Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Top 5 Indoor Coasters

Time for another list! This time, I tried to choose coasters that were innovative to the industry in some way. We'll be looking at indoor coasters that take place in some kind of structure that may feature complete blackness.

#5 Flights of Fear - Kings Island and Kings Dominion

Originally themed to The Outer Limits show as well as using 3-D effects, this coaster is notable for being the very first one to ever use the ILM launch system. Kind of shocking, right? You'd think an outdoor coaster would have that glory. The ride starts out in Hanger 18 that contains a giant flying saucer. Then, after being launched through a narrow tunnel, the vehicles rocket into a large steel mess called the “spaghetti bowl.” This makes sense seeing that the ride gives us many tightly enclosed loops and dips. There are four inversions including a corkscrew, cobra roll, and a sidewinder. The Linear Induction Motors were a big deal, but the fact that the ride has a great layout makes it stand the test of time.

#4 Chaos - Opryland

Here's one that's personal to me that you may have never heard of before. Chaos was an indoor ride at Opryland in Nashville. Originally, 3D projections came at you off of two giant screens (seen in this pic courtesy of Thrill Hunter). Later, the lights were turned on, the 3D effects were gone, and a nuclear reactor and a dragon were added. A wonderful trance-like score provided the soundtrack, "Bones on the Beach." After Opryland closed they replaced it with that Gaylord hotel that I was forced to tour. (I was sadistically happy when the place flooded.) Thankfully, I did go to the site of the old Opryland park and found the old raft ride and the ticket booth still standing. Chaos had a sister ride called Revolution that was in Europe until a few years ago. You won't find a whole lot of info about this online, but YouTube does have a few recreations of the ride. Check em' out.

#3 Black Hole - Alton Towers

Now this is an indoor coaster that really used the darkness to its advantage. Being one of the very first indoor coasters in 1984, the experience itself was something new to patrons. As such, guests seemed to make it out to be even scarier than it really was. It didn't help that since this was not the traditional “out and back” coaster, empty vehicles arriving at the station made oncoming passengers turn cold with fear. The lift hill itself wasted no time taunting the riders at what was to come. A spiral of strobe lights and black-lit effects followed you on the way up. Just before you fell down that first drop, there was an astronaut at the top waving as if to say “Nice knowing you.” The strange thing here is that Black Hole was never in a typical ride building. It was in a giant tent, instead. In the late 80's, duel tracks were added, and the ride became known as “Black Hole II” for a while. Sadly, it closed in 2005 with no explanation given that I know of.

#2 Volcano: The Blast Coaster - Kings Dominion

OK, OK, I know I'm kind of cheating here. The coaster is not set completely in the dark, but a good portion of it takes place inside a giant false volcano. The mountain itself was previously the home to a junior coaster, a flume ride, and a flat before it lay dormant for several years. In 1998, however, Intamin built Volcano in its place. Imitating an eruption of lava, the ride is significant for being the first inverted launch coaster. It is located close to Flights of Fear, another record-breaker.

#1 Space Mountain - Walt Disney World

Oh, come on. You knew this was coming. Now, I admit, there have been many coasters that have improved on Space Mountain's concept since its birth in the 70's at the Florida park. Space Fantasy Coaster at Universal Studios Japan just might be the very best themed coaster ever made. X: No Way Out at Thorpe Park has used many indoor effects, and it was the very first indoor backwards coaster. But, Space Mountain is the granddaddy of them all: the very first indoor roller coaster ever, and still one of the best. The track layout consists of two wild mouse coasters (nicknamed Alpha and Omega) that duel side by side as mirror images. The building is shaped the way it is because one track had to be a few feet longer than its partner. Due to this, it would be impossible for the 300 foot building to be more spherical. Sharp drops of 39 degrees zip under hanging supports that are probably too low for comfort. As a kid, I was afraid that I might be so tall as to have my head knocked against them.

The queue line is set in a long tunnel themed like a space port. This was done on purpose so that the rider wouldn't simply walk into “space” from the real world outside. This area is actually risen above the last section of coaster track. Projections of meteors on the ceiling flow over riders heads, and tunnels that look like worm holes were the first of their kind to have a special soundtrack that was in sync to the vehicle's movement inside. The designers even teased riders for a while by having a two-way mirror at one point containing mannequins that were hanging upside-down from coaster cars. Since these moved right along with your vehicle at a fast pace, many riders bought into the illusion that they were really traveling upside-down.

Four siblings have been spawned from this old timer, but the only one to properly rival the 1975 original would have to be Space Mountain: Mission 2 at Disneyland Paris. Themed to the Victorian sci-fi story, “From the Earth to the Moon,” a “cannon” launches riders up into the dome.

Well, hope you enjoyed this as much as I did. I'll be back next week with...Well, I'm not sure yet. They haven't told me. Whatever it is, hope to see you then!



ParkImpressions said...

Great article, Aaron! I like your ride choices!

Reesie Cup said...

Thank you, Sir.

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