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Get shot, dropped, and spiked
New ride concepts may be coming to parks near you
In a few weeks, I’ll be heading to the IAAPA Expo, the massive annual gathering for the parks and attractions industry at which designers and manufacturers share their latest innovations. In advance of the event, a couple of companies revealed some new concepts that take existing ride systems and rejigger them in intriguing ways.
Huss Park Attractions announced Shot’N Drop Multimedia, which introduces media on a drop tower ride to create an immersive experience with a thrilling finale. The German company already offers the Shot’N Drop, a drop tower ride that it has installed at parks such as Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and Bellewaerde in Belgium. The Multimedia version that Huss is pitching would take a 50-meter (164-foot)-tall Shot’N Drop, place it inside a vertical show building, and include effects and media to send guests on journeys into space and other adventures.
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Based on a promotional video animation that the company has released, in which the attraction is themed as “Space Traveller,” 28 passengers would board the ride vehicle in a room decked out as a launching pad. As Mission Control counts down, fog enshrouds the guests, and doors open to show imagery of smoke and flames billowing from a rocket’s launch engines. The ride carriage slowly rises to simulate liftoff and enters a 28-meter (91-foot)-tall cylinder entirely wrapped with a screen that shows mountains, forests, and other earthbound vistas fading from view.
Passengers then soar above the clouds and are eventually treated to spectacular views of the Earth shimmering beneath them. At the top of the tower is a dome-shaped space with a wraparound screen and an immersive sound system in which guests stop momentarily to bask in the glow of the cosmos. But what goes up must come down. After witnessing a galactic big bang, the ride drops at 45 km/h (28 mph), bounces at the bottom, and shoots back up for a hefty jolt of airtime.
Huss says that it can customize the Shot’N Drop Multimedia with a variety of themes, media content, lighting, special effects, and ride cycles to convey different stories. Other companies have proposed marrying a drop tower ride with media. Disney pioneered the concept with The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. By using an off-the-shelf ride system, perhaps Huss can bring a Disneyesque attraction to parks that don’t have Disneyesque budgets.
Maurer Rides made quite a splash with its Spike coasters, which can be found aboard Carnival cruise ships as well as on land at parks. Using a unique rack and pinion system, in which the cars maintain traction with a gear drive, the rides aren’t technically roller coasters since they never freely coast. Regardless, they are a heckuva lotta fun, and their distinctive ride system gives passengers the ability to interact with their vehicles and control the speed.
The Maurer folks continue to tinker with the Spike coaster. Earlier this year, I reported about the Spike Fun model that the German company developed. It features seats that can tilt 45 degrees, as well as ride vehicles that can stop on a dime and launch backwards. Maurer recently announced its latest innovation, Speed Chaser. It mixes interactive gaming with the ride experience and offers parks the flexibility of using either single-car, two-seat vehicles or four-car, eight-passenger trains–or both at the same time.
As with the Spike rides on the Carnival ships, guests in the front seat of the two-passenger, motorbike-style cars on Speed Chaser could rev the handlebar-mounted throttle and hit the boost activator to accelerate at will. Or they could choose to slow the action down so that the rider in the rear seat, who would be armed with a shoot button, could score points by hitting targets mounted on the track’s light gates. Alternately, the eight passengers aboard Speed Chaser’s train wouldn’t be able to control the speed of their ride, but they would all be able to shoot at the targets and collect points. To make the experience even more intriguing, like the Spike Fun, the train’s passengers could tilt their seats 45 degrees, or the tilt feature could be preprogrammed.
Phew! That’s a lot of crazy stuff crammed onto a coaster.
“It's about providing action for everyone by combining the coaster ride with interactivity and gaming,” Torsten Schmidt, who heads up business development for Maurer, says about Speed Chaser. The enhancements are noteworthy, but the concept at the core of the Spike technology is what truly distinguishes the rides. “With the Spike motor drive, we can change the physical laws that usually apply to roller coasters and thus override gravity,” Schmidt notes.
What storylines would you want to see incorporated into a Shot’N Drop Multimedia tower ride? Do you like the idea of gamefying a roller coaster?