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TTD Closed, to be "Reimagined"

Hyde

Matt SR
Staff member
Moderator
Social Media Team
The other week, through some personal contacts in Cedar Fair's college management program, I was formally briefed on what's happening to the attraction once known as Top Thrill Dragster. I have not been permitted to discuss details or answer questions, with one exception. That being, Intamin is the manufacturer working on the project. And this is fundamentally more than a simple ride overhaul.

The notion that Zamperla would even be involved in a project like Top Thrill Dragster is stupid. It's also insulting just how easily people can eat up this kind of misinformation. Step back for a moment and think it through again. We've seen ridiculous things happen in the industry, and this wouldn't be one of them.
To be fair; to call the dribbles of "I spotted track shipped in this direction" is hardly information, more so than grasping for straws with the rest of us. It's also the off-season - let that rumor mill churn. ;)

Also appreciating that you are somehow not at liberty to share details from your contacts, but can somehow say it's still Intamin; let me provide a counterfactual argument to why not Intamin:

  1. Cedar Fair has a bullish history of greenlighting manufacturers with lesser track records for big footprint projects. E.g. going with Mondial on the Windseeker project, rather than Funtime who was (and remains) the established large-scale swing maker.
  2. Intamin is far from sterling in service and reputation. The park did just get done removing an Intamin magnetic launch, afterall.
  3. There is plenty of chronicled, other-coaster-manufacturer upfit in the world. RMC's wooden coaster service (and the obvious I-Box treatment), Morgan's Phantom's Revenge conversion, Vekoma SLC train swaps, etc. It isn't extremely farfetched to think about having non-Intamin service.
  4. To date, we are still operating on a lot of "he said, she said" second-hand knowledge. I too have a number of friends and contacts who work at Cedar Fair (perks of growing up in Sandusky), who had provided other large-scale project tip offs throughout the year. Some of them right, some of them dead wrong. The thrill of the inside park scoop. 🤷‍♀️
At the end of the day, Intamin or not; I don't care. Give me something that's reliable and will last (he says having been ironically spited three-times over in 2019 by TTD).
 

TPoseOnTantrum

Hyper Poster
To be fair; to call the dribbles of "I spotted track shipped in this direction" is hardly information, more so than grasping for straws with the rest of us. It's also the off-season - let that rumor mill churn. ;)

Also appreciating that you are somehow not at liberty to share details from your contacts, but can somehow say it's still Intamin; let me provide a counterfactual argument to why not Intamin:

  1. Cedar Fair has a bullish history of greenlighting manufacturers with lesser track records for big footprint projects. E.g. going with Mondial on the Windseeker project, rather than Funtime who was (and remains) the established large-scale swing maker.
  2. Intamin is far from sterling in service and reputation. The park did just get done removing an Intamin magnetic launch, afterall.
  3. There is plenty of chronicled, other-coaster-manufacturer upfit in the world. RMC's wooden coaster service (and the obvious I-Box treatment), Morgan's Phantom's Revenge conversion, Vekoma SLC train swaps, etc. It isn't extremely farfetched to think about having non-Intamin service.
  4. To date, we are still operating on a lot of "he said, she said" second-hand knowledge. I too have a number of friends and contacts who work at Cedar Fair (perks of growing up in Sandusky), who had provided other large-scale project tip offs throughout the year. Some of them right, some of them dead wrong. The thrill of the inside park scoop. 🤷‍♀️
At the end of the day, Intamin or not; I don't care. Give me something that's reliable and will last (he says having been ironically spited three-times over in 2019 by TTD).
Solid arguments, all of them, so allow me to counteract them on grounds of logic;

1. Cedar Fair does have a bullish history of working with less experienced manufacturers on different projects. Despite their coaster department recently upping their game for all its worth, they still do not have a proven working LSM launch system - or even prototype - on the field. As of right now that would be not-Senzafiato in 2024, and even with that there are indications that Zamperla hasn't finalized the system yet. There is hiring inexperienced companies for projects that they have no right to be working on (Mondial on Windseeker, Triotech on WMG, Daniel Woodlands on Orion) and then there is asking a company to manufacture a 120mph launch as their first real short-term field project.
2. Intamin has a soggy reputation with Cedar Fair, and especially Cedar Point. However, Wicked Twister was removed more on the grounds that they saw a much better way to use that real estate and not as much as it being extremely problematic (even with LIMs). That would have gone to Top Thrill Dragster itself.
3. Found a comment on the Reddit post I linked previously from a Florida-based user, seemed interesting to share;
Response after telling my friend who is a very high up engineer at WDW attractions about the Zamperla speculation:

"Haha, no way Zamperla is doing it. Dragster is one of the largest structures ever built for a theme park. If an outside vendor touched it they would have to reanalyze everything because intamin would wipe their hands clean of it and have no liability. if intamin does the work they can just update their previous analysis. It would be a 1/10th of the cost to use intamin."
Yeah this is very "he said, she said" but it's a fair point and I can't really add anything on.
4. On the topic of "he said, she said", you all 100% have the right to dispute my info. The speculation that Zamperla may be involved INSTEAD of Intamin, meanwhile, is stemming completely from ElToroRyan. Ryan is not someone that I'd label as untrustworthy, and there's evidence to support his claim, but nobody else has separately spoken up about Zamperla's involvement. As you said said, just operating off of second-hand knowledge.

There's still some gaping holes left in terms of information - mostly around the where/what/why of the track's shipping - but I'd consider these to be solid points on questioning Zamperla's involvement. Whatever happens to TTD, however, it will be interesting.
 
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Hyde

Matt SR
Staff member
Moderator
Social Media Team
Solid arguments, all of them, so allow me to counteract them on grounds of logic;

1. Cedar Fair does have a bullish history of working with less experienced manufacturers on different projects. Despite their coaster department recently upping their game for all its worth, they still do not have a proven working LSM launch system - or even prototype - on the field. As of right now that would be not-Senzafiato in 2024, and even with that there are indications that Zamperla hasn't finalized the system yet. There is hiring inexperienced companies for projects that they have no right to be working on (Mondial on Windseeker, Triotech on WMG, Daniel Woodlands on Orion) and then there is asking a company to manufacture a 120mph launch as their first real short-term field project.
2. Intamin has a soggy reputation with Cedar Fair, and especially Cedar Point. However, Wicked Twister was removed more on the grounds that they saw a much better way to use that real estate and not as much as it being extremely problematic (even with LIMs). That would have gone top Top Thrill Dragster itself.
3. Found a comment on the Reddit post I linked previously from a Florida-based user, seemed interesting to share;

Yeah this is very "he said, she said" but it's a fair point and I can't really add anything on.
4. On the topic of "he said, she said", you all 100% have the right to dispute my info. The speculation that Zamperla may be involved INSTEAD of Intamin, meanwhile, is stemming completely from ElToroRyan. Ryan is not someone that I'd label as untrustworthy, and there's evidence to support his claim, but nobody else has separately spoken up about Zamperla's involvement. As you said said, just operating off of second-hand knowledge.

There's still some gaping holes left in terms of information - mostly around the where/what/why of the track's shipping - but I'd consider these to be solid points on questioning Zamperla's involvement. Whatever happens to TTD, however, it will be interesting.
All exactly fair and dead on. To pull the "back in my day" line: remember when we thought it wild that a company with no proven experience say they could retrack and improve Texas Giant. 🥲

No doubt Intamin would be the most sensible play at the end of the day.

But I'm just saying... What If...

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Indy

Hyper Poster
3. Found a comment on the Reddit post I linked previously from a Florida-based user, seemed interesting to share;

"Haha, no way Zamperla is doing it. Dragster is one of the largest structures ever built for a theme park. If an outside vendor touched it they would have to reanalyze everything because intamin would wipe their hands clean of it and have no liability. if intamin does the work they can just update their previous analysis. It would be a 1/10th of the cost to use intamin."
Definitely sounds like a park engineer 😆. Obviously, this isn't your comment, but I just want to say that this isn't really true.

First, this type of thing happens a lot, whether it's RMC transforming a coaster into a hybrid or a park getting new trains for a coaster. There are a lot of ways to get around "reanalyzing everything." It boils down to the nature of the modifications. In this case, sure, anything new built before and after the top hat will need to be completely analyzed since it's been ripped out. However, if the new trains are equal to or less than the weight of the old trains, have a similar CoG, and the launch speed isn't any faster, then they can get around reanalyzing the top hat because the forces won't be any greater than what the structure was designed for.

Also, "1/10th of the cost" is an exaggeration if I ever saw one. Engineering costs aren't going to comprise that much of the ride's expense. This comment also infers that engineering costs are 1-1 across manufacturers and they aren't. Even if a manufacturer does have to reanalyze everything, it won't be that much of a difference. And the notion that Intamin "can just update their previous analysis" is funny too as it makes a ton of assumptions. For instance, Intamin didn't do the structural analysis, so this is assuming that Stengel has a 20 year old analysis model laying around that is compatible with whatever software program/version they are using now.

In general, take the words of a high budget park engineer with a grain of salt when it comes to designing rides, especially coasters. They tend to be in their own bubble that is vastly different from the majority of the amusement industry. I don't doubt that Intamin is doing the work, but I also don't think it's that farfetched for Zamperla to be involved given some of the changes they've made in recent years.
 
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EthanCoaster

Mega Poster
Screamscape is also reporting Zamperla, and this seems to be independent of ElToroRyan’s video:

icon_STOP
2024 - Top Thrill DragsterZ
- (11/6/22) The latest rumor slowly leaking out about Top Thrill Dragster is about what company was hired to do the work on the ride. While I was asked not to say anything a couple months ago other than that Intamin wasn’t involved, the trail of breadcrumbs have started to reveal a connection with Italy (some of Dragster’s removed track pieces have been shipped overseas) and the rumored involvement of Zamperla.
Now I’m not saying 100% that it is Zamperla just yet, but that is indeed the rumor that was sent my way months ago. In an interesting coincidence, a poster in the same Reddit threat mentions that Zamperla was also rumored to be moving and providing a new launch system and trains to the closed “Senzafiato” coaster at the now closed Miragica park in Italy that was another one of Intamin’s Accelerator style launched coaster projects. I believe the park opened in 2009 but then the entire park failed to open in 2019 due to financial issues and then of course remained closed in 2020 when Italy was hit hard by the pandemic and has never reopened.
It’s clear that Zamperla has been pushing their coaster division hard over the past year or so. The company has always been a huge provider of other riders with a good reputation for quality products purchased by about every major theme park chain across the globe, including Disney. Zamperla has always made roller coasters as well, though has never reached the success of reputation level of the giants like B&M, Intamin or even Vekoma, but they seem poised and determined to change that going forward. Tackling a project of this kind of magnitude for Cedar Fair would certainly go a long way towards achieving that goal, so stay tuned!
 

Trax

Mega Poster
Really looks like it’s going to be Zamperla with their new „Lightning-trains“, designed to be „the best in the world“:

„The Lightning vehicle also has different road wheels, made to be low maintenance and withstand high acceleration: they will soon be seen on some of the world's fastest attractions! Whether they are looking for a standard layout or a custom design, the engineering team at Zamperla coasters will offer a solution that fits the budget of any park.“
 

Indy

Hyper Poster
Really looks like it’s going to be Zamperla with their new „Lightning-trains“, designed to be „the best in the world“:

„The Lightning vehicle also has different road wheels, made to be low maintenance and withstand high acceleration: they will soon be seen on some of the world's fastest attractions! Whether they are looking for a standard layout or a custom design, the engineering team at Zamperla coasters will offer a solution that fits the budget of any park.“
I'm not saying there is no chance it's Zamperla, but I think this is reading into things a bit much. The 70m Double Heart coaster model goes 81 mph, which would put it among the Top 30 fastest operating coasters in the world if built. From a marketing standpoint, it's absolutely fair to call that "[one] of the world's fastest attractions."

I guess we'll find out in time though.
 

Matt N

CF Legend
As I said further up this page, I must confess that Zamperla would seem like a slightly odd choice for a TTD revamp on the face of it, seeing as a 400ft, 120mph coaster is very far out of their wheelhouse… even Senzafiato (if they’re in charge of that project) is vastly different in scale.

However, I guess all kinds of things would never have happened if odd choices were never picked.

12 or 13 years ago, I’m sure that some little unknown firm called RMC doing a Texas Giant refurbishment would have seemed like an odd choice on the face of it… but that “odd choice” was possibly one of the most successful, industry-changing gambles made in recent times.

To some extent, Mack building a launch coaster for EP probably seemed like an odd choice back in 2008… but yet again, Europa Park’s “odd choice” was possibly one of the most successful, industry-changing gambles made in recent times.

If Zamperla are in charge of this, perhaps a TTD revamp could be Zamperla’s springboard to make them a serious player in the same vein as Blue Fire was for Mack?
 

Matt N

CF Legend
I must admit, that train does look very Intamin-esque… if it’s not being used on TTD, could it be for Senzafiato?

It certainly looks like it would be an improvement on the older Intamin OTSRs, in my opinion.
 

Crazycoaster

Giga Poster
The issue is these trains have a much higher heartline compared to the rocket coaster trains. You sit much higher in the trains compared to the original design. The raised seating will also change the clearance envelope of the train completely. Both of these will be an issue with TTD’s downward spiral.
 

Indy

Hyper Poster
...if it’s not being used on TTD, could it be for Senzafiato?
Yeah, it was actually introduced as being the train that will be used on Senzafiatio.

EDIT: But for clarity, this will also be the standard train design used on Zamperla's Lightning Coaster model line.
 
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Hyde

Matt SR
Staff member
Moderator
Social Media Team
The issue is these trains have a much higher heartline compared to the rocket coaster trains. You sit much higher in the trains compared to the original design. The raised seating will also change the clearance envelope of the train completely. Both of these will be an issue with TTD’s downward spiral.
I mean clearance envelope is most likely a non-issue - the 270 spike actually doesn’t bring riders close to any support exposure.

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And to seats sitting higher - are they? Or at least, to a significant enough degree? Let’s also not forget TTD had stadium seating already. Save the same 270 spike (which itself is a barrel roll, having the train rotate around the track) seat positioning is a virtual non-factor for the ride. And hey, if a higher seat position means more g-force on the drop, sign me up!
 

EthanCoaster

Mega Poster
I feel that most of the arguments against Zamperla retrofitting Dragster seem to center around an enthusiast desire to have Intamin return rather than the park’s perspective. Yes, it’s true that Zamperla lacks experience in this department, and yes, they’ve made some abysmal coasters in the past. But they seem to have invested a large amount into the R&D side of their coaster department, and they’re currently retrofitting an Intamin hydraulic accelerator.

It’s no secret how Cedar Fair feels about Intamin, and whether people want them to come back or not, Cedar Fair has not worked with Intamin since 2010. Cedar Fair has worked with Zamperla extensively for the past few years, with 2023 looking to be the biggest year in their partnership yet, I don’t see why it’s a stretch to speculate that Zamperla would also be handling the Dragster re-do.

I’m not saying anyone has to be happy with the decision, after all these are multi-billion dollar corporations having a feud. However, from the Senzafiato renovation to relatively reputable sources like Screamscape reporting that Zamperla is the candidate, IMO it just makes too much sense.
 

Hyde

Matt SR
Staff member
Moderator
Social Media Team
The last Intamin to operate at Cedar Point without modification/retrofit/significant downtime was Jr. Gemini in 1979, Intamin's first roller coaster.

Just.... let that sink in. 😅

It's very easy to want to paint coaster manufacturers with broad, generalized brushes that remain static in time. Remember when Vekoma was (and arguably, still can be ) the but of every joke because of the SLC? And yet, they too quietly retooled their staff and teaming to deliver some profoundly improved and different track and train design over the last decade. Even "lowly" second and third tier manufacturers like Zierer, Premier, and and Maurer have shown manufacturers are far from set in their ways - a little R&D goes a long way to delivering entirely new and exciting coaster designs.

As @Matt N alluded too, it wasn't that long ago we were suspiciously dismissing the notion of New Texas Giant, and ability to retrofit large, meandering wooden coasters (especially in the ironic age when Intamin was arguably running the show throughout the 2000s). And yet, the last decade has been nothing but retrofits of large, meandering wooden coasters. :p
 

jasone

Roller Poster
I do understand what you're saying. But to me it does seem a little bit crazy still. TTD is arguably one of the most iconic coasters ever built. It changed the landscape of the industry when it was unveiled, and we haven't seen that many coasters of similar scale since. For any manufacturer, working on a ride of that size and scale is a huge undertaking, so it makes sense that people expect any refurbishment or reimagining to be undertaken by a company with more of a proven track record. Particularly when TTD is being closed because of maintenance problems and a high profile accident. You'd think Cedar Point would go with someone who are pretty tried and tested so as to not have problems down the line and limit any unnecessary risk this time.

I'd understand more if it was being reimagined by Mack, or Vekoma (or maybe even Premier) . But Zamperla really haven't worked on anything at all like the size, scale or speed of TTD, and the larger coasters they have built such as Rollin Thunder/Thunderbolt have certainly had mixed reviews. I'm not saying Zamperla don't have the ability to do it, or that it won't turn out well if it is them. But, from an outsiders perspective it does seem a pretty risky and bold move on Cedar Points part.
 

EthanCoaster

Mega Poster
Honestly I don’t think it’s as big of a risk for Cedar Point as it may seem. I think LSM technology and the coaster industry as a whole has changed significantly since 2003, and while Intamin were at the forefront of launch coasters back then, many manufacturers have been able to offer similar products to them in recent years. I think if Zamperla has really put the money into the R&D of their coaster engineering, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to undertake a project of this scale.
 

Lori Marie Loud

Hyper Poster

An update. Someone who miiiight be in the know has some intel:

This is absolutely a Zamperla project and not an Intamin one
It will be using the same trains that are being put on Senzafiato
The track might be repainted a "green-ish" color
The post also seemed to imply a layout change. Tantrum's post also implied a layout change and a rename, but seems to be incorrect as evidence is mounting that this is a Zamperla project, not an Intamin one.

Oh, and before I go:
https://www.reddit.com/r/rollercoasters/comments/zsz6vp https://www.reddit.com/r/rollercoasters/comments/zqxrnn
Seems this is for 2024.
 
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