IAAPA 2019: New Roller Coaster Trains and Industry Impacts

I told you this blog would be about more than just Disney, right? It’s about time we veered away from the magical mouse and into a few different subject matters, this time we’re gonna deep-dive into Roller Coasters. Not just any roller coasters either, take a look at these guys: They’re not iguanidons and they’re for sure not the key to understanding the industry. This week in Orlando is the international IAAPA Expo. IAAPA, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, holds their yearly domestic expo in Orlando at the Orange County Convention center. I’ve been visiting the expo for the last six years and have seen the good, the bad, and the absolute strange. We set off to visit IAAPA on opening day, 11/19, and check out the new announcements. In this post I’m going to break-down multiple different Roller Coaster manufacturers, their announced upcoming builds, why it’s important, why you should or shouldn’t care, and of course my HOT TAKE on if it even matters. Let’s go!

Maurer Rides – Bolt

Explained: Maurer Rides is bringing a single rail roller coaster to Carnival Cruise Line. That’s right, it’s a roller coaster ON a cruise ship. Pretty cool, right?

Is This Important? Maurer is toting this as being the ‘first of its kind’ on a cruise ship which is a huge industry step forward. There’s an on-board motor making this a powered coaster and not a credit for the enthusiasts. Still, a coaster on the water is potentially one of the most intriguing projects coming out of the industry recently.

Bret’s Hot Take: I firmly believe this will be a ONE TIME install and never appear again. There’s no way to retrofit a roller coaster onto a cruise ship, and there’s only so many that will be built over time. With a potentially very low hourly throughput (we were told around 200 an hour) there’s going to be a long queue for this experience. It just feels weird and it won’t make me book a cruise, but hey I’m not the Miami clientele.

B&M – Orion

Explained: Bolliger & Mabillard, B&M for short, are industry leaders with steel roller coasters. Having built some of the biggest thrills in the world, all eyes are on their newest build opening in 2020: Orion. Located at King’s Island this coaster will feature a 300 foot drop making it the 7th giga coaster in the world.

Is This Important? A giga coaster is defined as a coaster with a drop of 300 feet to 399 feet. Although the main lift hill won’t go 300 feet high, the drop will be that tall. It’s an impressive addition to the King’s Island lineup of coasters and one that will bring people in. Unfortunately, Busch Gardens Williamsburg is building a new coaster for the 2020 season as well, which looks far supreme.

Bret’s Hot Take: I get it, they need seat belts for the giga classification, but that’s such a horrible addition. Defend Fury 325 as much as you want but it still doesn’t need seat belts. Mako doesn’t need it, this shouldn’t either. Anyway, the paint job and color scheme looks like a can of Miller Lite. NEXT.

Zamperla – Danglez Coaster

Explained: Zamperla is known for their excellent, boundary-pushing flat rides. In more recent times their attention has moved to making Wild Mouse roller coasters and more. A new coaster design that’s unique and exclusive to Zamperla is pretty cool.

Is This Important? Being the first one in the industry to try this approach to a roller coaster is bold, but maybe there’s a reason it hasn’t been done before. Low hourly capacity and a limited design layout could impact the future of this brand new model.

Bret’s Hot Take: WHIPLASH THE RIDE. And not the 2014 movie masterpiece. This is a weird mix of “maybe we can load five trains in ten minutes” and Alien Swirling Saucers on a roller coaster track. The THRC (Theoretical Hourly Ride Capacity) is going to be abysmal, I don’t see any major attraction installing this design unfortunately. Or fortunately? The way the vehicle bangs back and forth on every curve will surely cause immense discomfort. Think Seven Dwarfs Mine Train swinging but hitting a wall each time. ThatsGonnaBeANoFromMeDog.gif

GCI – Texas Stingray

Explained: El Toro, Lightning Racer, InvadR, Wickerman, Wildcat, and other amazing wooden coasters are in the portfolio of Great Coasters International. GCI’s newest build, Texas Stingray, is going in SeaWorld San Antonio for the 2020 season.

Is This Important? Yes, absolutely important. GCI turned 25 years old this year! They’ve been designing, building, and maintaining some of the best classic wooden roller coasters ever built. This new build will not only be a welcome addition to the Texas park, but look stunning at the same time. The lead train is beautiful with the Texas flag inspired stingray and wooden accents on the floor boards.

Bret’s Hot Take: I’m all for new wooden roller coasters. I love GCI, I love what they do, and how they do it. This is a welcome addition to any park and I adore that SeaWorld went with GCI to build it instead of choosing a more contemporary designer. SeaWorld building more coasters and less animal exhibits is a welcome change in my book. Keep the sea theme and slap it on coasters, it’s a win win.

Intamin – Pantheon

Explained: Intamin introduces the lead car for the upcoming roller coaster Pantheon, coming to Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Known for major coasters, including many in the Orlando area (Hagrid, anyone?), Intamin can not only hold their own when designing and building a coaster but also push the industry forward.

Is This Important? Pantheon will challenge roller coasters to be more daring after it’s 2020 opening. This coaster will feature multiple launches including a track switch and backwards spike mid ride. A crazy build and a wild coaster, it’s sure to bring the crowds. Here’s hoping the thrills match the hype.

Bret’s Hot Take: Why are the seats brown? Out of any color to pick from… brown? Really? Steel Curtain seats 2.0, just gotta add the football markings to them. Regardless of the brown seats the lead car looks SLICK. Low to the track giving the front row a perfect view and approach. Forwards, backwards, top hat, spike, launches, it’s gonna be an absolute wild ride and I’ll be visiting BGW for opening. Count on that, the hype is real.

Premier Rides – Icebreaker

Explained: Premier Rides has a history of excellent launch coasters with compact designs making them a great fit for any and every park. Recently in Florida they installed a new coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa, Tigris.

Is This Important? SeaWorld Orlando needs more rides to compete with Universal, Disney, and even their own park Busch Gardens Tampa. While this may not be the most thrilling coaster you can be sure it’ll pull a nice long queue. Plus it’s going in a part of the park that needs some desperate TLC. Maybe we’ll see a Wild Arctic upgrade soon?

Bret’s Hot Take: I hate this coaster already. Sky Rockets are easy to build, which is why Busch Gardens Tampa did one for 2019 right before Iron Gwazi. Take that same train and put in on this multi-launch beast without inversions. Yup, no inversions. OH WAIT REALLY NO INVERSIONS? WHY DOES THE TRAIN NEED OVER THE SHOULDER RESTRAINTS THEN? Get rid of the vest, SeaWorld, and then we’ll discuss is this is worth adding to the Orlando coaster lineup.

RMC – Iron Gwazi

Explained: Rocky Mountain Construction has been ReRIDING coaster history and their newest build continues that trend. Taking over the skeleton of Gwazi at Busch Gardens Tampa, this new hybrid steel-wooden coaster will bring intense thrills and crazy maneuvers to Florida.

Is This Important? Absolutely. Having an RMC build this close to the Orlando attractions is going to be amazing. People from across the world come here looking for major thrills, things that Disney and Universal can’t come through with. Busch Gardens can and WILL pull through with this amazing coaster that will not only be one of the best in Florida but potentially the world.

Bret’s Hot Take: My life is split into two parts, which includes before and after riding Outlaw Run at Silver Dollar City. That’s an RMC build, and a darn good one. There’s reason we’re all hyped for Iron Gwazi and there’s reason you should be as well. Next year you should consider deviating from your yearly Disney trip, at least for a day, and visit Busch Gardens Tampa. It’ll be worth your time, I guarantee it.

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