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      CommentAuthorKWTbolt
    • CommentTimeJan 21st 2014
     
    As Kennywood is my home park, I grew up with three outstanding examples of the classic wooden coaster. All three are the work of John A. Miller (with the Thunderbolt getting some additional work several decades after Miller's original design took shape). It is perhaps because of this that I am concerned about the direction woodies have been heading the past few years. To me, a wooden coaster gets its character from the mix of airtime and lateral forces, along with a certain sense of controlled chaos. A wooden coaster could never rely on things like super steep drops, highly banked turns, or (most notably) inversions. They weren't heart-lined to the point where transitions lacked force and turns lacked lats (maybe that's an over exaggeration, but you know what I mean). You were supposed to get thrown around a bit.

    While my favorite wooden coasters will always be those that have been so carefully preserved, I do feel like there was a revival of wooden coasters when companies like Custom Coasters Intl and Great Coasters Intl started popping out coasters like Boulder Dash and The Wildcat (Hershey Park). These coasters had many of the same features as the classic woodies, but new technology allowed them to push a little higher and faster over time. This seemed like the perfect mix of new and old.

    But then, the wooden coaster began to cross over into the realm of the steel coaster as we saw drops getting increasingly steeper and turns getting more highly banked. This seemed like a natural progression of sorts perhaps, as steel coasters too were pushing their own set of boundaries, and for the most part, I was fine with this. The best wooden coasters still featured abundant air time and the ability to shake some sense right out of you. But then it happened; they began turning wooden coasters upside down (I don't consider SoB to be as big a tragedy as it proved that designers were not yet ready to properly build a wooden coaster of that magnitude). As early attempts at these new maneuvers (Outlaw Run, Iron Rattler) have been successful, it seems that people are calling for the "Rocky Mountain" treatment for several other aging giants, and brand new designs are beginning to emerge as well (Goliath SFGA).

    It just feels wrong to me. I'm afraid that wooden coasters are losing their identity and that some of the greats are being sucked in rather than being properly maintained. I know a lot of people will disagree, and don't think that I'm not excited out of my mind to ride these ridiculous creations, but I'm going to miss proper wooden coasters as they become endangered. I've ridden wooden coasters that are almost 100 years old now, and they still run perfectly. It is possible to save them just the way they are ...
    • CommentAuthorMilBee
    • CommentTimeJan 21st 2014
     
    Kennywood is my home park too and I agree that the three wooden coasters there are great. They get this greatness because of their history in my opinion. Now-a-days, people want extreme coasters and if a coaster like the Jack Rabbit was built today, it wouldn't be that exciting. What we're seeing with RMC is just the evolution of a coaster to get the most extreme, exciting one possible.
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      CommentAuthorLing
    • CommentTimeJan 21st 2014
     
    Wooden coasters have the misfortune of becoming dreadfully painful after a couple years. I used to love Ghostrider, now if I ride it, my day is over because I get a headache so bad that I can hardly see straight. Psyclone, Colossus, and Mean Streak are more examples I've ridden repeatedly over the course of several years, each time getting more miserable. Apocalypse will go the same way soon, which saddens me, because it's brilliant. Even the worst steel coasters seem to be able to be "restored" every couple years, but wooden coasters just get worse and worse. It's not all about speed, inversions, or near-vertical drops. It's about what's just plain fun to ride, and most wooden coasters are only fun for a few years.
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      CommentAuthorKWTbolt
    • CommentTimeJan 21st 2014 edited
     
    Posted By: LingWooden coasters have the misfortune of becoming dreadfully painful after a couple years. I used to love Ghostrider, now if I ride it, my day is over because I get a headache so bad that I can hardly see straight. Psyclone, Colossus, and Mean Streak are more examples I've ridden repeatedly over the course of several years, each time getting more miserable. Apocalypse will go the same way soon, which saddens me, because it's brilliant. Even the worst steel coasters seem to be able to be "restored" every couple years, but wooden coasters just get worse and worse. It's not all about speed, inversions, or near-vertical drops. It's about what's just plain fun to ride, and most wooden coasters are only fun for a few years.


    I agree that many coasters built within the last few decades have become increasingly uncomfortable over the years, but I don't think this has to be a norm. It is possible to restore a wooden coaster every so often, but this usually involves replacing wood regularly. Every year I see a few pics of Kennywood during the off-season, and there are always shots of this process in action. They both replace worn tracking as well as entire pieces of superstructure. I know other parks do this because their newer wooden coasters are usually unpainted, so you can clearly see where new wood meets old, worn wood. This should happen often enough that no piece of structural/track wood is more than a few years old. Unfortunately, this does not happen as often as it should at many parks. I'd imagine it's due to cost.
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    Well most parks when they re-track wooden coasters only replace the top 2 layers of wood instead of the whole stack and wood can warp and create really bad bumps so the only way to keep a wooden coaster really smooth throughout it's life time is to basically replace the entire stack of wood but it's expensive and parks usually don't do that, that's where topper track comes in handy. And it's even worse with hybrid wooden coasters.
    • CommentAuthorsprog
    • CommentTimeJan 21st 2014
     
    John Wardley gave an interesting talk at Oakwood last year, which you can see here, which I think probably highlights why woodies are going the way they are - It's much easier to market the fastest/tallest/steepest/most inversions to the general public compared to "hey here's a wooden coaster", and it all comes down the public's perception of them too - He mentions "old and dangerous", something I've noted with my friends (Took most of the day and about 12 laps on megafobia without getting decapitated to convince a couple of my friends it WAS safe and they weren't going to die, despite the fact it's actually newer than Nemesis... Although it's probably not helped that all but one of the wooden coasters in the UK are older than 70!).

    I guess that explains why both parks and companies are leaning towards the styles we've seen pop up in recent years - Manufacturers have to alter their offerings to stay in the game and appeal to park's demographics, and parks generally only want to put down a load of cash on rides that are going to draw a big crowd and be a worthwhile investment.

    I'm hoping that with the new RMC tracks, somebody somewhere in the UK might get one - I can see Thorpe, Alton or even somewhere like Flamingoland easily advertising "Europe's first inverting wooden coaster", and it would fit in with what John Wardley notes about rides having to be marketable. Sure it's not a "classic" wooden coaster, but hey, it'd be nice to have a new wooden over here, whatever it is.
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    I think GCI should stay uninteresting if they do that wooden coasters may remain my favorite. I think only horrible wooden coasters that are over 100 feet should get Iron Horsed. Mean Streak has been re-tracked and it is one of my favorites at Cedar Point. I'm still really sad that Colossus is next for iron horsing I think that will ruin it. They should skip right to the Boss in St. Louis for Iron Horsing and keep Boulder Dash, The Holiday world coasters and all out and backs alone. Also bring Back the original Hades
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      CommentAuthorKWTbolt
    • CommentTimeJan 21st 2014
     
    As much as I'm disappointed to hear the rumors that Six Flags is going to give Colossus the Iron Horse treatment, I'm also really interested in what they're going to do with it. In their other projects, they've drastically re-profiled coasters, which to me made sense with the style of layout those coasters had. Colossus, however, has two things that set it apart from those projects: the layout is much more traditional with several flat fan curves split up by (for the most part) straight-away hills; and it's a racing coaster. Making it taller certainly would seem to be the most obvious change, but what will they do with all of those fan curves? Perhaps we'll see some large overbanked turns in their place--how exactly will the adjacent tracks interact through an element like that? I would also imagine that they may split some of the larger hills to create some double-ups/downs. Thoughts?

    Also, agreed on the list of coasters that shouldn't be touched. I don't see some of those smaller parks buying into this style of rehab though, because of the cost perhaps, or the good press that those coasters are still generating.
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      CommentAuthorAussieMine
    • CommentTimeJan 21st 2014
     
    I've been trying to say this to someone who always makes upside down wooden coasters (Gravity) I don't like how they go upside down now, and they don't even USE wooden track, they use steel track with Wooden supports, now based on RCDB, the track is what classifys the coaster, and since most of these new coasters are Steel tracked, they're still getting masked as Wooden coasters because of their support structure.
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      CommentAuthorLing
    • CommentTimeJan 21st 2014
     
    How recently was Mean Streak re-tracked? I was there two or three years ago and it was fucked. Almost every train was running empty and it was dumb of me to try and find out why.
    • CommentAuthorWildRoller
    • CommentTimeJan 21st 2014
     
    Mean Streak really hasn't aged well at all. Hopefully Cedar Point gets RMC to come in and redo it to be crazy and fun again!