Column by Andy Guinigundo
This week, Six Flags Great America near Chicago announced that the X Flight roller coaster would be built with an expected debut date of 2012. This announcement marked the third major announcement of a wing rider coaster being constructed for next year. With the opening of Furius Baco (Intamin) at PortAventura in Catalonia, Spain in 2007 and Raptor (Bollinger & Mabillard – B&M) at Gardaland in Lake Garda, Italy this year, and now these three, I am going to take it upon myself to “officially” announce a new coaster craze.
What is a wing rider coaster? The ride vehicle is what is unique about these next-gen coasters. If one were to picture a bat (the flying animal, not the sports implement), that nails a good mental image of the wing rider coaster ride vehicle. The body of the bat is what attaches to the track and some or all of the seating is out in the bat’s wings.
The B&M designed X Flight and what appears to be its cousin, The Swarm at Thorpe Park in the UK, are currently announced for 2012. The Sky Rush at Hershey Park is Intamin’s newest take on the wing rider coaster offering two different experiences. The Sky Rush will have two floored seats (back to my analogy) on the bat’s body and one floorless seat on each wing. This will be Hershey Park’s 12th coaster.
How’s the ride? I haven’t been to Spain or Italy, so I do not know. I would guess it is the newest twist on why people love roller coasters. You certainly will feel speed and turning that produce that adrenaline euphoria. I would also guess the wings “flapping” are what give these rides a new scream-inducing dimension. Time will tell if these will become the next everyone-has-got-to-have-one coaster.
• Andy Guinigundo is the author of the Out of The Loop column in “Orlando Attractions Magazine”. Out of the Loop keeps you up-to-date with attraction news outside of Central Florida. Andy 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.