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.
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.
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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