Mountain coaster

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The Alpine Coaster at the Eifelpark in Germany.

A mountain coaster or alpine coaster is a gravity-driven amusement ride with bobsled-like cars on tracks installed on a mountain. 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 rails with up-stop wheels like roller coasters. Thus, an alpine coaster isn't necessarily safer due to the jerky movements the cart makes as it navigates it's way on a fixed track. Alpine coasters are undoubtedly slower than an alpine slide since alpine coasters have speed regulated carts that prevent a rider from experiencing the track at full speed. Tracks are usually tubular rails, like a steel roller coasters, while some have monorail-type tracks. 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. Leading makers of mountain coasters (with trade marks in parenthesis) include Wiegand (Alpine Coaster),[2] Brandauer (Summer Toboggan),[3] Alpine Products (Alpine Mountain Coaster),[4] and Erbschloe Fun Construct (Rolba Bob).[5]

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.[6] 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).[7]

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.[8]

A contradicting account shows that Brandauer installed its first "Summer Toboggan" in 1996 at the Karkogel Resort in Abtenau, Austria.[9][10]

In 2007, Alpine Products, one of the largest manufacturer of alpine slides, entered the market with its "Alpine Mountain Coaster". The company is the first maker to add an anti-collision system that detects cars ahead, warns, and stops the cars when needed, among other safety features.[2]

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.[3] All mountain 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.[11] Bridgework up to 5 metres (16 ft) tall is installed by manufacturers to negotiate roads, trails, ski slopes or water crossings.[12] 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.[13] Mountain coasters erected as rides in amusement parks are usually closed-loop coasters.

Thrill elements on mountain coasters could include varying degrees of curves, dips and hairpin turns.[12] Large spiral circles (helixes) are not only used as a thrill element, but also for reducing elevation.[8]

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 brakes 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.[14] 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.[13]

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.[15]

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 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,

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.

Canada[edit]

Jamaica[edit]

  • Rainforest bobsled at Mystic Mountain

New Zealand[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.[7]

United States[edit]

GoldRunner Coaster at Breckenridge Ski Resort
  • Alpine Coaster at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, was the very first alpine coaster in the United States when it opened in 2005. The ride starts with a downward run of 3,400 feet (1,000 m) and then followed by 1,000 feet (300 m) lift.[19]
  • Alpine Mountain Coaster at Action Park in Vernon Township, New Jersey. [20]
  • The Coaster at Goats on the Roof in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, originally slated to be named Goat Coaster, starts with a lift of 1,325 feet (404 m) and then a drop of 3,050 feet (930 m), totaling 4,375 feet (1,334 m), with a maximum speed of 27 miles per hour (43 km/h). It opened on January 17, 2015.[21]
  • Cranmore Mountain Coaster at Cranmore Mountain Resort in North Conway, New Hampshire. The ride starts with a lift of 1,315 feet (401 m) and then a drop of 2,390 feet (730 m) totaling to 3,705 feet (1,129 m) with a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour (40 km/h).[22] Opened on November 20, 2010.[23]
  • Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The ride starts with a lift of 780 feet (240 m) and then a drop of 2,500 feet (760 m) totaling 3,280 feet (1,000 m) with a maximum speed of 31 miles per hour (50 km/h). Opened on August 31, 2014.
  • Gold Runner Alpine Coaster at the Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado with a downhill run of 2,500 feet (760 m).
  • Gunstock Mountain Coaster at Gunstock Mountain Resort in Gilford, New Hampshire. Opened on August 12, 2016.[24]
  • Jiminy Peak's Mountain Coaster at the Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort in Hancock, Massachusetts, with a total length of 3,600 feet (1,100 m) and maximum speed of 23 miles per hour (37 km/h).[25] The attraction opened on July 1, 2006, the second mountain coaster in the country and the first in New England.[26]
  • Killington Beast Mountain Coaster at the Killington Ski Resort in Killington, Vermont, features a lift of 1,800 feet (550 m) and then a drop of 3,000 feet (910 m) totaling 4,800 feet (1,500 m), with a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour (40 km/h).[27][28] Opened on July 24, 2015.
  • Mountain Coaster Poconos at Camelback Mountain Adventures near Camelback Mountain Resort in Tannersville, Pennsylvania. Ride starts with an uphill climb to the crest before going downhill for 4,500 feet (1,400 m) with a maximum speed of 30 miles per hour (48 km/h).[29] Opened in July 2012.[30]
  • Nor'Easter Mountain Coaster at the Attitash Mountain Resort in Bartlett, New Hampshire, which starts with a 1,420 feet (430 m) uphill climb and a drop of 2,880 feet (880 m) totaling 4,300 feet (1,300 m), and top speed of 25 miles per hour (40 km/h).[31] Opened on November 24, 2010.[23]
  • Nor'Easter Mountain Coaster at the Greek Peak Mountain Resort in Cortland, New York, has a track length of 4,300 feet (1,300 m) and top speed of 28 miles per hour (45 km/h).[32]
  • Park City Mountain Alpine Coaster at the Park City Mountain Resort in Utah with a total length of nearly 4,000 feet (1,200 m),[14] with a top speed of 30 miles per hour (48 km/h).[33] The ride opened on August 28, 2006, the third oldest alpine coaster in the United States.[23]
  • Ridge Rider Mountain Coaster at Heavenly Mountain Resort in South Lake Tahoe, CA. Opened in June 2016, total length 3,400 feet (1,000 m), descends 300 feet (91 m). [34]
  • Runaway Mountain Coaster at Branson Mountain Adventure in Branson, MO. [35] [36] Opened on August 12, 2016.
  • Rushmore Mountain Coaster at Rush Mountain Adventure Park in Keystone, SD. [37]
  • Ski Mountain Coaster at Ober Gatlinburg in Gatlinburg, Tennessee starts with a 1,000 feet (300 m) uphill climb and a drop of 2,750 feet (840 m) totaling 3,750 feet (1,140 m), and top speed of 25 miles per hour (40 km/h).[38] Opened on August 31, 2015.
  • Sky High Mountain Coaster at the Holiday Valley Resort in Ellicottville, New York, has an uphill track of 1,865 feet (568 m) and downhill of 2,940 feet (900 m) for a total length of 4,805 feet (1,465 m).[39] Opened on August 20, 2011.[23]
  • Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, starts with a lift of 1,500 feet (460 m) and then a drop of 3,900 feet (1,200 m) totaling 5,400 feet (1,600 m), making it the second longest mountain coaster in North America.[1] Opened on August 3, 2013.
  • Snowbird Mountain Coaster at Snowbird Ski Resort in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah. Length is 3,120 feet (950 m) with an elevation drop of 160 feet (49 m).[40]
  • Thunderbolt Mountain Coaster at Berkshire East Ski Resort in Charlemont, Massachusetts. The ride starts with a lift of 1,580 feet (480 m) and then a drop of 3,870 feet (1,180 m) totaling to 5,450 feet (1,660 m) making it the longest mountain coaster in North America.[41] Opened on October 10, 2014.
  • Timber Ripper Alpine Coaster at the Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow, Vermont. The track starts with a 1,600-foot (490 m) climb followed by 3,100 feet (940 m) run for a total of 4,700 feet (1,400 m) with an elevation drop of 375 feet (114 m), reaching speeds of 25 miles per hour (40 km/h).[42] Opened on December 23, 2010.[23]
  • Timber Twister Alpine Coaster at the Spirit Mountain in Duluth, Minnesota, which starts with a drop of 3,200 feet (980 m) reaching speeds of 26 miles per hour (42 km/h) followed by a six-minute climb back to the top.[43]
  • Wisp Resort Mountain Coaster at the Wisp Ski Resort in McHenry, Maryland. The coaster starts with a 1,300 feet (400 m) uphill track followed by 3,500 feet (1,100 m) downhill run for a total of 4,800 feet (1,500 m) with an approximate maximum speed of 28 miles per hour (45 km/h) and 350 feet (110 m) elevation drop on the eastern side of Wisp Mountain.[44]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Frequently asked Questions". Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster. Retrieved on July 8, 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Alpine Coasters". Wiegand Sports USA. Retrieved on July 24, 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Summer Toboganning System". Brandauer. Retrieved on July 20, 2014.
  4. ^ "Alpine Mountain Coaster". Aquatic Group. Retrieved on July 24, 2014.
  5. ^ "Rolba Bob". Fun Construct. Retrieved on July 24, 2014.
  6. ^ "Tobotronc". 
  7. ^ a b "Alpine Coaster". Glacier 3000. Retrieved on July 8, 2014.
  8. ^ a b "All About Alpine Coasters". Coaster 101. Retrieved on July 17, 2014.
  9. ^ "Alpine Coasters". AceOnline. Retrieved on July 24, 2014.
  10. ^ "Referenzen (tab) > 'Österreich' ". Brandauer. Retrieved on August 17, 2014.
  11. ^ "Rolba Bob Product Features". Fun Construct. Retrieved on July 25, 2014.
  12. ^ a b "About Alpine Slides & Alpine Coasters". Alpine Slide Directory. Retrieved on July 8, 2014.
  13. ^ a b deathbyillusion (March 6, 2011). "Alpine Coaster Winter On-ride (Complete HD Experience) Park City Mountain Resort". YouTube. Retrieved on July 8, 2014.
  14. ^ a b "Alpine Coaster". Park City Mountain Resort. Retrieved on July 8, 2014.
  15. ^ davidjellis (December 3, 2011). "Long Alpine Coaster (Imst) - no brakes!". YouTube. Retrieved on July 8, 2014.
  16. ^ "Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster". Blue Mountain. Retrieved on July 8, 2014.
  17. ^ "The Pipe Mountain Coaster." Revelstoke Mountain Resort. Retrieved on July 8, 2016.
  18. ^ Law, Tina (January 7, 2017). "Park 'puts Chch on the map'". The Press. p. A10. Retrieved January 22, 2017. 
  19. ^ "Thrill Rides at Glenwood Cavern". Glenwood Cavern Adventure Park. Retrieved on July 8, 2014.
  20. ^ "Alpine Mountain Coaster". Retrieved on July 9, 2014.
  21. ^ "Alpine Mountain Coaster". The Coaster at Goats on the Roof. 
  22. ^ "Mountain Adventure Park". Cranmore Mountain Adventure Park. Retrieved on July 8, 2014.
  23. ^ a b c d e Carlton, Lindsay (October 4, 2011). "Mountain Coasters Add New Twist to Ski Slope Fun". FOX News. Retrieved on July 9, 2014.
  24. ^ "The Official Mountain Coaster Build Thread".
  25. ^ "Mountain Coaster". Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort. Retrieved on July 9, 2014.
  26. ^ (2007-06-27). "Mountain Coaster: A people magnet at Jiminy Peak". Park World Online. Retrieved on July 9, 2014.
  27. ^ http://www.aquaticgroup.com/news-and-updates/killington-ski-resort-partners-with-adg/ "Killington Ski Resort Partners with ADG"
  28. ^ http://www.wptz.com/news/mountain-coaster-to-open-at-killington/34168344 "Mountain coaster to open at Killington Resort"
  29. ^ "Mountain Coaster". Camelback Mountain Adventures. Retrieved on July 9, 2014.
  30. ^ "Mountain coaster going up in the Poconos". WNEP The News Station. Retrieved on July 9, 2014.
  31. ^ "Mountain Coaster". Attitash Mountain Resort. Retrieved on July 8, 2014.
  32. ^ "The Nor’easter Mountain Coaster". Greek Peak Outdoor Center. Retrieved on July 9, 2014.
  33. ^ "Activities - Alpine Coaster". Park City Mountain Resort. Retrieved on July 8, 2014.
  34. ^ [1]
  35. ^ "Alpine Mountain Coaster". Retrieved on March 23, 2016.
  36. ^ "The Runaway at Branson Mountain Adventure Park"
  37. ^ "Alpine Mountain Coaster". Retrieved on March 18, 2016.
  38. ^ "Ski Mountain Coaster"
  39. ^ "Sky High Mountain Coaster". Holiday Valley. Retrieved on July 9, 2014.
  40. ^ "Mountain Coaster". Snowbird. Retrieved on July 9, 2014.
  41. ^ "Mountain Coaster at Berkshire East". Berkshire East. Retrieved on October 12, 2014.
  42. ^ "Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster". Okemo Mountain Resort. Retrieved on July 8, 2014.
  43. ^ "Alpine Coaster". Spirit Mountain. Retrieved on July 8, 2014.
  44. ^ "Mountain Coaster". Wisp Resort. Retrieved on July 8, 2014.