What is a Suspended Roller Coaster?
Suspended coasters were the next level in the steel coaster evolution in the 1980′s. Designers wanted to offer a different ride experienceArrow introduced the Bat at Kings Island as the first modern suspended roller coaster. It opened in 1981 and closed only a few years later due to numerous mechanical problems. In 1984, the legendary Big Bad Wolf was born at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. It was a success and still thrills riders today.
Designers were never able to get suspended coasters to perform inversions or loops. We’d have to wait until the 1990′s and inverted coasters for that. The main difference between inverts and suspendeds is that suspended coasters are able to swing freely where inverted coasters hug the track similar to how standard roller coasters ride on top of the track.
Today, Arrow suspended coasters are rare, but fun. They offer great g-forces during their textbook swings. Currently operating Arrow suspended coasters include: the Big Bad Wolf at Busch Gardens Europe, Iron Dragon at Cedar Point, Ninja at Six Flags Magic Mountain, Top Gun at Kings Island, and Vortex at Canada’s Wonderland.
Later, more tame varieties of suspended coasters start to emerge. Designers Caripro and Setpoint introduced suspended coasters with small four person cars and a new interactive element. On coasters like the Roller Soaker at Hershey Park, onlookers can use water canons to cool off riders as they fly by overhead. The new Hard Rock Park in Myrtle Beach will open with a similar coaster called Slippery When Wet.
Check out this video from 1979 of a suspended roller coaster prototype. You gotta love YouTube! Also, watch this onride video of Iron Dragon at Cedar Point. Notice the swooping turns and two lift hills which are indicative of suspended coasters.
Photos courtesy of CoasterImage
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