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Monday, September 14, 2020

New ride technology could finally bring mountain-style coasters to Florida

Posted By on Mon, Sep 14, 2020 at 11:32 AM

  • Image via Wiegand
Since first being introduced in the mid-1990s, alpine coasters have proven to be a popular offering at many smaller attractions. The rides provide a custom-designed, coaster-like experience at a fraction of the cost. Unfortunately, part of that cost-cutting is thanks to their use of the naturally hilly terrain. The lack of natural hills or powered lifts in Florida have meant the popular rides have been nonexistent here. Now, a new electric version aims to fix that.

Out of the nearly three dozen alpine, or mountain, coasters found across the United States, zero are located within Florida. German-based Wiegand first introduced alpine slides in the 1970s as a summer option for ski resorts. In 1997, the company evolved the concept by moving the karts from a trough-like slide installed into the side of the mountain to a tubular rail system similar to ones used on metal rollercoasters.
  • Image via Wiegand
Now Wiegand has evolved the concept by adding a linear induction motor. The contactless 9kW drive allows for the coaster karts to speed along the track without the need of a lift hill while keeping the low impact design of a traditional alpine coaster.

Known as the CoasterKart, the new alpine coaster concept can handle 500 riders per hour with a single operator. A two-seat kart is similar to a typical two-person go-kart layout with a driver and a passenger. The driver has a small gas pedal but no brake pedal thanks to integrated distance control.
click image The drive mechanism inside CoasterKart ride vehicles is kept simple. - IMAGE VIA WIEGAND
  • Image via Wiegand
  • The drive mechanism inside CoasterKart ride vehicles is kept simple.
Wiegand already has a motorized inverted mountain coaster concept, but those require concrete anchored supports, which can dramatically increase the cost as compared to a traditional alpine coaster. The new CoasterKart concept has supports nearly identical to other traditional alpine coasters with the ride vehicles and a slightly modified track system being the only noticeable difference.
click image Some options for the CoasterKart include themed ride vehicles and racing style setups. - IMAGE VIA WIEGAND
  • Image via Wiegand
  • Some options for the CoasterKart include themed ride vehicles and racing style setups.

In other markets, such as Tennessee’s Pigeon Forge, alpine coasters have become a staple of smaller attractions. It’s still too early to know if any of Florida’s smaller attractions will add the new electric-powered version. Multiple attractions throughout the state have seen success with other easy to install attractions, such as ziplines. In the super-competitive market, attractions are always looking at new offerings to differentiate themselves. But unlike the region’s larger attractions, smaller attractions are more limited in their budget and smaller labor forces.

The world’s first CoasterKart will open later this year at the Rowdy Bear Ridge attraction in Pigeon Forge.

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