Similar to the Inverted Coaster, 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 – The 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 The Big Bad Wolf at Busch Gardens Williamsburg in Virginia and XLR-8 at Six Flags Astroworld in Texas. Arrow went on to manufacturer 10 Suspended Coasters over the following decade accumulating in 1992 with Eagle Fortress at Everland in South Korea, which has been SBNO (standing but not operating) since 2009 due to further excessive stress issues.
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 is a dueling version of the model.
S&S FAMILY SUSPENDED COASTER
The first and only S&S Suspended Family Coaster is Merlin’s Mayhem, which opened at Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, Pennsylvania 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 rotate 360° 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.
Tranan at Skara Sommarland, Sweden
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.
Using the same basic design as their Flyer model, 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.
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.
ZAMPERLA AIR FORCE
The Zamperla Air Force is a very child friendly coaster similar to the Vekoma line of Suspended Family Coasters (see above), only smaller and much slower.