a.k.a Multi-Looper, Mega-Looper
The Multi-Looping coaster is designed around inversions, and the best examples combine a high number of inversions with an interesting track design. These days, Bolliger & Mabillard is the undisputed king of the multi-looping coaster. However, these coasters existed a long time before B&M came along. Early examples of multi-loopers that survive today, however, can prove extremely rough and many are being replaced with newer, often better, rides.
Although it doesn’t feature all the various inversions of newer Multi-Loopers, Schwarzkopf‘s Thriller is widely considered the Grandfather of the modern Multi-Looping coaster. First appearing on the German fair circuit in 1986, this quadruple-looper also found a home at Gröna Lund in Sweden (1996), Six Flags AstroWorld in Texas (1998-2000), Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in California (2003-2004) and Isla San Marcos Parque Temático in Mexico (2008-2014).
Thriller was superseded by the iconic Olympia Looping, which first appeared at Germany’s Oktoberfest in 1989. This 900 ton behemoth is the largest traveling coaster in the world and features five of the company’s trademark clothoid-shaped vertical loops.
Arrow Dynamics Multi-Loopers burst onto the scene with the triple onslaught of Shockwave at Six Flags Great America in Illinois (1988), Great American Scream Machine at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey (1989), and Viper at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California, USA (1990). Though old, these rides embodied the spirit of the steel roller coaster and often appeared in movies and TV adverts. They offered similar layouts with slight differences between them, all containing a massive first drop, three vertical loops, a batwing and two corkscrews. The rides are generally considered rough by today’s standards and only one of the three, Viper at Six Flags Magic Mountain, is still standing.
B&M MEGA-LOOPER (SIT DOWN)
Bolliger & Mabillard Mega-Loopers are widely considered to be the smoothest, most reliable and most intense coasters around. However, due to the popularity of newer B&M coaster types like the floorless and wing coaster models, no new B&M Mega-Loopers have been built since 2008 when Led Zeppelin – The Ride opened at Hard Rock Park in South Carolina, USA. In fact, only five B&M Mega-Loopers have been built to date, yet three of them – Dragon Khan at PortAventura in Spain, Kumba at Busch Gardens Tampa and Incredible Hulk at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure in Florida, USA – are considered to be among the best and most popular coasters today.
The first Hopkins Looper was Texas Tornado, which opened at Wonderland Amusement Park in Amarillo, Texas in 1985. It was also the first roller coaster the company ever built, having previously only manufactured ski lifts, sky rides and water rides. Their second was Dragon at Adventureland near Des Moines, Iowa, which opened in 1990. It took another two years before Desert Storm, the company’s third and final looping coaster, opened at Castles n’ Coasters in Phoenix, Arizona. This, and its accompanying family coaster Patriot, were the final coasters Hopkins Rides built in the USA before the company’s coaster manufacturing ceased.
Intamin Mega-Loopers always existed alongside B&M’s, ever since Monte Makaya at Terra Encantada was built in 1998 with eight inversions (taking a joint record for most inversions in a single coaster with B&M’s Dragon Khan for many years). However, the ride being part of an obscure park in Brazil, very few people rode it or knew about it. Recognition came with Thorpe Park’s Colossus, which opened in 2002 with 10 inversions (a world record at the time), and the ride proved to be a fantastic alternative to B&M, providing a much rawer experience and featuring four consecutive inline twists.
Vekoma‘s version of the Multi-Looper is mediocre at best. The rides, while offering unique layouts and elements (such as the double-inverting Butterfly), are some of the most uncomfortable rides in the coaster industry. Few were ever built, and the most famous example is probably Goudurix at Parc Astérix in France. Other well known examples are Ninja at Six Flags Over Georgia in the USA, Big Loop at Heide Park in Germany, Magic Mountain at Gardaland in Italy and Python at Efteling in the Netherlands.