For this roller coaster showdown I’m pitting two of the most popular inverted roller coasters against each other. In a kind of sibling rivalry battle, sister coasters Alpengeist at Busch Gardens Williamsburg will face off against Montu at Busch Gardens Tampa. I guess you can file this heavyweight match up under ‘so obvious that I didn’t think of it.’ Thanks to reader Guilherme for suggesting it. As with past showdowns, I’ll go element by element picking a winner each time. And then, I’ll pick an overall winner. This will be a tough showdown as I’ve given them both my highest rating, a 10 (Superior). Here we go.
Theme – Snowy German Alps vs. Dry, Sandy Egypt
Both rides have above average roller coaster theming elements. Alpengeist is in the beatifully green and wooded Busch Gardens Williamsburg. So, to simulate the snowy theme, there are rocky areas that are painted white, skis attached to the trains, statues of skiers, and a tunnel themed as if a skier flew threw it. The concept an out of control ski lift for an inverted coaster makes a lot of sense, but I have always likened Alpengeist more to flight because of its speed and intensity.
Montu’s Egyptian theme is top-notch. There are Egyptian ruins all around, the pathways are a lighter concrete (simulates sand), and Florida’s natural tropical foliage seems to fit in really well. Plus, the ride’s subterranean trenches have the same ancient bricks as the ruins. It all just fits together perfectly. Even though a bigfoot or yeti-like snow beast is much more familiar than Montu, an Egyptian god of war, Montu’s overall theme is much better executed.
Lift & First Drop – An Adventurous High Altitude Climb vs. Is That My Car?
Alpengeist’s lift hill is mammoth in size. On the way up you have the incredible experience of seeing these huge trees shrink and shrink as you look down through your feet. It feels every bit as high as the listed 195-feet tall. Even taller really. And the swooping drop has a jet-like acceleration as that large vehicle (your securely seated in) tries to break the sound barrier. 67 mph on Alpengeist feels very, very fast and that’s why I call this ride the F-22 of Roller Coasters.
Meanwhile, Montu’s lift is angled towards the outside of the park. It’s one of the only times you don’t feel so fully immersed in the ride. Also, the drop is pretty pedestrian for an inverted coaster. Seeing the parking lot and a quick glimpse of cars whizzing by can’t compare to Alpie’s high-altitude, high speed opening.
Overall Layout: High Altitude Speed & Power vs. Pacing Perfection & Subterranean Dives
After the aforementioned 170′ plunge sends Alpengeist’s train to what feels like about Mach 1, a well-placed Immelmann returns you to the skies with a twist. Then another high-altitude inversion follows via a vertical loop. Next, it’s off to the Rhine River to meet up with neighboring mythical creatures Loch Ness and Griffon. There, the ride gets its roughest with mid-air cobra roll (interestingly, the opposite of the below-ground batwing on Montu). The ride slows a bit and comes back to earth after a brake run. It finishes with a corkscrew and a helix after a drop through a little themed “hole” by the log flume and a zero-g roll.
Montu’s succession of loops is one of Bolliger & Mabillard’s finest works of art. There’s not a foot of track that I would change. The flow of the ride is near perfect. Montu’s layout includes: lift hill, 128′ drop, 104′ tall Loop, a tunnel, a graceful Immelmann near the ruins, a never disappointing Zero-G Roll, a rare buried batwing, a smaller 60′ tall Loop, and a memorable Corkscrew during the ‘Death Star’ run. I really do love the size and power of Alpengeist (hence it’s high rating in my top ten roller coasters), but Montu’s layout is near perfect.
Overall Showdown Winner
So Montu gets the win in this roller coaster showdown. I’m still a huge fan of Alpengeist and there’s really no loser between these two world-class roller coasters.
Overall Winner: Montu
Bonus Round: Mythical Mascot Showdown – Hawk-Headed Egyptian God of War vs. Snow Beast of the Alps
In a mythical cage match between these two, I’d have to put my money on Montu’s god-like abilities. The furry snow beast does look pretty intimidating to a mere mortal like myself, but it’d be no match for a god.
Mascot Winner: Montu
Read other roller coaster showdowns. And, check out my full Alpengeist and Montu reviews. I often compare Alpie to flying in a plane or jet, read pilot and coaster enthusiast Joel Rogers’ (CoasterGallery.com) thoughts on flying versus roller coasters: Interview with Joel from Coaster Gallery Talks Photos and Flying.
What’s Your Take?
Do you agree with my winner? Who do you pick in this showdown? Suggest another showdown? Leave a comment below. Photos 1, 2, 3 via (Creative Commons) – Flickr Users Maulim, Sigsegv, & Intamin10. Photo 4 courtesy of CoasterImage.com.