Mindbender (Galaxyland)

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WEM Galaxyland MindBender Galaxy Orbitter.JPG
The Mindbender with the Galaxy Orbiter roller coaster in the foreground.
Coordinates 53°31′25″N 113°37′13″W / 53.52361°N 113.62028°W / 53.52361; -113.62028Coordinates: 53°31′25″N 113°37′13″W / 53.52361°N 113.62028°W / 53.52361; -113.62028
Status Operating
Opening date March 16, 1986 (1986-03-16)
Cost C$6 million
General statistics
Type Steel
Manufacturer Anton Schwarzkopf
Designer Werner Stengel
Track layout Indoor
Lift/launch system Tire Drive lift hill
Height 145 ft (44 m)
Drop 127 ft (39 m)
Length 4,198 ft (1,280 m)
Speed 74.7 mph (120.2 km/h)
Inversions 3
Duration 1:13
Capacity 430 riders per hour
G-force 6.8 G according to schwarzkopf.coaster.net or 5.2 G acc. to RCDB
Height restriction 59–77 in (150–196 cm)
Trains 3 trains with 3 cars. Riders are arranged 2 across in 2 rows for a total of 12 riders per train.
Mindbender at RCDB
Pictures of Mindbender at RCDB

The Mindbender is the world's largest indoor triple loop roller coaster. It is located in Galaxyland Amusement Park, a major attraction inside West Edmonton Mall, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


Mindbender was designed by Germany's Werner Stengel and built by Anton Schwarzkopf. It was inspired by this team's previous design, Dreier Looping, a portable coaster that travelled the German funfair circuit, before being sold to a succession of amusement parks in Malaysia, Great Britain, and most recently, Mexico. Mindbender is a pseudo mirror-image of Dreier Looping, and is slightly taller, with additional helices at the end of the ride. Mindbender features shorter trains, with three pilot cars, whereas Dreier Looping usually ran with five trailer cars and one pilot car, occasionally rising to seven-car trains at busy funfairs.

The ride's layout features many twisting drops, three vertical loops and a double upward helix finale. The ride twists underneath, in between and around its supports. It also goes underneath the former UFO Maze attraction, which has been removed to make way for another roller coaster; Gerstlauer's Galaxy Orbiter, during the helix.

Often in high season, the last car on one of the trains is reversed, allowing guests to ride the roller coaster without being able to see where they are going.

Ride experience[edit]

After boarding the Mindbender, riders put on their seatbelt and lap restraints. Also, the ride operator lowers large shoulder restraints over the riders. All of the restraints keep the riders firmly secured in the seat.

After ascending the curving wheel driven lift hill, the train descends a sharp, twisting left-hand drop (sometimes referred to as a Traver drop) that climbs up to the first of four stacked block brakes. The train negotiates a second left-hand drop that is immediately followed by two vertical loops. The aforementioned process happens yet again, but the height of the coaster is decreased and the next loop is a single one.

Upon completing the final loop, the coaster train shoots along a two-layered upward before running behind the Turbo Ride theatre and into the exit/entry area.

The ride length from the initial drop should normally range from one minute nine seconds to one minute eighteen seconds. Circuits times as little as 59 seconds are possible through extensive waxing of the track, and reduction in tension on the bogey wheels. This increase in speed is not permitted during public rides, as the forces on the riders becomes severe. During testing of the renovated trains in 1987, the maximum g-force of a normal run was measured on equipment bolted into the train at 5.5 G's, which occurs in the second loop.

1986 accident[edit]

On the evening of June 14, 1986, after the yellow train (train #1) completed the second inverted loop, it encountered one of three areas of uplift before the third and final loop. Missing bolts on the left inside wheel assembly of the last car of the four-car train caused the bogie assembly to disengage the track with a full load of riders. This caused the final car to fishtail wildly, disengaging the lap bars as it collided with support structures, thereby throwing off passengers and losing speed. The train entered the third and final inverted loop, but did not have the speed to complete the loop. The train stalled at the top, then slid backwards, crashing into a concrete pillar. Three people were killed during the accident and a fourth person was seriously injured.[1]

At the time of the accident the park was packed with people who were attending a concert. The ride had shut down twice, as the operator had heard a metallic noise from the train prior to the accident. Despite running the trains empty, the source of the problem could not be located by the maintenance staff, and the regular operation of the ride resumed until the accident occurred. With the stage located atop the jumping fountains, many had a horrific view as the band played and the coaster derailed. The Mindbender was immediately closed. An investigation and inquiry was launched that revealed that there were problems in the translation from German to English of operational and maintenance information from Schwarzkopf, the German coaster manufacturer.[2] Additional issues with quality control were found as a result of the manufacturer going bankrupt during delivery of the ride, and portions of the ride being finished by the receiver of the firm.

The root cause of the accident stemmed from the means in which each six wheel bogie was affixed to the axle. The bogie pivoted horizontally on a vertical axle, which was in turn attached to the main axle which joined each pair of bogie assemblies. The means each bogie was affixed to the vertical axle was a cap plate, located just above the track rail (1/4" clearance) and secured with four hex head recessed cap screws. As the cap screws became loose, they rubbed on the rails and eventually snapped or fell out as they rubbed along the track, releasing the retaining plate. Once all four bolts came loose, the cap plate no longer affixed the bogey to the vertical axle, and at the next uplift area, the axle came out of the bogie and the last car of the train derailed.[3]

In addition, Mindbender crews in Canada had not been provided a special inspection order from the General Safety Services Division of Germany where the ride was manufactured. Cars were checked only by visual inspections, not by taking them out from service. Visual inspections alone would not have been adequate to determine if screws or bolts were loose due to the obscured area the bolts were located. It was discovered that one-quarter of all axle bolts on the trains were loose.[1] No safety check had been made through the German TÜV organization. In addition, the restraint systems were also criticised for being inadequate as contact with the pillars supporting the ride disengaged the lap bars.

When the Mindbender reopened seven months later, the trains were redesigned. Existing four-car trains were converted to three-car trains, each have four bogeys on two axles (front and rear). Anti-roll back "dogs" were added to prevent the train from rolling backwards during the initial lift. Seating capacity was reduced from 16 to 12 per train. The lap bar restraint was retained, but seat belts and a shoulder headrest were added for redundancy.[1] The design of the vertical axle was changed so that the axle became a fixed part of the bogey, and the retaining bolt was moved to the top of the axle, where it is easily inspected. Finally, maintenance checks and scheduled maintenance downtimes were significantly increased. Since the incident, the Mindbender has been accident-free.[1]

Prior to the accident, the Mindbender had two yellow, two red, and two blue trains. After the accident, the original trains were sent to Germany for rebuild into the trains in use today. However, they returned only in red and blue colours, to ease the public perception of yellow trains which were featured in the media post-crash. Recently, the trains were repainted, and yellow colour has returned.

After the government inquiry, the damaged yellow train #1 was returned to the mall, along with other materials seized during the inquiry. The first three cars of train #1 were stored in the basement of the mall until later disposed of. The fourth car which derailed, was cut up by welders torch into small burned unrecognizable bits and disposed of. Train #1 was not reused, but occasionally scratches in the paint of the current vehicles, might reveal the identity of train #2, the second original yellow train.


Golden Ticket Awards: Top steel Roller Coasters
Year 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Ranking 13[4] [5] [6] [7] 30[8] 37[9] 45[10] 40[11] 44[12] 48[13] 43 (tie)[14] 48[15] 48 (tie)[16] [17] [18] [19] [20]


  1. ^ a b c Franklin, Jasmine (June 14, 2011). "Mindbender tragedy, 25 years later". Edmonton Sun. Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  2. ^ Kent, Gordon (October 22, 1986). "'Coaster crash tied to errors in design". The Edmonton Journal (Edmonton, Alberta). p. B1. 
  3. ^ "Geoffrey Kulak: An Inquiring Mind". University of Alberta Alumni Association. University of Alberta. Summer 1988. Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Top 25 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 7B. August 1998. Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Top 25 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 7B. August 1999. Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Top 25 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today. August 2000. Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Top 25 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 7B. August 2001. Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Top 25 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 7B. September 2002. Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 14–15B. September 2003. Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 18–19B. September 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 3, 2007. Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 26–27B. September 2005. Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 26–27B. September 2006. Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today 11 (6.2): 36–37. September 2007. Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today 12 (6.2): 36–37. September 2008. Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today 13 (6.2): 32–33. September 2009. Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today 14 (6.2): 34–35. September 2010. Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today 15 (6.2): 38–39. September 2011. Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Top 50 steel roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today 16 (6.2): 36–37. September 2012. Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  19. ^ "2013 Top 50 steel Roller Coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today 17 (6.2): 34–35. September 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  20. ^ "2014 Top 50 steel Roller Coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today 18 (6.2): 46–47. September 2014. Retrieved July 19, 2014. 

See also[edit]

External links[edit]