Mountain coaster

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The Alpine Coaster at the Eifelpark in Germany.

An Alpine coaster or mountain coaster is a type of roller coaster with bobsled-like cars on tracks installed on a sloped hill. It is similar to alpine slides where a low-wheeled sled is used to navigate the track, but instead of running over smooth concave tracks like the alpine slide, alpine coasters run on tubular rails. Thus, an alpine coaster is safer because the patron is not able to leave the track. Alpine coasters have speed-regulated carts that prevent a rider from Going over 25 mph. Tracks are usually tubular rails, Unlike a traditional roller coaster, the rider has the capability to control the car's speed with its rider-controlled brake system. Alpine coasters can also operate year-round, even through light rain and snow.[1]

Safety features, speed, tracks and layout vary by manufacturer. The inventor and leading manufacturer with over 130 in the world is Wiegand Sports GmbH. Located in Stevensville Montana, where they engineer, project manage and store spare parts and material in a 30,000 square foot facility.

As of 2007, the longest alpine coaster in the world is Tobotronc at Naturlandia, in the Pyrenees of Andorra. It is 5.3 km long.[2] The highest alpine coaster in the world is the Alpine Coaster of Glacier 3000 in Gstaad, Switzerland with the starting elevation of 9,747 feet (2,971 m) and a length of 3,300 feet (1,000 m).[3]

History[edit]

The predecessor to the mountain coaster is the alpine slide, which came out in the 1970s. Wiegand, a German company in Rasdorf, installed the first stainless steel tracks for the alpine slide in 1975 rather than the customary fiberglass or concrete tracks. The company later developed the first mountain coasters in 1997. Josef Wiegand, the owner, envisioned the idea of creating a roller coaster-type ride for ski resorts that would take advantage of the topography of the land, rather than building the structure to create the elevation changes that traditional roller coasters require. The company installed its first coaster under the "Alpine Coaster" trademark in 1997.[4]

A contradicting account shows that Brandauer installed its first "Summer Toboggan" in 1996 at the Karkogel Resort in Abtenau, Austria.[5][6]

Wiegand Sports GmbH is located in Stevensville, Montana since 2006. The company Josef Wiegand Co&Kg has been around since the late 60’s! All project management, sales, service and spare parts have been done out of the Montana location. Originally, all business was done in Germany, in order to stay competitive and provide better service to their North American customers they moved over to United States. Manufacturing is still done in Rasdorf, Germany where employee over 350 people. The Montana location has 20 employees as of 2016. There are 36 alpine coasters in North America. 30 of those were design and built by Wiegand Sports GmbH. The first alpine coaster was built in Glenwood Springs Colorado by Wiegand. Next was Park City, Utah, also built by Wiegand Sports. After this, the word got out about the all season ride that had an unbelievable return on investment. In 2007, Alpine products came into the market. Shortly, after going bankrupt in 2010 Aquatic Development Group bought Alpine Products. Since their purchase they have partnered up with 5 resorts and became part owners or share holders. Ober Gatlinburg was built by ADG. Tennessee has 6 Alpine/Mountain Coasters- Smokey Mountain Alpine Coaster, The Coaster at Goats on the Roof, Rowdy Bear mountain coaster, Gatlinburg mountain coaster and Rocky Top Mountain coaster. Rocky Top Mountain coaster is the first of its kind with 4 up tracks and 4 down tracks. It has tunnels, bridges, and it’s themed, making it like a tour with the thrill of being on the mountain coaster.

Tracks[edit]

Most mountain coasters are installed by ski resorts as an added year-round attraction, or installed seasonally to augment income during summer months. The latter have easily removable tracks that are placed over the ski runs after the ski season.[7] All Alpine coaster tracks are devised for easy installation, with minimal impact to the topsoil and environment, as most tracks are built close to the ground, taking advantage of the natural elevation of the terrain. No concrete work is needed, except at the station.[8] Bridgework up to 5 metres (16 ft) tall is installed by manufacturers to negotiate roads, trails, ski slopes or water crossings.[9] Tracks are constructed of aluminum or stainless steel for low maintenance and durability.

Closed-loop tracks include a lift system during the course of the ride. Some coasters on ski resorts eliminate the long, tedious climb up to the top by utilizing the resort's ski lift to take riders to the top of the course, so the riders can enjoy a longer one-way downhill run back to the station.[10] Alpine coasters are always a closed-loop coasters.

Thrill elements on mountain coasters could include varying degrees of curves, dips and hairpin turns.[9] Large spiral circles (helixes) are not only used as a thrill element, but also for reducing elevation.[4]

Mechanics[edit]

The dips of the Wiegand Alpine coaster at the Eifelpark in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Each sled accommodates one or two passengers and is controlled by a hand brake located on both sides of the car, or a single brake lever in the middle of the car on Brandauer coasters. Riders are advised to place their hands on the brakes at all times for safety reasons.[11] Pulling the hand brake handle causes the cart to stop; pushing or letting go of the handle causes the brakes to release, allowing the cart to accelerate.[10]

Alpine coasters are unique among amusement park rides in that the rider has complete control over his or her speed and ride experience. Riders can opt for slower leisurely run or with minimal or no braking for faster thrilling rides.[12]

Safety[edit]

Safety nets along the closed loop of the Trapper Slider mountain coaster at Fort Fun Abenteuerland in Germany

Most cars are equipped with a centrifugal brake system that controls its maximum speed by limiting the rotational speed of the run rollers. Riders are responsible to observe a safe distance as a common courtesy to the riders in front. Each car is equipped with shock-absorbing front and rear bumpers in case of collision, which occurs when riders are driving too fast and not leaving enough space for braking distance. Newer generation coasters are equipped with an anti-collision system that automatically apply the brakes if the rider gets too close to the car ahead.

To secure the riders on their seats, each car is equipped with a three-point safety belt for the rider and a lap belt for the passenger. Tracks also have safety nets, especially on steep curves, as a precaution.

Locations[edit]

Austria[edit]

  • Mieders Summer Toboggan Run at Serlesbahnen. This is the World's steepest alpine coaster, with a monorail type track at a length of 2.8km
  • Imst Alpine Coaster at the ski resort of Imst. The World's longest mountain coaster, at a track length of 3.5km,
  • Abtenau summer toboggan run, near the city of Salzburg. A 1920m track reaching speeds of up to 40km/h.

Germany[edit]

  • Hasenhorn Coaster at Todtnau in the Black Forest. The track is approximately 2,9km long, making it one of the longest mountain coasters in Germany.
  • Alpine Coaster at Kolbensattel in Oberammergau.

Canada[edit]

Jamaica[edit]

  • Rainforest bobsled at Mystic Mountain, Wiegand Product

Haiti[edit]

New Zealand[edit]

Russia[edit]

  • Rodelban in Bobroviy Log Park, Krasnoyarsk

Serbia[edit]

Switzerland[edit]

  • Alpine Coaster of Glacier 3000 in Gstaad, Switzerland is the highest alpine coaster in the world with the starting elevation of 9,747 feet (2,971 m) and a downhill run of 3,300 feet (1,000 m) reaching a top speed of 25 miles per hour (40 km/h). The ride opened on March 26, 2007.[3]

United Kingdom[edit]

  • Forest Coaster at Zip World in Betws-y-Coed, Wales is the first alpine coaster in the UK. It has a downhill run of 2,330 feet (710 m) reaching a top speed of 25 miles per hour (40 km/h). The ride opened in May 2017.[17]

United States[edit]

GoldRunner Coaster at Breckenridge Ski Resort

California[edit]

Colorado[edit]

Georgia[edit]

  • Helen - Black Mountain Alpine Coaster, opened in 2017. Wiegand Product

Maryland[edit]

Massachusetts[edit]

Minnesota[edit]

Missouri[edit]

  • Branson - The Branson Coaster, opened in 2017. Wiegand Product
  • Branson - Runaway Mountain Coaster at Branson Mountain Adventure, opened in August, 2016. ADG product and part owner

New Hampshire[edit]

New Jersey[edit]

New York[edit]

Pennsylvania[edit]

South Dakota[edit]

Tennessee[edit]

  • Gatlinburg - Anakeesta Rail Runner at Anakeesta, opened in 2018.
  • Gatlinburg - Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster - Opened in August, 2014.
  • Gatlinburg - Rowdy Bear Mountain Coaster - Opened in June, 2017
  • Pigeon Forge - The Coaster at Goats on the Roof, opened in 2015.
  • Pigeon Forge - Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster, opened in August, 2013.
  • all of the above alpine/mountain Coasters were built by Wiegand Sports
  • Gatlinburg - Ski Mountain Coaster at Ober Gatlinburg, opened in September 2015. ADG product

Utah[edit]

Vermont[edit]

Wyoming[edit]

  • Jackson - The Cowboy Coaster at Snow King. Wiegand Product

Vietnam[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Frequently asked Questions". Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster. Retrieved on July 8, 2014.
  2. ^ "Tobotronc".
  3. ^ a b "Alpine Coaster" Archived July 14, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. Glacier 3000. Retrieved on July 8, 2014.
  4. ^ a b "All About Alpine Coasters". Coaster 101. Retrieved on July 17, 2014.
  5. ^ "Alpine Coasters". AceOnline. Retrieved on July 24, 2014.
  6. ^ "Referenzen (tab) > 'Österreich' ". Brandauer. Retrieved on August 17, 2014.
  7. ^ "Summer Toboganning System". Brandauer. Retrieved on July 20, 2014.
  8. ^ "Rolba Bob Product Features". Fun Construct. Retrieved on July 25, 2014.
  9. ^ a b "About Alpine Slides & Alpine Coasters". Alpine Slide Directory. Retrieved on July 8, 2014.
  10. ^ a b deathbyillusion (March 6, 2011). "Alpine Coaster Winter On-ride (Complete HD Experience) Park City Mountain Resort". YouTube. Retrieved on July 8, 2014.
  11. ^ "Alpine Coaster" Archived July 2, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. Park City Mountain Resort. Retrieved on July 8, 2014.
  12. ^ davidjellis (December 3, 2011). "Long Alpine Coaster (Imst) - no brakes!". YouTube. Retrieved on July 8, 2014.
  13. ^ "Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster". Blue Mountain. Retrieved on July 8, 2014.
  14. ^ "The Pipe Mountain Coaster." Revelstoke Mountain Resort. Retrieved on July 8, 2016.
  15. ^ Law, Tina (January 7, 2017). "Park 'puts Chch on the map'". The Press. p. A10. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
  16. ^ "Active holiday in Kopaonik: Alpine Coaster".
  17. ^ "Zip World Fforest Coaster".
  18. ^ "Datanla Waterfall". Dalat Trip. Retrieved on August 21, 2017.