And so is the case with virtually every other amusement and theme park. Their ride lineups are fluid, malleable things; they are in a constant state of flux.
This month AT examines various parks that have officially announced the closure and removal of certain attractions.
Six Flags Over Texas
Guests were invited to say farewell to Texas Chute Out and Flashback over the Labor Day weekend.
Modeled after the old Parachute Jump at Coney Island, Texas Chute Out (Intamin) opened at the park in 1976. More than 29 million riders have travelled up and down the ride’s 200-foot structure. One of the most popular modes of travel on this ride was the basket, which allowed guests to stand to take in the picturesque skyline. The baskets were removed in 1994 and replaced with the standard chairs.
Its neighbor, Flashback (Vekoma Boomerang), opened in 1989. The coaster was one of the first built in the U.S. It has thrilled over 17 million park-goers for more than three decades.
When Son of Beast opened in 2000, it was lauded as the next generation of wooden roller coasters. Not only did this monster shatter a number of world records — including eclipsing its famous dad, The Beast, on the other side of the park in every category except track length – the ride was the first wooden coaster in modern history to feature a vertical loop.
Unfortunately, the ride’s herculean attributes contributed to its eventual downfall. A number of incidents resulting in guest injuries as well as massive maintenance requirements doomed the towering coaster. Even when the vertical loop — ironically the smoothest part of the course — was removed in 2007, and the rolling stock was replaced, SOB simply proved too problematic. Yet another incident, which was never directly attributed to the coaster, occurred in 2009. The park voluntarily closed SOB indefinitely.
After a lengthy investigation, Kings Island officials announced in early July that the coaster would be demolished at the end of summer 2012 for future expansion.
Six Flags Fiesta Texas
When The Rattler opened as the park’s signature attraction in 1992, it set the world records for height (179 feet) and speed (73 mph). Built astride the quarry walls, it was a ride that demanded respect. It’s steep, quirky first drop was truly breathtaking and with the rest of the layout just as unconventional.
Like most over-sized wooden coasters built during the same period (and SOB), the Rattler’s bloated dimensions worked against it. The park’s maintenance crews seemed to be constantly tweaking the structure and track to keep it under control, especially the wicked first drop. The most glaring alteration came in 1994 when the bottom of the initial plunge was raised 42 feet. Now running much slower, the ride continued to slide in popularity with guests while maintenance costs continued to rise.
The Rattler made its final run on Aug. 5.
To make room for its next major attraction in 2013, Cedar Point has announced the removal of two major rides at summer’s end.
Leaving the park for good is Disaster Transport, an Intamin Bobsled coaster. Originally operated as Avalanche Run 1985-89, the ride was enclosed and became Disaster Transport. Still popular, it gave 571,556 rides in 2012, its final season.
Two sleds, a section of trough, signage and other archival items have been donated to the National Roller Coaster Museum.
Space Spiral, the park’s Von Roll Ltd tower ride, is also bidding farewell. Having provided 34 million guests spectacular views of Lake Erie from a height of 285 feet, the ride has been a fixture at the front of the park since 1965.
Various other rides bowing out this season include:
•Hurricane at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The SDC Windstorm has been operating at the seaside park since 1992. The final operating day is Sept. 3. The ride has been sold to Western Playland in Sunland Park, N.M.
•Perilous Plunge at Knott’s Berry Farm. The Intamin Mega Splash opened in Sept. 2000 as the world’s tallest (121 feet) and steepest (77.8 degrees) water ride. It’s final operating day is scheduled for Sept. 3.