Cover story

Hoosier Hurricane at Indian Beach (Monticello, Indiana) for the now defunct Custom Coasters, and with 40 years of experience in the amusement history between them, Clair and Mike launched GCI.

In 1996 it launched its first design – Hersheypark’s Wildcat. The ride contained many of the elements that would become GCI’s signature including the tight sweeping curves that paid homage to the coaster designers of the early 1900’s, such as Harry Traver. Next came a revolution for the modern wooden coaster industry: their Millenium Flyer trains. GCI spent much of 1998 designing the trains and debuted them in 1999 on Roar (later renamed Joker) at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. The design of the trains truly allowed GCI to take their twister wooden roller coasters to the next level.

That next level received unparalleled international attention and critical acclaim with the debut of GCI’s Thunderhead at Dollywood (Pigeonforge, Tennesee) in 2004. The wild ride was the first coaster to feature a station flyby and was named ‘Best New Wood Coaster’ in the 2005 Coaster’s Choice Award. It went on to win ‘Best Wooden Coaster’ for two consecutive years rat the Golden Ticket Awards (2006, 2007).

The next phase

2005 saw Mike retire and hand the title of GCI’s lead designer to Jeff Pike. Pike’s first coaster as lead designer, the Kentucky Rumbler at Beech Bend, Kentucky, continued the company’s traditions of quality,

Great Clients

GCI’s client list includes… Alton Towers Arnolds Park

Attractiepark Toverland Beech Bend Boomers

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Busch Gardens Williamsburg California’s Great America Canobie Lake Park Carowinds

Celebration City

John Arie Jr. (left) with his father, Funspot founder John Arie, Sr.

Speaking exclusively to Park World editor Becci Knowles, John Arie Jr, chief executive officer, Fun Spot America Theme Parks said: “We are proud to partner with GCI on the new Titan Track. That part of the track is as smooth as glass and lightning fast!! Clair and his team did a great job engineering this new type of track. I am so impressed with how strong it is and I see no maintenance necessary in the future. Good job GCI, you have a winner!”

reliability, smoothness, and comfort in design, as well as maintaining the curved first drop it had become known for.

The accolades continued with both The Prowler at Worlds of Fun (Kansas City, Missouri) and Mystic Timbers at Kings Island (Kings Mills, Ohio) taking home Golden Ticket Awards for ‘Best New Ride’ upon debut, while many of the company’s refurbishments also opened to rave reviews.

In 2018, GCI hit the headlines again when Wicker Man, the first wooden roller coaster to be built in the UK for 21 years opened to worldwide, critical acclaim at Alton Towers.

Now with the introduction of the Titan Track, GCI begins another exciting chapter.

Clementon Amusement Park Dollywood

Dutch Wonderland Efteling

Erlebnispark Forellenhof Plohn Europa-Park

Farup Sommerland Fun Spot America Happy Valley Chengdu Happy Valley Chongqing HersehyPark Holiday World Indiana Beach Kings Island Knight Valley Knoebels

Knott’s Berry Farm Lagoon

Lake Compounce Legoland Florida

Luna Park at Coney Island Magic Springs & Crystal Falls Michigan’s Adventure Morey’s Pier

Parque Warner Madrid Playland Park

Plopsaland De Panne PortAventura PowerPark

Sea World San Antonio Six Flags America

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Six Flags Magic Mountains Six Flags St. Louis Terra Mitica TusenFryd Valleyfair!

Walibi Holland Walygator Parc Wanda

Wild Adventures Worlds of Fun

Did you know? For its wooden coasters, GCI primarily uses Southern Yellow Pine harvested from renewable forests.

WINTER PART 1 2021 23

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