Can wooden coasters successfully execute inversions? That seems to be the dominant question posed by theme park operators since the infamous Son of Beast at Kings Island closed down years ago. Wednesday at Silver Dollar City, Herschend Family Entertainment and Rocky Mountain Construction debuted Outlaw Run, which seeks to answer that oft-posed question.
Outlaw Run's queue starts in typical amusement park fashion, with a switchback on a concrete slab (capable of holding over two hours' worth of anxious passengers). The queue is covered, decorated, well-ventilated, and moves past a few interesting tidbits of eye candy such as humorous and informative posters, luggage, and the office of Depot Proprietor Clem Barker, where an assortment of ticking clocks come alive every half-hour to mark Mr. Barker's obsession with punctuality.
These props tie in with the coaster's backstory which goes something like this: Passengers climb aboard the Western Missouri Stagecoach line to chase their dreams in the untamed west. However, rumors abound that an outlaw gang is on the loose and sure enough, those rumors are true!
A wild race through the wooded hills ensues, but the bad guys are left in the dust, because at Silver Dollar City, "the good guys always win!"
As for the ride itself, Outlaw Run is unlike any coaster on the planet. Constructed from the ground up to utilize Silver Dollar City's varied and hilly terrain, this wooden coaster packs a wallop of entertaining elements into a fairly compact ride experience. There are eight key elements along the course including an 81-degree first drop and three inversions – all of which serve to keep the ride exhilarating and action packed from beginning to end.
The highlight of the course, and the most talked about element, is the double corkscrew at the end of the circuit. These uphill inversions provide a graceful, almost weightless finish to the ride, slowing the coaster as it heads back to the station. These are intense elements, definitely not for the faint of heart, but they are "tame" enough that the ride can still be considered family-friendly, provided that the family is filled with coaster lovers! In a nutshell, Outlaw Run is fast, smooth, exciting, and just plain fun.
No, I wouldn't wait two hours for this coaster (shoot, I wouldn't wait two hours for ANY attraction), but Outlaw Run has already become my favorite ride at Silver Dollar City. Filled with wonderful and original thrills, as well as immersive theming, this coaster is going to be a big hit for thrill seekers and theme park fans alike.
With Outlaw Run, Silver Dollar City solidifies its standing as the premier theme park in the Midwest, offering not only world class, unique roller coasters and signature amusement rides, but also amazing customer service, high-quality immersion, award winning shows, a one-of-a-kind natural cave tour, and top notch culinary items (aka "great food").
On the downside, Outlaw Run's Achilles' heel will be rider capacity – a problem common to many of the unique coasters being built today. While the coaster does have two 24 passenger trains, I was told by ride ops that they are hoping for peak levels of about 800 - 1000 riders per hour. That total is decent for a wooden coaster, but not great for a theme park expecting increased crowds of 85k because of this one of a kind, new ride. Massive initial waits could be off putting to first time visitors used to the people-eating attractions at places such as Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. However, local fans and less anxious riders will appreciate the Midwestern hospitality of the extremely friendly ride ops and may even use the wait time to investigate the creative touches throughout the coaster's lengthy queue.
So, can wooden coasters successfully execute inversions? In the case of Outlaw Run, the answer is an emphatic "yes." And if this instant classic is any indication of what the future holds for ingenious wood coaster designers like the folks at Rocky Mountain Construction, fans of the genre should be smiling from ear to ear. I know I am.Tweet
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