The Beast POV - 1979 vs 2011 side-by-side

A clever Redditor posted a side-by-side comparison of front row POV footage of The Beast from pre-opening 1979 and 2011. I thought it might be interesting to share:

It's not lined up perfectly but it's pretty close. The interesting thing is The Beast 2011 seems to be faster overall than The Beast 1979. So much for the "it's too slow from all the brakes!" haters.

Still doesn't help that the ride itself has a very boring, stretched out layout filled with very little excitement. Fast or slow!

I like the ride, but well over 50% of the layout is either straightaway, brakerun or lifthill... I would *love* if Rocky Mountain would come in and make it something a bit more exciting. I would not be bothered at all if the ride was ever taken out, really. How I feel about the Beast is how I felt about it's son.

I know I will get a bit of heat for hating on the Beast... But I am just being honest. I don't see why all the rave for this ride. Even without a single trim brake I doubt it would really change my opinion either, lol.

Thanks for sharing the video though!

Last edited by SteveWoA,
delan's avatar

Steve, thou art a brave man indeed!

EDIT: well . . . . . maybe not so brave now that your initial comment was *watered down* :-)

Last edited by delan,

Well, I don't want to sound trollish or anything, which is why I edited my comment a bit! haha

Jeff's avatar

I've been saying for years that the quick magnetic brakes, if they reduce speed to the same level as the skid brakes did, made the ride have a shorter duration.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

Fun's avatar

Before everyone jumps on the bandwagon, it might be worth keeping in mind that several other factors can affect speed, such as how full the train is, current temperature, how well lubricated the track is, etc. Any of those factors can change from day to day, so these two videos may not give us a definitive answer on whether it is consistently faster now.

It should be "The Beast POV - 1979 with brakes on" as they clearly are.

I didn't ride it in 1979, but I remember a few very fast - frighteningly fast - rides on it in the 80s. It would be interesting to get insight on the Beast's operation from then, especially from a maintenance point of view.

You never knew what kind of ride you would get back then. The brakes could be on hard; the car/train you were in could have just got its brake pads replaced; time of day/humidity/weather, etc. The ride had 2 or 3 big step downs in speed from what I remember. The final big step down was around 1992 if my memory serves me correctly. I remember the ride being fairly consistent since then. The new brakes work differently but the ride is essentially the same.

It looks like the old test train was empty with a mounted camera on it. While the updated video definitely at least had at least a few people on it because you can hear them.

Definitely can notice the difference when it creeps over the lift hills fairly slowly with the empty train. I had to pause the new video a few times to keep them in line!

With the old braking system, you would have had better luck riding first thing in the morning. You might luck out with a faster ride. One visit I remember getting that 1st train of day. The long brake-shed only slightly slowed us down. When the train made it to the 2nd lift, it went up about two-thirds of the way before the dogs caught and needed pulled rest of way. Later that day, the brakes were on so hard, I didn't think we would make it onto the 2nd lift.

Another thing to keep in mind regarding the videos is the videos themselves might be running at slightly different speeds. Even a millisecond will throw it off quite a bit.

I do miss the Beast of old days. It was such an amazing ride. The ending, I think, is what still makes it a great ride. If not for that, it would be worthless.

Jerry - Magnum Fanatic
Famous Dave's- 206 restaurants - 35 states - 2 countries

Walk-Off HBP's avatar

I don't think I've ridden Beast pre-magnetic trims, and I only have a dozen or so laps on it to my name, but they're all at night. Helps make the ride seem less lifthill/straightaway/brake-run intensive. Before the first time I rode it I was sure that it was probably a little over-hyped, but I thought it was just as advertised as we pulled into the station after my first lap.

Last edited by Walk-Off HBP,

The trick was to surrender to the flow.

LostKause's avatar

I paused the video too, Cropsey. lol

My favorite ride on Beast was just after a moderate rain about a decade ago. The train slid through the course so fast. It was insane.

I absolutely loved the side-by-side comparison. Thanks for posting it.

WildStangAlex's avatar

I love the 4 bench PTCs in the older POV

"We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us."
-Joseph Campbell

I actually "made" that side-by-side. Tried to line it up so that they pitch down the first drop at the same time (thus accentuating the differences over time for the ride)... with some success.

What's worth taking with a grain of salt before launching into "the Beast is faster now!" is that the old video was presented as a test video done with the brakes on and a light train (likely not particularly warmed up/broken in either). Differences in the track aside, I especially liked the difference in the park's skyline visible as you crest the second lift hill. Quite a bit of changes made in those 22 years.


Jeff's avatar

Because the ride has two lifts, which are probably a considerable variable, I think at best you can compare the two from start to the hit of the chain dogs on the second lift. The thing I noticed when they added the mag brakes was how you'd go flying through the long brake shed. Most people noticed the sudden slowing at the end. I think that's the most striking difference in the overall ride time.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

My first rides on the Beast would have been the late 80's, so I can't judge it before then. But, other than the hard-grabbing feel of the magnetic brakes today, I don't notice too much of a difference to the ride experience. I think it's more a matter that a long duration skid brake didn't feel like the the forceful grabbing of the magnetic brakes today, so there's that misconception that the ride has been destroyed by brakes. Would it be costly to add some more magnetic fins and lower the intensity to simulate the feel of the old skid brakes?

Regardless, I'm still happy with the current version. I've finally ridden El Toro and Phoenix, and I still think that The Beast might by my favorite wooden coaster (at least going by this year's smooth, re-tracked rides). Sure El Toro and Phoenix are technically superior rides...loads of air time, forceful, never let up. But, it's becoming clear that I value terrain and environment just as much if not more than the technical aspects.

For what it is worth, I tried to do a more fair comparison (top of lift to different sections). Again note that these are approximations from the video. I will comment on some of it after showing the numbers:

2011 Beast:

First Drop (1:19 - 1:25) = 6 seconds (Total = 6 seconds)

Bottom of Second Drop (1:34) = 9 seconds (Total =15 seconds)

End of Brake Shed (1:48) = 14 seconds (Total = 29 seconds)

End of Second Tunnel (2:08) = 20 seconds (Total = 49 seconds)

Bottom of Second Lift (2:31) = 23 seconds (Total = 72 seconds)

Ramp to Helix (3:12 - 3:28) = 16 seconds

To upper helix section (3:38) = 10 seconds (26 seconds)

End of double helix (3:43) = 5 seconds (31 seconds)

Top of Rise to End of Ride (3:52) = 9 seconds (40 seconds)

Top of Lift 1 to Bottom of Lift 2 = 72 seconds

Top of Life 2 to Rise to End = 40 seconds

1979 Beast:

First Drop (1:44 - 1:50) = 6 seconds (Total = 6 seconds)

Bottom of Second Drop (1:58) = 8 seconds (Total =14 seconds)

End of Brake Shed (2:13) = 15 seconds (Total = 29 seconds)

End of Second Tunnel (2:34) = 21 seconds (Total = 50 seconds)

Bottom of Second Lift (2:59) = 25 seconds (Total = 75 seconds)

Ramp to Helix (3:46- 4:00) = 14 seconds

To upper helix section (4:10) = 10 seconds (24 seconds)

End of double helix (4:14) = 4 seconds (28 seconds)

Top of Rise to End of Ride (4:26) = 12 seconds (40 seconds)

Top of Lift 1 to Bottom of Lift 2 = 75 seconds

Top of Life 2 to Rise to End = 40 seconds

There are some things to consider:

a) 1979 Beast had 4 bench trains vs. 2011 beast with 3 bench trains

b) 1979 Beast did not have any brakes on the drop into the double helix and the skid brake on the first drop was not as long as it was during the 90's.

c) We have no idea on whether either train was empty or how many passengers were on it.

d) Also, if the 1979 video was during a test-run, it was not likely broken in and perhaps on a cold day.

In general, it seems that the 1979 run had a slower time and more losses after the mid-course brake shed. However, it was running about the same before that. The 1979 run seemed faster initially in the helix (no braking into it), but again maybe was less broken in and had more losses as it came out of the helix.

Again, these are very rough approximations and there are many factors that are unknown.

Very interesting video find. I didn't know this footage existed.

Unfortunately, this video is not a viable comparision of the "original" Beast's performance vs. current. As indicated by the description it's during testing - the crew on the track, the construction in the station area around the queue, and the lack of foilage - this is VERY early in the initial testing process of the coaster. As with every wooden coaster, the slowest the ride will ever run will be in the initial break in period. It's not uncommon for many wooden coasters of average length to gain 10 plus seconds around their course in comparison to the first runs. I don't know the numbers; but, I think it's safe to assume a ride The Beast's length lost 10+ seconds easily during the first half year of operation.

Add to this, the brakes on the first and second drops were on very heavily and the brake shed were on very strong. Plus you can hear the lack of grease on the rails in many parts. As someone who had many, many rides on The Beast throughout the 80's and into the 90's, I can tell you this video is on very slow end of the spectrum. I only rode The Beast once during 1979 and the ride wasn't any faster in MPH or circuit time that it was in the early 80's. It was certainly more forceful with lack of banking on the first turn and helix, which certainly contributed to the perception of speed.

The best real indicator of a good Beast ride has always been to gauge how far up the 2nd chain lift the train will go before catching. Both of these videos indicate heavily braked rides where the first car will catch prior to where the first "phone booth" platform is on the right side of the lift. Good Beast rides don't begin until the train passes this point before catching (all six cars). That's usually an indicator of the shed brakes being off or very weak. With the very, very rare breakless 1st, 2nd, and shed rides the entire train will shoot far past this point. If you were to get really lucky before the magnetic break age, you could get a brakeless ride with rain/sleet/snow that would really push the train up the 2nd lift. It would always seem like it was halfway up the lift; but, I suspect it was a bit short of that.

The magnetic brakes have taken a lot of the fun out of the ride. It really use to be the Forrest Gump of coasters - you never knew what you were going to get. The ride would be comprised of two parts. The first was anticipation mixed with hope. You would spend the first part of the ride filled with anticipation of what each of the brake zones would bring and hope that fate would intervene to give you a good ride. By the time you hit the brake shed, you knew what type of ride you had as you entered the second part - which was like Doctor Jekyl or Mister Hyde. Doctor Jekyl would be were you'd hit the shed and knew the ride would be very average and ordinary because the brakes were on. Mister Hyde would happen when you ripped through the shed and your hopes were fullfilled and you would get that very rare event. A brakeless Beast ride actually seemed out of control because it was so rare that your normal perception of the ride was altered. Every moment was maginfied as your conditioning of how fast and forceful the ride should be changed so much. The Beast would rope-a-dope you and then land a knockout blow occasionally when you least suspected it.

I miss the old split personality Beast. The magnetic brakes have now made the ride very predictable and it has lost something in the process.

With all that said, even a brakeless Beast ride still wouldn't compete against my modern coaster sensibilities of what a great ride should be. The Beast still has too much flat track, lack of airtime, and out of control feeling to be amoung what I consider to the the best.

I'll never forget my first ride on Millennium Force. I had finally found The Beast of steel. Fast, fun, scenic, but long and stretched out pacing. It reminded me of what I use to think of as a kid while waiting to ride the Beast - "just make it past the first hill and it isn't scary".

I never take offense when I hear people list The Beast as a personal favorite; but, I can't imagine it as one of the best rides in the world anymore.

Last edited by Coaster Rider X,

That 1979 footage looks like they were experimenting to see just how slow they could make the ride without losing a train out in the woods someplace. At two points...the mid-course brake shed, and the station approach safety looks like the train would completely stall out if those advancing wheels weren't there.

I remember Ollie Lindon *boasting* that The Beast had 1,100 feet of brakes on it. To put that into perspective, that is only 250' shorter than the entire running length of the Scooby Doo/Beastie/Fairly Odd/Woodstock coaster across the park.

The brakes on the first drop, I kind of get...and when they switched to the magnetic brakes the ride actually ran without the first drop trims for about half the season. But I never understood the brakes on the second hill. What on Earth are they supposed to be protecting? About the only candidate is the 90-degree right turn at the top of the third hill, right before the mid course brake shed. Incidentally, I kind of understand those as well, given that the ride would have been engineered based on starting from a dead stop on the block brake. But still.....

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____

Jeff's avatar

Coaster Rider X said:

As with every wooden coaster, the slowest the ride will ever run will be in the initial break in period. It's not uncommon for many wooden coasters of average length to gain 10 plus seconds around their course in comparison to the first runs.

I don't exactly agree with this. It stands to reason that the newer the ride is, the more rigid it is and less likely to lose energy from the structure and track flexing about. One might argue that the rolling stock has some break-in time, but that would occur every spring.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

mlnem4s's avatar

I just rode The Beast last night and got in a good 10 laps between 6pm-10pm. The day here in Ohio started out hot and humid, then thunderstorms rolled through dumping a ton of rain. By the time the park opened for Pride Night the temperatures had drop from high 80's to low 70's and the valley was covered with misty fog. The Beast was running like a champ; super fast and felt wildly out of control. Even with the magnetic brakes, riders were getting a bit of airtime on the second drop before the long brake shed run. The train was roaring through the concrete tunnels louder than I ever remember. The helix drop was devilishly fast and insane. It was coaster riding heaven.

I don't know of any other coaster of this caliber that still delivers the kind of thrills The Beast has after 30+ years. I literally got off every time with a huge smile on my face and was laughing from the sheer joy of the experience. Of course I would still love to see engineers find a way to remove the trims or lessen them, yet even with them I noticed people getting off after each ride with a look on their faces that I can only describe as being "What in the world did I just experience?!?!!!" When you can do that to the general public, I say you still have a winner on your hands.

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