Zamperla MotoCoaster debuts Stateside
Zamperla has installed launch coasters at two amusement parks in the United States, the first rides of their kind to be produced by the famous Italian manufacturer.
Zamperla’s original MotoCoaster was first tried out two year ago at its factory in Italy and can now be seen at Darien Lake, Darien Center, New York. Sponsored by the cable TV show American Chopper, the ride (pictured below), has been named Orange County Choppers MotoCoaster and launches riders from zero to 38mph in three seconds.
Although Darien Lake had more than adequate space for the ride, its compact layout (it is built on a base frame) makes it an ideal drop-in replacement for an aging Windstorm or Zyklon coaster. “It is a perfect complement to our five existing coasters,” acknowledges general manager Chris Thorpe. “It is different than many of our other attractions because unlike traditional rollercoaster trains, guests traverse the track on the chassis of a sport motorcycle.”
Thorpe has ridden the MotoCoaster in the front, middle and back of the train. “My favourite part of the ride is the launch when sitting in the first car. The rush of the acceleration is exaggerated by a quick uphill right hand bank turn. But nothing beats the fun of watching your friend perched in the bike right next to you squeezing the handle bars and screaming in joy.”
Meanwhile in California, Knott’s Berry Farm is now the only park on the planet with not one, but two flywheel launch coasters. As well as the new Pony Express (pictured above), a themed Zamperla Motocoaster, it also boasts Montezooma’s Revenge, an old Schwarzkopf Shuttle Loop.
Pony Express, which is located inside the park’s western themed Ghost Town area, offers a horseback relay at speeds never imagined in the Old West. Unlike Orange County Choppers, it is not built on a base frame. Riders sit astride one of 16 horses and travel over 1,300ft of track, beginning with a launch over 82ft in three seconds. They then travel through a series of heart-pounding 60 degree banked turns, camelbacks and tight manoeuvres past Ghost Town features including Boot Hill and Big Foot Rapids.
“Knott’s Berry Farm has had motorcycle type rides before, dating back to the ’70s and ‘80’s,” notes vice-president and general manager Marty Keithley, “but we were attracted to this particular coaster because of its unique restraint system that allows for a very free-feeling ride. A coaster such as this would be an enhancement to any park that looks to attract the family market, as anyone 48 inches and over can ride.”
But what about Knotts’ general manager? “I love the ride and feel that one of the best parts is the launch. It is quite a jolt!”
Similar to the system pioneered by Anton Schwarzkopf in the 1970s, Zamperla’s MotoCoaster uses a tried and tested flywheel and clutch launch instead of an electromagnetic or hydraulic launch.