Mindbender in Canada: part 9 of our look at the world’s tallest roller coasters

Anton Schwarzkopf company had been supplying spectacular headliners for the fair circuit in Germany and North America since the 1960s.  Starting in 1978, Schwarzkopf introduced a new cone-plug track system, allowing for faster erection and deconstruction of portable rides.  It also created a new vertical loop style, as seen earlier with the Schwarzkopf Shuttle Loop. 

The first of those was the Looping Star, introduced by Oscar Bruch and Mr. Kinzler to the German fair circuit.  It traveled the significant fairs in 1978-1979, proving to be a financial success and starting a roller coaster arms race on the German fairgrounds.  Looping Star was sold to the State Fair of Texas, which operated it during the fair from 1980 to 1983, before it returned to the road, this time with Eden Enterprises and a stay at Jolly Roger Amusement Park, Ocean City, MD. After a few years, Tierco, who had just taken over Frontier City in Oklahoma City, OK, purchased the ride, where it is carefully maintained and loved by millions of guests since 1986.  Silver Bullet is a guest favorite and a testament to Schwarzkopf’s ability to create long-lasting attractions that still thrill riders 40+ years after its debut.

Seeing Looping Star’s success, Rudolf Barth quickly ordered a new Looping Star, this time with an additional Loop.  Called the Doppel Looping, this spectacular ride meant a new coaster race started on the German fairgrounds.  In 1981, Bruch and Kinzler partnered again, this time introducing Colossus, an extended Doppel Looping with an additional helix at the end.  This lead to Mr. Barth ordering another roller coaster from Schwarzkopf, Dreier Looping.  He then sold his Doppel Looping to Conklin shows, the largest traveling ride operator in North America. 

Dreier Looping went away from the Looping Star/Doppel Looping layout, this time with a stacked curved lift forming the ride’s outside edge on one side.  This new lift idea was first seen on Bruch Himalaya-Bahn, which did not have loops but used a curved lift hill with linked tire drives to take trains even higher than before.  Dreier Looping reached 106.7 feet tall, with a 100.1 feet drop.  After its initial curved drop, the train went back up to its first brake section.  A massive curved drop brought it up to its first two loops, both 46 feet tall.  A second lift hill followed, primarily for pacing and slowing down purposes.  The last loop was arranged in front of the two taller ones, giving the ride incredible visual appeal and drawing power.  At 40 feet tall, this was where the ride pulled its maximum forces: 6.1 positive G’s.  The ride concluded with intense banked curves at the bottom of the ride, taking advantage of the space under the lift hill and stack block brakes/second lift hill. 

Something happened, though, while Dreier-Looping was under construction:  Anton Schwarzkopf company went into bankruptcy.  As a result, court-appointed an administrator and work were allowed to resume Rudolph Barth, Weiland Schwarzkopf (Anton Schwarzkopf’s son), and Herbert Breidenbach formed a new manufacturing company and got the Dreier-Looping project to finish it.  Once that was completed, Rudolph Barth left the new company.  In the meantime, Triple-Five Group, a mall developer from Canada, had opened the world’s largest mall in 1981.  The West Edmonton Mall was quickly growing, and for the second phase in 1983, an amusement park was added.  Fantasyland, as it was called then, opened initially with a selection of family rides.  For the second phase, they were looking for thrill rides and realized a German-style fairground roller coaster would fit their needs perfectly. The compact layout would provide immense thrills in a small footprint. 

Phase 2 of Fantasyland started with a custom extension, specifically for three anchor attractions: a roller coaster, a freefall ride, and a looping swinging ship.  The building roof was designed to wrap around those attractions.  The freefall ride was a first-generation Intamin Freefall, named the Drop of Doom.  Designed by Intamin, manufactured by Giovanola, its L-shaped layout required a tall section, but the rest fit in normally.  For Perilous Pendulum, Intamin was again tapped for a Looping Starship.  For the last and most significant, Mindbender, an angled roof was explicitly designed to go with the layout. 

Starting with the Dreier-Looping layout, Werner Stengel (designer) mirrored it to better fit and made it taller since there was more space available here than what Mr. Barth had to work with.  Standing a massive 134 feet tall, the curved lift hill was impressive and, thanks to its tire drive, mostly silent, a vital thing in an indoor space.  A great glass wall behind the ride allows natural light in, brightening Fantasyland, which in turn extends guest visits to the park. 

Coming off the lift hill, the train dips down at a steep angle, dropping 127 feet, hitting 60 mph.  .  It quickly rise up to the first braking section, before dropping again in a massive banked drop to the left.  It goes through the two 46 feet tall lift hill, with the added thrill of a walkway in the middle of the loops.  Those are slightly off the ground, to reduce G forces.

Whereas Dreier-Looping had the second lift-hill to pace the trains, Mindbender opts for a regular block brake, leading to a much higher speed throughout the ride.  The train drops down into a smaller copy of its first drop before going back up again. 

The cars dive to the right into the third loop.  At 40 feet tall, it was placed on the ground and is threaded by the walkway mentioned above.  The train reached its maximum G-forces: 6.78 G’s, the most intense modern roller coaster ever designed.  The ride then used its extended footprint to end with a powerful helix after the last mid-course brake.

The ride originally opened with five trains, each composed of four cars: one lead with two axles, three trailered cars with one axle.  Guests were restrained by a lap bar. 

As a result of an unfortunate accident in 1986, the ride vehicles were heavily modified when the ride reopened.  The trains would now be composed of three lead cars, with two axles per car.  In addition, additional restraints were installed: shoulder bars, independent from the lap bar, manually operated.  Lap seat belts complete the new restraint system. 

Occasionally, one train has its last car reversed, allowing guests to experience a much more intense experience.

For additional photos, please check ellocoaster at https://www.ellocoaster.com/mindbender.

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