Launched Wooden Coaster FTW!

19 11 2008

Okay, now I really think I’ve seen it all in the world of roller coasters. Coming soon to a park near you, a launched wooden roller coaster! Okay, so maybe not next year, and I’m going to guess not even in 2010, but thanks to the Gravity Groups new Timberliner trains we could very well see launched wooden coasters in the future. Is anyone else skeptical? I sure am! I’ll come back to that point in a little bit though, as there is a lot to talk about when it comes to the new Timberliner trains which the Gravity Group announced yesterday.

The Timberliners have a lot of new and/or interesting features to take a look at, and one that I’m sure is going to have a lot of enthusiasts riding these new trains is the shock absorption that the trains are said to feature. While wooden coasters are traditionally a little on the rough side, Intamin’s prefab wooden coasters are said to have butter-smooth rides in comparison to most other wooden coasters, and even compared to Intamin’s steel coasters. That kind of smooth ride is almost scary to even think about, since I think the roughness adds to the ride experience of a ride that is supposed to be of an older style and not as refined. There are many out there, though, that will not ride wooden roller coasters because of how rough they are. Beyond the rider experience these new trains and the shock absorption should also decrease maintenance costs for the train and track. It would make sense that a smoother ride means less play and more consistent wear, instead of spots of increased wear, which could conceivably help with maintenance.

The idea of integrating sound into a wooden roller coaster train is something that is completely new to the best of my knowledge. It has been done on steel rides for at least 10 years or more now, but as far as I am aware, has not been done with a wooden coaster. More than likely this was because of how much noise wooden coasters usually produce, along with the trains not generally being design friendly to having speakers near to the riders’ head. I would guess that the smoother ride discussed above is a contributing factor to making these trains ready for on-board audio, as the new trains probably result in a quieter ride, allowing the audio to be heard at manageable levels for everyone.

There are evidently some new restraints on these trains as well, though you can’t really see anything in the “postcard” and press release from the Gravity Group. I’m hoping to get some images from the firm, but in the worst case scenario I’ll get them from a website that has a representative down at IAAPA. Apart from that, there isn’t much else in the release to talk about, but I did say I would return to the “launch capable” bit of the trains. Part of the new trains that in my mind goes hand in hand with launch capabilities is magnetic braking, which is also capable on the Timberliners. If you really think about it, both of these could be said about most PTC and Gerstlauer trains, though it would presumably take some heavy modification to pull off. The Timberliners, however, seem to be built with both launching and magnetic braking in mind. After having the chance to stare up at the underbody of Blue Streak’s trains as they rolled into the brake run when I was sitting at entrance, I am curious as to how high above the track the benches would be compared to traditional PTC trains, and how magnetic and launching hardware would affect the underbody construction. There are a whole lot of questions that are raised in my mind by the “launch capable” line in the announcement, but a few are reigned in by the thought of magnetic braking. After thinking about it some, I would guess that the “launch” we may see on future wooden coasters would be more like the LSM lift that is used on Maverick at Cedar Point, rather than a full out speed launch like on Intamin Impulse and hydraulic launch roller coasters. Still though, my mind is still balking at the idea of a launched wooden coaster, and for the time being I am lumping it in there with the looping wooden roller coaster idea.

Press Release PDF


If you read the title and expected an announcement about a wooden coaster finally featuring a launch, sorry. You’ll probably be just as disappointed when I put up the headline that Cedar Point breaks 500 feet. Until some equally interesting news pops up, or I get a response from Gravity Group, happy reading. Remember, the cake (and title) is a lie.


Terminator: The Coaster…or just another wooden coaster?

22 10 2008

Six Flags Magic Mountain announced their latest addition to the park, Terminator: The Coaster, in a rather undramatic fashion today. To try and save you some clicking, I’m going to attempt to provide you with everything that the park released today right here in this post.



Valencia, CA, October 22, 2008 /PRNewswire/ — Six Flags Magic Mountain announced today the addition in 2009 of a new wooden roller coaster to its world renowned coaster collection. Developed by the same team that produced the new X2 experience, TERMINATOR®: THE COASTER will combine innovative thrill ride technology with the signature science fiction punch of the Terminator brand. The debut is scheduled to coincide with the release of the McG directed film Terminator Salvation™ next year, and will introduce fans to an entirely new universe inspired by the film’s post apocalyptic setting. 

“Our mission at Six Flags Magic Mountain is to provide entertainment that appeals to a wide range of tastes and this specially designed wooden coaster will be a proven winner among guests of all ages,” said Jay Thomas, Six Flags Magic Mountain’s Park President. “Designed around the theme of the successful Terminator movie brand, this ride will draw thrill seekers from around the world.” 

Derek Anderson and Victor Kubicek, co-CEO’s of The Halcyon Company, credit Six Flags with taking the ride to the next level in adventure. “The combination of the universe created by the film and the setting of this ride will provide fans with an adventure that keeps the spirit of the story,” said Kubicek and Anderson jointly. 

The $10 million coaster, engineered exclusively for the Valencia theme park by Great Coasters International Inc. (GCII), TERMINATOR®: THE COASTER will feature a loading station “fly-thru,” a state-of-the-art sight and sound package, and unique queue line and on-board entertainment elements. The GCII-designed Millennium Flyer coaster trains will zip through five belly-flopping hills and six high speed banked turns over 2,850 feet of track to create a ride that delivers the acrobatic thrills of a modern roller coaster while retaining the nostalgic look and feel of a classic “woodie.” 

The Terminator franchise is a highly-successful series of science fiction films centered around battles between Skynet’s artificially intelligent machine network and John Connor’s Tech-Com forces and the rest of the human race. Since the debut of the first film in 1984, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and written and directed by Academy Award winner James Cameron, the Terminator films have grossed over one billion dollars worldwide. Terminator Salvation™ is the upcoming fourth installment to the series and is scheduled for a spring 2009 theatrical release. The Halcyon Company owns all rights to the entire Terminator franchise. As producers, Kubicek and Anderson recently wrapped production on the film, starring Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Moon Bloodgood, Bryce Dallas Howard and Helena Bonham Carter. 

TERMINATOR®: THE COASTER will be located in the northwest corner of the park, next to Déjà Vu and is slated for a spring 2009 opening. With the addition of TERMINATOR®: THE COASTER, Six Flags Magic Mountain will be home to 16 world class coasters.…hecoaster.aspx


So there you have it, the press release and official image of the ride. Sure does look like the Terminator, doesn’t it? What’s that, no, not really? Terminator? Where? Yeah, that was my reaction as well. I am, quite frankly, very puzzled. The only thing that says “Terminator” is the logo, and thank goodness they got that right at least! But really, where is Terminator? Where is the desolation, where is the robotic warfare? Where is the Terminator Theme!? I’m not even going to bother putting the video into this post and make you wait longer for it to load, because quite frankly it doesn’t show anything new or exciting from what you can see in that image right there above this paragraph. I watched it twice, hoping maybe the second time at least one thing that made me think “Terminator” would show up…but no, it was no different than the first time I watched it, nothing stuck out. 

I will, however, say that it does look like a great roller coaster that definitely has potential to be very fun and entertaining on its own. The drop looks wonderfully wicked, and I wish I could get out there to ride it. Terminator it is most certainly not, though, and they did a horrible job of showing any kind of theme in the announcement visuals. That is not something that I would consider good, or anywhere close to it. In fact, I’m going to use the ever popular EPIC FAIL for the announcement because of just how badly they did in getting the theme across.

Sorry Six Flags, but you just earned a big EPIC FAIL for your announcement. Hopefully the ride is enough to save you when it opens.