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Ride Profile
Riding Astride
Cycle coasters take off
owards the end of 2008, Pleasure Beach (1977-present), and of course the
Intamin unveiled the latest classic Steeplechase that operated for years at New
take on the concept, with York’s Coney Island (1897-1964) before being moved
an adaptation of its Family to Pirates World in Florida (1966 to 1975). What is
Launch Coaster at Sea World new and innovative about the latest collection of
on the Gold Coast in Motorbike coasters is both the absence of a chain lift,
Australia. Jet Rescue seats up as they are launched rides, and the much-improved
to 16 riders at a time on restraint systems. You can’t fall off.
replica jetski vehicles and was
opened in time for the Boxing Day holiday at this Mechanical Horses
After more than popular park in Queensland. Earlier in the year, two As we celebrate the resurgence of the sit-astride
a century of starts and stops, Zamperla MotoCoasters appeared at parks in North rollercoaster, it may be surprising to learn that the
rollercoasters in which riders America, namely Orange County Choppers concept began in England. JW Cawdry invented a
sit astride mounted seating, Motocoaster at Darien Lake in New York and Pony mechanical racecourse consisting of metal track, over
usually a horse or a Express at Knott's Berry Farm in California. which large wooden horses ran on wheels, coasting
motorbike, have finally This follows the openings of three Vekoma by gravity and climbing by momentum, imitating a
caught on with the thrill- Motorbike Launch Coasters: Booster Bike at horse race.
seeking public. Paul Ruben Toverland, Holland, in 2004, Velocity at When George Tilyou opened the 15-acre
saddles up to explore the Flamingoland, England, in 2005 and Motorbike Steeplechase Park in 1897 at Coney Island, Brooklyn,
trend Launch Coaster at Chimelong Paradise in China New York, he looked around for an attraction that
during 2006. Then there was Intamin's first motorbike- would do for him what the Shoot-the-Chutes had
themed Family Launch Coaster in 2007 at done for Paul Boyton's nearby Sea Lion Park. Since the
Dreamworld in Australia. most popular sport at the time was horse racing, he
That's seven sit-astride coasters that have appeared was excited to hear of JW Cawdry's mechanical
since they were unveiled at the November 2003 racecourse. He bought the rights to the British
IAAPA trade show, and more are planned. In addition inventor's flawed ride for $41,000, then improved it
to Intamin, Vekoma and Zamperla, Schäfer beyond recognition for the opening of Steeplechase
Amusement Technology (SAT Rides) also introduced its Park. The Steeplechase Horses, as Tilyou called the
MAIN PIC: Orange County Motorbike Coaster at the same show but it has yet to ride, soon became synonymous with Coney Island. Six
Choppers Motocoaster by Zamperla be realised. But how innovative are these rides? double-saddled mechanical horses were pulled by
at Darien Lake in New York Guests have ridden astride similar coasters in the chain lift to the top of the highest hill before taking
ABOVE: Cycle Chase at Knott’s past, rides like the Cycle Chase (1976-1979) at passengers down 1,100ft of undulating track, over a
Berry Farm, now retired Knott’s Berry Farm, the Steeplechase at Blackpool stream bed and a series of hurdles, all around the
30 FEBRUARY 2009
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