Similar to Inverted Coasters, Suspended coasters also utilize trains that hang from the track above rather than sit on top of it. However, instead of the seats being directly attached to the wheel carriage, the seats on Suspended Coasters are secured via hinge assemblies on the wheel carriage that allow the trains to freely swing side to side throughout the coaster’s circuit. However, this design prevents the coaster from going upside down.
ARROW DYNAMICS SUSPENDED COASTER
Arrow Dynamics developed the modern Suspended Coaster in the early 1980s although earlier one-off versions existed, including a traveling model developed by German aircraft manufacturer Messerschmidt called Alpenflug that only operated for three weeks during the 1975 Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany.
Arrow’s first suspended coaster, Bat at Kings Island in Ohio, USA, also suffered from excessive stress forces similar to its German predecessor and was closed in 1983 after only two years in operation.
However, improvements were made culminating in the 1984 debut of Big Bad Wolf at Busch Gardens Williamsburg in Virginia and XLR-8 at Six Flags Astroworld in Texas. Arrow went on to manufacture ten Suspended Coasters over the following decade accumulating in 1993 with another installation at Kings Island, which was renamed to Bat in 2014 in homage to the original.
Big Bad Wolf at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, USA
The Bat at Kings Island, USA
Ninja at Six Flags Magic Mountain, USA
Caripro’s Batflyers were created by the Dutch company in the late 1990s and the first was a one-of-a-kind indoor version – Clone Zone at The Milky Way Adventure Park in the UK. All subsequent outdoor versions feature elevator lifts for the 1-2 passenger vehicles. Scooby’s Ghoster Coaster at Kings Island in Ohio was the only one to operate in the USA (1998-2005).
Vleermuis at Plopsaland De Panne in Belgium (2000-2018) was a dueling version of the model and Sky Rider at Skyline Park in Germany is the company’s only Giroflyer, which is a four-seat version that spins as it transverses the circuit. The company also created a one-off Aquaflyer, that operated as Hydra Fighter II at Wet ‘n Wild Emerald Pointe water park in North Carolina, USA from 2001-2003.
Vleermuis at Plopsaland De Panne, Belgium
Sky Rider at Skyline Park, Germany
S&S FAMILY SUSPENDED COASTER
The first and, so far, only S&S Suspended Family Coaster is Merlin’s Mayhem, which opened at Dutch Wonderland in Pennsylvania, USA in 2018. Although similar to Vekoma‘s Suspended Family Coaster, this model includes an on-board audio option like the company’s El Loco coasters. And even though this suspended coaster is a family model, the company can build larger versions similar to the classic Arrow suspended coasters.
S&S FREE FLY COASTER
On the S&S Free Fly model, a row of bench seats is suspended below each wing and can freely swing as the coaster travels along the track. Tranan at Skara Sommarland in Sweden opened in 2009 and is the first and only S&S Free Fly so far.
Tranan at Skara Sommarland, Sweden
S&S AXIS COASTER
Although not in production, CoasterForce had the opportunity to ride this prototype suspended coaster in 2020. S&S incorporated their 4D rotating vehicle technology used on their Free Spin coasters and turned it on a new axis by using the track design to control how the seats rotate. The versatile coaster is available using the company’s renown thrust air launch system or a standard chain lift hill and delivers deliberate and fluid movements that give the rider a feeling of flying unlike any other ride.
SETPOINT FLUID SWING COASTERS
Setpoint completed the suspended work on the Caripro designed Pteranodon Flyers at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure in Florida, USA, which opened in 1999. The company went on to use the design to manufacture three additional coasters, including Canopy Flyer at Universal Studios Singapore.
Pteranodon Flyers at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure in Florida, USA
Using a design similar to Caripro’s Aquaflyer model (above), Setpoint created a water interaction version of the ride. Flying Super Saturator opened at Carowinds in 2000 with Roller Soaker at Hersheypark in Pennsylvania coming two years later. Both coasters suffered capacity issues as well as lengthy downtime and closed within a decade.
Roller Soaker at Hersheypark, USA
Flying Super Saturator at Carowinds, USA
VEKOMA SWINGING TURNS
Vekoma counteracted Arrow with their Swinging Turns Suspended Coaster – Dream Catcher at Bobbejaanland in Belgium, which opened in 1987. Only three were manufactured, all of which are still operational.
VEKOMA SUSPENDED FAMILY COASTER
Vekoma developed a smaller version for families to enjoy together. The first models opened at Canada’s Wonderland and Kings Island in Ohio, USA, in 2001. The company went on to perfect the coaster by making the ride smoother and removing the over-the-shoulder restraints in 2006 when Kvasten opened at Gröna Lund in Sweden.
Orkanen at Fårup Sommerland, Denmark
Flight of the Pterosaur at Paultons Park, UK
Freedom Flyer at Fun Spot America, USA
Kvasten at Gröna Lund, Sweden
ZAMPERLA AIR FORCE
The Zamperla Air Force is a very child friendly coaster similar to the Vekoma line of Suspended Family Coasters (above), only smaller and much slower. Riders are also seated in suspended cars rather than open seats.