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Attraction Profile POLAR LAND “ Vertical drop coaster anchors Legoland’s latest land

coaster by Zierer. It too features a vertical drop section. News of the ride’s development reached Billund due to the good relations Busch Gardens owner Sea World Parks & Entertainment enjoys with Merlin (both companies recieve financial backing from Blackstone private equity). “At Alton Towers they have a hydraulic system for the drop, whereas the Zierer solution uses magnetic brakes,” notes Höhrmann. “Operationally we think this is going to be more stable, with much lower maintenance costs. So far it’s been working really well and we feel quite comfortable about it.” The team from Legoland was invited to Zierer’s premises last July to sample a test vertical drop that had been set up during construction of Busch Gardens’ ride.

“It was a very special experience to try the rollercoaster in a factory building,” remembers Höhrmann. “The drop took us completely by surprise the first time we tried it. It’s a great feeling and just right for our target audience, which was confirmed on April 29 when we had the first families riding Polar X-plorer.” Zierer’s project manager on the ride, Martin

Weichselgartner, explains how the vertical drop works: “The train enters a piece of track on a platform held in place by an electro magnet, with some additional mechanical locks for safety purposes. When fully loaded with the weight of the train, we have a load of around 20 to 22 tonnes. The platform is then released and falls 5-metres, guided by polyurethane wheels. Magnetic brakes in the lower part of the drop bring the platform to a complete stop. Once the train is sent on its way, the platform is winched back to the top ready for the next ride.” Fabrication on Polar X-plorer stared in April of last

year, with work on site beginning in September. The first pieces of steel were shipped this January, and Zierer completed commissioning (ahead of schedule) in late March, giving Legoland and its contractors enough time to finish the rest of Polar Land. “It was a very efficient co-operation with Zierer and everything worked out as it should,” notes Höhrmann. “We were very lucky this winter with just three weeks of frost, whereas the last two years were very cold with a lot of snow” – somewhat ironic given Polar Land’s theme.

Family-Friendly Whilst Polar X-plorer uses the same track and chain lift system as Zierer’s Elevated Seating Coaster, the vertical drop is an element that can be incorporated into the manufacturer’s full range of rollercoasters. At Busch Gardens Williamsburg, for example, it features as part of a much larger and longer launch coaster. “It used to be that you had kiddie rides and then you had teenager rides; there wasn’t really much in between,” notes Jeroen Nijpels, Zierer’s representative

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for Scandinavia, the Benelux, UK and Ireland. “This type of coaster can be enjoyed by relatively small kids – 1.2 metres and taller – because there are no inversions, however there are still some nice speedy elements and older kids will definitely not be disappointed either.” “Our core age group is two to 12,” states Höhrmann, “but we do have quite a number of kids coming that are between 12 and 14 years. Power Builder and X-treme Racers [a Mack Wild Mouse] were traditionally the major attractions for them, but we came to the point where we needed another coaster at the top end of the age range.” Asked if Polar X-plorer could be rolled out to other

Legoland parks, he replies: “That’s usually how we do things; we do all the development work on the first one, but the coaster can be used with other themes depending on what kind of areas they have already in the other parks.” Revamped as the Ice Pilots School, Billund’s Power Builder/Robocoaster attraction had been integrated into Polar Land and will also please the pre-teens. Its new theme has been realised in co-operation with the TV documentary series Ice Pilots, together with support from Arctic travel experts Buffalo Airways. The penguins, of course, appeal to the whole family and are the first animal inhabitants of the park, save for a selection of marine life inside the Atlantis by Sea Life aquarium. Sourced from Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland, home to one of the world’s largest Gentoo colonies and breeding programmes, the birds take up residence at Legoland in a 7-8ºC climate-controlled enclosure with large panoramic windows on three sides.


visitors found Polar X-plorer fun and wild, but it was the freefall which brought out most screams. It’s a very nice coaster actually

Henrik Höhrmann, Legoland Billund CEO

” Polar X-plorer

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