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Why don't US-Parks purchase the new Gen Vekomas?

Trax

Member
Just took a shower and thought about this... Considering the change of direction Vekoma took during the past years, I keep asking myself why no US-park decided to purchase one of their ride, and even why so few european parks decide to purchase one. They are great rides, quite affordable, and comfortable to ride, while being able to deliver anything from family-thrill to extreme insenity.
So far, most rides have been build in Asia, and only 2 have been build in Europe: Formula and Lech Coaster (Abyssus being number 3). Sure, their family Bommerangs proved to be very succesful, and their SFCs appear to become more populer, but the MK1101 does not seem to make the cut for most parks.

Maybe some of you have an idea, or even some sort of insight, why many parks decide to go with other rides. If the whole Corona thing had not happened, I'd seen Six Flags as one of the first to purchase half a dozen (cloned) rides and spread them all over the country. As I mentioned, they are quite cheap, and I imagine Vekoma would be happy to get some traction in the states to improve their reputation.
 

Antinos

Slut for Spinners
Looking at the North American market, virtually every park has a sit down coaster, most have a looping coaster, and a significant amount have a launched coaster. Simply put, the parks already have products similar to what Vekoma is now offering. Furthermore, the only parks in Europe that are buying these rides are significantly expanding their lineups, and many of the Asian parks that are buying their rides are brand new.
 

CSLKennyNI

Active Member
Also haven't their order books been quite full in recent years? They seem to have more than enough work going on, mostly in Asia (and Poland!) so I doubt they are too concerned at the lack of US orders. Plus for all we know there could be some lined up during the next few years if a park has been impressed by something and placed an order (providing good ol' COVID hasn't cancelled it by now)
 
The rapid economic growth of China over the years I am guessing has made that market extremely lucrative for Vekoma.

Vekoma is however involved with two massively expensive Disney coaster projects in Florida, the 2nd Tron lightcycle and the Guardians of the Galaxy coaster. They have a good reputation with regards to reliability and safety hence I think it is probably Disney's go to manufacturer usually.

On the other hand Vekoma hasn't really been at the forefront of innovation or known to break records (speed or height) with their coasters so I am guessing these are reasons Intamin, B&M and more recently RMC and Premier Rides have been in more demand for coaster projects especially in the USA.

In Europe they are in charge of selling RMCs so still doing quite a bit of business. Also they've sold quite a few family boomerangs.

Vekoma's sales in China over recent years have probably helped them to get a bit more innovation going rather than relying so much on the copy cat and old design stuff from the past (see Arrow track design and literally copying Premier Rides' Flight of Fear LIM design for Rock N Roller Coaster), selling endless boomerangs and even SLCs till quite recent.

Thus the Abyssus and FLY projects look very interesting and it might make other parks take note. It depends how reliable these coasters are. If either is a big success and say as reliable as Mack and better reliability than Intamin it might see these two launch coaster giants get quite a bit competition closer to home.

I could see more parks opting for multi launchers (sit down or flying), especially in European countries due to so many height restrictions around. If Vekoma offers a cheaper alternative that would be very interesting. No idea if the Guardians coaster could do something as extreme as the Mack extreme spinners can but again it is another type of ride we don't see many other manufacturers go for (yet).

Also if Vekoma has perfected the flying coaster with FLY (capacity, operations and experience) we may see more of these in USA and Europe.

Why no-one in the States and especially in the UK hasn't ordered a copy of Lech coaster yet I have no idea. It looks perfect. Would be a perfect coaster for a park such as Drayton Manor here. But it would cost far more to build here than it did in Poland to be fair.

With recent ride scares we have had here in the UK I'd definitely recommend looking at Vekoma if I had any say in future ride planning.
 
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Hyde

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As has been mentioned, a lot of it is most likely result of the American market having a high saturation of sit-down steel coasters compared to other markets that are easier to penetrate. Of all their offerings, the Family suspended has seen a lot of adoption lately, but again because of being pretty novel in that space. Even Mack, who designs one of the best sit-down magnetic launch systems out there, has had a tough time deploying in the States, given Premier and Intamin having already widely deployed across the country.
 

i305_zack

New Member
A park I really wanna see get a new vekoma is California’s great America as they don’t have a launch coaster and it would be a spectacular fit
 

Kw6sTheater

Member
Seeing as how Dollywood bought from Vekoma last year in the form of Dragon Flier, I think that Herschend Family Entertainment might purchase a few new-generation Vekoma coasters. Mack Rides' first thrilling coaster in the North American market came from Silver Dollar City, so who's to say that Herschend wouldn't do a similar thing with Vekoma? In my opinion, large-scale Vekoma coasters could easily complement the lineups of Silver Dollar City (I could most see a Lech Coaster-style multilooper going here) and Dollywood (My guess would be on either a hyper or launched coaster like Abyssus/the Firestorm).
 

Trax

Member
I have to admit, I never thought about the gimmick thing, even though it is quite obvious. Quite a lot recent rides in the US (not that other countries don't to gimmicks to have gimmicks) are really more or less about their gimmicks. And sure, even though the new Vekomas offer a different experience - mainly their great flow of elements, where you just feel like every single element is at this position because it needs to, not because it has to, It might not be different enough for a park to purchase.

It's really a shame, because they are great rides, which I'd prefer over most coasters I've done. Before they started cooling the wheels on Lech Coaster, it was even my number 2, and the only ride which got me close to greying out and giving me shoulder pain with the comfy vest restraints. No sarcasm here, the restraints are really comfortable, but the Airtime was the most intense I have ever experienced; if you have ridden Untamed at a 40C day, were the ride breaks down on a regular basis because the train is too fast, you'll know what I mean.
 
I'd like to point out another reason why the EEA/EU parks (and UK parks when they were in the EU) had much cheaper costs to purchase Vekoma's rides than the US parks because of no tariffs on steel and not having to transport it across one of the world's largest oceans and also not having to pay for visas for engineers and their international travel.

This also works the other way for US ride manufacturers with rides in the EU, hence why there are less rides from the likes of S&S, Premier Rides and RMC. I'd assume this is also partly why The Big One was manufactured in Bolton instead of the Arrow factory in the US and why Kolmarden sourced their own wood for Wildfire, but these are very rare instances.

Both EU and US ride manufacturers compete in the same market for amusement rides for theme parks and both have a more competitive edge in domestic areas than international areas.

Oh and before anyone makes the case for B&M, they used to have 2 factories, the Giovanola factory in the EU (although it's defunct now) and the Clemont Steel Factory in the USA.

TL;DR it's generally cheaper to buy rides from "local" manufacturers than from halfway across the world.
 
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Pokemaniac

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There's also another aspect to consider, that hasn't been mentioned yet: The market for coasters of this size isn't that big.

Take Lech Coaster, as an example. It's 40 meters tall on flat land, slightly above 900 meters long, and goes slightly below 100 km/h. How many coasters with those specs have been built in the US in the past ten years? My RCDB-fu suggests it's only 19, and they break down as follows:
- 7 dedicated "hypercoasters": Fury 325, Orion, Candymonium, Mako, Intimidator, I305, and Skyrush.
- 4 RMC conversions: New Texas Giant, Iron Rattler, Steel Vengeance, and Iron Gwazi
- 2 Wing Coasters: Gatekeeper and Thunderbird
- 1 Eurofighter (TMNT Shellraiser)
- 1 Dive Machine: Valravn
- 1 Ground-up RMC: SFGAm Goliath
- 1 Invert: Banshee
- 2 conventional, steel, sit-down loopers occupying the same niche as Lech Coaster: Steel Curtain and Pantheon.

You could also add Wild Eagle and Lightning Rod to the list, as they are long coasters with large elevation changes (but not Outlaw Run, it's too short), but the point still stands: The last decade has seen less than two dozen coasters in the same size bracket as Lech Coaster in the US, and if you boil it down to sitdown loopers, we're at only two. Go up to coasters of the same length as a Vekoma Shockwave (1350 m), and the list is down to 11: six of the seven hypers (Skyrush is shorter), plus Steel Vengeance, Twisted Colossus, Hagrid's Motorbike, and Cheetah Hunt.

So yeah, in addition to what has been said above, the new-gen Vekomas are fairly big, they belong to a type of rides we don't see built very often in any case. The rough data suggests that each year on average, two parks in the US shell out for a coaster that size, and they've got a slew of different ride types to choose between. The conventional choices in that situation could be to build a dedicated airtime machine, or renovate a woodie if they have one, or go for one of the wide-train B&Ms, or some other special coaster, or go with a sit-down looper. So, being very rough in the methodology here, the new-gen Vekomas would be eligible choices for consideration in 20 % of cases of something that only happens twice a year, given equal weighting between the choices (and we know that isn't the case). And THEN there's the competition between manufacturers that @Bert2theSpark mentioned above.

You can regard it as a sort of filtering process: Park chooses to build new coaster -> Park chooses to build big coaster -> Park chooses a coaster with inversions -> Park chooses sit-down looper -> Park chooses Vekoma. A lot of variables have to fall Vekoma's way for them to make a sale even if they make it through the first couple of filters, and that only happens a few times each decade. The market simply is so small that Vekomas are very unlikely to make it.
 

Trax

Member
Sure, the new gens are not small rides, but I would not consider them that big at all. 40m is about normal for size for new coasters in Europe now, and from what I see, most US parks still have bigger rides copared to europe. In addition, not all Vekomas have to be 40+m high, the Formula layout (was it Skywarp?) is possible with either a launch or a ~30m lifthill. Still not a small coaster, but 30m is probably what many parks consider a reasonable investment if they don't want to spend huge amounts of money.

Edit: As some Arrow loopers appear to reach the end of their service life, Vekoma might offer a good replacement.
 
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roomraider

Best Topic Starter
Vekoma do have a number of other designs not released to the public yet which would fit US parks better.

One thing I have been surprised at is the lack of motorbike coasters US parks picked up. There are only 3 in the US if i remember correctly 2 Zamperla and and Intamin. Admitedly Tron is under construction but Vekoma actually offers these with some impressive layouts.

The Space Chase layout for example is a 950m long moto coaster that follows the recent new Vekoma model style and packs in 4 inversions to boot. The train design also goes the route of Pioneer with 5 2 seater futuristic themed motorbike car pulling 2 4 seat chariot themed standard sitdown cars.

The Phaeton is a similar design with a more ancient gods deisgn on the cars but with a chain lift rather than launch and only 2 inversions.

Both of these designs would be pretty unique and a world first for anypark (as much as first inverting motorbike coaster is a worlds first anyway)
 

Antinos

Slut for Spinners
Edit: As some Arrow loopers appear to reach the end of their service life, Vekoma might offer a good replacement.
This is the insight that we'll have to keep an eye on over the next decade or so, but parks will still be left with the question of what should replace their old looper. Like you suggest, they very will could build a more traditional sit down looper from Vekoma, which would surely be excellent, or they'll decide to build something more cutting edge, like a S&S Axis. Granted, this is all contingent on the industry stabilizing in the wake of Coronavirus (lost revenue from closed months + small park closures = potential surplus of secondhand rides for cheap = minimal need to buy new from OEMs).
 

Hyde

I Lied About My Age!
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Edit: As some Arrow loopers appear to reach the end of their service life, Vekoma might offer a good replacement.
This is the insight that we'll have to keep an eye on over the next decade or so, but parks will still be left with the question of what should replace their old looper. Like you suggest, they very will could build a more traditional sit down looper from Vekoma, which would surely be excellent, or they'll decide to build something more cutting edge, like a S&S Axis. Granted, this is all contingent on the industry stabilizing in the wake of Coronavirus (lost revenue from closed months + small park closures = potential surplus of secondhand rides for cheap = minimal need to buy new from OEMs).
And it's that question - do you replace a 20-30 year old looping steel coaster with another, or go in a different design direction? I'd air more on the side of the later - building ever more innovative and aggressive thrills has remained the trend through-and-through. We actually have a great test case unfolding before us at Kings Island - Vortex was removed; does it get replaced with a standard looping sitdown (now missing from the park), or something completely different?
 

Pokemaniac

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Sure, the new gens are not small rides, but I would not consider them that big at all. 40m is about normal for size for new coasters in Europe now, and from what I see, most US parks still have bigger rides copared to europe.
Let's try to do the same exercise as above for European parks, then: How many coasters taller than 40 m, with a length over 900 m and a speed over 100 km/h have been built in Europe since 2010? As far as I can tell, only 11, or around half as many as the US. The composition is different, though:
- 2 hypers: Shambhala and Hyperion
- 2 hybrid woodies: Wildfire and Zadra
- 1 Gerstlauer Infinity: Kärnan
- 6 sit-down loopers: Hyper Coaster, Nefeskesen, Helix, Red Fire, Taiga, and Lech Coaster itself.

In addition, some coasters barely miss the mark, such as Junker, Red Force, Oblivion The Black Hole, or Valkyria. Tall and fast, sure, but also rather on the short side. Taron and Abyssus have the speed and length, but not the height.

So it seems like European parks build fewer huge rides than American parks, but when they do, they are more inclined to build sit-down loopers (or less inclined to build other stuff?). It should also be mentioned that half the rides listed above are found in two countries: Poland and Turkey. Only Shambhala, Helix, and Kärnan were built in parks that traditionally have been among the biggest in Europe. It seems like new parks out to make a name for themselves are mostly the ones that build really big coasters nowadays. Those parks are rare in Western Europe and the US, where the scene is dominated by established parks with limited room. They are more likely to build something like a Sky Rocket II, a Free Spin or some semi-shuttle than a big, full-circuit coaster like Vekoma's new ones.
 

Trax

Member
@Pokemaniac I don't think that it's reasonable to compare all at the same time, height, speed and length. I wouldn't consider Valkyria of being smaller than Lech Coaster (quite the opposite, simply because B&M is expensive), nor coasters like Untamed. But just going by speed is not a good indicator either, as Fury or Dynamite are certainly a smaller scale than Lech Coaster (even though the price tag might be comparable or even higher), and Untamed would fall short by a few kilometers per hour.

In the end, it depends on what the park considers to be a good filler in the lineup. And this will be determined by what the GP thinks a new ride makes different than an old one.

Personally, I think that a new gen Vekoma would still add something to most parks, and would be a huge hit with the crowds. They are quite different from classic sit down loopers, and offer way more dynamics than B&Ms or the old Arrow/Vekoma ones.

@Hyde Removing an old Arrow leaves a gap in the lineup for sure. Would be great if Cedar Fair would strike a bigger deal with Vekoma. But since Corona, the investments will most likely go down for the next years, not just for 2021.
 

Kw6sTheater

Member
Vekoma do have a number of other designs not released to the public yet which would fit US parks better.

One thing I have been surprised at is the lack of motorbike coasters US parks picked up. There are only 3 in the US if i remember correctly 2 Zamperla and and Intamin. Admitedly Tron is under construction but Vekoma actually offers these with some impressive layouts.

The Space Chase layout for example is a 950m long moto coaster that follows the recent new Vekoma model style and packs in 4 inversions to boot. The train design also goes the route of Pioneer with 5 2 seater futuristic themed motorbike car pulling 2 4 seat chariot themed standard sitdown cars.

The Phaeton is a similar design with a more ancient gods deisgn on the cars but with a chain lift rather than launch and only 2 inversions.

Both of these designs would be pretty unique and a world first for anypark (as much as first inverting motorbike coaster is a worlds first anyway)
Out of interest, where might I be able to find these designs? Vekoma hasn't released the Motorbike Coasters page on their website yet, so I'm curious how you found out about these.
 

Jackson

Member
I'm expecting some of the new-gen Vekoma STC's to show up in the states, along with some boomerangs (maybe alongside the STC's if they want to clone the Tripsdrill dueling coaster layout) and maybe a launch coaster or two. But Vekoma will never be nearly as big as the other manufacturers in the US.
 
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