Compact discoveries

Parks with limited space that crave a big, tall, eye-catching coaster ride, need not be

disappointed if they consider some of the low-footprint, compact options that are currently available on the market. The new family of vertical rides need not necessarily have a large

monetary layout either, as Paul Ruben finds out…


n 1911 John W. Bourke patented a Pleasure Railway, US Patent 983,119. It was an elegant but simple roller coaster, with a lift hill leading to six sections of connected U-shaped track supported by Corinthian columns. The track led riders lower and lower until they reached the end of the ride. It was never built, but it is an early example of compact

roller coasters that stack track vertically within a small footprint.

Since Bourke's idea was dismissed we have seen a

variety of small, compact roller coasters as a staple of most amusement parks. But since 1985 compact coasters have started to grow up. And up. Although they still occupy a small parcel of land, they have become taller, faster, and more thrilling. For example, Playland’s Castaway Cove amusement park

The ZacSpin made its

American debut as Green Lantern

in New Jersey will soon open Gale Force, the latest addition to a growing catalogue of vertical coasters. Gale Force is an S&S LSM Triple Launch Coaster with thrills from start to finish that will offer visitors to the Jersey Shore an exciting and unique high-powered ride experience. For those who may be considering adding a compact

vertical coaster to their park, there are a variety of choices. Instead of using traditional lift hills and layouts that wander over unused portions of the park, the new vertical rides stack track perpendicularly. The result is a compact footprint that makes them attractive to parks with limited space. Those using electro-magnetic launching allow for longer ride times travelling repeatedly over less track, lowering construction cost. The only drawback is that the trains are shorter resulting in lower capacity and they often take longer to load and unload.

Innovation The modern era of compact vertical coasters began in 1985 when Six Flags Great America introduced Z-Force, the one and only Space Diver from Intamin. It was the world's only hairpin-drop roller coaster, with six head-over-heels dives and a 540° upward spiral. It was also the only Space

32 Bourke’s Pleasure Railway

Dive coaster to ever be built. It was all packed into a relatively small area with 1,900 feet (580 m) of track stacked above each other, just like in Bourke's design. The drops were severe, producing a free-fall experience on the plunges. Fast steel switchbacks connected the turns just before trains flew into the gravity-defying upward spiral. Trains reached a maximum speed of 35 mph (56 kph). In 1988 Z-Force was moved to Six Flags Over Georgia, then moved again in 1992 to Six Flags Magic Mountain and renamed Flashback, where it operated until retirement in 2003. Over the last 30 years, Intamin has developed the most

comprehensive range of roller coasters of any manufacturer in the world. The firm considers itself to be the leader in coaster development and innovation. The ZacSpin Coaster is another space saving and eye-catching coaster from Intamin. The first ZacSpin appeared in 2007 at Linnanmaki in Finland and Terra Mitica in Spain before a larger model popped up at Sweden’s Grona Lund in 2009. The ZacSpin made its American debut in 2011 as Green Lantern: First Flight at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Built vertically on a tight footprint (125 by 41 feet or 38 by 12.5 m) , the ZacSpin fourth-dimension ball coaster typically features an 825-foot- long (251m) vertical zigzag track with cars that rotate

APRIL 2017

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