latest Scotts Valley City Council minutes. Photo by ACE NorCal – used with permission.

Apparently, they’re okay with demolishing a historic (albeit in rough shape) landmark in the process. Alternative plans include razing the building and building a replica, or having Lennar Homes (the developer) pay a one lump sum to the city in the amount of $1 million to allow to, “demolish and forget it.”

Thankfully, the Santa’s Village episode was able to capture this soon-to-be-gone structure – so it will be preserved foreever, despite the roar of the bulldozers.


Guiding “The Coaster Guy” around California’s Great America

Recently, I had the pleasure to give a “Grand Tour” of California’s Great America to “The Coaster Guy.” Kurt runs a very in-depth site that focuses on his home park, Six Flags Magic Mountain – but also covers other parks that he visits in his travels.

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Photo by The Coaster Guy – used with permission.

If you’ve never been to his site, I HIGHLY recommend taking a few minutes to go over there and peruse it.  It’s always great to meet up with like-minded enthusiasts – and especially ones who share the same passion for parks that I do. I just hope I didn’t make him completely sick showing him all the intense flat rides at the park!

Kurt, I promise that I’ll make it out to Magic Mountain – and look forward to a “smooth” free fall on Drop of Doom!

For more information or to see the Great America update, visit: www.theCoasterGuy.com


Renewing a Classic Coaster

Fans of classic roller coaster designs rejoice – one of the original looping coasters has received a new lease on life.

If you’re a hardcore roller coaster fan – you should instantly recognize the the motion being mimicked in this commercial – for the uninitiated, it’s the famous profile and movements of the Schwarzkopf Shuttle Loop.

Sadly, only half of the installations of this compact, but thrilling ride remain in the world today. The one we’ll be focusing on resides at Walibi World in Belgium.

The ride, originally called “Turbine,” had been closed since 2008, when parts simply ran out to repair the ride. (Schwarzkopf went under well over a decade ago). But the park had an idea – they contacted current coaster manufacturer Gerstlauer and asked, “Could you modernize the launch system on ‘Turbine’ to make it faster, more reliable and cheaper to operate?”

Turns out they could!

With a newer, more reliable launching system, utilizing all of the original track, mind you – Walibi went a step further, by giving the attraction an entirely new theme and completely enclosing the ride’s track. “Turbine” would enter the new millennium with a modern, linear induction launch system and be re-born as “Psyké Underground,” a dance club themed coaster.

Now at first thought,  the theme might be a bit too much – a bit “over hip,” if you will. But after seeing the effects and how they work in tandem with the storyline of the ride – well, it WORKS!

For fans of this type of ride (and you know who you are), you’ll also be happy to know the ride still goes “all the way” up the back spike as well.

With the success of this transformation, my attention turns to another classic shuttle loop that has cheated the wrecking ball several times: “Montezooma’s Revenge” at Knott’s Berry Farm.

Because Schwarzkopf went out of business in the mid-1990’s, many of the parts for the ride have become scarce or must be manufactured in-house at enormous expense. When the clutch for the flywheel system burned out in the mid-2000s, many fans wondered if the ride would simply be removed, because of the lack of available parts.

With the recent closure of “Greezed Lightning” at Kentucky Kingdom, many of the parts and indeed the train from that ride (which itself was a combination of the original “Tidal Wave” weight drop shuttle loops from the two Marriott’s Great America parks) were purchased and shipped to Knott’s earlier this year to assist in keeping “Monte,” as it’s affectionately known, up and running.

Built in 1978, it’s the last flywheel shuttle loop of it’s kind in the United States, and one of only TWO left operating in North America).

“Montezooma’s Revenge” at Knott’s Berry Farm utilizes a flywheel clutch launch system – the very same system that Walibi World replaced on “Turbine” with more powerful and modern linear induction motors.

A modification and modernization such as the one done to “Psyké Underground” in Belgium not only could keep the ride around for many more years, but could also significantly lower overall operating costs. No need to enclose the ride – though it would certainly make for a different riding experience with those strobe lights in a tube!

Now, I know, it’s not the “classic” launch system…but to me – it’s still the same ride if the track layout and design isn’t modified. The renovation done at Walibi World just goes to show, that a brilliant design, no matter the age, will ALWAYS stand the test of time!

And for those who are fans of the bouncy, modern dance soundtrack for the ride, you can find it here and on iTunes:


Happy Friday the 13th!

Got a case of trixadexaphobia? (Fear of the number 13?)

Better take a pass on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, found at several Disney parks. Just a perfect theme for a free fall ride.

Photo by Great American Thrills (Kris Rowberry)

Tower of Terror at the Disneyland Resort

Fun fact: For many years during it’s development, the ride was going to utilize the original Intamin “first generation” free fall technology:

Photo from TowerofTerror.org

Photo from TowerofTerror.org

Photo by Great American Thrills (Kris Rowberry)

You can see how the “L” shape of the freefall would fit perfectly in the design of the original concept art.

I hear the wait time is low today, too…

…only 13 minutes according to MouseWait!


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Photo of the Day: Gold Striker at California’s Great America

After many years of becoming a park known for REMOVING rides rather than ADDING them, California’s Great America in Santa Clara, CA made a major statement this year with the addition of Gold Striker. Billed as the tallest, fastest (and certainly most intense) coaster in Northern California, Gold Striker is easily one of the top five wooden coasters I’ve ever had the privilege of riding – and should be under consideration for the Top Ten in the United States.

Despite some minor setbacks and delays in opening, mostly due to ongoing noise abatement issues – the ride is now roaring every operating day, to delighted and packed crowds.

A winner all around, this coaster is seen by many as the catalyst for revival at California’s Great America – and fans are loving every moment of it. But don’t take my word for it – check out Westcoaster’s recent review.

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Big thanks goes out to my friends at BorrowLenses for allowing me to capture such beautiful photos with their gear.

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Photo of the Day: Batman – the Dark Knight at Six Flags New England

There’s nothing like a custom roller coaster layout to get an enthusiast excited. Batman: The Dark Knight is a custom designed B&M “floorless” coaster.

You got to love the facial expressions I find in these shots! Always a delight when I’m post processing these types of photos.

Batman: The Dark Knight at Six Flags New England. Photo (c) 2013 Kris Rowberry and Great American Thrills

Big thanks goes out to my friends at BorrowLenses for allowing me to capture such beautiful photos with their gear.

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Photo of the Day: Bizarro at Six Flags New England

Bizzaro at Six Flags New England. Photo (c) 2013, Great American Thrills and Kris Rowberry

Originally called Riverside Park, Six Flags New England is by definition the oldest in the chain (opened in 1840) – however, it has only been a Six Flags branded park since 1999.

One of the first major attractions added was Superman: Ride of Steel. The ride was recently re-themed to Bizzaro, complete with mist, sound and lighting effects (That weren’t on during my visit – which wasn’t a bad thing, actually.)

This coaster has won several Golden Tickets (Five in total) – and it’s easy to see why – this turn has become the de-facto “photo” of SFNE and was even featured in an episode of Family Guy! (See below)

Bizzaro at Six Flags New England. Photo (c) 2013, Great American Thrills and Kris Rowberry

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Big thanks goes out to my friends at BorrowLenses for allowing me to capture such beautiful photos with their gear.

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Photo of the Day: Honolulu Halfpipe at Waterworld Concord

Honolulu Halfpipe at Waterworld Concord. Photo (c) 2013 Great american Thrills and Kris Rowberry

Whenever I’m walking around a park, I’ve always got my camera ready – just in case an opportunity presents itself. Of course, at a waterpark it tends to be a bit more difficult. Not only do you have to worry about the water hitting your camera, but you’ve also got to be careful not to look like a total creep taking photos of half naked people. (Unless that’s what you’re doing, in which case please stand out so security can escort you out).

Thankfully, I didn’t have to worry about that second part when I took this shot – I was working for the park at the time and in full uniform, too. “Honolulu Halfpipe” sends riders sloshing back and forth until they stop at the bottom – and simply step out to the side of the half-pipe. Great for the quick shot of “airtime,” too!

Honolulu Halfpipe at Waterworld Concord. Photo (c) 2013 Great american Thrills and Kris Rowberry

Thanks to my friends at BorrowLenses for allowing me to capture such beautiful photos with their gear.

Interested in purchasing / using some of my photos? Check out my 500px: http://500px.com/GreatAmericanThrills

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Photo of the Day: Tatsu at Six Flags Magic Mountain

Tatsu at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Photo (c) 2013 Great american Thrills and Kris Rowberry

When you build a ride at Six Flags Magic Mountain, there’s an expectation that it has to be bigger and badder than the rest. Tatsu is definitely one of those coasters.

Built on the top of the large hill that defines the park, Tatsu is easily the most intense flying coaster built by Bolliger and Mabillard. I dare you to find a better lift on a ride – as you climb, the terrain falls below you, giving the illusion of rising much faster than you actually are!

Tatsu at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Photo (c) 2013 Great american Thrills and Kris Rowberry

When it opened, Tatsu featured the largest inversion on a flying coaster – the VERY intense “pretzel loop” element.

As always, a big thanks to my friends at BorrowLenses for allowing me to capture such beautiful photos with their gear.

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Superman: Ultimate Flight – Rider Reactions

Great American Thrills was invited out to sample the BRAND NEW thrill ride at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom – Superman, Ultimate Flight!

As you can tell from the uncontrollable laughing at the end – it’s that much fun, folks! Get out to Vallejo (probably really early to avoid the line) and get on this coaster!


Behind the Scenes Hard Hat Tour

Sorry for the delays in getting things up recently – work does tend to take priority over this, sadly.

Nonethless, we have some exciting news!

Earlier this week, I was invited out to take a hard hat tour of the new Superman: Ultimate Flight roller coaster being completed at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. This one-of-a-kind LSM powered coaster (Linear Syncronous Motor, we’ll go into differences about technical stuff in a later post) will propel riders 15o feet in the air at speeds up to 63 m.p.h. through VERY tight clearances between the track and supports.

Did I mention that the only thing holding you in will be a LAP BAR?!? Don’t you just love how technology has progressed?

Here’s the video we made while we were out there – enjoy!

Superman: Ultimate Escape  – Behind the Scenes Hard Hat Tour


V2: Vertical Velocity

Our latest segment, on everyone’s favorite meshing of electricity and mangnetism. Ladies and Gentlemen, Vertical Velocity:

Our apologies for the poor audio quality – we’re saving up our allowances for some real a/v equipment!

Enjoy!