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Park News
Drayton Manor’s M
by Paul Ruben
You Can Bank On This
Because parks try to differentiate their rollercoasters from similar
rides for marketing purposes, they often establish a new record for
height, speed, number of loops and so on. We call these bragging
rights, and I for one take them very seriously. Or as seriously as
one can for something intended primarily for entertainment. When
new bragging rights are established, we have the making of a
Roller Coaster Arms Race.
Lately parks have been getting very excited over steepness of the
first drop. Recent steel coasters have featured straight-down 90-
degree drops. Then Gerstlauer introduced its first Euro-Fighter at
Denmark's Bon Bon Land in 2003, featuring a hair-raising 97-
degree drop. After various other versions of the ride in Europe, it
then appeared in North America as the Mystery Mine at Dollywood
in 2007. The 97-degree drop was equalled in 2008 when
Hersheypark added Fahrenheit from IntaRide. The honour didn't
last long, however, as a month later Indiana Beach unveiled Steel
Hawg by S&S Worldwide with a whopping 120-degree drop. The
arms race was on! Who's next?
You might try to remind me that in
2002 S&S created the first Screamin'
Percy the engine celebrates Christmas
Squirrel. It was an outrageous new style
of ride, an inverting coaster that
included multiple 175.5-degree drops.
Three now operate, in Italy, China, and
Wedding in the Sky
Russia. But I would argue that while
these are fun rides, they are also one-
After launching Dinner in the Sky in 2006, the Belgian company Events in
trick ponies, with the same manoeuvre
the Sky has released a number of new variations on the concept. Meeting
repeated several times. They don't have
in the Sky gives companies the opportunity to organise a product
the necessary pacing of a good coaster
presentation, conference, concert or a meeting for up to 30 guests,
such as the Euro-Fighter, Fahrenheit, or
strapped into aircraft seats at 50 metres above the ground.
Steel Hawg.
Marriage in the Sky, meanwhile, offers couples the opportunity to get
But if you don't want to take the
married just as they would in church with priests, families friends and
challenge of introducing the next
witnesses …but in the clouds among the angels. In this set-up (pictured
steepest drop, here's a new idea for an
here) 10 seats are removed from the centre of the platform to create an
arms race, not that I'm a provocateur. It
aisle along which the newly married couple walks. They can then, if they
came to me about the time I was photographed after riding Steel
choose, start their new life with a bungee jump.
Hawg at Indiana Beach. Notice the lap bar? It's there for a reason.
Dinner in the Sky events have been held in over 25 countries using 20
The lap bar kept me comfortably seated during my rides on Steel
tables. New additions are expected soon in the Czech Republic, Sweden,
Hawg, even when I raced down the 120-degree drop. It became
Norway, Russia, Ukraine, Israel, India, Brazil and Chile.
more crucial moments after this drop. The third turn is banked not
inwardly, where it would transmit the g-forces through your seat,
but instead banked 45 degrees outward!
That is soooo wrong, so bizarre, so against everything they teach
you in Roller Coaster College. But taken at moderate speed it
worked, thanks to the restraints. It was jaw-dropping fun, as guests
at Flamingo Land in England will find out this summer when the
park unveils its own version of the ride, called Mumbo Jumbo.
The ideas for outward banking came from the demented mind of
coaster designer Alan Schilke, who joined S&S when it purchased
Arrow Dynamics. He brought some fresh ideas, like the head-over-
heels 4th Dimension coaster. He is so twisted. So here's the
battlefield for the new arms race – outward banking. How steep an
outward-banked angle dare you build beyond 45 degrees? 50
degrees? 90 degrees? That'll separate you from your seat, and
your heart from your throat. But first double-check the restraints,
will you? A wedding in progress
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