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Announcements News Rumors

Busch Gardens Tampa Announces Tigris and Teases RMC Gwazi

In 2019, Busch Gardens Tampa will be adding Tigris, a triple launch coaster from Premier Rides.

Tigris joins Tempesto and Electric Eel as the SeaWorld chain’s third SkyRocket II model. Offering a great thrill in a small package, these coasters have proved popular among families and enthusiasts alike.

Launching riders both forwards and backwards, Tigris will reach a top speed of 62 miles per hour. After reaching a height of 150 feet, riders will experience a heartline roll and a non-inverting loop.

While Busch Gardens will be adding Tigris in 2019, they don’t plan on stopping there. The park has been hinting at a hybrid conversion from Rocky Mountain Construction for 2020.

Gwazi, the park’s wooden dueling coaster, opened in 1999 to raving fans. Sadly, the ride didn’t age well and Busch Gardens closed it in 2015 due to its rough ride experience. Since then, Gwazi has been standing but not operating, with its final fate left unknown.

Now, it looks as if the ride may get the I-Box treatment after all. Screamscape managed to obtain a reference to the park’s 2020 plans, which all but confirms a Gwazi transformation. I would expect Gwazi to reopen in 2020 with an increased lift height, relentless airtime hills, and a couple of wild inversions that made RMC famous. I’m also expecting the park to opt for a mobious layout like on Twisted Colossus, allowing riders to ride both sides of the track. We’ll have to wait for the details, but 2020 looks promising.

Are you excited for Busch Gardens Tampa’s announcements for 2019 and 2020? I love the one-two punch they have planned, and I can’t wait to see how Gwazi turns out in 2020.

Read next: Electric Eel Coming to SeaWorld San Diego

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featured Reviews Ride Reviews

Steel Vengeance Review

Last Thursday, I finally got to ride Cedar Point’s new hyper hybrid from Rocky Mountain Construction, and I’m still in shock from the sheer power I experienced on the coaster.

As I approached the park, I was struck by how much more prominent the ride was on the skyline. From the start, it was obvious that this ride wasn’t Mean Streak anymore.

As soon as the park opened, I walked to the back of the park as fast as I could. There stood Steel Vengeance, towering over Frontiertown’s buildings and punctuating the air with the screams of terrified riders. The train thundered through inversions and wound through the wooden remains of Mean Streak.

I had heard that Steel Vengeance had just begun a no-phone policy after a rider’s device contributed to an injury on Twisted Timbers, but I wasn’t sure how strict the rule would be or how they planned on enforcing it. Two ride ops sat at the entrance to the ride and asked each rider if they were carrying a phone, instructing them to rent a locker or leave it with a non-rider. I was happy to oblige, but found it difficult to keep track of the time remaining on my locker without my phone, since I didn’t wear a watch. Also, I had hoped to take some good photos from the queue, but I had to resort to snapping a few shots from the entrance and the other side of Frontiertown.

While waiting in line, I saw quite a few security guards patrolling the line and trekking up to the platform every once and a while. A ride op explained that if you were caught with a phone in the station they’d kick you out of the line, and after three strikes they’d call security. In the end, being without my phone was a small price to pay to ride Steel Vengeance, and after tracking Mean Streak’s transformation over the course of two years, I was more than ready to finally catch a ride on the coaster.

After about half an hour, I reached the platform. A ride op was assigning seats but she was happy to acquiesce when I asked to ride in the front. I found this to be the case the whole day, which was great because it kept the line moving while respecting anyone who had a seat preference.

The train took off, rolling over two bunny hills before hitting the unusually loud chain lift. On the way up, I took in the view of Cedar Point’s impressive coaster lineup. Near the top, the entire ride layout came into view, giving us riders a quick glimpse into our imminent joy or terror. Before I knew it, the train reached the apex and slowly crept over the top before dashing to the ground at 90 degrees. In the front car, the drop was exhilarating but not quite ejecting.

The following hill offered a sustained surge of floater airtime at an off-axis angle and sent the train rocketing back toward the first drop. After two more airhills, the real fun began. I was wooshed through first zero-g-roll while climbing, then took a flying turn into the second zero-g-roll while dropping. That drop in particular was extremely disorienting and made for an extreme stomach drop.

After rolling through the mid-course brake run, the ride continued with a sudden plunge back into the course that made me catch my breath. The train dove into the ride’s wooden support structure, tempting me to yank my hands down in apprehension as I was sucked through a third roll. A few hills later, the train took a second pass through the structure, completing a similar roll and maneuvering a set of overbanks. One over-banked turn in particular really stood out, giving me a little pop of airtime while on my side. To finish off the ride, the train flew through a series of five airtime hills in a row, each taken at a different angle.

Sitting in the brake run, I realized that I couldn’t compare the ride experience to any other coaster I had ridden. I decided that it combined some of the best elements of Millennium Force and Maverick while adding in some wacky turns that only Rocky Mountain Construction could conjure up.

After getting off, I got right back in line to try the back row. In the back seat, the first drop was insane! The rest of the train began dropping while the back wasn’t quite to the top, meaning I was pulled aggressively over the top into a 200-foot drop. The ejector airtime I experienced on that drop was by far the best I’ve ever experienced and I would compare it to the negative g-forces on a drop tower.

The ride continued its course, taking each hill and inversion with more intensity than ever. According to the park, Steel Vengeance has the most airtime of any roller coaster, with a total of 27.2 seconds, and I felt like my body was out of the seat more than in it. I was in hysterics for the entire last lap around the ride’s structure, and I got off the coaster with an adrenaline high.

Later in the day, I rented a locker for two more hours and was able to get in three more rides on the coaster (once in the middle and twice in the back). Riding solo, I was able to meet some pretty cool people, some of whom had ridden the coaster dozens of times and others who were about to experience Steel Vengeance for the first time. Everyone I rode with got off with a big smile on their face and a new favorite ride at Cedar Point.

At one point I got to chat with an off-duty ride op for Magnum who was getting in his Steel Vengeance rides for the day. We got to chatting about industry news and other parks across the US, and then he pointed out a few things about the coaster I hadn’t noticed before. For one, the wooden supports sway quite a bit just after the train rolls by, which is normal and serves to relieve the stress from the passing trains. The op said that the park had recently added a reinforcement beam and that it was now swaying much less than before.

He was also able to give me an update on Steel Vengeance’s third train, Chess. On opening day, two trains had a minor collision in the station at a minimal speed, and though no one was injured, Cedar Point was forced to shut the ride down nonetheless. The park switched to two trains while they worked on a fix. According to the ride op, the third train is now ready to run and they have the go-ahead but they’re having trouble getting the mid-course brake run to work, so with three trains they’d have to start one long after the previous like on Millennium Force. So it’s unlikely that we’ll see three-train operation again until next season.

While in line, I also enjoyed checking out the storyline segments that the park added to the queue to explain the ride’s theme. I wasn’t able to get a picture of the signs since I didn’t have my phone with me, but there was a themed poster for each of the three characters (Blackjack, Chess, and Digger) explaining their tie into Frontiertown and their need for vengeance from Blackjack’s ruthless brother Maverick.

There weren’t many themed elements in the ride’s station, but the trains had a great steam engine front car and one of the characters’ names was scrawled on the side of each train. A western voiceover played when each train departed the station, and the loading screen touted fun catchphrases like “A Mean Streak lies beneath.”

In the end, I found a new favorite coaster in Steel Vengeance. The ride had all the elements I crave in a coaster, from the ejector drop to the disorienting inversions and endless airtime hills. In typical Rocky Mountain Construction fashion, the ride managed to combine all these elements with flawless transitions. However, some of the turns on the ride came up so suddenly that I barely had time to prepare myself for their sheer intensity. Steel Vengeance is by no means a rerideable coaster like a B&M Hyper, but I was still feeling great after three rides in a row.

Overall, I couldn’t ask for more from Steel Vengeance, and I thought that the ride experience was absolutely flawless. If I was able to change any part of the ride, I wouldn’t tweak a thing. The length, speed, and intensity were about as good as it gets. I rated Steel Vengeance a first-ever 10 out of 10. I could wax on forever about this ride, but the short of it is that you simply need to experience it for yourself. Steel Vengeance just might be the new best roller coaster on the planet.

Rider tips

  • This tip is pretty obvious, but try to hit the ride as soon as you can after the park opens. Most of the crowd follows the midway past Millennium Force and through Frontiertown, so heading by Top Thrill Dragster and cutting down the Gemini Midway might be your quickest route. Some people even park in the Cedar Point Shores lot for even faster walk to the coaster.
  • Be prepared to part with your phone. The ride ops aren’t going to let you into the queue with a handheld device of any kind, so unless you have a hidden pocket that’s securely fastened, you’re best off renting a locker. Don’t make the mistake I did, but rent a locker for the full day so that you’ll be free to come back to the ride at any point.
  • Try riding in the back row. While I was there, a ride op was assigning seats, but they usually let you sit wherever you want if you ask. In the back of the train, the first drop and airtime hills are absolutely insane. On the way up, a left seat will give a better view of the lake and the right will offer a glimpse at the ride layout and the park beyond.

Have you ridden Steel Vengeance? Feel free to post your review in the comments section below.

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News

Steel Vengeance Opens at Cedar Point [Update]

Yesterday, Cedar Point officially opened to the public, showing off the ride they’ve worked on for the past two years. Steel Vengeance is finally running alongside its coaster siblings at the Roller Coaster Capital.

Image © Cedar Point

Does it live up to the hype? All of the reviews I’ve seen so far suggest that Steel Vengeance is quite possibly the best roller coaster in the world. Check out what some of the first riders are saying:

It has everything coaster enthusiasts love: height, speed, tight turns, airtime, airtime, airtime, and did I mention airtime? And it does all of this with butter-smooth transitions. —Kyle from Coaster101.

My favorite element (hands up all the way): the outward-banked hill. I’m certain this is the longest and strongest sustained airtime moment I have ever felt. —John from CoasterCritic.

Without a doubt, Steel Vengeance is at the top of my bucket list for this summer. With a 205-foot vertical drop and a plethora of twists and inversions, the coaster combines the best elements of Millennium Force and Maverick while still throwing in the wild unpredictability RMC is famous for. According to Cedar Point, Steel Vengeance features 27 seconds of airtime—the most of any roller coaster.

Ready to see the ride in action? Here’s the official POV from Cedar Point:


Update: Due to a minor train collision in the station on Opening Day, Cedar Point temporarily closed the coaster for inspection. Since then, Steel Vengeance has only been running with one train as Rocky Mountain Construction works on fixing the issue. As a result, lines have been extremely long and the park has removed Steel Vengeance from the Fast Lane Plus program.

Update 2: As of June 1st, Steel Vengeance is now running with two trains once more and has been returned to Fast Lane Plus.

Read next: Time Traveler and Twisted Timbers Now Open

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News

Time Traveler and Twisted Timbers Now Open

We’ve finally reached that exciting time of year when amusement parks begin opening for the season. The new coasters we’ve heard so much about have passed the final stages of testing and are now opening to their first riders. The first major rides to open in 2018 have been Time Traveler at Silver Dollar City and Twisted Timbers at Kings Dominion. Judging by their POVs, the coasters turned out every bit as good as we hoped they would.

Time Traveler

Branded as the world’s tallest and fastest spinning coaster, Time Traveler is the first of a more intense line of spinning coasters from Mack Rides. The coaster begins with a ten-story vertical drop out of the station and maneuvers through three inversions during the ride.

 

After looking through pictures of the coaster, I was impressed by the attention to detail in the theming, from the queue to the trains.

The experience itself seems to be family friendly but intense enough to attract the thrill seekers. As for the spinning factor, Mack Rides has equipped the ride with an onboard magnetic brake to prevent the rotations from getting out of control—making for a slow glide to one side through each ride element. According to the park, no two rides on the coaster are the same.

Twisted Timbers

Meanwhile, Twisted Timbers at Kings Dominion has also opened, making it Cedar Fair’s first operating coaster from Rocking Mountain Construction.

Image © Guy LaRocca

After a Storm-Chaser-esque barrel roll drop, the the twisted steel snakes its way around the layout in an unbroken sequence of airtime hills and inversions. I knew the finished ride would be longer in length than the original wooden coaster, but the duration of the ride caught me somewhat by surprise when watching the new on-ride POV.

I thought it worth mentioning that Kings Dominion tried their hand at theming the queue. Considering it’s a Cedar Fair park, I’d say they did a pretty good job.

Image © Guy LaRocca

If Time Traveler and Twisted Timbers are any indication of what to expect for this season, 2018 will be a year for coaster enthusiasts to remember!

Are you planning to catch a ride on either coaster this year? Leave a comment below.

Read next: Top New Roller Coasters for 2018

Categories
Announcements News

New RMCs Coming to Europe and Asia in 2019

While Rocky Mountain Construction has been hard at work installing (or converting) new rides here in the United States, two international parks have announced that they will be transforming their wooden coasters.

White Cyclone at Nagashima Spa Land

Japanese park Nagashima Spa Land will become the first park outside of the U.S. to utilize RMC’s IBox track.

Image © Jeff Rogers

White Cyclone was one of the tallest and longest wooden coasters in the world, with a total length of 5,577 feet. Originally designed by Intamin, the ride featured a winding layout and a massive wooden structure. RMC will be sure to utilize the ride’s hills and helices with their steel conversion.

To get an idea of what RMC has to work with, watch an on-ride video of White Cyclone:

Robin Hood at Walibi Holland

Walibi Holland announced that in October, Robin Hood, their family wooden coaster will be closing as RMC begins converting the ride into a hybrid coaster.

Robin Hood will become Europe’s second hybrid coaster from RMC, after Wildfire at Kolmärden. The ride currently stands 105 feet tall and has an out-and-back layout.

Watch an on-ride video of Robin Hood pre-conversion:

I love to see Rocky Mountain Construction expanding outside of the United States and I’m sure enthusiasts in Europe and Asia are excited to be getting an RMC within a decent travel distance.

What do you think of Nagashima Spa Land and Walibi Holland’s decision to convert their rides? Leave a comment below.

Read next: Top New Roller Coasters for 2018

Categories
Construction News

Construction Continues on Steel Vengeance and Twisted Timbers

Cedar Fair’s first IBox coasters are quickly taking shape, with crews hard at work at both Cedar Point and Kings Dominion. Earlier this month, track installation was completed on Steel Vengeance, and now the Twisted Timbers site is buzzing with activity. The parks have taken to social media to share their progress, and the new coasters are truly works of coaster-art.

The 205-foot hill on Steel Vengeance towers over Lake Erie and puts Mean Streak’s former height to shame. Imagine the ejector air riders will experience on that 90-degree drop!

Cedar Point also shared a few pictures of the track winding its way through the ride’s structure on its final lap around the course. The near-misses will be plentiful on Steel Vengeance for sure.

Now that all of the track has been laid, the park will turn its attention towards adding catwalks and railings to sections of the ride like the lift hill and mid-course break run. When Cedar Point closes for the season, they will add mechanical components such as the chain lift, sensors, and braking systems. At the rate construction is going, Steel Vengeance will be ready for testing in early 2018.

Meanwhile, Twisted Timbers is beginning to take form at Kings Dominion. Ledgers have been installed throughout the layout and the ride’s lift hill has been topped off.

 

It will be exciting to see the coaster’s barrel roll drop up close as construction progresses. For now, we’ll have to content ourselves with the early renderings of the coaster and count off the weeks until Opening Day 2018.

Do you have any thoughts about the progress Rocky Mountain Construction has made on Steel Vengeance and Twisted Timbers? Leave a comment below.

Read next: Everything Cedar Fair Announced for 2018