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Coaster mavens in their wheelhouse at Expo
Big reveals at annual IAAPA event
Greetings from the IAAPA Expo. The massive event, which gathers virtually everybody from the global parks and attractions industry at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, is a sight to behold and something to which I always look forward. Among the highlights of Expo are the ride reveals and press conferences that parks and ride manufacturers present. This year’s event has some doozies.
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Perhaps the dooziest and most anticipated reveal was the Lightning vehicle from Zamperla that will be used on Top Thrill 2, the revamp of Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point in Ohio. The huge lead car has a prominent, dragster-like nose. But its most noteworthy feature–jaw-dropping really–are the insanely large road wheels that will run atop the ride’s track. Measuring about 21 inches in diameter, the monstrous aluminum wheels are designed to help dissipate the considerable heat that the train will generate as it rockets forwards and backwards at a top speed of 120 mph.
Intamin and Six Flags Qiddiya lifted the veil on the lead car from Falcon’s Flight, the almost unfathomable, record-breaking coaster (600 feet tall, 155 mph, over 13,000 feet long) that will be the star attraction at the Saudi Arabian park. Each car will include a windshield to protect passengers’ eyes from the desert sand and other particles that will come whipping at them as they reach the speed of a jet at takeoff.
Learned at the Expo: Falcon’s Flight will drop off the edge of a 600-foot-tall cliff and head nearly straight down. Gravity will accelerate the train to about 100 mph; near the bottom of the drop, LSM motors will engage and goose it to 155 mph. Yowsa!
A few years ago, ride manufacturer S&S Worldwide announced the concept of the Axis coaster. At this year’s Expo, it revealed one of the cars from the world’s first Axis coaster, which will be going to a Transformers-themed entertainment center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. See that purple hub at the back of the car in the photo above? It will allow the car to spin horizontally on the X axis. The company says that the hub will have a magnetic fin and that the track geometry will create the rotating movements. The spinning will be minimal (read: not nausea-inducing), but it will create a unique flying and floating coaster experience. Wild! Similar coasters will be installed at two additional Transformers entertainment centers in Saudi Arabia.
Rocky Mountain Construction and Silver Dollar City took the wraps off of the lead car of the new Fire in the Hole coaster coming to the park next year. Befitting SDC’s 1880s vibe, it was presented as a “pumper wagon.” But make no mistake about it; it is a modern ride vehicle embedded with onboard audio that will ride the rails of a modified version of RMC’s I-Box track.
Vekoma and Holiday World revealed two impossibly cute Good Gravy! cars at the Expo. The family boomerang coaster will have playful Thanksgiving themeing. Check out the gravy dripping from the front of the lead gravy bowl car in the photo above. The rear car has a handle in the back–you know, to pour the gravy.
A ferocious looking predator adorns the lead car of Bobcat, the wooden family coaster coming to Six Flags Great Escape in New York. Note the unique horizontal restraints of the Timberliner trains from The Gravity Group. According to the ride company, the coaster will be the first all-new ride to entirely feature its precut track.
It’s not all coaster cars on the IAAPA show floor. Case in point: A delightful Mr. Krabs animatronic character engaged attendees in front of the Sally Dark Rides booth. The figure will adorn SpongeBob’s Crazy Carnival Ride coming to the Adventuredome amusement park at Circus Circus on the Las Vegas Strip. The interactive attraction will include 15 scenes that will feature robotic characters, practical sets, effects, and digital multimedia screens. It is expected to open in the first quarter of 2024.
Do the ride reveals get you excited for the 2024 season? Does anything especially catch your eye?