What's new

Manufacturers' 'Breakthrough' Coaster

Thecoasterrus

Mega Poster
It seems as if companies such as B&M, Intamin, Vekoma and S&S have been around forever, it's hard to imagine what the industry would look like without them. I've decided to go back and discover what individual coaster put these companies on the map and why they still have influence in today's market.

This list could really go on and on as most well known manufactures have something that makes them stand out, but to keep it simple I am just going to pick a few out to discuss.

If you have any suggestions yourself then please feel free to comment.


Batman_The_Ride_at_Six_Flags_Great_America.jpg Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M): Batman: The Ride, Six Flags Great America (1992)

In 1991 Walter and Claude: The dynamic duo, were already a few years into their independent business venture. Six Flags Great America had asked them to design a "revolutionary" stand up coaster a few years prior which they reluctantly accepted, despite not wanting to build anymore amusement rides after leaving Giovanola. The company only grew as they hired more draftsmen and with the help of Clermont Steel Fabricators they got to work on Iron Wolf. While B&M's debut coaster thrilled park guests, it was admittedly similar in concept to Intamin's Stand up model, a product in which the two designers were also involved in.

Jim Wintrode - the general manger of the park had asked the company to build something that was completely new, a coaster that would not only suspend riders under the track, but would also be able to invert. What might be understated is the collaborate aspect between the Walter & Claude, Jim Wintrode and engineer Robert Mampe; B&M had the experience, Wintrode had the vision and Mampe and the technical knowhow, I think as enthusiasts we tend to praise to the ride's supplier more than anyone else involved in the development (which is what this topic is admittedly doing)

Needless to say the Inverted Coaster was a huge success, We've got clones, we've got supersized ones and even terrain versions. It's crazy to think how far ahead this model was, the seat configuration alone must of messed with people's heads and the coaster was far smoother than anything else on the market.

Tower-of-terror-ii-2.jpgIntamin: Tower of Terror/Superman The Escape - Dreamworld/Six Flags Magic Mountain (1997)

While I could of named many coasters that Intamin had previously designed prior to 1997, none of them represented the suppliers high minded ambitions better than their Reverse Freefall Coaster. As we all know the coaster war was heating up in the 90s, the bigger the better was the mindset and the Swiss manufacturer not only raised the bar, but threw it out of the stadium with two coasters that were set to be the tallest and fastest in the world, both being built at the same time, thousands of miles apart.

This project(s) was not without it's problems though, the more ambitious the ride, the more challenges you have. Originally Superman The Escape was meant to open in June of 1996, but due to technical issues with the LSM launch system the ride was delayed until the next season (something that I am sure the park won't repeat)

Superman's Aussie bro opened 8 weeks earlier at Dreamworld and briefly held onto it's record breaking glory until the American swept in and received all the media .. typical.

While it might not be at the top of most enthusiasts rankings, these coasters really knew how to make an entrance and capture the public's attention and made Intamin the ballsy manufacturer we know today.

Boomarang.jpg Vekoma: Boomerang - Bellewaerde Park (1984)

During the late 70's Vekoma were contracted to build the track and structure for Arrow designed coasters being constructed in Europe, not long after receiving Arrow's pattered track design, the Dutch company built their own coasters independently and pretty much won a big slice of the European market.

After manufacturing several Arrow-like corkscrew coasters, Vekoma pulled out the big guns with their boomerang model in 1984, while you could argue that the looping shuttle concept is similar to the Arrow and Schwarzkopf versions, having multiple inversions including the never before seen cobra roll was certainly enough to make Vekoma's model stand out from the pack.

There is some debate about which boomerang is the original, I have chosen the one at Bellewaerde as the breakout coaster as it was the first boomerang to open despite it not being the first one built.

Whether you like boomerangs or not (I have never ridden one) you cannot deny the success and impact they have had on the amusement industry. According to RCDB there have been 54 of these built. 54!! That's just mental.



NPNHyper-12-600x442 (1).jpgS&S Sansei Technologies: Hypersonic XLC - Kings Dominion (2001)

So I've talked about how Intamin were bold for building Superman/Tower Of Terror, well S&S said we can do one better and really threw the baby out with the bath water with this one.

At this point S&S had never built a single coaster, they were most well known at the time for building shot and drop tower rides which were a huge success. Founder Stan Checketts had the idea of taking his air compressed technology used on his tower rides and turning it sideways to create the world's fastest accelerating coaster.

The problem is that as many of you will know, Hypersonic XLC was meant as a prototype and was not truly ready for a park installation despite this Kings Dominion bought the prototype to save on costs and I would also theory that this saved them time as well. Unsurprisingly the ride was plagued with downtime, but that didn't matter in the short term as people who were lucky enough to ride it gave the ultra high speed ride rave reviews and at that time the bigger and faster meant 'better' to the industry so despite it's many issues and ultimate demise, the legacy of Hypersonic XLC lives on with coasters such as Do-Dodonpa, Bullet Coaster and Maxx Force.



New_Texas_Giant-5b6a441146e0fb002c091187.jpg Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC): New Texas Giant - Six Flags Over Texas (2011)

This is the only coaster here that I have followed the construction of, back in late 2010 when it was being built I remember thinking why would Six Flags waste so much money on refurbishing an old rickety wooden coaster with steel track? why not just build a brand new steel coaster to replace it? I remember thinking it was all a bit odd, something like this had never really been done and I actually felt it was pointless at the time.

It is now April 2011 and I am about to eat my words, this conversion was far from pointless, it was the best new coaster of 2011.

Featuring steep drops, overbanked turns and a plethora of airtime hills, this coaster showed what the steel box designed track was capable of and as we all know, it was still capable of a whole lot more.

RMC's I-Box model quickly became the most in-demand model with Six Flags adding several of them to their parks in the mid 2010's.

RMC have gone from the small company that maintained existing wooden coasters and worked on the construction of other manufactures coasters to becoming a powerhouse manufacturer that enthusiasts obsess over. It's been a relatively (in my mind) short time that this company was been around, but they have achieved more success in that time then many of their peers.
 
Last edited:

Pokemaniac

Mountain monkey
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
It's a great and agreeable list already, but you've left a very easy one for me to follow up with:

Mack: Blue Fire - Europa Park
Of course, Mack had been around for several decades by the time Blue Fire opened in 2009 (51 years after the company's first coaster), but as a manufacturer they were mostly known for easily copiable family coasters: Bobsleds, mine trains, powered coasters, Wild Mouses, the occasional water coaster, a spinning coaster or two ... The rides weren't bad, and as a manufacturer they were doing okay business, but Mack was the company you went to for filler rides. They didn't do much that would qualify as exciting to the seasoned coaster enthusiast. If your home park went for Mack one year, they were looking to save money. It would not be much to write home about.

And then suddenly someone up the company ladder decided "We're Intamin now" and built a big, launched, state-of-the-art multilooper. At 38 meters tall and a speed of 100 km/h, it was by far the tallest and fastest thing Mack had ever built. In fact, up to that point, Euro Mir had held those records for the company, if you disregard the water coasters (whose sole gimmick is one lift hill + one drop), that one is 28 m tall and goes 80 km/h. Blue Fire was also the first time Mack had done inversions.

Blue Fire was one heck of a milestone for a company that had been known for small-to-mid-size family coasters up to that point. Blue Fire didn't look like anything Mack had done until then, and seemingly everything they've done since seems to relate back to Blue Fire in some way. It was one heck of a step up in terms of size, speed, intensity, complexity, and sheer innovation. Okay, there had been launched multiloopers before, but Intamin was seemingly cornering the market unless you would go for one of Vekoma or Premier's off-the-shelf designs. S&S also did launch coasters, but not with inversions.

This coaster really changed our perception about Mack, and nowadays we know they build coasters you can actually look forward to.
 

Thecoasterrus

Mega Poster
It's a great and agreeable list already, but you've left a very easy one for me to follow up with:

Mack: Blue Fire - Europa Park
Yeah I was going to mention them, but then the list just kept getting longer as I started to think about Gerstlauer, Premier Rides, Arrow and GCI and I felt I should keep the discussion going.

Blue Fire really was a regeneration for Mack, since entering the thrill market it crazy how innovative they have been in the last 10 years.
 

Peet

Hyper Poster
Arrow - Matterhorn Bobsleds; a breakthrough for Arrow, for Disney (their first roller coaster), and the World (first tubular steel coaster). And still going strong!
 

Thecoasterrus

Mega Poster
Arrow - Matterhorn Bobsleds; a breakthrough for Arrow, for Disney (their first roller coaster), and the World (first tubular steel coaster). And still going strong!
Definitely a landmark moment in coaster history, but I would also say that Corkscrew at Knott Berry's Farm was a big move for them as it was the first modern inverting coaster.

I would say that arrow are still the most influential and innovative manufacturer ever.

Sent from my SM-A217F using Tapatalk
 

Bjprice

Roller Poster
Entirely agree and saying “time traveler” because I’m a fanboy.

new Texas giant was a revelation.

as was Batman.

and they’ve both held up the test of time

Now time traveller is your god whether you try it or not 😉

I predict simple spin clones because the ride is sooooooooooo good.

homies and homettes, I’m srs, it’s top 10 world. It’s legend. I wouldn’t have made an account and typed this if I wasn’t super srs. Enjoy rides!
 

Matt N

Strata Poster
Although it doesn’t seem too popular today, I’d argue that Gerstlauer’s breakthrough was Vild-Svinet at Bon-Bon Land. Although they’d been building Bobsled Coasters and Family Coasters prior, the first coaster with a beyond-vertical drop was arguably what really catapulted them into the spotlight and made them popular!
 

Matt N

Strata Poster
Sorry for double posting, but this thread bought up an idea for me; what about second breakthroughs, where a manufacturer has come up with something great and managed to reignite their business? I can certainly think of a couple who’ve had second breakthroughs of sorts:
  • Intamin - Taron at Phantasialand: I know Taron wasn’t the first Blitz Coaster, and it didn’t really have too much in terms of stand out elements, but I do think that this ride inspired a number of parks to build Intamin Blitz Coasters, and I think it arguably played a role in reigniting Intamin’s business in the Western world after somewhat of a dry spell for them in the early 2010s.
  • Vekoma - Formuła at Energylandia: In the early 2010s, Vekoma weren’t really doing too much interesting in terms of thrill coasters, and despite having perfected their track design in their family coasters, the company wasn’t getting many orders for thrill coasters, and struggled to shake off the reputation they had for building rough, uncomfortable coasters like SLCs and Boomerangs. However, Formuła changed all of that when it opened in 2016; this ride opened to rave reviews, and its (supposedly) liquid smooth, yet incredibly thrilling ride experience arguably showed the world that Vekoma was a manufacturer to be taken seriously once again.
  • Gerstlauer - Schwur des Karnan at Hansa Park: I know Karnan was not the first Infinity Coaster, but I’d argue that it was the one that showed off the extent of Gerstlauer’s abilities the best. It arguably shunned the company’s reputation for only really building small coasters for mid to low level parks; this beast is 239ft tall, reaches 78mph and has over 4,000ft of track, with many absolutely nuts elements integrated into that track!
  • Arrow Dynamics - X at Six Flags Magic Mountain: I think it’s a great shame that this ride drove Arrow to bankruptcy, because their last coaster seemed to show that Arrow could still play in the modern industry, and were beginning to come up with some really great innovations again! A far cry from the apparently rough-round-the-edges Arrow loopers from the 80s, X was a daring and exciting ride that still has enthusiasts around the world singing its praises nearly 20 years on from its opening! One does have to wonder what Arrow Dynamics would be doing now if they were still in business…
I’ve also thought of a couple more first breakthroughs:
  • GCI - Thunderhead at Dollywood: I know that Thunderhead was not GCI’s first roller coaster, but I’d say it was the first GCI that was really highly received; it seemed as though the company really hit their stride when building Thunderhead, and the orders just began to flow in after that!
  • The Gravity Group - Voyage at Holiday World: I must say, considering it was only the company’s 2nd ever coaster, Voyage was quite arguably a real statement of intent from the Gravity Group, telling the world that they were a manufacturer to be taken seriously! Very few manufacturers would have what was only their second ride be quite as huge in terms of scale as Voyage, and this gamble certainly went well for Gravity Group, as Voyage remains among the world’s most revered wooden coasters 15 years on from its opening, and it seemed to spur many parks to buy Gravity Group woodies!
  • Maurer AG - The Maurer spinner in general: I’m not actually 100% sure when and where Maurer’s first spinning coaster was built, but I certainly think that the Maurer spinning coaster’s invention was the company’s finest breakthrough, personally! The spinning coaster was what spurred many parks, even many fairly big players, to take the plunge and buy their first Maurer coaster, and the company has certainly sold far more spinning coasters than they have any other ride type!
 

Thecoasterrus

Mega Poster
CCI: Raven - Holiday World

CCI had made some small to mid sized wooden coasters at this point, but I believe that Raven was the coaster that not only put CCI on the map, but wooden coasters in general as there was a boost of them towards the late 90s and early 00s

Sent from my SM-A217F using Tapatalk
 

roomraider

Best Topic Starter
I'd argue to a certain extent B&M's breakthrough was more Kumba than Batman. Batman sure was revolutionary but Kumba blew the market wide open

Kumba was a complete revolution of the standard looping coaster at the time. For years Arrow had dominated the market but seemed stuck in a bit of a rut.

Kumba came along with its enormous first inversion (Compared to Arrows mega loopers of the time using standard sized loops just higer up like on Viper, GASM and Shockwave),
A worlds first dive loop inversion,
A worlds first for sitdown coasters Zero-G-Roll,
An enormous cobra roll when compared to the existing boomerang models,
The worlds first interlocking corkscrews,
A much smoother ride than the arrow competition,
Properly articulated trains
and just a presentation level not really seen before with the loop piercing lift, dives under paths and amazing views still iconic to this day.

To see where the competition were at you just need to look at Arrows attempt at a mega looper at BGT's sister park which opened just a year earlier, And while Kumba is still one of the worlds very best coasters till this day, Drachen Fire very much is not.

Batman may have got people to notice B&M but Kumba is what put them well and truely on the map as a force to be reckoned with. It was a complete revolution on existing looping coasters and has argubaly influenced almost every looping coaster since. A true breakthrough ride in my opinion

obviously I agree theres an argument for Batman too but i think my vote would goto Kumba just for its sheer destruction of all the norms that came before.
 

Hyde

Matt SR
Staff member
Moderator
Social Media Team
CCI: Raven - Holiday World

CCI had made some small to mid sized wooden coasters at this point, but I believe that Raven was the coaster that not only put CCI on the map, but wooden coasters in general as there was a boost of them towards the late 90s and early 00s

Sent from my SM-A217F using Tapatalk
CCI did have some other builds before Raven - Cyclops at Mt. Olympus and Hoosier Hurricane at Indiana Beach we’re built in 95 and 94, respectively. Raven was definitely one “for the map”, and benefited in coaster enthusiast circles for some additional "hype", such as the launch of the infamous Mitch Hawker Polls.

But, CCI, like much of the wooden coaster industry, is apart of a meandering river of manufacturing, rather than singular entity - CCI was founded out of the bankruptcy of Dinn Corp, with majority of Dinn Corp staff joining the CCI team (led by Charles Dinn's daughter). So CCI doesn't have it's own "breakthrough" moment necessarily, as much of it's design and etymology is closely linked to Dinn Corp's work in the late 80s/early 90s. In turn, once CCI went bankrupt, the splintering of staff between GCI and Gravity Group kept the ball rolling into the 2000s.

So sure, Raven is a breakthrough of sorts; but moreso a milestone of history. :)

To continue this flow on the wooden coaster front, might I propose:
  • Dinn Corp - Texas Giant
    • While it was the twilight years for Dinn Corp. before the aforementioned bankruptcy and rebirth as CCI - Texas Giant was the quintessential massive wooden coaster that made for the iconic footprint of Dinns.
  • Great Coaster International - Thunderhead
    • IT HAS A WHAT!? STATION FLYTHROUGH!?
  • Gravity Group - Hades
    • First wooden coaster with the now-hallmark 90 degree banked turn

I'd argue to a certain extent B&M's breakthrough was more Kumba than Batman. Batman sure was revolutionary but Kumba blew the market wide open

Kumba was a complete revolution of the standard looping coaster at the time. For years Arrow had dominated the market but seemed stuck in a bit of a rut.

Kumba came along with its enormous first inversion (Compared to Arrows mega loopers of the time using standard sized loops just higer up like on Viper, GASM and Shockwave),
A worlds first dive loop inversion,
A worlds first for sitdown coasters Zero-G-Roll,
An enormous cobra roll when compared to the existing boomerang models,
The worlds first interlocking corkscrews,
A much smoother ride than the arrow competition,
Properly articulated trains
and just a presentation level not really seen before with the loop piercing lift, dives under paths and amazing views still iconic to this day.

To see where the competition were at you just need to look at Arrows attempt at a mega looper at BGT's sister park which opened just a year earlier, And while Kumba is still one of the worlds very best coasters till this day, Drachen Fire very much is not.

Batman may have got people to notice B&M but Kumba is what put them well and truely on the map as a force to be reckoned with. It was a complete revolution on existing looping coasters and has argubaly influenced almost every looping coaster since. A true breakthrough ride in my opinion

obviously I agree theres an argument for Batman too but i think my vote would goto Kumba just for its sheer destruction of all the norms that came before.
This was my exact thought too on B&M! Not only was Kumba a MASSIVE addition at the time, but (and more importantly for the breakthrough moment), B&M had beat Arrow on the bid for the project. Certainly a breakthrough when the king is unseated, which marked a rather dark decade for Arrow, leading to their ultimate demise in 2002.
Definitely a landmark moment in coaster history, but I would also say that Corkscrew at Knott Berry's Farm was a big move for them as it was the first modern inverting coaster.

I would say that arrow are still the most influential and innovative manufacturer ever.

Sent from my SM-A217F using Tapatalk
I'd still push the Matterhorn as the bigger moment - yes Corkscrew was important from the inversion perspective... however Revolution (built a year after) is still the more celebrated inversion with the first modern loop. Getting the steel tubular track right is what laid the literal foundation for pushing the physics and speed. :)
 

Thecoasterrus

Mega Poster
I will still go with Batman for B&M because of it's innovation and how popular the invert model is (especially in the 90s) and how it inspired vekoma to make their own model.

Although I do agree that Kumba was the proof that B&M had stolen the crown from Arrow.


Sent from my SM-A217F using Tapatalk
 

UP87

Mega Poster
Arrow Dynamics - X at Six Flags Magic Mountain: I think it’s a great shame that this ride drove Arrow to bankruptcy, because their last coaster seemed to show that Arrow could still play in the modern industry, and were beginning to come up with some really great innovations again! A far cry from the apparently rough-round-the-edges Arrow loopers from the 80s, X was a daring and exciting ride that still has enthusiasts around the world singing its praises nearly 20 years on from its opening! One does have to wonder what Arrow Dynamics would be doing now if they were still in business…
Wasn't X pretty much the definition of rough-round-the-edges? It was delayed due to major design flaws and had to be closed only half a year after opening to fix some more flaws like the seat rotation not being smooth. What is being praised today is the S&S rework with new trains.

*Never been there. The opinion is only build from various media coverage.
 

Hixee

Flojector
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Social Media Team
Wasn't X pretty much the definition of rough-round-the-edges? It was delayed due to major design flaws and had to be closed only half a year after opening to fix some more flaws like the seat rotation not being smooth. What is being praised today is the S&S rework with new trains.

*Never been there. The opinion is only build from various media coverage.
X was, to my mind, one of those coasters that you just couldn't possibly have foreseen the issues before you built it. I think it's still Arrow's fault for being ridiculously ambitious with it, but there's no way any of their prototyping or modelling could have possibly predicted just how intense the coaster ended up being.

Off the back of the lessons learned from X, S&S managed to get Eejanaika to work (although for some reason decided that more intense was the right direction to take that coaster) and then went back to try and get X under control. They succeeded, of course, but that doesn't mean that X2/Eejanaika/Dinoconda aren't still some of the most insanely over-the-top coasters out there.
 

Pokemaniac

Mountain monkey
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
  • Gerstlauer - Schwur des Karnan at Hansa Park: I know Karnan was not the first Infinity Coaster, but I’d argue that it was the one that showed off the extent of Gerstlauer’s abilities the best. It arguably shunned the company’s reputation for only really building small coasters for mid to low level parks; this beast is 239ft tall, reaches 78mph and has over 4,000ft of track, with many absolutely nuts elements integrated into that track!
  • Arrow Dynamics - X at Six Flags Magic Mountain: I think it’s a great shame that this ride drove Arrow to bankruptcy, because their last coaster seemed to show that Arrow could still play in the modern industry, and were beginning to come up with some really great innovations again! A far cry from the apparently rough-round-the-edges Arrow loopers from the 80s, X was a daring and exciting ride that still has enthusiasts around the world singing its praises nearly 20 years on from its opening! One does have to wonder what Arrow Dynamics would be doing now if they were still in business…
I don't think either of these would fit the classical definition of "breakthrough", though. That word implies a barrier was broken and then the thing kept on going on the other side. In both those cases, the thing stopped at the broken barrier and did not move further.

Starting with Kärnan, it certainly is an outstanding ride, but ... well, it stands out. It remains the tallest and fastest Gerstlauer by a very wide margin (almost thirty meters taller than HangTime at #2), so it wasn't like the building of Kärnan led to a massive shift for the company or changed the norms of the industry. It was an example of Gerstlauer going above and beyond what they had done earlier, but since it also goes above and beyond what they have done later, I wouldn't consider it a very good fit.

If you want to assign a "second breakthrough" coaster to Gerstlauer, I'd argue Takabisha is the one. It was the biggest and steepest coaster the company had built at the time, featuring seven inversions and a mid-course launch. Until that point, Gerstlauer had mostly built compact thrill coasters, with that signature beyond-vertical drop and a couple of inversions, or medium-sized launch coasters with a couple of inversions (plus Fluch von Novgorod, which in a way was both), but Takabisha was a very different beast. Previously, Gerstlauer coasters were mostly filler attractions (or headliner attractions for smaller parks), but Takabisha proved they could also make headliner attractions at a very large park. The various design features of Takabisha probably influenced the development of the Infinity Coaster, which debuted two years later. You see echoes of Takabisha all over Junker, Pitts Special, HangTime, Monster, Smiler, and even Kärnan.

As for X, pretty much everything I said about Kärnan fits there too. Never mind that it bankrupted the company, but the 4D coasters weren't really industry gamechangers. They only ever sold two more of them, since their combination of size, complexity, and intensity proved waaay out of range for all but the biggest parks out there. Of course, the modern iteration of 4D coasters in FreeSpins (which neither yaw nor roll and thus only move in two dimensions, but I digress) have achieved some success, but I wonder if that's mostly off the back of Intamin's ZacSpins more than X. Even the ZacSpins don't appear to be that influenced by X, due to a lack of controlled spinning.

X was truly an outstanding achievement for Arrow, but not one that led to a breakthrough. Breakdown, now, that's another story.
 
Top