By Andy Guinigundo
The classic swing ride has many names – chair swing ride, wave swinger, yo-yo, carousel swing, WindSeeker and SkyScreamer. They appear to have been present at amusement parks as early as the turn of the last century – the early 1900s. They come in all shapes and sizes. Swing rides designed for children are simple suspended swings that spin at slow speed. Other versions, like the Silly Symphony Swings at Disney California Adventure, have elaborately hand painted scenes and raise riders perhaps 50 feet of the ground while the top of the carousel tilts and William Tell plays in the background.
Recent incarnations of the classic chair swing ride transform it from a moderately exciting theme park standard into a heart thumping, high-flying thrill ride. Guests brave enough, with strong enough stomachs are rewarded with the best view of the parks fortunate enough have one of these swings.
Six Flags New England in Agawam, Mass. brings swing rides to new heights in 2014 – literally. The New England SkyScreamer is not only the tallest ride in the park, it is the tallest swing ride in the world. Six Flags has various SkyScreamers around the country that range 150 to 250 feet tall. The solid-armed WindSeeker at several Cedar Fair Parks rise to around 300 feet.
Last year, Six Flags Over Texas opened the first 400-foot SkyScreamer. This year, New England SkyScreamer raises riders to 409 feet, spinning high above the park at 35 mph and held in place by eight link chains, a seatbelt, and perhaps a prayer! For perspective, that is nearly as tall as Top Thrill Dragster coaster at Cedar Point in Ohio and twice as tall as The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in Florida. The SkyScreamer opened this spring. Here’s a look at SkyScreamer in action:
• Andy Guinigundo is the author of the Out of The Loop column in “Orlando Attractions Magazine”. He lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife and three daughters. He grew up frequenting theme parks around Ohio and making trips to Orlando with his family. While for most of the year, he’s out of the Orlando loop, he tries to visit Florida at least once a year. You can follow Andy on Twitter at @AttractionsOOTL.