Turbo Drops and taller towers: Part 9 of our Freefall Series

In 1997, S&S modified their towers with a few modifications and a new type of ride. The plungers are connected to both ends of the ride car with a second set of pulleys at the tower’s bottom. This new arrangement provides precise control over the vehicle throughout its course, finally allowing the ride designer to use the full tower height for the ride path.  This allowed taller towers and the creation of a new attraction, the Turbo Drop.

The Turbo Drop works on the Space Shot’s reverse principle: the car is slowly taken to the top using a slow and regular flow of air injected into the cylinder.  Once there, four mechanical brakes grab fins mounted on each corner of the vehicle.  Once the braking fins have control of the car, the air tank in the middle of the tower is filled up like on a Space Shot.  The difference here is that the air from the center tank is injected at the bottom.

The air injection is timed with the brakes releasing, creating an accelerated freefall motion for riders.  The air pressure building up acts as a smooth brake as it nears the bottom, before the air getting released from the cylinders create the familiar bounces.

Buffalo Bill’s Casino and Resort in Primm, NV purchased the prototype and installed it outside of the casino.  The first one to open in Asia was part of a pair of towers, one Space Shot/one Turbo drop at Yomiuriland outside Tokyo, Japan, in 1997.  Over in Europe, Mirabiliandia, located in Ravenna, Italy, opened Colombia/Discovery, the first Space Shot/Turbo complex.  Both rides were renamed after the tragic Space Shuttle Colombia accident and are now called the Oil Towers. 

Whereas S&S air towers were painted white until that point, Fuji-Q Highland (Fujiyoshida, Japan) was the first to open one with a different color scheme.  The Red Tower opened in July 1998, and as its name indicated, the Turbo Drop was painted a rich red with a crown on top. 

Cedar Point (Sandusky, OH) opened the Power Tower in 1998, the first S&S attraction to reach the 300 feet mark.  Four towers in a square configuration provide enough capacity for the immensely popular amusement park.  Two legs are Space Shot with the other two Turbo Drop rides, all reaching the 240 feet tall level.  Intermountain Lift from Utah fabricated the beautiful 60 feet tall structure that rests above the towers, serving as an excellent billboard for the park.

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