August saw lots of great announcements from Six Flags and Cedar Fair, but perhaps the most innovative new rides coming in 2018 will be Rocky Mountain Construction’s new Raptor designs.
Wonder Woman at Six Flags Fiesta Texas and RailBlazer at California’s Great America will open as the world’s first single-rail coasters—meaning that they will run on one extra-wide beam of steel. As clones, the two coasters share a lot in common, but they each have minor differences that set them apart. Let’s take a look at what makes the Raptor coaster so unique and then compare two models opening next year.
What is a Raptor coaster?
Last year, Rocky Mountain Construction introduced their latest ride concept: A compact steel roller coaster that could save parks both space and money, all without compromising thrills. With single-file seating and a narrow track design, the ride could perform all of the wild maneuvers IBox coasters are famous for—but in a fraction of the space. The single-rail track would span only 15.5 inches wide, giving riders unprecedented views on either side of the track. Thus, the Raptor coaster was born.
All of last off-season, coaster enthusiasts debated which park would be the first to jump on the new design. Early rumors pointed towards Knott’s Berry Farm getting a Raptor coaster, but the teasers put out by California’s Great America soon made us think otherwise. It became evident that the Santa Clara park planned on opening the first single-rail model based on their repeated reference to “SR-1.” Unfortunately for Great America, Six Flags Fiesta Texas had other plans. In an unexpected move, Fiesta Texas made their announcement a month ahead of schedule, boasting the world’s first single-rail coaster, Wonder Woman Golden Lasso.
When California’s Great America revealed their plans for RailBlazer, it became clear why Fiesta Texas had gone out of their way to be the first to make their announcement—the two Raptor coasters had nearly-identical layouts and shared the same selling points.
Regardless of which ride was announced first, Wonder Woman and RailBlazer show off the stunning capabilities of this new ride type. Both models begin with a plunging 90-degree drop and feature three inversions—a dive loop, a cutback, and a corkscrew. The compact layouts take advantage of the narrow trains by executing extremely tight turns and quick changes of direction.
Can you spot the differences?
Wonder Woman begins with a 113-foot lift, while RailBlazer is only 106 feet tall. However, both rides have the same length and both reach a top speed of 52 miles per hour, indicating that the extra seven feet on Wonder Woman won’t make much of a difference in the overall experience. Interestingly enough, California’s Great America pointed out that RailBlazer will feature a completely silent anti-rollback system that takes a turn from the traditional “clack-clack” sound of a chain lift, making for a quiet climb.
In terms of theming, the two Raptor coasters vary greatly from one another. Wonder Woman rides the wave of interest following the recent Wonder Woman film, and will feature Greek architecture and a wrecked plane in the queue area. RailBlazer is themed to the California wilderness, and the ride will weave in and out of a gorgeous rock structure and a natural waterway. RailBlazer takes advantage of the single-file trains by theming them to look like four-wheelers. This brilliant train design is one of the best implementations of the motorbike concept that I’ve seen. And I must say, the use of Raptor track in the RailBlazer logo was pretty creative.
I love the Raptor design, and applaud Rocky Mountain Construction’s decision to market to parks that have low budgets but high ideals. It will be interesting to see what amusement parks add Raptor coasters in the future. What do you think about Wonder Woman and RailBlazer? Are you planning on riding either coaster next year? Leave a comment with your thoughts below.
Read next: Everything Cedar Fair Announced for 2018