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The next manufacturer to go big?

Pokemaniac

Mountain monkey
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We all love Mack Rides and their exciting new creations. Helix, Copperhead Strike, Flash, that rumoured coaster for Universal Studios... they're pretty awesome nowadays, and news of a new big Mack coaster is met with much rejoicing. But do you remember their image before Blue Fire? They were mostly known for SuperSplash rides, family coasters and the occasional spinning coaster. Mack was decidedly okay for filler coasters, but not something you'd celebrate. But then they decided to take a step into the market for bigger coasters, did so in a spectacular fashion, and now whenever a park announces a new coaster, many people think "I hope it's a Mack!".

Likewise, Gerstlauer was considered pretty meh until they surprised everyone with Kärnan. Fair enough, they made Eurofighters that were decent rides for medium-small parks before then, and some neat little launch coasters, but there wasn't anything in their catalogue that would fit into the backbone lineup of a large park. But then they started to shake things up wiith Fluch von Novgorod, scaled the Eurofighter concept to its logical conclusion with Takabisha, and now I'd say their new layouts are pretty inspired and exciting. Adventureland Iowa's Monster in 2016 was pretty far removed from Oakwood's Speed, built only ten years earlier.

Both Mack and Gerstlauer improved greatly (at least in the eyes of enthusiasts) by daring to scale up and offer bigger coasters. They've joined the big league, so to say. And that makes me wonder... who's next? Because there are still a lot of manufacturers out there who mainly deal in the medium-small segment, but who may be willing to scale up in the future. Which name will be the next one to be whispered in a hopeful voice when rumours of a new coaster surfaces?

To define the threshold for what's considered "big", let's go with round numbers: A coaster faster than 100 km/h, and/or taller than 50 m. Below is a list of relatively well-known manufacturers whose biggest creation is below that limit, but above 80 % of it (that is, above 80 km/h and/or 40 meters in height)

Chance Rides built Lightning Run at Kentucky Kingdom, which reaches 88.5 km/h and 30.5 meters. They haven't been particularly active as a manufacturer, with barely a dozen coasters constructed since 1990, but three of them (the three biggest, at that) have been built since 2014.

Gravitycraft is known for their woodies and hybrids, of which Cú Chulainn is the biggest reaching 90 km/h and 32 meters in height. With a healthy pace of installation of smallish Hybrids like Kentucky Flyer and Mine Blower, maybe they'll take the step up to something the size of Voyage one day? Not quite sure what the relation between these and Gravity Group is, but if the parent company can go that big, maybe the daughter company will too?

To my great surprice, Great Coasters International hasn't broken the 100 km/h barrier yet, at least not as far as RCDB knows. Then again, they are pretty close, with Wodan reaching 100 km/h and 40 meters, and Python in Bamboo Forest having a total height difference of 48.7 meters (and a quoted speed of 99.9 km/h). Could one of their Chinese creations one day break the barrier? Or maybe Wodan does on a rainy day? Will we see GCI build something that breaks it decisively?

All but three of Martin & Vleminckx's 14 coasters are faster than 85 km/h, but none go faster than 95. They might not reach the epic height limit soon (their tallest coaster is 34 meters), but they're just so close to enter the triple digits when it comes to speed.

Zamperla is dabbing into mid-range coasters with their Thunderbolt model, with mixed reactions from enthusiasts (ranging from "meh" to "why, God, why?"). But if they can build coasters standing 35 meters tall and going 90 km/h, reaching 50/100 isn't entirely unthinkable. I just hope they learn to build smooth coasters first.

Zierer has a few creations in the high 80s when it comes to speed, and the mid 30s when it comes to height. With a coaster like Verbolten to their name, I'd expect them to not shy away from building even bigger things, should they get the job.


And for the sake of completion, let's also mention the companies that barely put a toe over the limit, but who may still have bigger tricks up their sleeve:

Beijing Shibaolai have built coasters that are, umm... heavily inspired by Maurer's Sky Loops, which reach 105 km/h and a height of 46 m. But they don't do as much with that height or speed. Their second biggest creations are various shuttle loops and SLCs, which reach a max speed of 80 km/h and height of 45 m.

Likewise, Golden Horse built their Dive Machine last year, which barely reaches 102 km/h from a drop of 49 meters. Just barely over the criteria. But they have another dozen-odd ones faster than 80 km/h, so they may one day decide to scale up just a nudge and join the lucrative market for big coasters in China if not elsewhere.

Mentioned above, Maurer's biggest creation is not the Sky Loops, but Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit, at 51 meters and a speed of 105 km/h. But below it and the Sky Loops, it's not that far down to Shock at Rainbow Magicland. Will Maurer follow it up with more coasters further into the big league?

Strangely, Vekoma hasn't quite broken this barrier yet if you disregard their shuttle coasters. Black Hole Express, of all things, is the tallest full-circuit coaster they've built at 52 meters, and Odyssey is the fastest at 99 km/h. But they have some launch coasters under construction that will reach 50 m and 115 km/h, so they're just about to cement their position as a manufacturer of large-scale coasters.

So yeah, which of the candidates seem the most promising? Are there others I have missed? Or will the next ones be an entirely new company coming in from the sidelines, à la RMC?
 
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TLARides

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Are we not gonna talk about Gravity Group and the fact that they're the ones who built Ireland's only roller coaster?

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Hixee

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Chance Rides built Lightning Run at Kennywood, which reaches 88.5 km/h and 30.5 meters. They haven't been particularly active as a manufacturer, with barely a dozen coasters constructed since 1990, but three of them (the three biggest, at that) have been built since 2014.
I would love to get under the skin of this one in particular. Chance missed a trick by not selling tons of these things. Okay, they may not be 'big' in the literal sense, but for a park they've got to be one of the best small thrill coasters money can buy. Staggering to me that they haven't sold more, and I'd love to know why. I could easily have seen (and would happily have welcomed) a load of these popping up around the world.

Vekoma are already a 'big' manufacturer, in my mind. In typing this though, I've wondered if you're asking about big in the physical sense, or big in the reputation-al sense (which you're using the physical size as a metric for)? Either way, really, I think it won't be long until Vekoma does one of their newer models in a bigger size.
 

davidm

Well-Known Member
Chance rides are also (kinda) Morgan ; so have already gone big (they list the Morgan hypers on their website for instance).

(also Lightning Run is not at Kennywood ; but you knew that ;-) )
 

Pokemaniac

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Vekoma are already a 'big' manufacturer, in my mind. In typing this though, I've wondered if you're asking about big in the physical sense, or big in the reputation-al sense (which you're using the physical size as a metric for)? Either way, really, I think it won't be long until Vekoma does one of their newer models in a bigger size.
Yeah, perhaps this requires some more clarification.

I'm not saying that bigger is necessarily better, but I think there's a level of spectacle that can only be achieved by having a certain amount of either height or speed. Regardless of its actual quality, a 50-meter ride is a pretty spectacular thing, and a manufacturer that builds spectacular stuff tends to be regarded differently than those whose creations are exclusively in the small-medium range.

Vekoma is a strange little outlier here. Per se, they haven't built any coaster in the very biggest bracket yet, but they've built a lot of spectacular stuff over the years anyway, so one would almost automatically assume they were up there (like Premier or S&S, you won't necessarily know their huge creations off the top of your head, but you know they're out there). And they put out a bid for the Energylandia hyper that eventually went to Intamin.
 

Hixee

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Vekoma is a strange little outlier here. Per se, they haven't built any coaster in the very biggest bracket yet, but they've built a lot of spectacular stuff over the years anyway, so one would almost automatically assume they were up there (like Premier or S&S, you won't necessarily know their huge creations off the top of your head, but you know they're out there). And they put out a bid for the Energylandia hyper that eventually went to Intamin.
They did do the GIBs which would probably be up there based on your categories?
 

Pokemaniac

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They did do the GIBs which would probably be up there based on your categories?
Nah, shuttle coasters, y'know. Might as well count Big Air, which is even bigger than the GIBs.
 

bob_3_

Active Member
I think the progress Vekoma have made over the years is pretty outstading. Back in the day they would be at the bottom of any enthusiasts' list, but with their involvement with RMC on Wildfire, the proposal for Energylandia, the praise people give Lech Coaster and their long time history with Disney, I wouldn't be suprised if they started climbing up to release something groundbreaking. I just think now if a park went to them for something outstanding, they would deliver that now.
 

Kw6sTheater

Member
Oh, I remember you mentioning this in the Parkitect Discord! My guess as of now is siding with Vekoma, as just like Mack Rides & Gerstlauer they used to make smaller and less exciting coasters but now they have stepped up their game big time - the hypercoaster Vekoma proposed for Energylandia is surely going to another park!
 

Catmaydo

New Member
I think perhaps length should be taken into consideration in addition to speed and height - there are 'big' coasters at parks (like Maverick) that never break above 35 metres, but yet they more than meet the criteria for speed, and to add to it, they're massive financial investments.

In my mind, Vekoma has been in the big league for a while now. Even if you discount the hundreds of clones, they're still responsible for some pretty major custom installations at the Disney parks (mine trains), and the ridiculous, seemingly infinite bowl of spaghetti track that is F.L.Y. at Phantasialand. I've always thought of their turning point as being Expedition Everest considering the buzz at the time about scale, cost, and the improvements/change to their track.
 

Kw6sTheater

Member
Vekoma is extremely likely to break the 60 meter / 200 foot barrier in the next decade. And who knows, RMC might just break the 90 meter / 300 foot barrier in that timeframe as well!
 

Efan

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Vekoma is extremely likely to break the 60 meter / 200 foot barrier in the next decade. And who knows, RMC might just break the 90 meter / 300 foot barrier in that timeframe as well!
Yeah, as we all know they offered that layout for Hyperion, clearly showing they have the means to make a hyper and, further, want to. Imo that layout looked fantastic as well. It's certainly only a matter of time.
 

Indy

New Member
Gravitycraft is known for their woodies and hybrids, of which Cú Chulainn is the biggest reaching 90 km/h and 32 meters in height. With a healthy pace of installation of smallish Hybrids like Kentucky Flyer and Mine Blower, maybe they'll take the step up to something the size of Voyage one day? Not quite sure what the relation between these and Gravity Group is, but if the parent company can go that big, maybe the daughter company will too?
Gravitykraft is simply a division of The Gravity Group which manufactures the Timberliner trains.
 
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