The California Screamin’ Experience: Part twelve of our Disney Groundbreakers Series.

California Screamin’ station is at the back of Paradise Pier, with a track section on the lake and the rest around the Pier.  The ride fills the whole visual field and adds much energy to the area.  The loading station and queue area were quite basic, but guests didn’t spend too much time in line thanks to the high capacity.  After proceeding to the higher queue section, guests take the stairs and walk over the left station and down the middle platform.  A pair of elevators is also present for disabled guests and riders using the single riders queue.

California Screamin’ has two stations in a dueling configuration.  The massive maintenance workshop has three tracks, each capable of accommodating two trains, one behind the other.  Due to the site layout and access needed for guests, the train storage area is behind the right station.  An additional track switch is present, leading to a sliding triple track switch.

Riders load into a train, with the operators quickly verifying the shoulder bars.  Riders are dispatched and merged with the other station before turning left, aligning with the launch track over the water.  Two trains can fit here, with one staged behind the launch position, allowing optimal efficiency. 

The Linear Induction Motor (LIM) launch system is used here to move trains from one position to another and launch them.  Once it is time, we hear a countdown from 5 to 1 before launching from 0 to 55 mph in 4 seconds.  While not the fastest acceleration, it is still forceful and allows the train to rise over the first hill.  As a fail-safe in case the train can’t clear the hill, pneumatic brake calipers are mounted on the ascent side of the hill.  This allows a train to stop and allow a controlled rollback toward the launch position.  For that reason, the next train will not move forward until the last train has cleared that hill. 

Dropping down the hill in the ½  tunnel, riders rise to the right in a smooth curve to climb into the first block brakes.  Block brakes are used on roller coasters to separate trains from one another.  To that end, many pairs of pneumatic calipers are mounted on each block brake area; the track is designed to allow a train stopped there to proceed with its course once it clears.

Dipping and turning around this structure placed around the Maliboomer, the train turns to the right before lowering toward the ground and turning toward the 122 feet tall lift hill.  Because there is very little space under the cars to accommodate the equipment to interact with a chain lift hill, LIM’s and pneumatic brakes are used instead.  As mentioned in the previous article, the only noise generated by the LIM’s is a low electric whine, so it’s perfect for noise abatement. 

Another ½ tunnel starts at the top and continues down the steep 108 feet drop.  Reaching again speeds approaching 55 mph, the train rises to the left and right into a smooth curve above the station and train storage area, ending with a straight shot to the vertical loop.  An exceptionally placed section of straight track allows riders to anticipate the following element and properly brace themselves.

The train dips slightly before getting flipped 80 feet in the air in a perfectly engineered and smooth vertical loop.  To avoid covering the whole loop in the wooden-like structure, standard steel supports and Intamin triple tube track are used here.  Exiting it, the train then rises into another black brake.  A ½ tunnel covers us as we sharply drop toward the ground, in the middle of a sand diorama, to reinforce the beach theme.  We dip and turn around Maliboomer, this time at a lower level.

The train transitions to the triple tube track and standard support arrangement;  we are above a backstage area that is non-visible to the guests not riding.  The train rises to the right,  back to the double tube track, proceeding through its last block brake.  The train climbs to the left and aligns with the ride’s other signature moments: the double airtime hills.  It is perfectly engineered to have riders experience negative G’s, completing the experience magnificently. 

The block brake under the first hill.

The train dives to the left, and near the ground in another sand diorama, on-ride photos are taken.  The train turns to the left toward the ground, and the last element is a wooden coaster-like fan curve.  LIM’s are again mounted here to move trains out quickly.  A curve to the left brings the train to the pre-station waiting area with more LIM’s and a pair of pneumatic brakes to control the train.  A sliding track track allows the train to go to the left and right stations as needed.  The ride concludes with the braking area at the end, where permanent magnetic brakes are mounted, allowing them to cut down most of the train speed before the pneumatic brakes finish the job.

Ride operation and changes since Opening:

On July 29th, 2005, there was a technical issue with the braking system at the end of the ride.  As a result, a purple train rear-ending the red train stopped in the pre-station braking position.  As a result of this accident, in addition to maintenance upgrades, the ride was slowed down post lift hill.

A fixed magnetic eddy-current magnetic brake was mounted before the loop and another set on the braking section before the airtime hills.  They were adjusted to slow the general speed down and make the ride not as intense as it was when it opened.

When Disney built the new Toy Story Mania dark ride attraction behind the lift hill/loop, the loop was temporarily removed to allow construction.  The station and waiting queue of Toy Story Mania are in front of California Screamin, and the vehicles use two tunnels to reach and exit the main building behind.

The Vertical Loop itself was replaced twice, as it is the portion of the ride that receives the most force.  Most recently, it was in 2018 when the ride was transformed into Incredicoaster.

The original safety announcements and launch countdown were by Dee Bradley Baker. They were changed in 2010 to new ones from Neil Patrick Harris.

Before we get to Incredicoaster, in 2011, the ride received a light makeover, with Mickey’s ears on the loop replaced by a Paradise Pier sign.  One further change happened to the large turnaround section when the Maliboomer Space Shot attraction was removed for aesthetic reasons.  It also had a low satisfaction rate with guests, and the ride pad was turned into a garden area.

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