In 1998, Intamin and Lotte World (Seoul, South Korea) partnered together to introduce a new type of freefall tower. The idea was to combine the sightseeing qualities of the Gyro Tower and the thrills of the Giant Drop. The end result was a 230 feet tower placed in the Magic Island section of Lotte World. Lotte World is a unique indoor/outdoor theme park owned by the Lotte Company, a Japanese/Korean consortium. Lotte is involved in many fields that goes from professional baseball teams to food chains and hotels. Lotte World opened in 1989 and Vekoma and Intamin were the largest attraction suppliers for that park. The indoor “Adventure” park featured many attractions constructed on 5 levels and some of those even go underground.
The indoor portion of Lotte World.
Magic Island is an artificial island built on a lake that is located across the street from the main park. Intamin supplied for that section an Intamin Barnstormer (World War 1 biplanes are suspended on a tall tower. When it reached maximum heights, the planes flew out and it was a spectacular family attraction), Guided Boats and Hydra, one of the world’s only “Triple Wheel”. Triple Wheel were originally designed for both Marriott’s Great America parks that both opened in 1976. Triple Wheel feature three arms and each arm has 12 cars. When one of the arm is loading, it lowers to the ground and all cars load at once. The other two spin in the air and it was a high capacity and visibility attraction. Those suspended cars are enclosed with bars and the “Sky Whirl” at Paramount Great America was featured as the “Spider” in the 1993 film Beverly Hills Cop 3.
View of Magic Island with the indoor park in the background.
So Hydra closed at Lotte World in 1997 and the ride pad cleared. A huge foundation was poured and this was a difficult job since Magic Island also house the world’s only underground roller coaster. The tower was constructed and then, the 40 seats ring shaped car mounted on it. Two large rails mounted on opposite sides are used to guide and brake the car. Two large catch cars are used to lift the ring up and smaller motors use tires to rotate it as it goes up. It then locks into place at the top and then we are released, freefalling to the ground. Given the ride car shape, there is a very loud “Woooof” sound as it reaches the ground and it creates a mini windstorm as a lot of air is pushed out at once.
The 40 seats car being lifted.
The large catch and one of the set of guide rails. Notice the rubber tires and those are what rotate the car as it goes up.
The car at the bottom on its raised pad. Since this picture was taken, clear plastic “scream shields” were added to the restraints. This is due to the park close proximity to appartment buildings and something that was first introduced on the Gyro Swing at the park.
Flex provided us with this picture of the Gyro Drop equipped with the Scream Shields.
In 1999, Paramount Kings Island (Mason, OH) introduced the first Gyro Drop in the United States, Drop Zone. Standing 315 feet tall and with a total drop height of 264 feet, it is a very popular attraction. The 40 riders per cycle capacity is also very efficient and needed in the popular park.
Like in South Korea, the Drop Tower at Kings Island also feature a raised platform.
The ring dropping down the 315 feet tall tower.
In 2001, Six Flags replaced The Great Six Flags Air Racer (another Intamin Barnstormer) at Six Flags Over Georgia (Austell, GA) with a new type of freefall tower. It takes the idea of the Gyro Drop and replace the 40 seats ring with a set of 10 3 cars seats. They are attached to a ring as well and rotate on the way up. Those seats are unique as they designed to be floorless and to force riders in a standing position. Once at the top, the cars tilt so that riders look down at a 15 degrees angle. Then, riders are released and freefall down 161 feet. Nearing the bottom, the forces from the braking bring the seats to the loading position and then once all cars are locked back into place, the hydraulic plungers bring the ring back down for unloading.
The ride entrance at Six Flags Over Georgia.
The car at the bottom with the floorless tilting seats. 10 sets of 3 seats are installed on the ring.
Acrophobia tower is 200 feet tall and Six Flags ordered a copy of that ride for their Warner Brothers Movie World park in Bottrop, Germany. Originally called “The Wild Bunch”, it was renamed to “High Fall” when Star Parks took over the park and renamed it to Movie Park Germany in 2005. The Wild Bunch was a Warner Brothers property and Star Parks at the time chose not to retain the license.
Flex provided us with this picture of High Fall.
The ring of seats, again provided by Flex.
In 1992, Heide Park (Soltau, Germany) built a second observation tower that stood 307 feet tall in total since it was constructed on a hill. In 2003, Intamin came in and removed the observation tower hardware and installed a new braking system, catch car and 40 passengers Gyro Drop ring on the tower. The end result is an amazing 233 feet freefall with a rotation to the top and a custom on-board soundtrack. The surrounding area was themed to a dark medieval area and the ride named “Scream”.
Flex provided this amazing picture of Scream. Notice the elaborate theming around the ride.
The car being lifted.
The ring at the top shortly before dropping.
In the mid 2000’s, Formosan Aboriginal Cultural Village (Yuchih, Taiwan) introduced UFO, the first themed Gyro Drop in the world. Standing 279 feet tall, it has a flying saucer shaped catch car and an elaborate space station on top of the tower. It is set in its own themed area in the Amusement Isle section of the park and it still features the familiar 40 seats ring with rotation on the way up.
The space station on top of the tower.
The unique flying saucer catch car.
Flex provided us with this picture of the entrance of the ride.
The ride car, courtesy of Flex.
The car at the top, about to drop from the flying saucer that captured it. Flex shot this great picture.
Flex shot this picture of UFO, standing out between the trees.
In 2016, Wanda Theme Park in Nanchang, China introduced a 262 feet tall Gyro Drop called the Sky Diver. The waiting line and bottom of the tower is enclosed in this pretty pagoda style building.
They went with the rotating 40 seat ring, making this a Gyro Drop.
On each side of the tower, you have a guide rail and the metal fins that interact with the Eddy-Current magnetic brakes mounted on the tower.
The car exiting the Pagoda.
In 2003, Intamin introduced a new type of tower called the Ring Drop at Kings Dominion (Doswell, VA). The major difference with the Gyro Drop is that the ring is larger (56 seats), but it does not rotate on the way up. The Drop Tower at Kings Dominion was a brand new tower that stands 305 feet tall with a 272 feet drop.
You can see the huge 305 feet tall Drop Tower on the right. The pad it sits on was recycled from an old Intamin spinning ride, the Space Trainer.
Flex provided this great shot of the 56 seats ring dropping.
Due to the non rotating ring, the car was redesigned. Picture appears courtesy of www.negative-g.com
In 2011, Intamin did another observation tower conversion when Liseberg contracted Intamin to take the Lisebergstornet and rework it into a Ring Drop. It was originally a 479 feet tall (when calculated from sea level) Gyro Tower and Intamin transformed it into a 381 feet tall freefall ride with a 300 feet drop. The large height difference between the tower height and car path is due to the building the ride was built in and the large decorative structure on top.
Flex provided this great shot of the 36 ring being lifted. Notice the large building at the bottom.
Given the space available at the bottom, it was impossible to add the 56 seats ring, so a smaller 36 seats car with new restraints was installed.
The redesigned overhead lap bar with soft shoulder straps. Picture appears courtesy of Flex.