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Coasters that were built too early?

Pokemaniac

Mountain monkey
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I've decided to take that long and rambly post I made in the SFMM Raptor thread a step further. In case you didn't read that post, here's a short summary:

From time to time, a small revolution occurs in the coaster world. An entirely new coaster type comes out, or somebody figures out how to drastically improve on an existing concept. Maybe a new manufacturer comes along to show how a coaster type really is supposed to be made. Anyway, the game is changed forever and the bar is significantly raised for all coasters of that type from then on.

... and sometimes, it just so happens that your favourite park chooses to build one of the last coasters of the previous type before the revolution. They went all in on a coaster type without a future. This could either be because the coaster type was vastly improved shortly after, or because it turned out to have a flaw that later iterations went on to fix. If the park had, hypothetically, just waited a few more years before purchasing, they could have ended up with a much better coaster. At least, so it seems with the benefit of hindsight - things aren't always so straightforward, but for the sake of the thread, let's pretend they are. Someone always have to be the first to build something, and learn what to improve or what to avoid in the future. But it kind of sucks when your favourite park has to be that someone, while subsequent customers go on to do the same concept much better.

What are your examples of such coasters?

As I said in the SFMM Raptor thread, Six Flags Magic Mountain is the poster child of building 'em too early. Viper was built only three years before B&M changed the sit-down looper scene with Kumba. Superman: The Escape was made obsolete by the Strata coasters a few years after it opened. Goliath opened the same year as Millennium Force and the widely acclaimed Superman: Ride of Steel (SFNE, not the reputedly lamer Darien Lake version), representing the end of Giovanola just before Intamin and B&M figured out how to build vastly better Hypers. Full Throttle was the first coaster to feature a swing launch that didn't pass the station, but later coasters figured out that a switch track and reverse spike could save the hassle of that weird braking half-loop that kills the pacing of the ride. SFMM also built a couple of coasters that represented soon-to-be-obsolete coaster types: Riddler and Green Lantern were both the biggest of their ride type, and also among the last because neither standing up nor off-axis rotation are particularly good ideas for coasters. If SFMM had waited a while for trends to shift (provided they even could shift the way they did without SFMM's input), much of its lineup would have looked vastly different, and probably for the better.

Another example that springs to mind is The Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Built in 1994, it was a handful of years before the later, more acclaimed Hypers were built, but it still didn't take too long to feel obsolete. Everything from the old, clunky track with wheels on the inside, to the triangular-shaped hills and the latticework support structure seemed almost archaic within a few years of its opening. It's a grand example of how hypers used to be made until they figured out how to do them much better, and this happened only a few short years after BPB bought PMBO.

What other coasters do you think were built just a little too early to become a classic?
 

Llama Drama

New Member
Well, one I always think of is Son of Beast.- Had PKI waited a year or so, and went with Intamin instead, for a 170ish ft prefab... (Colossos opened in 2001, one year after SOB), then that probably would have been something really special (as all the prefabs are).

Then there's the original Bat - the problematic prototype suspended which debuted 1981 - (just a few years before Big Bad Wolf, and others) - although the park succeeded on their second try at an Arrow Suspended in 1993, with the advent of Top Gun (which, coincidentally is now the Bat).
 
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nadroJ

Well-Known Member
I'm going to go with the S&S 4D coasters. And I'm going to go out on a limb and say I don't think we've seen a manufacturer yet really perfect this coaster type either. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy X and Dinoconda (Eej I will take a hard pass on, too brutal) but even they aren't exactly the most seamless of coaster experiences. I think S&S are getting there with the 4D Free Spins and even the Axis prototype but honestly I don't think it will be them who perfect it (but also in saying that I can't think of another manufacturer who would bother trying?)
 

SilverArrow

Active Member
I guess the obvious ones are Drachen Fire- could have got a B&M instead of Arrow and Furius Baco that perhaps could have been a lot smoother if it had been built a bit later.
 

Antinos

Slut for Spinners
In a very particular lens, I would argue that Maverick was built about five to seven years ahead of its time. Maverick is without a doubt a hallmark ride and since other blitz coasters of that era (Cheetah Hunt, iSpeed, etc) don't hit the mark the same way Maverick does, I'd argue that it's a one of a kind ride. Hell, the ride is still in my top ten as well as numerous other members' - and the more traveled enthusiasts have just recently bumped it out of their top tens. Yet Maverick is stuck in this period where much of what was built between Six Flags Snyder Takeover and the advent of RMC ended up being considered mediocre...but it bucked the trend with its launches, high speed transitions, and - at the time - exotic elements like the overbanked turns. Fast forward ten years - we've seen RMC hit their mark and completely wow us with Outlaw Run, Lightning Rod, and Wildfire. Additionally, we saw other manufacturers - Intamin and The Gravity Group in particular - try to keep up with the daring and aggressive layouts that RMC had been churning out...and Maverick is still at the tip of Cedar Point...one of the greatest roller coasters ever built, still launching riders through a solid ride...but fading into the background as newer, wilder, and more exotic rides get built.

Imagine if Maverick was built a decade later. Imagine Maverick as not just an incredible ride, but with truly cutting edge technology and elements. Imagine Maverick with a swing launch instead of the pause in the tunnel. Imagine a wave turn or outside banked turns somewhere along the ride's layout. Maybe we'll see a modern day version of Maverick with Universal's new Jurassic Park coaster, and we'll certainly discuss how Maverick holds up in comparison, but Maverick certainly walked so rides like Pantheon and Parc Asterix's launcher could run.
 

Matt N

Well-Known Member
I’m going to go with G Force at Drayton Manor. Even though it was very unique, and still looked like a fun and novel experience, it did not get the best reviews and only lasted for 13 years. It was built before many of the current compact coaster manufacturers had really taken off and begun producing really great rides, so if Drayton Manor had waited a few more years and maybe bought something like an Intamin Mega-Lite or a Gerstlauer Infinity Coaster (even a Euro-Fighter would have been quite good), then I think they would have had a ride with both greater appeal amongst riders and a longer lifespan.

I also think Son of Beast is a good shout, but someone already said that above.
 

Pokemaniac

Mountain monkey
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I'm going to go with the S&S 4D coasters. And I'm going to go out on a limb and say I don't think we've seen a manufacturer yet really perfect this coaster type either. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy X and Dinoconda (Eej I will take a hard pass on, too brutal) but even they aren't exactly the most seamless of coaster experiences. I think S&S are getting there with the 4D Free Spins and even the Axis prototype but honestly I don't think it will be them who perfect it (but also in saying that I can't think of another manufacturer who would bother trying?)
In the sense of this thread, I think the strange thing about the 4D coasters is that S&S managed to sell another one after the prototype, never mind a third. One would think that, after seeing the trouble SFMM had with X, nobody else would touch the coaster type with a barge pole. If SFMM had had the chance to be the second park to build a 4D, I think they would have turned it down (After all, that's what all their competitors did - how Fuji-Q and China Dinosaurs Park ended up with one each, I have no idea).

The coaster type hasn't really been improved that much since X either. The new Free Spins don't feature all the axes of rotation, or the same size and scale as the 4D coasters did. They're a step up from the ZacSpin, but still don't hold up to the likes of X2, Eejanaika, and Dinoconda.

Another contender for the list, I think, is Desert Race at Heide Park. As far as I can tell, it's really the last of its kind, from the era when launch coasters were all about the launch, and the rest of the layout was just a detour on the way back to the station. It doesn't feature any interesting elements. It was one of the last coasters with a hydraulic launch, while the more reliable LSM launch technology was already demonstrated. And it was built the same year as Maverick, which really outdid Desert Race in every category. If Heide Park had bought a launch coaster from Intamin just 2-3 years later, the coaster they'd have gotten would have been on a whole other level.
 

Matt N

Well-Known Member
The Smiler.
It was always going to be too early.
Still is.
Why do you say this, out of interest? While I admit that the park could have gotten lap bars and a smoother ride had they built it a bit later, I think there’s only so much they could really have done to get the record in that space!
 

Howie

Active Member
Why do you say this, out of interest? While I admit that the park could have gotten lap bars and a smoother ride had they built it a bit later, I think there’s only so much they could really have done to get the record in that space!
That's kinda the point, lots of effort to break a record that never needed breaking. 10 inversions is more than enough for any coaster. Even if the inversion record was part of the mission statement (which it was, of course), then 11 would have done the trick. Might have been a better, more varied ride experience too.
 

JoshC.

Active Member
That's kinda the point, lots of effort to break a record that never needed breaking. 10 inversions is more than enough for any coaster. Even if the inversion record was part of the mission statement (which it was, of course), then 11 would have done the trick. Might have been a better, more varied ride experience too.
I believe the logic was that it was believed that a park had bought the 12-inversion model from Intamin and were installing it imminently, so that was the one to beat. Going for 13 would have caused a marketing clash with Thirteen, so 14 was the 'magic number'. (All of that info comes from Wardley's autobiography / interviews with him)

Obviously the rumour of 12-inversion coaster going somewhere was just a rumour, and it's only recently that a park has even hit 11 inversions. And I totally agree that 10 is plenty for any coaster in the first place. But yeah, that was the logic for going for 14 I believe.

--

As for creds built too soon, I guess you could throw Furius Baco into the mix? Haven't ridden it yet, but there's obviously a problem with roughness, and that's a solution which was solved by B&M wingriders. Makes you wonder if Intamin spent a couple more years on the model would they have been able to create a smoother ride experience and sell more wings..

Also shout out to the Mack E-Motion coasters. A concept that sounds cool on paper, but just didn't really work. I guess nothing similar has been attempted anywhere, bar maybe swinging coasters, but they're still very different. But yeah, maybe if Mack had tried the concept say 10 years later, who knows what would have happened.

You could also chuck Gravity Max into the mix, especially since Vekoma are working on a new gen tilt coaster these days..

Also, if you want a non-cred example, look at Derren Brown's Ghost Train at Thorpe. All that technology is years before its time when you throw it all together.
 

Matt N

Well-Known Member
This may be a bit controversial, and potentially a little too early to call, but I’m going to nominate Lightning Rod at Dollywood for this as well, because despite all the ride’s rave reviews, it’s had a lot of technical issues, and it still did for quite a few years after its debut. Time will tell if the launched wooden coaster will ever be perfected as a concept, but I think Lightning Rod’s various issues would suggest that 2016 was perhaps a little too early to attempt it.
 

TMCoasters

Member
I'm going to go with the S&S 4D coasters. And I'm going to go out on a limb and say I don't think we've seen a manufacturer yet really perfect this coaster type either. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy X and Dinoconda (Eej I will take a hard pass on, too brutal) but even they aren't exactly the most seamless of coaster experiences. I think S&S are getting there with the 4D Free Spins and even the Axis prototype but honestly I don't think it will be them who perfect it (but also in saying that I can't think of another manufacturer who would bother trying?)
Yikes, this is a freezing cold take. The massive 4Ds are absolutely brilliant. They're extremely aggressive, yes, but I think that's a lot of the appeal. I'd hardly say the awkwardness and uninspired layouts of the free flies are an improvement upon three of the best roller coasters ever built (even though X wasn't by S&S)
 

Antinos

Slut for Spinners
...with lapbars
There it is! Definitely this too. The soft straps they retrofitted a few years back certainly improved the ride, but why not take it a step further?

The Smiler.
It was always going to be too early.
Still is.
I'm sure I hold an unpopular opinion, especially not having ever ridden the ride, but I've always thought that The Smiler was very well designed from a layout standpoint. It seems to flow nicely from inversion to inversion, combined with some good interaction with the terrain, theming, and other half of the ride.
 

nadroJ

Well-Known Member
Yikes, this is a freezing cold take. The massive 4Ds are absolutely brilliant. They're extremely aggressive, yes, but I think that's a lot of the appeal. I'd hardly say the awkwardness and uninspired layouts of the free flies are an improvement upon three of the best roller coasters ever built (even though X wasn't by S&S)
Wow clearly I touched a nerve! I guess I should explain a little more what I mean - there's no way the 4Ds are meant to be as intense/brutal as they are. Yes some people enjoy that, myself included, but anybody who's ridden these can surely vouch for the fact that these ride like they've just about scraped through to a level of 'acceptable to open to the public' as opposed to riding as intended. And when I say the Free Flies are an improvement I mean in terms of the comfort of the ride as opposed to them being particularly inspiring or interesting. No coaster designer wants to purposely design a coaster that's uncomfortable to ride.
 

Matt N

Well-Known Member
I'm going to go with the S&S 4D coasters. And I'm going to go out on a limb and say I don't think we've seen a manufacturer yet really perfect this coaster type either. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy X and Dinoconda (Eej I will take a hard pass on, too brutal) but even they aren't exactly the most seamless of coaster experiences. I think S&S are getting there with the 4D Free Spins and even the Axis prototype but honestly I don't think it will be them who perfect it (but also in saying that I can't think of another manufacturer who would bother trying?)
Maybe B&M might perfect it? There have been rumours of a B&M 4D coaster being in development for years, and some have suggested that the alleged Surf Coaster opening at SeaWorld Orlando next year could have a 4D element to it!

Although then again, I don’t really think 4D coasters look very “B&M” in terms of a coaster type; I’ve never ridden one, but they look like the polar opposite of everything B&M has stood for over the last 30 years, especially the really big ones...
I’m sure I hold an unpopular opinion, especially not having ever ridden the ride, but I've always thought that The Smiler was very well designed from a layout standpoint. It seems to flow nicely from inversion to inversion, combined with some good interaction with the terrain, theming, and other half of the ride.
See, I’ve ridden The Smiler, and even though I’m not its biggest fan, I think it is pretty incredible from a technical standpoint! I’ve always loved the way that it duels with the other half and is just an absolute wonder to watch, and I also think that there’s a wide variety of elements on offer considering the ride has 14 inversions! My main flaws with Smiler lie in terms of the fact that it’s getting very rattly and I do find it a bit too much intensity-wise these days; the layout is a very good one, in my opinion!
 

Peet

Member
I'm sure I hold an unpopular opinion, especially not having ever ridden the ride, but I've always thought that The Smiler was very well designed from a layout standpoint. It seems to flow nicely from inversion to inversion, combined with some good interaction with the terrain, theming, and other half of the ride.
I agree - Smiler is brilliant and just outside my top 10, but I tend to keep this opinion to myself as it's such an unpopular one on here.

SOB - as mentioned by others - is a good example for this topic and I'd say it was also demolished too soon as it could have made a great RMC (yeah I know this has been said a thousand times before).

I'd like to throw in a "built too late" with the woodie at Linnanmaki which was built in 1951 in a scenic railway style (with brakeman), which went obsolete decades earlier. The Coney Island Cyclone was more than 20 years old and yet Linnanmaki built something which looked like an early precursor to it.
 
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Pokemaniac

Mountain monkey
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I just remembered another one, although I don't think it could have been built much later given the name it got: Steel Dragon 2000.

Nagashima Spaland was hit by a dose of ambition and decided to build the biggest, tallest, longest coaster ever - and it still retains that last record 20 years later. Only one coaster built since has a taller lift hill than it. It's one heck of a machine, its second hill is bigger than many other hypercoasters out there. And to build this beast, they went to... Morgan.

Granted, it wasn't a bad choice per se. At the time, they were one of very few companies to make hyper coasters, being behind coasters such as Wild Thing, Mamba, Steel Eel, and Steel Force. For coasters of that size, it was either them, Togo (dodged a bullet there, at least!) or Giovanola, with Arrow having delivered their last Hyper a few years before. B&M was technically in business at the time, but had explicitly rejected working with coasters over 70 meters until the 2010s. So it's not like Morgan was the worst choice available, but... imagine if Intamin had been put on the case, fresh off of designing Millennium Force, and built SD2K as its bigger brother. Granted, it would probably have to be called Steel Dragon 2002 or something like that, missing the Year of the Dragon by some margin too, but... Millennium Force's bigger brother!

Notably, Morgan didn't stay in the hypercoaster game for long after SD2K. They built the Superman hyper at Six Flags Mexico, and a small terrain coaster for Gilroy Garden, and since then, nothing. I think Chance Morgan was a thing for a while, but they didn't produce any coasters under that name, and Chance Rides hasn't built any Hypers since either. Whatever happened to the spirit of Steel Dragon 2000, it didn't stay for long at the company.
 
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