Monday, April 16, 2001 3:39 PM
My brothers and I departed from Springfield at about 8:45 and arrived at the park at about 9:30. One thing that makes SDC neat is that you wouldn't even know it was there if not for the signs, and despite Wildfire's height, it is not visible from eastbound Hwy. 76. After being shuttled from lot H to the gate in a school bus (I had never seen them use buses at SDC before, but maybe some of the trolley's are in the shop), we caught a few glimpses of Wildfire from the gates. After about .0001 seconds of deliberation, we headed toward Wildfire.
The scenery at SDC looked fantastic as usual, although it was odd to see Belgian’s walking around on stilts for the World Festival. After taking a jaunt down Cardiac Hill, we found the Wildfire section entrance right next to the Lumbercamp. Heading up the new paths, you walk right under the American Plunge's lift-hill towards the Wildfire station house. Hopefully Wildfire will help revive the Plunge's ridership some. The Plunge always seemed to have no ridership, even on hot days--I guess because it was buried in obscurity from the rest of the park. The paths leading over to Wildfire give a great view of the Plunge, including a new bridge over part of the ride.
My brothers and I found the queue entrance for Wildfire and jumped right in line. The queue wanders over by what looks to be either a storage place for Plunge boats, or remnants of the defunct "Searching for Old Joe Clark" ride that was converted to the Plunge in the 80s. Either way, the park has water flowing through the channel, and it gives a nice appearance of a stream. The queue then enters the station house, where the real theming begins.
The theming for this ride is the best I've seen anywhere outside of IOA. The station house is the laboratory for Dr. Horatio Harris--aeriologist and alchemist extraordinaire. As soon as you enter, you see one of the two major theming attractions--the "Wildfire Production Still." It seems as though Dr. Harris has been working on a flying machine for years, and you're going to ride his latest and greatest one--powered by a fuel he dubbed "Wildfire" (And you thought this coaster was powered by a couple of Swiss engineers). The still is a huge glass tube filled with bubbling "Wildfire" in green light. The tube has all sorts of gizmos and gadgets attached which "help" keep the "Wildfire" at the right pressure. Every now and then, the still builds up too much pressure and a few lucky guests in line get a nice surprise.
The queue line continues, with sketches of Doc Harris' various contraptions, including a rocket-powered sled and other attempts at a flying machine. You eventually come to the other major attraction of the station house--Doc's office. It's filled with all sorts of old antique junk, bottles filled with colored chemicals, and has a door to the top secret "back room." The door opens occasionally, where flashes of lightning bolts can be seen before it slams closed.
Finally, we get up to board Doc Harris’ latest contraption as it pulls into the station. These trains look slick—with a combination of teal and copper colors. The copper sections are even brushed to look like real copper, making it the best-looking rolling stock on the planet. As we boarded these bad boys, and hopped up into our seats, I noticed that this ride has the elevated/reclined seats, and your feet cannot touch the ground during the ride. And of course, Wildfire has all the boarding ease and comfort that comes standard with a B&M creation. And the ride also has one more nifty feature before departing the station: above the trains in the station are some tanks of the “Wildfire” fuel. Right before dispatch, the tanks release some “Wildfire” to make us fly; thus filling the station with vapor mist right before we leave. Extremely wicked, indeed.
Out of the station house, we make a short dip, a right 180, and hit the chain lift. Although the front seat on this ride gives a great view, the place to be is the back, as we found out at the top of the lift. The train moves off of the lift, takes a left turn, and then takes a serious dive.
I’ve been harsh on B&M in the past for some of their “lackluster” first drops. The twist and dive just doesn’t do anything for me. I guess they heard my “grumbling” (yeah, right) and decided to make Wildfire’s initial descent incredible. In the front seat, you float all the way down, giving a nice and smooth sensation. In the back, you get ripped up and out of the seat, and drop 155 glorious feet pressed against the restraints. I haven’t ridden any of the trio of beemer hypers, but right now Wildfire gets my nod for the best first drop on a coaster.
After the descent, we travel up and into the 130-foot dive loop, with some great floater air at the top. Enjoy that airtime, because the rest of the ride is fast and furious. The vertical loop then ensues, followed by the gigantic cobra roll. After that twisted metal, we make a sharp right and then get hurled into the barrel roll. Finally, the train makes a hard and intense left turn and then goes up to the brake-run, providing one last dose of airtime.
In addition to the above theming, Wildfire features a great observation deck right outside the exit with a picturesque look at the whole ride. And of course, we get funneled through a gift shop in the exit with all sorts of unique Wildfire merchandise and a photo booth, so we can always remember that descent out of the cobra roll.
How does the ride fare overall? The first drop is simply amazing, and the rest of the coaster—although admittedly short—sure packs a mighty punch while hurling you into inversion after inversion. The only thing that worried me is that there is a trim at the bottom of the first drop and another right before the cobra roll, both of which were non-functional during my visit. I hope Silver Dollar City realizes that the ride runs great like it is and chooses to leave them inactive. While I’ve ridden a few better coasters, this ride immediately cracked my top ten list and continued to grow on me during each of my 24 rides. I am so glad that we finally have some more B&M hardware in Missouri, and I think Silver Dollar City has a real winner on their hands.
As for the rest of the park, Fire in the Hole is still a fantastic dark ride and a great deal of fun. Buzzsaw Falls also gives a fun and extremely unique ride. The ride ran pretty well, but the water from the boats has definitely taken its toll on the paint, leaving the ride desperate for a new coat of tan. Thunderation remains one of Arrow’s biggest and best Mine Trains and appears to be aging fairly well for an Arrow. While Wildfire now dwarves it, Thunderation provides a great family ride a lot of fun for everyone. The Plunge and the Lost River looked a little to wet for a day in the 60-degree range, but they appeared to be running well. And as always, the SDC food is half of the fun. Where as I can’t stand to eat at most theme parks, I always enjoy eating at J.J.’s Mine or the River Side Barbeque. Add to this that SDC has the friendliest and most competent staff (they called for single riders on Wildfire for the whole day—I never saw a train leave with more than one or two empty seats) in all of theme parks, and you get a heck of a day. While SDC does not have the massive amount of coasters like some parks, I think all enthusiasts need to make a trip there sometime. You’ll really be surprised at how much fun you’ll have.
Mamba--One of the Tallest, Longest, Fastest Roller Coasters in the World
*** This post was edited by The Rentch on 4/16/2001. ***
Josh the coaster freak
Tuesday, April 17, 2001 4:04 PM
I'm glad it's gonna be something to look forward to. I'm going there with ACE in May and I can't wait. ERT on a B&M can't be beat!
What is life without ups and downs!?!?
Wednesday, April 18, 2001 11:47 AM
Wow, fantastic TR! Lots of details that whet my appetite for this short-but-sweet looking B&M. I'll take my inaugural ride on May 31 after a week long TX road trip. The funny thing is, I purchased a season pass to SDC ($47.00) and I've never been there in my life, and I live in Illinois! Wildfire looks *that* good!
Again, thanks for taking the time to compile that TR, it was a great read!
Joe, who is looking forward to Wildfire's queue now more than ever.
"Don't you hate pants?"