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Mike Gallagher

Noted roller coaster designer Ron Toomer dead at 81

Published: September 26, 2011 at 6:15 PM

Ron Toomer went to the great lift hill in the sky today. For those of you who may not know the name, you know his work with Arrow Dynamics. He was the designer and guiding force behind many of our favorites, including (but not limited to:)

Magnum, Mine Ride, Gemini, Corkscrew, and Iron Dragon at Cedar Point

Desperado at Buffalo Bills in Nevada

Python (Busch Tampa)

Big Bad Wolf, Drachen Fire, and Loch Ness Monster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

The first I ever heard of Ron Toomer, I had just returned from my virgin visit to Cedar Point in the early 90's, when I first was beginning to realize there were other parks besides GAdv, Dorney and a handful of others. I was watching TV and stumbled across an episode of NOVA on PBS, which opened with a magnificent shot of Magnum ascending the lift hill. An interview with Toomer was included, and he demonstrated how he sometimes conceived of his designs...with a wire hanger bent into seemingly impossible shapes.

Godspeed, Ron Toomer, and thanks for your legacy.

Replies (4)

Manny Rodriguez

Published: September 27, 2011 at 6:18 AM

I bet he is on a roller coaster to heaven right
Robert Niles

Published: September 27, 2011 at 8:09 AM

Python and Loch Ness Monster were the first two "upside down" coasters I ever rode, and ones that inspired my life-long love of thrill rides. If you are Generation X coaster fan (or older), Toomer coasters probably played an important role in your youth.

Here's that video clip of Toomer, talking about roller coaster design:

Mark Migliaccio

Published: September 27, 2011 at 8:23 AM

Do you remember which episode of NOVA that was?

Published: September 30, 2011 at 12:07 AM

Also, credited with basic design of 80 steel coasters (many were record breakers). Quoted in New York Times in 1989 as being the unquestioned king of coaster design.

Great chapter on him in Ripley's Legends: Pioneers of the Amusement Park Industry, Volume One by Tim O'Brien. It tells of his involvement with Arrow and influence in the themed entertainment industry (IAAPA Hall of Fame inductee).

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