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The crowded IAAPA 2004 show floor

From 17 to 20 November 2004 more than 1300 manufacturers and suppliers of the amusement industry presented their products and novelties at the 86th IAAPA Convention in Orlando, Florida, the centre of the Disney, Universal and Co. theme parks. More than 5000 park operators and companies from more than 85 nations are organized in the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.

The IAAPA Convention is the most important trade show of the industry worldwide and is accompanied by an extensive supporting programme and a multitude of symposiums. Coastersandmore was looking for innovative high tech novelties on the 100.000 square meters large exhibition floor and discovered very interesting news: The following product overview presents the most outstanding roller coaster and dark ride concepts as well as interesting engineering tools.

While the park scene and many suppliers had to experience a difficult low in the last couple of years, the multitude of visitors as well as the presented novelties and product lines clearly show that the industry looks ahead optimistically - including sellers and buyers: "We saw a very high quality attendance, with more European and Mideast parks, as well as emerging market facilities, than ever before", stated Vekoma’s Charlotte van Etten, echoing the sense among exhibitors of increased overseas buyer traffic this year.

Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Nevertheless, in 2005 especially the American parks will present a multiplicity of gigantic new roller coasters to their patrons - the number of deliveries has reached the state of three years ago. The European market also participates in the growing development, albeit the dimensions of the roller coasters don´t match their multitudinousness: S&S, Maurer Söhne, Intamin, Vekoma and Mack can add several innovative installations to their reference lists in 2005, among them multiple European or even World premiers. A glance at the future is likewise optimistic: In 2006 the park visitors in and around Germany will be pleased by two new major roller coasters with serious hit potential.

Impressions of Walt Disney World's Expedition Everest...

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Roller coaster innovations at Euro Amusement Sow 2004 in Paris

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At the Orlando area presently the Walt Disney Company makes some major investments: In the next two years alone three E-ticket attractions will open up at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, among them Expedition Everest at the Animal Kingdom park, a more than 100 million US dollars roller coaster in the shape of a 60 meters high replica of the Himalaja mountains. The family coaster integrated therein will outshine all previous coaster projects designed by the Disney Imagineers in terms of height and ride experience: Video projections, backwards elements, in- and outdoor sections as well as an encounter with the Abominable Snowman will make the completely themed coaster trip an experience on the highest level. The hardware in the form of an elaborate steel coaster is delivered by a European manufacturer.

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The treasures of Pandora's Box in a picture series

Close-partnered with the German dark ride supplier Heimo and Vekoma Rides Manufacturing presented Pandora´s Box, one of the most outstanding novelties on the show floor. The dark ride system combines a show experience with an 18 meters high free fall tower whose suspended seats can rotate around three additional axes.

Looking into the box

Due to traditional dark ride systems, the high tech system fits a very small space of minimal 18 x 40 meters. The builing structure is similar to a high rack storage area. Visitors will expect a combination of dark ride scenes and thrill elements while the "free fall towers" move around the building core with it's array of show cells arranged horizontally as well as vertically. "The interaction is the clue", says Olaf Mordelt of Heimo: "The patrons experience a show scene looking into a chamber packed with animatronics, special effects and video-projections and something will happen, something they will feel."

Imagine that: You are looking into a gold mine and suddenly an enormous explosion blasts you on your back and with 2g up into the air - a 15 meters blast into nowhere. The thrill experience offers solutions for every target group: High thrill rides for the young and adventurous, can be varied by more moderate family rides: While viewing an aquatic scene, the passenger carriage rocks gently to and fro, as if the passengers were part of the scenery.

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Vekoma's Booster Bike at Toverland

Construction work at Toverland

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Pandora's Box features a teachnology with enormous potential: The vehicle consists of a pole with carriages on top and bottom. They are guided along a horizontal track, on the circumferences of the building core. The vehicle is self propelled. A carriage can move vertically along the pole, as well as rotate around it. Two seats assemblies are connected to this carriage by arm-like structures. Within these arms, hings are incorporated to allwo the seat assemblies to perform banking and tilting motions. All motions are separately driven my onboard motors and are free programmable. This allows multiple sequences and combinations of motions. By combining horizontal and vertical translation, all scenes within the array can be viewed.

Regards to roller coasters Vekoma Rides Manufacturing won the IAAPA Major Theme or Amusement Park Ride/Attraction award for the Booster Bike at Toverland, the Netherlands, and could put even the elaborate high tech roller coaster Revenge of the Mummy of the American Premier Rides behind. Motorbike Coaster number 2 will be delivered to Flamingo Land, UK in spring 2005 - including a longer track layout, a higher launch speed and more intense accelerations.

Junior Coaster at Cypress Gardens

In addition, the Dutch manufacturer will deliver a customized Suspended Looping Coaster with four inversions (vertical loop, cobra roll and zero-G roll) to the family zoo park in Northern England. Not less than nine rides will open up in the next months. Among them a Suspended Famlily Coaster for Utah based Lagoon Park, USA and even this year, a 335 meters long family coaster with an open train design and also a Suspended Family Coaster for the re-opened Cypress Gardens in Florida.

There will further be four Vekoma coasters in Asia: A mine coaster as well as a customized Suspended Looping Coaster will be delivered to OCT.

A customized Junior Coaster in mine train style installed at a mountainside is currently being build for the re-vitalized South Korean Everland Park, as a fourth delivery an indoor coaster for the Huanan Mall in China can be mentioned. The upswing in Asia is still ongoing, so that Vekoma Rides Manufacturing has recently opened a factory at the Shenzen region in China in addition to the existing production facility in Czechia with 220 employees.

Overview Suspended Family Coaster

Rendering Switch & Go

Vekoma´s Account Manager Charlotte van Etten presented two more coaster designs: The product line has been extended by a spinning coaster concept and the Switch & Go coaster. At the latter development the train is pushed from the station to the main track via a transfer platform and vertically pulled aloft backwards. After a short and adrenaline pumping dwell the train is released from the pull cart and negotiates an entertaining course including inversions. "Switch & Go combines the lift experience of our bestseller Boomerang with a vertical drop at a way higher capacity, that is to say up to 1350 riders per hour, and a longer ride duration", says Vekoma´s concept designer Stefan Holtman.

Boomerang number 45 will debut in 2005 at the so far unknown Finnish Power Park, featuring the MK 1211 train design with an open seat arrangement and magnetic brakes used at the South Korean Everland Park for the first time.

The owner, a wealthy private businessman, moreover bought a wooden coaster from CGI for 2006. This year Great Coaster International has created a masterpiece of classic wooden coaster architecture with Thunderbolt at Dollywood. The ride for Power Park will be CGI´s first one for Europe.

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RoboCoaster on track

Another show highlight was the RobCocoaster track system by Amec Dynamic Structures: This concept combines the RoboCoaster by the German company KUKA known from Legoland Germany and Denmark with a track-based, powered roller coaster featuring a 3D track. The seat unit was delivered by Vekoma Rides Manufacturing. The implementation of this high tech development is a demanding task for the Canadian professionals at Amec, a company with the know how of more than 45.000 employees and countless successful projects in dynamically stressed steel construction. In the last years Amec was involved as a third party in numerous roller coasters as well as theme park projects for Universal or the Walt Disney Company.

The RoboCoaster track system is an advanced roller coaster track for robotic ride vehicles. The ride vehicles consist of a 4-axis robotic ride platform mounted on a unique ride vehicle chassis. The RoboCoaster makes use of the latest "state of the art" robotics control technology, and generates smooth and seamless motion profiles, including complete rolls and overhead loops across the whole range of motion. It is capable of 2g's, yet is smooth at very low speeds, with a repeatability of 0.2mm. Using motion path planning currently available from one of the world's largest robot manufacturers, the motion of the robot joints and vehicle may be combined to give an infinite variety of passenger motion profiles.

Left: New track profile - right: RoboCoaster in action

Amec has the capability to supply a complete range of competitive RoboCoaster track solutions in the medium and high capacity amusement ride sectors. The RoboCoaster track system is primarily for use in an enclosed environment to make the most of its high impact visual presence and interactive capabilities. It is also well suited for use as an open air ride designed to fit with any park, to suit all geographical, environmental and layout requirements. The track system may be floor mounted or overhead mounted, depending on the budget and creative intent of the attraction.

The next level of this project will result in the virtual theming of the ride which incorporates a high impact visual presence, infinite variety of motion and interactive capabilities. The computer animation will truly bring the next generation of rides to this industry. Rides that create experiences such as flying an F16 Fighter Jet or riding in a Mars Rover are maybe the future...

Inter alia Amec Dynamic Structures is involved in the new track system for Disneyland´s Space Mountain, reopening 2005, as well as the movable platform for Soarin´ Over California at its sister park. Here, riders experience a daring flight above a gigantic Imax screen in a glider. A copy of this E-ticket ride is currently under construction for the 2005 season of the Epcot Center at Walt Disney World.

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Ready for high speed motorcycling...

But there are also innovative developments in smaller dimensions: Peter Schäfer of German P. Schäfer amusement technology presented the prototype of his motorbike concept, a design he holds a two years old intellectual property right for. Peter Schäfer joined the booth of his American partners Martin & Vleminckx, responsible for the erection of Top Thrill Dragster or the new Kingda Ka.

Unlike at the known train concept of the Dutch coaster specialists of Vekoma two riders take their seats behind each other on a high speed machine - the motorbike is the vehicle at the same time. Testing the mock-up already promises a genuine and very intense race feeling: The riders nearly lie on the huge motorcycle. This special riding position guarantees high speeds of 100 kph and more.

The fundamental idea dealed with single cars, potential customers suggested a complete train model due to capacity problems. The preliminary track layout supports Peter Schaefers desires for a high speed motorbike feeling without compromises. The 5-coach train will accelerate in 2.7 seconds to 110 kph powered by a 70 meters long linear induction motors track. The following 900 meters track length consists of fast and intense shifts in direction, steep turns and camelbacks. Actually, there are several track-combinations near the ground level to emphasize the motorbike feeling. Maybe we will see this layout in the near future...

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SheiKra - Construction report of B&Ms Dive Coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

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While Swiss consulting engineers Bolliger & Mabillard as well as Intamin AG presented their new developments exclusively to customers - at Intamin a very compact coaster concept with a linear motor based on the Arrow development X at Six Flags Magic Mountain is under discussion - Zierer / FAB presented the latest product for the German pavilion at the Expo 2005 in Japan at their booth. Video shoots of the test rides of the bare steel structure erected at the Bavarian company facilities show an interesting ride concept combining dark ride, simulator and roller coaster. The track includes vertical lifts and mogul slopes and can easily be upgraded with a motion base platform similar to the one of Spiderman at Universal´s Island of Adventure.

In addition, Zierer / FAB push the implementation of their new Tower Speed Coaster concept whose single cars negotiate a high speed course after a vertical lift and drop.

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Action as its best: Screamin' Swing (left) and Sky Swatter (right)

Quin Checketts of Utah-based S&S Sports Inc. is pleased to see three European premiers of his daring ride concepts: Screamin´ Swing and Sky Swatter, two gigantic swings, will open up at Thorpe Park. Screamin´ Swing features a unique ride experince with high accelerations according to it's pneumatic drives. And the "Screaming" does not end...: Screaming Squirrel, a "tilted" Wild Mouse with breathtaking upside-down drops, will celebrate its debut in 2005 at Italian Gardaland: "Screaming Squirrel offers a breathtaking boundary experience on a very tight footprint. The vehicles face the abyss several times, negotiating tight, vertical 180 degree bends at 10 kilometers per hour, putting riders upside-down", Quin Checketts illustrates the unique coaster design.

He sees S&S´s future especially in small, innovative thrill rides, although the company would be able to tackle large coaster projects at any time. By the acquisition of Arrow and the know how of the wooden coaster experts CCI a major engineering potential is available.

Currently the second roller coaster on the basis of the Arrow 4D coaster concept X is being built. Two seats are mounted on each side of the vehicle, being rotatable for 360 degrees perpendicular to the direction of travel. The rotation is produced by a mechnical system and controlled by the track. "Higher, faster and with more ride elements" is what Quin Checketts promises for the Japanese version. For that purpose the pioneering prototype built for Six Flags Magic Mountain, California was completely reworked. Instead of an axle the engineers incorporate an Ackermann steering as it is used by B&M, Intamin and - recently - Vekoma. For the average rider the differences won´t be perceivable. The trains with their gigantic span width of over 6 meters will inter alia negotiate a new ride element, the so-called "Full Full": While the train negotiates an element similar to a zero-G roll, performing a 360 degrees roll around the longitudinal axis, the seats do a full backwards rotation. Full, full, so to say...

Quin Checketts presents the new Powder Keg roller coaster

A second new coaster development is due to open in 2005 at Silver Dollar City in Missouri: Powder Keg uses the station and some of the existing track elements of the former Premier Rides Liquid Coaster BuzzSaw Falls which had to give way for the S&S ride after only five years of operation. Particularly the adjustments to the local demands were a serious task for the S&S engineers: "The transfer track conveying the train to the launch track was necessary only due to the existing track elements", says Quin Checketts.

The station building resembles a gun powder mill that fell victim to an enormous explosion. The train is literally blasted onto the following, family orientated coaster trip by a shock wave. The horsepowers necessary for the catapult launch are provided by a pneumatic device - 85 km/h are reached within 2.8 seconds. Powder Keg´s propulsion technology is based on the pneumatic launch system Thrust Air 2000 which was used for the first time at Paramount´s Kings Dominion, but instead of the I-shaped track profile conventional curcular tubes will be used in conjunction with a completely new train design for 16 riders. The 1069 meters long track will also offer a chain lift interrupting the action packed, twisting layout to set off the last third of the ride.

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Layout Sky Wheel with complete track sets

A huge step forward for Maurer Söhne will be the installation of the Barnstorm coaster equipped with numerous innovations for Drayton Manor Park, England in summer 2005. For the second time - after the Sky Wheel at Skyline Park, Germany, due to open to the public in spring 2005 - the remarkable X-Car vehicles will be employed, mastering inversions completely without over-the-shoulder restraints due to the groundbreaking and patented seat system. "Even slow upside down experiences are possible with our X-Seat without problems", says Maurer Söhne Managing Director Jörg Beutler. "There is no hangtime in the traditional sense with the X-Car."

Barnstorm layout

Modell spinning coaster Parque de Atracciones Madrid

The Humpty Bump lift used for the Sky Wheel, an element at which the six-seated cars are pulled aloft vertically to be turned upside down in a quarter backflip, will also be employed at Barnstorm. "The moment when the car hangs heads down and the riders are only held by the ergonomic lap bars is a totally unique feeling", raves Jörg Beutler. The Drayton Manor version offers a closed track with two more inversions integrated in the new Bent Cuban Eight element (an eight standing upright, being bent in the middle) as well as an impressively steep camelback promising a totally new airtime experience. The train design is such that Barnstorm´s 385 meters of track can be arranged on the small footprint of a Boomerang coaster. Curve radii as low as three meters offer totally unknown possibilities to the track designers.

The layout of Sky Wheel, an erected oval standing about 50 meters high with two impressive inversions, has also been shown with its two further stages of extension. But Skyline Park won´t open the first one before 2007, although the final layout has been integrated into the portfolio of Maurer Söhne.

With the XTRAC tool (Extended Track Construction Software) developed together with the university of Duisburg the Maurer Söhne engineers have a software system at hand that allows for realizing intense track layouts in a very short time, from the first idea to the production drawings of the track. All stages are included in just one environment, making the program a one-of-a-kind tool. It´s capabilities can be shown taking the Spinning Coaster Tarantula for Parque de Atracciones Madrid as an example: The track is designed in a 3D environment and can instantly be tested with any vehicle or train configuration while the program automatically calculates the dynamics in the background. Optimization of the dynamics regards to higher ride comfort can be done automatically - the corresponding changes in track geometry are carried out by XTRAC simultaneously. The degree of details is very high: Even the rotation of the cars can be exactly simulated for different load configurations. According to that, further intensified layouts compared to earlier installations are possible.

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Sky Wheel at Skyline Park - Maurer Söhne's first X-Car

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Eight cars rotating freely will negotiate the longest Maurer Söhne Spinning Coaster beginning with the 2005 season. The track standing at a maximum height of 22 meters will be integrated into the existing Mine Train attraction and offer the known Immelmann Turns as well as several sharp bends, numerous camelbacks, a tunnel and a building fly-through. Due to the hilly terrain and the tunnel the track will offer a height difference of 25.5 meters.

Rendering Barnstorm

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Super Splash boat for Europa Park

Mack places emphasis on an even tighter customer retention with a completely new corporate design - "We put steel in motion". Franciscus Beckers sees the future of the traditional company from Waldkirch in the field of major water rides. With Supersplash the product line regarding log flumes and water coasters has recently been expanded. "Our engineering team has prepared several technological features to raise the water experience to a completely new level", says Franciscus Beckers.

So this year a vertical lift has been implemented for the third water coaster delivery to Sea World San Diego, California, and in addition rotating platforms have been added to the portfolio. "Next year we will, among other things, deliver an exact copy of Poseidon at Europa Park to Aqua Show Park in Faro, Portugal", says Franciscus Beckers. Initially ten vehicles will rush over the 750 tons steel construction.

Layout steel structure at Europa Park

Less freedom of movement on the track but more splash fun on the basis of the classic Shoot the Chutes will be offered by the second Supersplash, this time for Europa Park. The concept with the 16 passenger boats will emphasize on the splash side, coaster elements like drops or camelbacks are possible, banked high speed curves are not, however. In 2005 the ride will see its splashdown with an enhanced layout on the basis of the prototype at Tusenfryd, Norway.

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Supersplash in Tusenfryd - German only

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As the main attraction of the new Portuguese area five vehicles will complete a backwards drop - connected by two rotating platforms - as well as the double drop known from the first delivery, with the first swale at Europa Park leading through a water basin. A track length of 390 meters and a height of 30 meters are aimed for.

In the field of classic roller coasters the Waldkirch company keeps on building, too: For next year a Powered Coaster will be produced, heading towards Drievliet family park in the Netherlands.

Pictures: Amec, Coastersandmore, Europa Park, Heimo, IAAPA, Maurer Söhne, P. Schäfer amusement technology, S&S, Vekoma Rides Manufacturing - All rights reserved

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