Wood: coming or going?

Monday, January 20, 2003 8:27 AM

In 1957, the Matterhorn opened at Disney Land and it was the first steel roller coaster in the world. Before that, all roller coasters were made of wood and no one had ever though of using any other substance.

After that, steel started to become much easier to build roller coasters out of. In the '70s, many steel roller coasters started using inversions, like the Corkscrew prototypes and Revolution, which had the first modern-day loop. Wooden coasters seemed to remain the same...until the year 2000.

Son of Beast, being the tallest woodie, fastest woodie, and only wooden looping coaster seemed to show that there is much more that a wooden roller coaster can do. Some may say it "shined light" on what wood can offer.

So here's the question: In your opinion, did Son of Beast show that there is much more that you can do with a wooden roller coaster? Do you think that wooden roller coasters will become even more advanced, using more inversions such as the corkscrew, barrell roll, diving loop, etc...? And do you think that there ever could be a suspended woodie, inverted, launched, verticle, or other type of layout that was only imaginable with steel?

Or do you think that steel will completely take over and rule the industry, and maybe even prevent wooden roller coasters from being built ever again?

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Cedar Point 2003, where no coaster rider has gone before...

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Monday, January 20, 2003 8:38 AM

Top Thrill Dragster said:

So here's the question: In your opinion, did Son of Beast show that there is much more that you can do with a wooden roller coaster? Do you think that wooden roller coasters will become even more advanced, using more inversions such as the corkscrew, barrell roll, diving loop, etc...? And do you think that there ever could be a suspended woodie, inverted, launched, verticle, or other type of layout that was only imaginable with steel?



SOB certainly showed what CAN be done and by doing so showed what SHOULDN'T be done. Most of the top woodies in the world are relatively short and all have PTC trains. Most taller woodies (SOB, Mean Streak, Hercules, Rattler) pale in comparison to their shorter brethren (Beast, Viper, Raven, Legend, Phoenix)

At NoCoasterCon on Saturday, someone asked Tom Rebbie of PTC if he thought there would ever be a floorless woodie. Keeping a straight face, Tom responded by asking what planet the guy was from.

I don't think we'll see steel-type elements on a woodie anytime soon and I'm thankful for that.

Mike

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Monday, January 20, 2003 8:38 AM
Steel and wood can co-exist well together.

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Woodencoaster.com

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Monday, January 20, 2003 8:38 AM
I've made mention several times before that TTD would be much more exciting if they used PTC trains for the launch. ;)

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Monday, January 20, 2003 8:41 AM
If they do (which they probably will in the future), they certainly should get rid of the kinks found in Son of Beast. I personally love the ride, but many others don't. The loop (which is typically found on steelies) is probably the best part of the ride.

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My website - Zero G Thrills

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Monday, January 20, 2003 8:45 AM
Its not possible to have a suspended woodie or a woodies w diving loops and barrel rolls, that is waaaaay to much stress put on the track. So, I can definately tell that will never happen.

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"You know its a good ride when you come into the final break run wiping tears from your eyes"-me

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Monday, January 20, 2003 8:46 AM

I don't feel that Son of Beast did much for wooden coasters. It showed the world that 200+ feet and inversions can be done on a wooden coaster, but it didn't do it very well. CCI and GCI have proven that you don't need height and length for a great wooden coaster. Woodies are far from dead. There are so many companies out there who can design and build wooden coasters that, in my opinion, a park would have to be crazy not to build one.

As for wooden coasters getting more advanced, I don't think we will ever see anything like inverted, suspended, or multi-inversion wooden coasters. We have steel to do that, and if it's not broke, why fix it? I do think, however, that there are A LOT of different elements that designers could implement on wooden coasters. Over-banked turns, vertical drops, Stengal Dives, Hammerheads, the list goes on and on. Wooden coasters ARE able to have these types of elements, it's just a matter of whether or not designers / parks want to encorporate them into a new ride.

I think that we could see a couple launched wooden coasters, if a park really wants one. If a park wants a wooden coaster, but is low on space, a launch could help fix that problem. I think that wooden coasters will be around as long as coasters are being built.

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Intelligence is a God given gift: Know how to use it.

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Monday, January 20, 2003 8:49 AM

I wouldn't be so sure, DD.

Anyway, wood will be around as long as coasters are. It's not going to disappear.

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Monday, January 20, 2003 8:50 AM

DorneyDante said:
Its not possible to have a suspended woodie or a woodies w diving loops and barrel rolls, that is waaaaay to much stress put on the track. So, I can definately tell that will never happen.



While I agree with you that we won't see multi-inversion, suspended, or inverted wooden coasters, anything is possible. You'd be amazed at the types of coasters they had way back when wood was the only material coasters where made out of.

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Intelligence is a God given gift: Know how to use it.

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Monday, January 20, 2003 8:52 AM
My opinion is that wooden coasters didn't stay the same from 1970 to 2000. There's many advancements that take place that just aren't as noticeable as a loop.
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Monday, January 20, 2003 8:59 AM

Son of Beast is not representative of the future of wooden coasters. It is a one time ride, there will probably never be another one built like it. It's impressive to look at, but is not the "end-all" wooden coaster, in fact it's nowhere close.

The future of wood is in two areas. The first is the CCI/GCI/GG woodies. They are top notch rides. GP reaction, enthusiast reaction, "poll" status, and numbers built in the last 10 years show they are king. Further refinements will continue. The second is the new Intamin designs. While they have some in common with SOB, they are different. Time will tell if they carry on.

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- "I used to be in the audio/visual club, but I was kicked out because of my views on Vietnam........and I was stealing projectors" - Homer Simpson

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Monday, January 20, 2003 9:00 AM

Matterhorn wasn't the first steel coaster, however I'll give you the benefit of the doubt for this argument that it was the first steel coaster that really popularized the type.

Son of Beast showed that you can spend a whole lot of money and cut down a whole lot of trees to build an innovative wooden coaster, but it won't necessarily be that great. I actually like the ride, but it's not quite as popular and paradigm shifting as was expected. We've seen some other tall woodies appear since but none others that try anything too out of the ordinary, like a loop or a corkscrew. Son of Beat may have killed off that likelihood by not being a good enough ride. Ironic, since most of us agree the loop is the best part, but people just aren't lining up for that ride to justify other parks making the gamble.

I'd like to see someone build a relative normal sized (120 ft or less) woodie with a loop and see how it does, this might have happened if Paramount hadn't decided they needed to break the height record. I know this was actually a project Astroworld had considered about ten years ago. It's harder to market the idea now since it wouldn't be the first and only modern wooden looper, and probably not the tallest and fastest.

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Monday, January 20, 2003 9:35 AM

On a side note, You guys all know about the baseketball court inside matterhorn mountain right? If you don't it's one heck of a good story to tell when you don't have anything else to talk about. Here's the backstory.. http://www.snopes2.com/disney/parks/matterho.asp

I'm sure some of you already knew about this and I atleast think some of you didn't.

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'out the 100Base-T, through the router, down the OC3, over the leased line, off the bridge, past the firewall......nothin' but Net.

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Monday, January 20, 2003 10:35 AM

Its not really feasible to build a wood coaster to do things that steel coasters are already doing. Steel coasters hold up better over time, require less maintenance etc.

Actually, in this day and age, wood coasters are not practical. At least wood framed coasters. I do think they are a much more attractive sight than a steel coaster (if they are painted which does not seem to be the trend anymore). But they age poorly and require replacing of the wood over time, and can end up giving some jolting rides.

I have wondered this, (purists won't agree at all), but a steel framed coaster, with steel track (that is flat like wooden track, not tubular, so it would produce a similar ride) would be a much more practical ride to be built. It would ride better and require less maintenance over time, but would still give the feel of wood. And to give the look of wood, a false wood frame could be built around the steel.

I like wood coasters best when they ride good, but thing is, they can ride great one year, and a couple years later ride like a jackhammer. I just think we are at an age where building something mechanical out of wood is not practical. The average person does not know the difference between "wood" and "steel" (gemini, which has steel tubular tracks, but most people would say its wood).

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Monday, January 20, 2003 10:59 AM
More practical? Do you know how cheaper wood is?

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'out the 100Base-T, through the router, down the OC3, over the leased line, off the bridge, past the firewall......nothin' but Net.

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Monday, January 20, 2003 11:02 AM

Except they're a hell of a lot cheaper than a steel coaster.

They're easy to build. Marvin M. Black & Sons (who erected several coasters, notably GASM at SFOG) pioneered pre-cut, pre-measured members to speed along the construction process.

Steel track, even if it was flat like laminated wood track, wouldn't give the same ride. It would be like having solid rubber tired on your car--in other words, too rough. In fact I know of at least one steel coaster whose track is less durable than your average wood coaster.

With proper treatment and preventive maintenance, wood coasters can last indefinitely and in the long run, cost about as much to maintain as your average steelie.

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Monday, January 20, 2003 11:34 AM

Fierce Pancake said:

Matterhorn wasn't the first steel coaster, however I'll give you the benefit of the doubt for this argument that it was the first steel coaster that really popularized the type.



What was the first steel coaster then?

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Intelligence is a God given gift: Know how to use it.

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Monday, January 20, 2003 2:18 PM

There was a looping coaster built as early as 1846 that had a metel loop.

http://www.ultimaterollercoaster.com/coasters/history/start/history_early.shtml

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"If you make it too smooth, it'll be like sitting in your living room."
-Bill Cobb - Designer, Texas Cyclone

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Monday, January 20, 2003 2:42 PM

Wood wil always be around....(well, as long as there are people *farming* lumber). But the wooden coasters have seen their heyday. In all likelihood, the people getting CCI's, esp. the early ones, got the last real bargains in wooden coasters. They ARE harder to market....but better to RIDE....

The real *problem* as I see it, is that most parks of size already have a couple wooden coasters, at least one. And there aren't many new parks coming around....and MOST smaller parks are struggling. The *better* small parks seem to be growing for the most park, though....HW, KG, WA...

bill, BUMMED we didn't get to go to WA this weekend for the festivities...

edit: Did Denise really think they could sell coasters *at cost* and make up for it in volume...;)

*** This post was edited by rollergator on 1/20/2003. ***

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Tuesday, January 21, 2003 1:50 AM

She only attended one day of the two day seminar 'Supply & Demand'. :)

Admittedly my wooden coaster experience is somewhat small (four woodies - two 'standard', one wild mouse and one scenic railway). But they are so much better than steel coasters!

They may beat you around a bit more than steel coasters, they can't (well shouldn't) execute twisting inversions etc. But they do take you back to the basics. The 'CI companies proved that height and speed are definitely not everything. Steel coasters seem to need height, speed or twistedness/inversions to have appeal. Wooden coasters don't. They rely on (as Dr. Lecter said) 'first instincts'. It is fear that generally makes these rides memorable - in my case, a lot more memorable than the rides that go twice the speed and are behemoth compared to the humble woodie.

The Steel coasters are more about gimicks. How many loopers do you see these days that even faintly resemble the original Schwarzkopf or Arrow rides. Even with hypercoasters - they seem to have moved on from the out-n-back style into rides that are after speed, drops, curves and airtime - not one or the other as it has previously been. Give us a decade, and I'm sure you'll look back at today's fancy B&M floorless coasters as having had there time (its just happened with the Standup).

Meanwhile, Coney Island's 75 year old Cyclone has been replicated half a dozen times. PTC is the most revered coaster train company, with over 100 years in the Amusement industry. GCI's most modern coasters and trains look right out of the 1920's.

Wooden coasters aren't going forward in basic aspects (obviously technology is making them safer, easier to maintain etc.), but they absolutely shouldn't. Wooden coasters are about basic instinctive thoughts and thrills..

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