Motorcycles, Defying Gravity and Giant Inversions: Part 6 of the Vekoma retrospective

(Park Vault reorganised this article and the original second part can be seen here: Part 6A

2000 saw a new player enter the wooden coaster business: Vekoma. That year, as a part of a major project to transform Walibi Flevo (Flevoland, Netherlands) into Six Flags Holland, Vekoma sold 5 new attractions to Six Flags for that park. One was the classic Boomerang, the other a rare “LSM Coaster” near the park entrance, a giant wheel as the center piece of the park, a Merlin themed Mad House haunted swing attraction and finally, the ride that concern us: Robin Hood.

Robin Hood was Vekoma first wooden coaster first project and for this one, retained a few experienced partners to see this project successfully through. Design was done by the Stand Company out of Cincinnati, OH. Dennis Starkey is a successful wooden coaster designed and the design retained for the Dutch ride was a unique U shaped out and back design. For construction, Robin Hood and Thunder Coaster were constructed by Martin & Vleminckx, who have been since 1985 masters at building wooden coasters in the most unusual locations. Vekoma sold the ride and responsible for delivering the project while providing the rolling stock, brakes, chain lift and control system. In 2001, The Stand Company designed the Loup-Garou at Six Flags Belgium, which is now Walibi Belgium in Wavre. The third ride is the Thunder Coaster at Tusenfryd, near Oslo, Norway. It has a much different profile, with the design work done by Allott & Lomax from the United Kingdom.

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The Vekoma wooden coaster train used on Loup-Garou. It has a 3 bench configuration and used a ratcheting individual lap bar restraint.

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Here is the train during its initial installation in 2001.

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Notice the oval donut shaped lap bar. No additional seat belts were necessary with this restraint.

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The trains were beautifully decorated in an art-deco style that reminds us of the Roaring 20’s era roller coasters.

Vekoma wooden coaster seat

This picture show a close-up of the very padded and comfortable seats and the elongated donut restraint.

Train Loup Garou Six Flags Belgium 2001

The Loup-Garou train pulling into the station.

2001 was an interesting year for Vekoma, with three major new products being introduced and the Flying Dutchman evolving for the first time.

The first new model was the Giant Inverted Boomerang. This was a new version of the Boomerang, where an inverted coaster train would hang under the Vekoma high load double tube track and both lifts would be vertical. Each lift are 192 feet tall and the train reach the 177 feet level on both. The other layout difference is that the 110 feet tall Cobra Roll double inversion is angled so that the 102 feet tall vertical loop is over the station, so the layout crosses over itself. The train reaches 65 mph when it runs through the station after being dropped.

GIB Model

Model of the Giant Inverted Boomerang, presented at IAAPA Attraction Expo 2003.

Six Flags Magic Mountain Deja-Vu 2005 (2)

In this picture of the Déjà Vu at Six Flags Magic Mountain shot in 2005, you can see the long serie of brakes that are used when the ride detect the train does not have enough speed to clear the Cobra Roll.  By slowing it down there, it allows the train to just roll back into the station for a quicker guest evacuation and ride reset.

Six Flags Magic Mountain Deja-Vu 2005 (1)

This is the huge station track of Déjà Vu at Six Flags Magic Mountain.  Why is it so big?  Because the top track is for the catch car that move and stop the train in the station and spikes.

Six Flags Magic Mountain Deja-Vu 2005

The evacuation staircase in case a train get stuck in the Cobra Roll.  Like the two other previous pictures, this was shot in 2005 at Six Flags Magic Mountain.

The vertical spikes required a unique solution for pulling and grabbing the train. Vekoma went with a design where a catch car runs on a second track and it use two steel jaws in a V shape that grab the train braking fins in the station, when it goes up the second spike and when it runs back up the first spike. Unfortunately, it leads to huge difficulties at first, since the timing for the second spike had to be perfect and a miscatch meant the train would miss the jaw. It would then go back down and the pneumatic pinch brakes would stop it at the bottom of the hill. Maintenance would need to come release the riders and then manually lower the catch car so it can attach itself properly.

Goliath SFNE (2)

Side view of the “Goliath” at Six Flags New England (Agawam, MA). Notice the huge vertical loop and giant spikes.  Goliath is the ex Six Flags Magic Mountain Déjà Vu and it came in 2012 to its new home.

Goliath SFNE (4)

The back of the second spike. Notice that the track has a different shape to allow the catch car to slide up and down.

Goliath SFNE (5)

You can see the catch car on the right and this platform was added to make train evacuation a very quick process. In the case of a miscatch, the train will go back down and be stopped in this area by pneumatic pinch brakes.

Goliath SFNE (3)

A close up of the platform.

Goliath SFNE (8)

The ride giant Cobra Roll and the evacuation platform and staircase.

GIB Jin Jiang Flex 4

GIB Jin Jiang Flex 2

The huge vertical spikes. This is a 2011 installation at Jin Jiang Action (Shanghai, China).

GIB Jin Jiang Flex 3

The huge Cobra Roll. Unlike the Six Flags ones, the evacuation platform was not ordered for this installation.

GIB Jin Jiang Flex

The Vertical Loop, which is placed over the loading station.

The four pictures above appears courtesy of Flex.

Both Six Flags, who had ordered the first 4 models and Vekoma worked hard to figure out the complicated software, but eventually it worked out ok and the ride now has an acceptable uptime rate at Six Flags New England (that got the Six Flags Magic Mountain installation), Parque Warner Madrid and Silverwood in Coeur D’Alene, ID (the Six Flags Great America model). In addition to the Parque Warner Madrid installation that debuted in 2002, Six Flags had installed 3 Giant Inverted Boomerang in 2001 as “Déjà Vu” at Six Flags Magic Mountain (Santa Clarita, CA), Six Flags Over Georgia (Austell, GA) and Six Flags Great America (Gurnee, IL). The Six Flags Over Georgia is still waiting installation in Brazil after being sold by Six Flags.

GIB Stunt Fall Flex

Stunt Fall at Parque Warner Madrid. Photo by Flex.

The train was the last innovation for that ride. In order to give a unique ride experience, Vekoma designed a train with 8 cars and a strange seating configuration. Two of the seats are forward and paired together in the middle. The two other seats are single and a bit further back, with one on each side. The end result is a tight V shaped. The shoulder restraint was new, but Six Flags modified them to add an extra bar around rider’s breast area, an extra bar to keep rider’s arms down and a second waist seat belt.

GIB Jin Jiang Flex 5

The “Wing” seat on the Giant Inverted Boomerang. Photo appear courtesy of Flex.

 

2 thoughts on “Motorcycles, Defying Gravity and Giant Inversions: Part 6 of the Vekoma retrospective

  1. Pingback: Wooden Coaster trains: part 3 of our serie – ParkVault

  2. Pingback: Tilt Coasters, Motorcyles and other innovations: part 6A of the Vekoma retrospective – ParkVault

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