Introduction Back to main menu Deconstruction of Schwarzkopf's Looping Star

Looping Star's last ride

Junior director Jacky Schoepen and the Looping Star

Before even one piece of the top novelty Typhoon can be installed another looping coaster has to be dismantled. For 24 years the Schwarzkopf classic Looping Star reliably did its job, but on 26th of October 2003 the „old lady“ saw her last ride.

In 1975 the first rideable vertical loop was presented to the public. Magic Mountain near Los Angeles was the first park to offer this groundbreaking novelty. So it was very out of the ordinary that the American Revolution was invented and built by a Swabian. Anton Schwarzkopf was one of the world´s leading fairground attraction manufactureres who, supported by the engineer Werner Stengel, can be seen as the most innovative roller coaster builder of the 60s to the 80s.

Three large, customized looping coasters with individually designed layouts were sold to the US before the German public could enjoy this experience for the first time. In 1978 the first Looping Star had its premiere as a traveling version on German fairs. The compact ride had a newly developed and very handy assembly system using conic transitions that made it very easy to transport. The Looping Star was a sensation and infected the visitors with the looping fever. The amusement parks also discovered the potential, and so exactly eight coasters of this type have left the company site in Swabian Münsterhausen.



First Drop Vertical loop
Drop High Speed Turn
Bankes curve

Bobbejaanland was one of the first customers and presented the 24 meters high ride in the 1979 season. Nearly 600 meters of track are built upon a sole, a large steel frame that stretches across the complete footprint and absorbs the static and dynamic forces. Parallel to the lift hill, on the other long side, the eponymous vertical looping looms 14 meters high into the sky. Its clothoidal shape was invented by construction engineer Werner Stengel who was inspired by road construction techniques. Unlike a completely round looping the positive forces don´t appear abruptly and make this element rideable without injuries.

The public downright assailed this roller coaster up to its last ride. Almost a quarter of a century the three trains did their job in Bobbejaanland, but then it was time to say farewell to a classic that made history.

It was hard for Jacky Schoepen, junior director of the park in nothern Belgium, to decide against this classic coaster. But in this last season only one of the three trains could be used. Det Norske Veritas (DNV), the Norwegian equivalent to German TÜV that is also active throughout Europe, prohibited operation with full capacity due to security reasons.


Vild Svinet - Gerstlauer's prototype located at Bonbon Land

Jacky Schoepen was looking for a roller coaster that could be a match for the Looping Star for quite a few years. It had to be something highly innovative, something that would enthuse the visitors like the predecessor did. Negotiations with Vekoma from the Netherlands about a flying coaster and Wieland Schwarzkopf, the son of Anton Schwarzkopf who passed away two years ago, had no result. The flying experience that was presented in the year 2000 in the US for the first time would have been a top novelty in Europe, but the size of that ride exceeded the possibilities at Bobbejaanland by far. Besides the Looping Star at least two other flat rides would have had to be removed. And finally the huge amount to be invested lead to another decision.

Model at Interschau 2002

At the Interschau 2002 in Düsseldorf, a tradeshow for amusement rides, Jacky Schoepen by chance saw a small wire model of a roller coaster at the booth of the German company Gerstlauer. „The coaster completely fitted onto the area of our Looping Star," he remembers, "and I was directly appealed to the innovative ride.“ A vertical lift hoists the cars to a height of 26 meters. There they sharply negotiate the top and dive down in an angle of 97 degrees. On the following 700 meters of track the passengers are put upside-down four times, one of them in a vertical loop. „The ride has all I was looking for“, Jacky Schoepen tells us. "It uses elements of the Looping Star, so fans of our classic will have an adequate replacement. In addition, it is unique in Central Europe and offers an absolute kick. The lift alludes to a free fall tower and finally the cars go down more than vertical. So we actually have two attractions in one."

For Gerstlauer Typhoon is not the first ride of this kind. Only in spring 2003 a small version was installed at BonBon-Land in Denmark, and the prototype worked perfectly from the beginning. Like the Looping Star, the Gerstlauer rides are manufactured in the Swabian city of Münsterhausen. The company even uses parts of the former Schwarzkopf production site.


Jacky Schoepen riding the Looping Star

Before the first car can dive down the drop it was time to say farewell to a classic. The last ride of the Looping Star was downright celebrated. Bobbejaanland had invited in co-operation with a fan club from the Low Countries. More than 70 enthusiasts followed the call and experienced the solemn goodbye from that top attraction. The organizers specially installed a sound system with 20 speakers and more than 80 floodlights were directed at the coaster. In the incipient darkness the looping was illuminated by the lights and the fog machines in the station and under the loop were running at full speed.

Strobes flash, the horn sounds and at exactly at 9:15pm the last ride for the time being starts. 28 lucky enthusiasts sit in the train, one of them Jacky Schoepen in person. The train slowly ascends to the highest point before the chain slowly released the "old lady" into the first drop. Arms go up while the cars dive into the fog and head into the vertical loop. Strobes and fog machines make this moment unforgettable. Exactly when the train reaches the highest point the rest of the lights inflame and mildly blind the passengers.

Left: The illuminated vertical loop

A banked turn follows, the gaze is directed back to the loop. The train heads towards the first drop, passing the numerous lights, and another steep turn sets off the final "eight". Two more turns and the train reaches the final brake. The last ride of this evening is over, the last ride after 24 years of operation. An odd silence emerges before the passengers fall into a lubrugious but happy applause.

Now the Looping Star begins its well-deserved retirement. Two weeks after this last ride there will be almost no sign of this attraction. A team of the Ride Construction Service owned by former showman Eberhard will dismantle the Looping Star. The single parts will temporarily be stored and overhauled afterwards. Jacky Schoepen has not decided yet whether the „old lady“ will return to Bobbejaanland after the facelifting. So everybody who wants to enjoy this classic should pay a visit to the Attractiepark Slagharen in the Netherlands.

We wish to thank Bobbejaanland BV, especially Jacky Schoepen for the friendly support provided for the realisation of this article. We would also like to thank Michael Beckers, ThemeParkVision, Sky-Lite and AB. The copyright of the fotos belongs to the respective photographers and companies. Publication, duplication, processing and distribution is prohibited without written permission.

Editorial  |   Ride Insights  |   Visit the Parks  |   General Topics  |   Coaster Basics  |   Shop  |   Links  |   About
Über das Web-Magazin: Impressum, Nutzungsbedingungen und weitere Informationen

Copyrights 2000-2017 - Kontakt zu den Autoren: