Theme Park, Amusement Park and Attractions Industry News

Double Dale

by Paul Ruben

Over successive April weekends I rode the two new rollercoasters at different Cedar Fair properties in the United States, the similarly-named Intimidator at Carowinds in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Intimidator 305 at Kings Dominion, Doswell, Virginia. Intimidator is 232ft tall, while Intimidator 305 towers 305ft. Was I intimidated by Intimidator? Nah, it’s my job.

Both rides takes their title from the nickname of NASCAR stock car racing legend Dale Earnhardt. On the track, Dale was the Intimidator. In both these parks, Intimidator quickly established itself as their signature ride. But they are not the same ride. Is one better? It depends on your tastes.Both have entry plazas paying tribute to Earnhardt’s accomplishments. Both coaster’s trains are themed to resemble this race car. But at the bottom of each first drop the coasters veer right. Dale Earnhardt always turned left around typically oval shaped NASCAR tracks. But who wants to ride a predictable four-left-turn coaster? This is a road race, not a classic stock car race. So much for theming.

Carowinds’ Intimidator features Bolliger and Mabillard’s new staggered stadium-seating trains with very comfortable lap restraints. Kings Dominion’s version is from IntaRide, Intamin’s North American affiliate, and seats riders two abreast with over-the-shoulder restraints. Carowinds’ Intimidator begins with a first drop of 211ft at a 74-degree angle. Riders race their way around 5,316ft of track at speeds up to 80 miles per hour. There are eight big drops before finishing with a final spiral dip and curve. That’s more than a minute of high-speed butter-smooth fast-paced coasting with eight seat-lifting moments. I love air, and this is big air.

At Kings Dominion, the 5,100ft-long (almost a mile!) Intimidator 305 drops 300ft at an 85 degree-angle, reaching a top speed of 93 mph. In 45 seconds it thunders through the “thrill zone” at an average speed of 68 mph. Simply breathtaking. Good thing park security weren’t carrying radar guns. Last time I checked, travelling 68mph is illegal in Virginia. There are six moments of air and three very aggressive high speed turns. IntaRide placed the eddy-current brakes right at the very end of the run. If you need to stop (I didn’t want to), this is the perfect placement for mid-course brakes.

I love high speed, long rides, non-stop action, airtime and comfort while riding. Both deliver these attributes in generous amounts. Both are destined to become top 10 coasters. But how cool would it have been if either coaster had a double-down? You know. A steep drop from the top of the lift for 30ft, flatten the track a bit for 30 ft, then resume the steep drop to the ground. There was space. Riders would scream with delight. Surely it’s not too intimidating?



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