Marine-themed ride opens in Canada
A Huss Topple Tower is the newest family thrill ride at Marineland, Niagara Falls, Ontario. Paul Ruben profiles a first for Canada.
“Topple Tower is a very unique and exciting ride that will appeal to all age groups,” believes a confident John Holer, Marineland owner. “I am sure that it will be very popular with our guests.”
The US$4 million attraction is the second such installation for the German manufacturer in North America, following Timber Tower at Dollywood in Tennessee. As with other rides at the Niagara Falls park, Topple Tower has a marine mammal theme – in this case a walrus, fabricated by Whitewater West Industries, Huss’ local partner. The large replica creature, which works perhaps a little less well than the bird figures used on previous models in Europe, sits atop the central tower making for a ride that is 82ft high.
Encircled by a single 40-passenger gondola, Topple Tower features suspended outward-facing seating. As the ride vehicle makes its way to the top of the 70-foot tower, it rotates nine times per minute. Once there, the tower begins a side-to-side swinging motion, allowing the ride vehicle to topple multiple times in various directions at a 60-degree angle. Appearing to almost touch the ground below, it gives riders a feeling of toppling over, but a 120-ton steel weight at the base of the tower prevents it from actually falling all the way over. With a 40-passenger capacity, Topple Tower accommodates 565 riders per hour.
“I don’t buy rides for me; I buy them for our customers,” notes Holer. “Our guest surveys indicate that I made the right decision. Only one customer, who was in his early 20s, said that he would have preferred a more aggressive ride, but he also said it was very nice. I personally have not been on it. I get dizzy. I used to go on every ride. A few years ago I came off a rollercoaster a little dizzy and said, ‘OK, no more rides for me’.”
Topple Tower’s introduction at Marineland was delayed for several months. “It’s operation depends so much on electronics that we did have several glitches,” Holer recalls. “It’s now been worked out and is working properly. Like any ride with electronics, it takes time to smooth out all the bugs. The ride came a little late, but [Huss president] Wolfgang Richter is a gentleman, a good man to work with. He has an old-fashioned attitude towards his customers and treats them well.”
“For many years now,” confirms Richter, “Marineland has been a faithful, pretty demanding, but reliable customer with whom we really like to work. So far, you can find three Huss rides at the park including the new Topple Tower, an Airboat and a Condor ride. The Topple Tower, or what I call the walrus ride, and the Airboat ride and its bee design were developed under the special and remarkable supervision of John Holer himself. The walrus design was approved by John after a long discussion and theme study. The theming as well as the painting of the tower in form of a waterfall give the impression that water is running down the side. You will understand the theming correctly when you walk calmly through the park and see all the lovely and healthy animals, the immense aquariums, the waterways and the trees.“
Marineland continues to offer a variety of attractions alongside its newest addition, including a dolphin, walrus and sea lion show, splash and jump presentations with killer whales, unsurpassed viewing and interaction with beluga whales, educational training sessions featuring marine mammals, a freshwater aquarium display, wildlife displays and amusement rides.