Twisted Timbers, Kings Dominion’s newest roller coaster, has been resurrected from the Hurler’s remains, and goes to show that size doesn’t always matter.(*Updated) For the last two years, a not so great wooden roller coaster laid dormant in the Central Virginia Countryside. Hurler, the bumpy and generic homage to an SNL skit gone prime time, slowly had its brown wooden frame trimmed back, only to rise again to new heights with a sleek and smooth orange track.
For a park that already has a roller coaster topping 300 feet, and another with speeds exceeding 70 MPH, it’s clear Kings Dominion didn’t feel the need to break any records with its Rocky Mountain Constructions’ creation. Instead, Twisted Timbers builds on the original Hurler layout and maximizes every ounce of inertia that is generated over the 3,361-foot-long track. With a height of 111 feet and top speed of 54 mph, the casual coaster counter might dismiss this somewhat diminutive ride. After all, RMC is about to debut the world’s first hyper hybrid roller coaster at Cedar Point later this year with Steel Vengeance, and RMC has already build some impressive speed machines including Goliath (72 mph), Lightning Run (73 mph), and Iron Rattler (70 mph). RMC has also designed coasters with steep, near vertical drops and death defying inversions. Twisted Timbers does have one of those death defying inversions, and it hits riders right on the first drop. No, this isn’t like the Jo-Jo roll on Hydra out of the station that acts more as a take a penny jar for the ground below, this is a barrel roll down the longest drop on the coaster.
Even though it is the most unique element, that diving barrel roll is just the start of an incredible ride. But boy, it is executed to perfection, and is consistent from front to back. There’s just enough of a dip at the top of the hill that the tractor-themed trains gain enough speed to give virtually every row a pop of air as the coaster train careens down the drop. The result is riders getting popped out of their seat and then spinning head over hills as the train accelerates. It’s like a B&M zero-g roll on steroids, and that’s only the ride’s first maneuver. After reaching the bottom, there’s a very small bunny hill that gives another pop of air before a sweeping overbanked right turn. What follows is one of many trick-track style elements that are scattered around the course. These are not the classic wooden trick-track elements where designers deliberately misaligned the track to create a bump, these elements are smooth yet jolting changes of direction that lift you out of your seat and to one side. Luckily, the molded seats and snug lap bars, in combination with shin pads, are well designed to allow riders the freedom of movement along with the security and comfort.
After that first trick-track element, the coaster goes through three floating airtime hills, each ever so slightly smaller. The amount of airtime generated by these three hills alone could rival some steel hypercoasters. The coaster then takes a turn to the right into its second inversion, starting with a half roll clockwise only to go back counter clockwise. This inversion is probably my only main gripe about the layout. It’s a bit of a tease to get upside down and then go back the way you came, and it almost didn’t even feel like the train was ever completely inverted. The next section is a series of trick-track and ejector airtime hills that will remind many experienced coaster riders of El Toro. This section is really like riding on the back of a bull, and those in the back that can’t see exactly where the track is going will be even more surprised with the rapidity and forcefulness of these elements.
After the roll, it’s one more sweeping right turn and a couple of more quick airtime hills before the train is back at the station. On a cold day, as it was for the media preview, you could feel the train running on fumes as it crested the final hill into the station.
Twisted Timbers builds a bit of a backstory, told through a few theming elements and landscaping. There’s what appears to be some type of alien asteroid or other astral body that has landed near the base of the lift hill. There’s also twisted metal and wood throughout the grounds to set the scene along with some farm equipment strewn about that was obviously affected by the impact. It’s a good theming job for a coaster that probably could stand on its own.
I have to say that I was a bit skeptical when Kings Dominion first announced Twisted Timbers and revealed the details of their newest coaster. It seemed rather small and slow for a world-class thrill machine. However, don’t let those stats fool you — this is no kiddy coaster. Very much like InvadR did last year at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Kings Dominion has managed to pack a punch into a relatively small frame. While Twisted Timbers will probably quickly lose luster once Steel Vengeance opens in a couple of months, Kings Dominion shows that you don’t need to break any records to create a world-class roller coaster.
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