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.
In a shocking move the other day, Sansei Technologies of Japan announced that they have purchased Vekoma. Sansei was a big name in the Asian industry for many years, before acquiring S&S Power a few years ago. Their main claims to fame are projects overseas, and some Omnimover products that they have designed for Diseny. Since then, the company has only acted as a management firm for S&S, still allowing them to operate the same way and participate in their own projects.
Now, the Sansei umbrella will operate their own manufacturing firm, S&S, and Vekoma. This is quite ironic, as it joins together the remnants of S&S's Arrow parts division with Vekoma, the company indirectly credited to the beginning of Arrow's financial issues.
Over recent years, Vekoma has undergone quite a change to their products and image in the industry. While their Boomerang and SLC models have garnered them the greatest publicity since their inception, and not necessarily in a good way, Vekoma has broadened their horizons quite a bit since then. They have worked with Disney on multiple impactful roller coaster projects, designed brand new trains and track design techniques, and have introduced new models that are beginning to receive more attention and credibility. Vekoma also nearly won the bid to construct their first hyper coaster model for Energylandia, before losing the bid to Intamin.
While Vekoma has flourished recently, and have constructed more roller coasters than any other manufacturer in the world, this deal is not necessarily a sign of financial weakness for the company. S&S was a fairly well known company for their roller coasters and tower rides before their merger. Since then, S&S has done some of their best work yet with the El Loco, Free Spin, and Tower Models. They have even shown signs of innovation with the reintroduction of Arrow's Steeplechase ride. Sansei may have also given the company a boost in the Asian market, as they have been involved with a few parks in Japan recently.
This is a really good thing for Vekoma, as they might find these successes of their own in the Asian and North American markets. With the plethora of innovative new models that they have been offering, we can only hope to see more parks jump ship and sign with Vekoma to build some of these closer to home. Keep in mind that even though they have a new owner, the day-to-day operations and dealings of the company will be left up to them.