Financial Times takes a ride

Thursday, June 26, 2003 6:31 AM
The Financial Times is looking to do a story on the science of roller coasters. They want to know what coaster enthusiasts think about some of the newest innovations, like linear induction motors and what the limit is the human body can take on a coaster ride without being ripped to shreds or to throwing up etc. They need some good quotes from experienced thrill seekers. Any good stories from coaster adventures around the world are welcomed.

From your friendly FT journalist, Jon.

Thursday, June 26, 2003 8:52 AM
I love linear induction, launch coasters. They are truly an awesome experience. They provide a thrill and a rush each and every time. I also like how coasters like Volcano at King's Dominion has two sets of linear induction infused into the ride. Cedar Points Top Thrill Dragster is perhaps the newest, biggest, etc but it actually is a catapult When I rode that it was almost too much. The ride goes so fast and twists you going up and coming back down that you barely have time to comprehend that you are 420 feet above the ground. The ride is 17 seconds. It was fun, but I wanted to experience being up that high and if you blink you miss it.

It seems that coasters are going toward a more extreme edge and becoming too high-tech. I just want to ride a good ride, but nowadays they have to be the biggest, fasest, etc.

I hesitate to ride coasters with too many loops. I don't enjoy that. Also, Titan at Six Flags Over Texas has some of the most intense and tight turns I have ever experienced. I have ridden close to 300 coasters and I saw stars on this one. I almost blacked out. That never happened to me before. I went on it again, just to see maybe it was me, but it happened again; that I did not enjoy.

I think the human body can take a lot and I keep getting in line for these coasters, so I don't know what the limit truly is. I do know that on Top Thrill Dragster you not only get a thrilling ride you get a free face lift as well. Going from 0-120 mph in three seconds your skin gets peeled back pretty far.

In the future parks are going to have guests sign legal waivers to ride these rides or issue oxygen tanks and masks if they get any higher.

As it was said in Field of Dreams, "If you build it they will come" and they keep building and I keep going.

Monday, June 30, 2003 11:34 AM
I think the innovations of the last decade have both enhanced and hindered the amusement industry. High tech improvements and features like LIM and catapult launches have added a new thrill and rides are breaking records at every turn. The question I ask myself at each new opening is, "is it a better ride".

The innovations of the last 3 or 4 years have produced coasters that I would categorize more as "extreme thrill rides" than roller coasters. Looking at the new Top Thrill Dragster, I found myself thrilled with the sensations it created, but overall, disappointed with the ride. It seems that as parks attempt to outdo one another, it is really the rider, or more succinctly. the coaster enthusiast that is losing out. Top Thrill Dragster has a spectacular launch, a huge hill, and tremendous speed, yet, in the blink of an eye, it is over. These contraptions are creating huge bursts of energy that are ultimately wasted.

The "coasting" of the ride is being lost. I love a huge lift hill. I'll even go along with a LIM launch. I only require that I get to experience the thrill of that energy propelling me along a well and uniquelydesigned track. A wonderful example of a modern coaster creating a grand overall experience is California Screamin at Disney's California Adventure. It has a LIM launch for sheer exhilaration, a chain lift to produce those jitters of anticipation, an inversion to disorient the rider and a track design that delivers wonderful airtime - all to a musical soundtrack.

I am a rider who prefers wooden coasters. As time marches on, we find that wooden coasters are hailed as classics and must rides, while steel coasters become "outdated" and "boring". With the exception of highly themed coasters like Space Mountain or Matterhorn Bobsleds, few old steel coasters survive the test of time. Kind of like listening to music of Human League in 2003. It's time and element has passed.

I think the continued race to create bigger and faster has now all but eliminated the rider from the equation. I would prefer a long moderate ride to waiting three hours for 17 seconds of any extreme. I also find that the extremes are getting out of hand. As the previous poster acknowledged, Titan at Six Flags Over Texas is a coaster that nearly every rider will tell you produces gray-outs. Intense g-forces designed to nearly incapacitate the rider. These are sensations and descriptions that I think exceed reasonable. There is a point where you reach "too much". The trouble is that the public assumes anything that is built and open must there fore be safe.

I've did enough inversions in my life, when they were new and exciting, to never need to do another again. Personally, I think they are overrated and nausea-inducing. A look at Drachenfire at Busch Gardens Williamsburg bears that out. Busch Gardens has always produced high quality rides. Drachenfire was just too much and lasted a brief period before being shutdown.

I still prefer a wooden coaster. I can only thgink of two coasters that I would rather ride than a woodie: Superman: Ride of Steel at Six Flags New England and Phantom's Revenge at Kennywood. They use the excesses permitted by constructing with steel to create traditional out and back coasters that mimick the best of wooden coasters in BIG ways. I can't fathom how an organization like Cedar Point could invest $25M in a coaster (Top Thrill Dragster) that creates a ride 17 seconds long and generates lines that are hundreds of times longerthan the ride. Greed is surpassing amusement in the amusement industry.


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