Theme Park, Amusement Park and Attractions Industry News

Cold Coasting

by Paul Ruben

Media day for B&M‘s new 306ft-tall Leviathan mega coaster at Canada’s Wonderland outside Toronto was in late April. It can be balmy up there at that time of year, but not on this occasion.

It was cold, 2ºC, or 36ºF. But I came prepared, wearing a warm sweater under a heavy jacket, gloves, hat, neck warmer, long johns and two pairs of socks. Riding a coaster that reaches a top speed of 92 mph, it didn’t help. I froze my frizzer.

Now that I’ve thawed out I have some thoughts to share. My first is that they should have learned from Walt Disney and built Canada’s Wonderland in Florida. It’s warmer there. My second thought is they should have held the media day in August. That’s when hockey players play golf because the ice is finally melting. Third, I was pleased to see B&M join the 300-foot club. They innovate thoughtfully and conservatively, with great success. Build many more.

Leviathan is all about speed. With more than a mile of track, the train raced over the fast portion of the layout in 57 seconds. It will get even faster when the lubrication warms up. Did you ever notice? Big coasters have more speed, while smaller coasters have more action. As they did on Leviathan, designers must find the right balance.

They also put the mid-course brake run at the end of the ride. Thankyouverymuch. That way it does not interrupt the flow of the ride, as on many multi-train coasters. They could have added a double-down on the ride. No extra cost, just extra excitement. Just imagine that 306-foot drop with a little mid-drop whoop-dee-doo.

I was surprised to find that Leviathan did not have the same style trains as Behemoth, its 230ft-tall sister coaster across the park. Those trains feature staggered four-across seating. Leviathan’s seats are four-abreast. I like the staggered seating because everyone gets a great view. I thought the park had chosen the four-abreast trains simply to offer a different ride experience. Not so. Norm Pirtovshek, vice-president and general manager, explained that female riders didn’t like staggered seating because they couldn’t sit next to their boy friends. Exsqueeze me? Since when is coaster riding about holding hands?

This season Canada’s Wonderland has also added Dinosaurs Alive, an animatronic dinosaur park with 40 moving, roaring creatures. I walked through appreciatively, but felt sorry for the dinos. They looked cold, too.

When I could no longer feel my toes I headed to one of the park’s restaurants. I had been invited there by Wilf Seymour, Canada’s Wonderland director of food and beverage. Finding good park food can be an adventure, but Wilf told me they had changed their menu and introduced fresh ingredients. Artisan pizzas, juicy beef burgers, salads; there was a wonderful variety of tempting dishes. Even adult beverages, for those so inclined. Wilf made me a believer. This was good eatin’.

And best of all, did I mention this? The restaurant was heated.

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