Yes, you are not dreaming. I'm back, and the website is going to look a lot different very soon. The format is going to be similar, but we're focusing on a lot less minuscule features so that I don't become overwhelmed with updates, and abandon the project again. You probably won't see daily updates anymore. You'll probably also see many new features that you weren't expecting. But it's all for the best when it comes to the longevity and quality of the site.
Today we're going to focus on this year's IAAPA Expo and all the new products and cool features that the industry has to show off! Check out this tour from In The Loop showing some awesome footage of the show floor:
Great Coasters Intl
GCI has unveiled a new model of their wooden roller coasters that will be able to take steeper turns, drops, and even perform inversions. This picture doesn't show it, but GCI is also going to begin production of a new train model given the working title "Infinity Flyers". Contrary to their current Millennium Flyer trains, these will have improved steering mechanisms, and hydraulic locking lap bars which bring inversions into play.
In order to ensure smoothness and structural integrity for these new elements, they will begin to incorporate steel supports into sections of their track, as seen above on the first drop and barrel rolls.
This is interesting to me, because I know that GCI has been interested in designing a wooden coaster with inversions for at least five years now. A concept was even released for Darien Lake's Predator at that time, and while it had no visuals, GCI was the scouting company, and several of the discussed elements were indeed inversions. While for a traditional wooden coaster, theme park chains have preferred GCI to Gravity Group, Gravity Group's Timberliner trains do have the ability to go upside down, something GCI has been lacking. This model may be finally able to catch them up to RMC and Gravity Group in the modern wooden coaster race.
Here is a photo of Kennywood's new Steel Curtain trains for their record breaking ride. To many people's surprise, despite the coaster's 9 inversions, there will be lap bar restraints. The design of course is a Pittsburgh Steelers theme, and the hood of the train features the number 33, as 1933 was the year that the team debuted.
Vertical construction has already begun at the park for this massive new ride.
For a third consecutive year, Dynamic Systems will take home a Brass Ring Award for best new attraction. This system combines elements of a roller coaster, motion simulator, and "slot car" style ride system all in one.
Hidden below a faux surface is a complex electric, LSM, and coaster track drive system. A vehicle that rests above the hidden surface is on shocks that will be able to replicate moments of drifting, air time, and dueling tracks.
According to Dynamic Systems, one has already been sold and will open in 2019. It worries me a bit considering the issues they have been having with getting Ferrari World's SFX coaster up and running, but this is also a company who has helped produce show stoppers like Soarin' and Test Track. You have to also remember that projects the caliber of this have never been attempted before.
We have learned of some fantastic news from Heide Park, as they have announced that Colossos, the Intamin Prefabricated wooden coaster, will indeed be reopening for the 2019 season. Worry surrounded the theme park community, as the roller coaster was shut down last season due to extensive rail wear. A German inspection firm decided that due to unforeseen damage, the entire length of the ride would need replacement.
Due to the cost of re-tracking the entire ride being around 14 million USD, it was unknown if the park's owner, Merlin Entertainment, would be willing to shell out that kind of money on an existing coaster. To put that into perspective, that is almost the cost of an entirely new ride.
Colossos stands at 164 feet tall, making it the 5th tallest wooden roller coaster in the world. Although not many people make their way out to Germany to ride it, it is highly praised and usually ranks well in roller coaster polls. The majority of enthusiasts would not want to see a roller coaster of this model demolished, or turned into a steel hybrid for that matter.
For about a year, Merlin kept their plans for the ride a secret, and have admitted to looking at all options, such as re-tracking, re-profiling, demolition, and hybrid renovation. The first option was finally chosen as the ride receives high marks, and is the park's only traditional wooden roller coaster. The Intamin Prefab model remains rare, with only four examples of this model in operation, mainly due to construction costs, and the maintenance needed over the ride's lifespan.
The process of renovations will take an entire year, due to fabrication time and installation. Other models of this type, such as El Toro as Six Flags Great Adventure, have done re-tracking in sections over the years, to keep the ride operational, and to spread out maintenance capital.
Intamin's special track is manufactured in a factory unlike traditional wooden coasters. Instead of being built on site by hand, machines do all of the work. Track rails are precision milled and laser measured, bonded together by layers of adhesive. This method leads to more accurate transitions, and a much smoother ride experience. Installation times are also expedited, as track segments can be bolted together, much like steel roller coasters are.
The Intamin models have gone out of style because a competitor in the industry, Rocky Mountain Construction has designed a similar track design using prefabrication, but at a much cheaper cost and has more durability. Hopefully this time around, Heide Park's maintenance team will be more aware of the roller coaster's needs. They will have to do more yearly offseason maintenance in order to avoid the ride shutting down for entire operating calendars in the future.
In the end, they have made the right decision, because Colossos is of a rare breed, and could be one of the most underrated wooden roller coaster in the world, due to it low international track record.