CATAPULT LAUNCH COASTERS

Sidewinder Elitch Gardens
Sidewinder at Elitch Gardens in Colorado, USA.

 

The original launched coaster before the days of Air-Compressed and Hydraulic launches. From weight-drop to flywheel to catch car propulsion, examples of the evolution of the Catapult Coaster are still operational to this day.

The Original

SCHWARZKOPF SHUTTLE LOOP

Greezed Lightnin’ Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom
Greezed Lightnin’ at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom in the USA.

The Schwarzkopf shuttle loop used a weight-drop to power its catapult launch system. One of the most famous Shuttle Loops was Thunder Looper at Alton Towers in the UK. These are one of the most common examples of inverting coasters that operate with lap bars only.
More “recent” versions of Schwarzkopf shuttle loops used a flywheel to power its launch instead of a weight-drop.

Operating example:

Montezooma’s Revenge at Knott’s Berry Farm, USA
Cascabel at La Feria Chapultepec Magico, Mexico

 

Variations

VEKOMA LSM CATAPULT COASTER

Xpress: Platform 13 Walibi Holland
Xpress: Platform 13 at Walibi Holland.

Using Linear Synchronous Motors (LSM), a catch car propels the train down the launch track. The catch car then detaches and the train is sent around the track. All current Vekoma LSM Catapult Coasters are clones – examples include Disney’s Rock ‘N’ Roller Coasters and Xpress at Walibi Holland.

Operating examples:

Xpress: Platform 13 at Walibi Holland
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios, USA

See also: LSM Launched Coasters

ARROW SHUTTLE LOOP

Diamondback Frontier City
Diamondback at Frontier City in Oklahoma, USA.

Arrow‘s shuttle loop is very rare. It involves two raised platforms separated by a ground-level vertical loop. A raised station platform propels the train forward at a fairly slow speed. The train then travels down a hill, through a vertical loop, and up a hill, onto another flat launch section on the other side. The train is then stopped and catapulted backwards, repeating the circuit. An example is Revolution at Pleasure Beach Blackpool in the UK.

Operating examples:

Revolution at Pleasure Beach Blackpool, UK
Diamondback at Frontier City, USA
Sidewinder at Elitch Gardens, USA

ZAMPERLA MOTOCOASTER

Steeplechase at Luna Park’s Scream Zone in New York, USA.
Steeplechase at Luna Park’s Scream Zone in New York, USA.

Zamperla offers a different take on the flywheel launch with their MotoCoasters. The trains for these coasters feature individual seating on 12 motorcycles or horses lines up in rows of two. Theme to a race with starting lights and a finish line, the compact layout features a series of sloping twists and turns without any big drops or inversions.

Operating examples:

Steeplechase at Coney Island’s Scream Zone in New York, USA
Moto Bala at Mundo Petapa, Guatemala
Pony Express at Knott’s Berry Farm, USA
MotoGee at Särkänniemi Amusement Park, Finland

PAX LOOP 520

Cobra Conny-Lan
Cobra at Conny-Land in Switzerland.

Russian manufacturer PAX designed the Loop 520, of which only one was ever built – Cobra at Conny-Land in Switzerland. Like the original Schwarzkopf models, these use a weight drop catch car to hoist the train up a spike out the rear of the station. The train is released and travels through a vertical loop and up a 520° “Scorpion Tail” an then do it all again backwards.

Operating examples:

Cobra at Conny-Land, Switzerland