Theme Park, Amusement Park and Attractions Industry News

Maple Leaf Coasting

by Paul Ruben

I returned recently from Toronto where I visited Canada’s Wonderland and I rode their new mega-coaster, Behemoth, pictured here. I love Toronto. Bustling, clean, everything works; it’s like New York City run by the Swiss.

I love Behemoth, too. It is over a mile long, 230ft high, drops riders at a 75-degree angle, and reaches a top speed of 78 mph. Don’t you enjoy travelling at illegal speeds?
Behemoth features for the first time B&M’s new staggered seating, so everyone can see where they are going. Half the fun of a coaster is visual, the other half is physical, caused by the quickly changing g-forces of the ride. Some people who ride a coaster in terror close their eyes to lessen their fear. On previous four-in-a-line B&M trains, if they sat in the centre seats they could leave their eyes open and still see nothing.
I know B&M did this to shorten the train in an effort to equalise the variation in g-forces, but I always thought the loss of sight lines versus better g-force control was a less-than-perfect trade-off. The new trains restore the sight lines, but also lengthen the train by more than 50%. To compensate, B&M has elongated the camelback hills, resulting in an extended period of negative gravity, or airtime, over each hill. Better sight lines, more air time? That’s a win-win solution.
Canada’s Wonderland immediately seized the bragging rights for Behemoth being Canada’s biggest, fastest and tallest rollercoaster. I’m not sure it’s the biggest, since Marineland’s Dragon Mountain sprawls over more land, but clearly it is the tallest and fastest.
According to the 2007 TEA/ERA Attraction Attendance report, Canada’s Wonderland now also has the distinction of having the highest attendance of any seasonal theme park in North America. That’s because 1) the park is doing a fine job of bringing in new, appealing attractions and 2) the Toronto region’s population is exploding because of immigration. What 20 years ago were cow pastures surrounding the park is now mile after mile of houses. And those houses are filled with families of thrill-seekers just waiting to ride Behemoth.
For the young riders, I think they will find it very similar to going through a haunted house. People always scream, then pretend they were scared. But it’s different for adults. I’m convinced that what adults like most about rollercoasters is being able to sit down after standing in line for two hours.

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