Sunday, March 11, 2018
What goes 50 mph, drops 10 stories, has a 95-foot vertical loop, a dive loop and a zero G roll and promises almost 2 minutes of screaming, laughing, heart-pumping excitement?
As far as Robb Alvey is concerned, the answer would be "Time Traveler." He hasn't even ridden the groundbreaking, $26 million Silver Dollar City roller coaster yet, but he's already sure it will meet his criteria for success: "That was crazy! And I can't wait to ride it again."
Time Traveler, which the Branson theme park expects will open during its "Spring Ride Days" March 14-18, is "really the first of its kind," says Alvey, founder of the Theme Park Review blog and roller coaster aficionado since high school.
"There have been a lot of spinning roller coasters, and there have been a lot of launch roller coasters, but there has never been a spinning launch roller coaster that goes upside down," the Orlando resident says. "It sounds insane -- and amazing."
Alvey, who says he's on the road three to five weeks a year visiting theme parks, estimates he's ridden around 2,000 different roller coasters, everything from the 1970s machinery of the Orient Express at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City to the up-to-the-moment technology created by Mack Rides for its own Europa-Park. Mack Rides is the designer of Time Traveler, and Alvey says the company is a perfect match for Silver Dollar City and Herschend Family Entertainment.
"Mack is constantly looking at new attractions for their own park, and their demographic is families," he says. "They develop rides for families, but they want them to be thrilling. And Silver Dollar City is a family-friendly environment, not a carnival midway like some parks."
Brad Thomas, the president of Silver Dollar City Attractions, agrees with that assessment.
Having decided that 2018 would be a big investment year for Silver Dollar City, Thomas knew the park would be adding "something of significance." He and other top SDC brass started visiting theme parks around the world in 2015, looking for the hottest new ride. Then they met with Mack Rides -- a more than 200-year-old family business based in Waldkirch, Germany -- and together they came up with the concept of a coaster with spinning cars and not just one but two launches. It is the first of its kind, Thomas says.
That brings us to January 2016, when Thomas was able to ride the first prototype for Time Traveler. The car was placed on an existing roller coaster track at Europa-Park, and Thomas, who says he usually laughs on roller coasters, admits he screamed. The cars were in free spin -- and the result, Thomas says, "didn't fit our demographic, didn't fit our core customer, just wouldn't be enjoyable."
The solution was magnets, which control the spin of each car as riders start with a 10-story, 90-degree vertical drop straight out of the station, spinning into a dive loop, a vertical loop and a zero G roll, plus the two launches -- 0 to 47 mph in 3 seconds and 30 to 45 mph in 3.5 seconds.
Now, Thomas says, it's a thrill ride with the added dimension of spinning cars. And he thinks the whole family will love it. And "the whole family" is the demographic he was aiming to please.
Alvey says Silver Dollar City is already home to two of his favorite coasters -- Wildfire, a steel coaster opened in 2001 that features a vertical drop of 15 stories, followed by five inversions including a full loop, cobra roll, corkscrew and high-speed spiral, and Outlaw Run, a wooden coaster voted Best New Ride of 2013 in a worldwide poll of park enthusiasts conducted by Amusement Today magazine. They are, he says, coasters so good, he'll hop on a plane to ride them.
"I expect Time Traveler to be in that list of favorites -- and if you can make that list of favorites, you've done really well," Alvey says.
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