DIVE COASTERS

a.k.a Vertical Drop Coaster, Dive Machine, Euro-Fighter, Infinity Coaster, El Loco

SheiKra Busch Gardens Tampa
SheiKra at Busch Gardens Tampa in Florida, USA.

 

When this type of ride was first introduced with Oblivion and G5, everyone thought it would never be anything more than a gimmick. However, in 2005, Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M) proved that the Dive Coaster, seven years on from its first appearance as a one trick pony, could take on anything today. With a circuit comprising of one 90 degree drop and one near vertical drop, an inversion, and a water splash, SheiKra at Busch Gardens Tampa proved the true potential of this ride type.
Other manufacturers then took up the challenge with Gerstlauer and S&S Worldwide battling to see who could produce the “steepest” drop.

The Original

B&M DIVE COASTER

Oblivion Alton Towers
Oblivion at Alton Towers in the UK.

Still a secret even during construction, Oblivion is one of the most speculated coasters of all time. Billed as a “Dive Machine” and containing an 88 degree drop, over which the train was held by a reverse-chain system for a few terrifying seconds, the ride opened in 1998 to huge success even though it offers a short ride time compared to other coasters. Despite having a simple layout, Oblivion’s excellent theme based around fear allows it to remain among the scariest rides today.

Operating examples:
Oblivion at Alton Towers, UK
Griffon at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, USA
Valravn at Cedar Point, USA

SheiKra Busch Gardens Tampa
SheiKra at Busch Gardens Tampa in Florida, USA.

B&M opened SheiKra in 2005, which took Oblivion’s concept to a whole new level. Maintaining the spirit of the original, SheiKra retained the short train length made of 8-across cars, holding chain over the first dive, and large drop, SheiKra expanded the concept by making the first drop a full 90 degree drop, adding an Immelmann inversion, and finishing with an interactive water splash.
B&M continues to evolve the Dive Coaster with each new installation, adding larger 10-across trains, more varied elements, as well as taller and longer track.

 

Variations

GERSTLAUER EURO-FIGHTER

Speed: No Limits Oakwood Theme Park
Speed: No Limits at Oakwood Theme Park in Wales, UK.

The evolution of the vertical drop rollercoaster could only really go one way… more than vertical! These Gerstlauer coasters treat riders to a 90 degree vertical lift hill followed by a beyond vertical (95°-121°) first drop – the ride experience is rounded out by extreme transitions, highly banked curves, helixes, and inversions, the usual format of which is a single vertical loop followed by one or more barrel rolls. The coaster is designed to be small, compact, cheap, and transportable, although almost all current installations are of the permanent type.

Operating examples:
SpongeBob SquarePants Rock Bottom Plunge at Nickelodeon Universe, USA
Mystery Mine at Dollywood, USA
Iron Shark at Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier, USA

GERSTLAUER INFINITY COASTER

The Monster Adventureland
The Monster at Adventureland in Iowa, USA.

Another Gerstlauer version is the Infinity Coaster model, which takes the Euro-Fighter to another level by adding more varied elements and in some instances replacing the vertical lift with a launch. However, not all Infinity Coasters have vertical or beyond vertical drops.

Operating examples:
The Monster at Adventureland, USA
The Smiler at Alton Towers, UK

Schwur des Kärnan Hansa Park
Schwur des Kärnan at Hansa Park in Germany.

In 2015 Gerstlauer manufactured Schwur des Kärnan at Hansa Park, the first roller coaster to have a “reverse freefall” drop on the lift hill which is hidden inside a 240 foot (73m) tower.

 

 

 

 

 

S&S EL LOCO

Steel Hawg Indiana Beach
Steel Hawg at Indiana Beach, USA.

In 2008, S&S – Sansei Technologies (then S&S Worldwide) entered into the vertical drop coaster market, with the (then) world’s steepest drop on Steel Hawg at Indiana Beach. These compact coasters seem to be designed to make the rider constantly feel as though they’re about to be thrown from the car. A mix, if you like, of diving coaster and a new generation of wild mouse.
Like the Euro-Fighters, each new El Loco installation featured a steeper drop ranging from 111° on Steel Hawg to 120.5° on Green Lantern Coaster at Warner Bros. Movie World in Australia.

Operating examples:
Steel Hawg at Indiana Beach, USA
El Loco at Adventuredome, USA
Timber Drop at Fraispertuis City, France

ZIERER VERTICAL DROP

Wicked Lagoon
Wicked at Lagoon in Utah, USA.

In 2007, Zierer produced their first vertical drop coaster – Wicked at Lagoon. A bit ahead of it’s time, the coaster was the first to feature a launch in addition to the vertical lift hill/drop.
Some eight years later Zierer built Impulse at Knoebels Amusement Resort, their second coaster with a vertical lift hill and drop. However this one does not launch and uses a more traditional chain lift.

Operating examples:
Wicked at Lagoon, USA
Impulse at Knoebels Amusement Resort, USA

Cannibal Lagoon
Cannibal at Lagoon in Utah, USA.

Using many design elements taken from Zierer, Lagoon designed and built their own beyond vertical drop coaster in 2015 called Cannibal. Featuring a 208 foot high tower, the elevator lift coaster with a 116° drop stands much taller than any other vertical or beyond vertical drop coaster.

 

 

 

NAUTA-BUSSINK MINE DIVER

Tower of Terror Gold Reef City
Tower of Terror at Gold Reef City in South Africa.

A shockingly frightening dive coaster built by Nauta-Bussink that opened with lap bars and a twisting 90° drop through an old mine tower. The ride has since been closed because it was deemed far too intense on riders. Since it was built by an extremely small and little known company and installed mainly through in-house means by the park, there is little chance another of these coasters will ever be built.