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Are Giga coasters worth it?

Pokemaniac

Mountain monkey
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This became a small point of discussion in the Orion thread, but I figured it would be better to make a dedicated thread for it instead of mixing it into the construction thread.

So yeah, Kings Island's recently announced coaster Orion seems not to have wowed people to the degree the ninth tallest full-circuit coaster in the world ought to. It has a drop of more than 90 meters, it's over a mile long, it's built by B&M which has a great track record with their hyper-like coasters, it finally marks the arrival of the "KIGA" fans have been asking for for years, and... it has three hills, two turnarounds and a turn between the drop and the end brakes. Conceptually, that's not much more of a layout than what most family coasters have.

Because the thing with very tall and fast coasters is that elements have to be really drawn out, i.e. really big, and building big is expensive. So to offset the huge cost of each element, and to save space, Giga coasters tend not to have very many elements. The tallest launch coasters have a single tophat between the launch and the brakes; doing anything more would be prohibitively expensive. Despite its simple layout and short ride time, Kingda Ka is almost one kilometer long, with almost as much track as Copperhead Strike. With its three hills, two turnarounds and a turn, Orion will be 300 meters longer than Helix or Taron.

Besides, site limitations also tend to be reflected in the elements that are built. Put simply, the layout mostly becomes all about turning around before you go over the park fence. For instance, Intimidator 305 consists mostly of turns, starting as early as the pullout of its first drop. Following up the first drop of a giga coaster with a big airtime hill is almost unheard of, as it means committing to one direction in a straight line from the start of the lift until the end of the airtime hill, a distance that might span the entire length of a park (and there needs to be room to turn around at both ends as well). If I recall correctly, the only Giga to do a straight airtime hill after the first drop is Steel Dragon 2000.

One might also start to wonder what kind of coaster the park/chain could have built for Giga money instead. How many mid-size RMCs do you get for the price of a 90 meter B&M? How much of a loan would the park have to take? What does a Giga mean for the prospect of new attractions in the coming years?

So yeah, Giga coasters are very tall, give amazing views and some great drops, but they can't do a lot, and the required investment could put the park/chain in the red for a while. Then again, that sheer drop size is hard to beat, and the stats look really great in advertisements. When it comes to it, do you think Giga coasters are worth it over their smaller Hyper coaster cousins?
 

Snoo

The Legend
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If you're getting a Fury or MF, I'd say its worth it. Marquee coasters with height are a staple of major parks. I agree with the sentiment of a smaller coaster would have been better but if you can get THAT coaster, it can do wonders.
 

Antinos

Slut for Spinners
Social Media Team
There are many shades of grey and a ton of contextual nuances with this question.

Let's look at some history. Millennium Force was absolutely earth shattering. A ride of this magnitude was never before seen, and to be honest, it was essentially one of a kind for over a decade. Then Intimidator 305 was announced, and it was still quite significant. This ride took the best of Millennium Force and Maverick and became a flagship at a park that desperately needed one. Then came Leviathan. At this point, it became accepted that 300+ foot coasters are within the scope of a regional park, yet Leviathan carried significance by being B&M's first giga coaster. Carowinds was next to breach the 300 foot barrier, and, like Kings Dominion, they desperately needed a flagship. They got their flagship and they also built the coaster that became a showcase of what B&M is capable of. And just to throw in Red Force, it's Europe's tallest coaster. Every single giga coaster has been an important, landmark addition.

And then there's Orion. With its 287 foot height and 300 foot drop, it's hardly a giga coaster. It shares a park with other flagships like The Beast and Banshee. As it's been mentioned frequently in the other topic, the ride doesn't feature any unique, special elements or features, yet this coaster is riding on Fury's coattails. What is special about this ride? What is its significance? From a product standpoint, what was the goal of purchasing this ride and was this a space where Kings Island seriously considered playing given what the end result is?

Had this ride been built at Worlds of Fun or Valleyfair: two parks that desperately need a major addition, let alone a flagship, the conversation would be different. If Six Flags announced a giga coaster, the significance would come from the chain managing their money well enough to invest in such a huge attraction (or devolve into their 90s/00s selves again, but I digress). If a park like Lagoon or Adventureland built a Red Force type ride, I think people would be delightfully surprised that giga coasters would now be within scope for even smaller parks. Again, there's lots of shades of grey, and it essentially boils down to the fact that it's Kings Island and whether or not they were actually serious about this ride.
 

TLARides

Member
I think Antinos just answered the question, I really have nothing to input that he's already stated.

Sent from my Pixel 3a using Tapatalk
 

Howie

Active Member
The right giga, in the right park, at the right time... sure, totally worth it. However, putting B&M gigas in parks that already have B&M hypers, and bloody big B&M hypers at that, has always seemed a bit weird to me.
An Intamin giga in a park that already has an Arrow hyper - now that makes sense, but 2 massive B&M's with similar track designs, similar trains & restraints and a similar ride experience in the same park? Nah man, as much as I love the ride type, I don't quite get it.
As Antinos said - imagine if Worlds of Fun or Valleyfair were getting Orion? Or Blackpool Pleasure Beach, or Thorpe Park even - people would totally be losing their sh*t!
But at Kings Island in 2020, it's just not different enough.
 

J Rod

New Member
Out of curiosity, does anyone know how the general public have reacted to Orion? While we all sit here and acknowledge that the ride isn't particularly significant, we have to understand that the vast majority of the park's visitors are not enthusiasts. It seems clear that they could have gotten a better coaster for a cheaper price, but would that ride attract as many visitors as a massive, eye-catching giga? For us, we see a wasted investment, but for the park, if they get their payback in attendance, merchandise sales, etc., then the ride is technically "worth" it.
 

JJLehto

Member
Of course it's worth it.
It's a giga, it's great.
I suppose some parks really don't need one...but KI did. It now has a new (first?) big flagship ride coming to boot. There's us enthusiasts, then there is ofc everyone else, who will love it. And much as I wish parks existed to cater to us, they don't and enthusiasts must make up a small % of visitors. So yeah it will be worth it, and I'd say it's rare (but exists) to have a park that its not really worth it.

Though I will say, while historically/for a while B&M hypers had a great rep, I was always under the impression that in our community they are considered subpar because they tend to have less airtime and are generally milder. Also some have not aged well. Diamonback being one, Nitro another, and while I've not ridden Ive heard Shambhala and even Leviathan are not as punchy as they were. Thus why some of us are a bit meh on this. Esp when you see Fury and know what could be...
BUT this is a great choice, the park needs it. Their top ride is either a lackluster B&M, a great but standard woodie, an invert or a 40 year old ride. This is good for them.
Though it's also tough to argue with a mid sized RMC lol I mean some of those are barely over 100 ft and 50 mph and beat up most gigas
 

Gazza

Active Member
I think the complaints about the height of the structure being 280ft despite the actual drop being giga sized are stupid.

You're basically saying you don't want parks building interesting terrain based drops and layouts.
 

hendrixmarshall

New Member
Interesting topic. 30 million bucks would buy one helluva lightning run 2.0. 20 million and it could be as long the beast, hauling coaster ##s through the woods...but without crushing your ribs.
 

Antinos

Slut for Spinners
Social Media Team
Out of curiosity, does anyone know how the general public have reacted to Orion? While we all sit here and acknowledge that the ride isn't particularly significant, we have to understand that the vast majority of the park's visitors are not enthusiasts. It seems clear that they could have gotten a better coaster for a cheaper price, but would that ride attract as many visitors as a massive, eye-catching giga? For us, we see a wasted investment, but for the park, if they get their payback in attendance, merchandise sales, etc., then the ride is technically "worth" it.
I've seen a broad range of reactions. Of course, you have those people where their only vacation may be visiting the park once per year or every couple years, and naturally they love it, and there's nothing wrong with that! I have also seen a number of people react similarly as they did with Mystic Timbers (why is Kings Island building a wooden coaster through the woods next to the other wooden coaster that goes through the woods) - they've essentially stated "so it's Diamondback, but taller."
 

cookie

Member
If Orion results in increased attendance and increased guest spending, then it's worth the effort. Enthusiasts may be underwhelmed, but they're only a vocal minority in the grand scheme of things.
 

Pokemaniac

Mountain monkey
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I should have been a little more specific in setting a baseline. I can agree that it's better to have a Giga than to have nothing, but compared to whatever else you could build for the same sum of money? I mean, you could probably get a pretty souped-up version of Helix for the same kind of money Orion cost. And don't get me started on Red Force...
 

Hyde

I Lied About My Age!
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Out of curiosity, does anyone know how the general public have reacted to Orion? While we all sit here and acknowledge that the ride isn't particularly significant, we have to understand that the vast majority of the park's visitors are not enthusiasts. It seems clear that they could have gotten a better coaster for a cheaper price, but would that ride attract as many visitors as a massive, eye-catching giga? For us, we see a wasted investment, but for the park, if they get their payback in attendance, merchandise sales, etc., then the ride is technically "worth" it.
This really emphasizes the point of what is well received by the public vs the enthusiast.

Orion was announced to a packed crowd, and has been positively received by the target market based on the specific marketing goal that has been set: tallest and fastest roller coaster in the park. We have seen positive reception in media coverage, comments on CF’s own social media, etc.

As enthusiasts, we have an awareness to compare roller coasters to the broader industry. But it has been interesting, talking with friends local to Cincinnati, that not one of them has even drawn a connection to ho Orion and MF are in the same ride-type class. All have simply fixated on it just being a very tall, very fast ride.

And there-in emphasizes a second point: Gigas are yet another roller coaster type option for a park to install. They make great sense for amusement parks, such as the Paramount parks that have received hefty coaster investment from Cedar Fair, that already have majority of the other staple coasters covered. To put a broad stroke to Carowinds, KD, CW, and KI; what new novelty would they have put in if not a giga? We can all rattle off a few coaster types yes, but cost-for-cost the Dive Machine, Wing Rider, or Multi-Launch you most likely mentioned actually prices comparably to a giga.

At the end of the day, you are picking a specific roller coaster style to build; and sometimes, you pick giga.
 
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