Bobsled Coasters are derived from their similarity to Bobsleigh rides, where the train free wheels through semicircular shaped troughs (a.k.a chutes). Instead of sitting side-by-side, riders sit in a single row behind one other, again similar to athletes in a bobsleigh. Bobsled Coasters are known for their increasing speed and banked turns. They should not be confused with Alpine Coasters, where riders control the speed at which they travel; gravity is in control on a Bobsled Coaster!
When Bobsled Coasters first appeared in the late 1920’s they were made from wood and known as “Flying Turns”. In the mid-1980’s, roller coaster manufacturers Intamin and Mack Rides developed steel Bobsled Coasters which are easier to maintain and commonplace today. In a break from steel construction, in 2013 Knoebels Amusement Resort in Pennsylvania opened a wooden Bobsled Coaster that is the only operating modern version made from wood.
Former British aviator John Norman Bartlett is credited with patenting the first type of Bobsled Coaster in the 1920’s, known as “Flying Turns”. Bartlett’s first creation was in 1929 at the now defunct Lakeside Park in Ohio. Bartlett opened seven further wooden Bobsled Coasters in the USA between 1930 and 1941. In 1974, the last Bartlett Bobsled coaster closed and there are no longer any operating examples.
The only wooden Bobsled Coaster currently in operation is Flying Turns at Knoebels Amusement Resort in Pennsylvania, USA. Since there were no longer any historical plans of the Bartlett creations, the park had to design and build the coaster from scratch. The entire process took nearly eight years to complete and it is unlikely that any park will attempt to build another.
The first Bobsled Coaster to use steel was developed by Intamin in 1984. “Screamin’ Delta Demon” operated at Opryland USA, until 1997. Like the wooden versions, Intamin also use single cars to traverse through the chutes. However, the company no longer manufactures Bobsled Coasters.
MACK RIDES BOBSLEDS
In 1985 Mack Rides followed in Intamin’s footsteps by opening Schweizer Bobbahn at Europa Park in Germany. Unlike Intamin (and the wooden originals), the Mack Rides’ versions use seven car trains instead of single cars to traverse through the chutes and they are still in production.
German ride manufacturer Gerstlauer produce a coaster model called Bobsled. Gerstlauer Bobsled Coasters should not be confused with traditional Bobsled Coasters because they use rails and look like regular roller coasters.