Busch Gardens Williamsburg's INVADr to use trains and parts from old Gwazi

Edited: April 12, 2016, 1:50 PM


From screamscape
"GCI did confirm on their Facebook page that the new InvadR wooden coaster coming to BGW in 2017 will be a GCI. According to Screamscape sources, Busch Gardens Williamsburg is expected to receive the old Gwazi GCI-made Millennium Flyer trains as well as other various expensive parts from Gwazi (lifthill motors, brakes, etc...) to use on their 2017 InvadR coaster, which would also seem to confirm rumors that the project is also from GCI. "

Replies (13)

April 12, 2016, 2:11 PM

Although Gwazi was a rough ride, it was probably due to the humidity (the same reason Apocalypse at SFMM is so rough).

April 12, 2016, 2:54 PM

@Juan Hamilton
Never rode that Apocalypse or Gwazi. How rough? Like Arrow Looper, B&M rattle or Vekoma SLC rough?

April 12, 2016, 4:28 PM

No surprise there. I've got a suspicion that BGW chose GCI in part because they could probably save a couple million by reusing components from Gwazi. I'm certainly not complaining...Millennium Flyers are the best wood coaster trains currently available IMO.

Jaiden, have you been on Wildcat at Hersheypark? I can't speak for Gwazi, but I'd say Apocalypse is pretty comparable to that. It's not really the same roughness as a steel coaster, and more that the trains shake around a ton during the ride.

April 12, 2016, 9:21 PM

There's humidity at Magic Mountain?

April 13, 2016, 3:40 AM

@AJ Hummel
No but I've been on Roar (East Coast) and its a lot like what you are describing.

April 13, 2016, 5:51 AM

Humidity and Humility -hahahaha

April 13, 2016, 10:06 AM

Lightning Racer also utilizes Millennium Flyer trains, and is probably once of the smoothest fully wooden coasters in the world after Phoenix at Knoebel's. InvadR's technical stats fall closely with what Hersheypark's dueling coaster has sans the dueling/racing aspect. Note that BGW is deliberately marketing this as a "family" coaster, and are trying to undo some of the damage from Verbolten when the park removed a coaster with a 42" height requirement (Big Bad Wolf) in exchange for one with a 48" requirement. My review of Verbolten took BGW to task for this oversight, and they have responded to that by deliberately stating that InvadR would be more family friendly and explicitly identified a 46" height requirement in the initial press release. Obviously, the park can recommend a minimum height, but it still needs to get through the state inspectors after construction is complete before it's official.

It makes a lot of sense that if Gwazi is SBNO, that the chain should use the salvageable parts from that coaster for InvadR.

I'm not sure why Screamscape is reporting that the GCI involvement was still a rumor, because Larry Giles stated GCI was building it when they announced it on Passholder Preview Day, and GCI is identified in the press release. That announcement elicited a few groans from the audience, because when the presentation started that the park was building a woodie, everyone was hoping it would be RMC. I don't want to say for sure, but I would presume that the park chose GCI over RMC for economic reasons and perhaps that RMC was not available to add another project to their schedule for 2016/2017.

April 13, 2016, 12:56 PM

Plus Adam House said it was a GCI the day the news came out. Also, I have no idea how Knoebles keeps Pheonix so smooth. Roar at SFA was retracked last year but Pheonix is still WAY smoother.

April 13, 2016, 2:14 PM

There are many factors that affect the smoothness of wooden coasters, including design, train type, climate, and maintenance. In general, an out-and-back wood coaster is going to require a lot less maintenance than a twister of comparable size due to the forces on the structure. Additionally, PTC trains do not work well on more aggressive coasters such as CCI, GCI, and GG designs. The trains tend to tear up the track quickly, resulting in a need for frequent retracking in order to keep the ride running well. For example, GhostRider at Knott's Berry Farm used to close every four months for trackwork, and this was necessary just to keep the ride running. The park hopes they won't have to continue this after the current retracking job and with the new trains. Age is less of a factor if a ride is maintained properly. For example, Giant Dipper at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk opened in 1924 and is still very smooth, while Apocalypse at Six Flags Magic Mountain opened in 2009 and is rougher than most wood coasters 2-3 times its age. In the case of Roar vs. Phoenix, not only is Phoenix a much less aggressive coaster than Roar, but Knoebels has one of the best maintenance teams out there while Six Flags spends as little as possible to keep their rides running.

A good comparison would be to look at Phoenix vs. Twister (or perhaps Roar vs. Wild One, though I haven't visited SFA so both of those could be pretty rough). Phoenix is an old wood coaster that has been relocated, but it is a simple out-and-back design. Meanwhile, Twister is much newer and features a more complex design. Both coasters run PTC trains and both receive the same level of maintenance from the same team. While Twister is still fairly smooth for a wood coaster, it is noticeably rougher than Phoenix is, and this is due to the trains and aggressiveness of the ride. If the same holds true at SFA, Wild One should be notably smoother than Roar.

Why do parks cut corners and allow wood coasters to become rough? Because they are extremely expensive to maintain. While a modern wood coaster is cheaper than a steel coaster initially, over the life of the ride it will likely wind up costing the park more. Voyage at Holiday World is a good example...the ride cost $8.5 million to build, and the park now spends approximately $1 million on annual maintenance for that ride alone. Yes, that is a bit of an extreme example as Voyage is one of the most aggressive wood coasters ever built, but in order to keep any large traditional wood coaster running at opening day quality a park will likely need to invest several hundred thousand each year in maintenance.

April 13, 2016, 2:34 PM

Twister is just a tad bit rougher than Pheonix. Even after a retracking, Roar is still really rough (but PTC's not Mellenium Flyers). Wild One is just as rough as Roar and to show how much Six Flags cuts I think Twister and Pheonix are smoother than El Toro.

Edited: April 14, 2016, 7:15 AM

Roar has never gone through a full re-track Jaiden. They've done spot improvements over the past couple of years (was neglected for nearly 6 years when SF first bought the park), and they re-tracked about 40% of the course over the past off-season. This year's improvements were noticeable (even though I did ride on both Saturday and Sunday of a particularly cold opening weekend), but the re-tracking was focused on the first and second turns and the final s-curve.

I do agree with AJ that the track design has a lot to do with long-term performance and future maintenance requirements. This is where I think RMCs may prove their worth as their integrated steel superstructure and I-beam tracks will have longevity over their all-wooden counterparts despite RMCs having much heavier trains.

Wood flexes more than steel, but it is not as elastic. This means that while an all-wooden track and structure will give and bend to a passing train (initially creating a "smoother" ride experience), it will eventually stop returning to it's original shape over sustained stress. That is what the re-tracking does - bringing the tracks and supports back to their original contours. Humidity and overall climate do affect this (higher heat and humidity cause increased flex and decreased elasticity), but an all wooden installation anywhere outside of a dessert climate is going to require sustained maintenance and attention.

El Toro is exceptionally smooth considering the design - I actually think it's smoother than Millennium Force (I know that's blasphemous to some). El Toro's "roughness", is more from the herky jerky nature of the elements, not the smoothness in which the train rolls along the track. The Intamin train design employs much larger wheel sets than any other design, and those wheel sets absorb a lot of the little bumps and skips that exist on virtually any woodie installation. Smoothness also come from how tight the wheel sets are mounted to the track and how consistent the track shape is along the course. The tighter the sets, and more even the track, the smoother the ride. El Toro has pretty tight wheel sets (all 3 wheels, running, guide/side friction, and upstop wheels are in contact with the track more than 75% of the time), and a thickly laminated track that provides consistent width and thickness along the coarse, resulting in very smooth tracking on the coaster. It's been a while since I've ridden Phoenix or Twister to provide an accurate comparison (I seem to recall Twister as pretty rough, but that was directly comparing with Phoenix), but El Toro is pretty darn smooth, especially when you consider how fast it goes - way smoother than most other woodies in the US.

There are some horribly rough woodies, some thankfully are no longer in existence (Hercules at Dorney Park or Raging Wolf Bobs at SFWoA). The coasters you've mentioned Jaiden, are not even in what I would consider the top 20 of roughest wooden coasters in the US.

April 14, 2016, 8:10 AM

@Russel Mayer
Yeah I haven't been on many woodies but I was actually at SFA on that opening weekend Sunday.

Edited: April 14, 2016, 8:37 AM

So you could have seen that the entire course was not re-tracked in the off-season, but overall, the coaster was running pretty smooth, perhaps made smoother by the cooler operating temperatures and slower speed of the train that weekend.

Take a spin on Mean Streak at Cedar Point or The Beast at King's Island, and you will have an instant understanding of how rough woodies can be. Those 2 aren't even the worst, but they're up there, and get regular maintenance. Never trust a coaster with a trim brake on a drop!

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