Wonder, part 3

September 21, 2013

The fixation continues!  Though this is likely to be the last one… and today, it involves design!

The Dragon Fyre was present when the park opened in 1981, one of the four (or five, or six, depending how you count the Zumba Flume and Blauer Enzian) coasters at its opening.  Compared to the rough speed hangtime of the Mighty Canadian Minebuster, and the delicious violence of the Wilde Beast, the Dragon Fyre was a sleek fly-by-wire fighter jet, all silky smooth and with enough power to go upside down.  Strapping in, you left the station and went on a test flight.

Thing was… it always felt like a test flight.  There was something a bit mechanical about the feel of the Fyre.  Climb to 20,000 feet, dive, level off, pause, loop, level off, pause, loop, level off, turn, corkscrew, level off, pause, helix, level off, pause, arrestor hook.  It was very by the numbers.  You may have been ready to yank the stick around but you were never cleared for anything but the test flight.

So while I am hesitant to suggest replacing one of the park’s original coasters, I think it is time for the Fyre to get a re-vamp.   And just as the Blauer Enzian was re-purposed and upgraded into the sweet Thunder Run (and Thunder Run really is very fun), the Fyre can be reborn into something new and amazing.

To keep it a spiritual successor, the “new” coaster must be kept in a similar vein as the current Fyre:  an aerobatic coaster with at least two loops, a corkscrew and a helix.  The existing Fyre has good space to work with, over 750’ of land, and even with the Leviathan there’s some sideways area to expand into as well.   It doesn’t need nor should be a tight coaster like Flight Deck or even Skyrider, this one can soar a bit and use the same distance as the original.  And it shall keep its name – you can put a little II next to it if you want, but the Dragon Fyre it shall be named.

Here is my design idea:

As you board the cars (preferably painted in the original flame colours – while an appliqué such as on the front of the Leviathan is fun, I’m partial to the flame!)and look ahead, you see into a dark cavern.  Directly out of the station is a long cave/tunnel.  There are small shafts of light occasionally penetrating the darkness, and you can see piles of treasure along the ground (below the tracks).  Foreshortening techniques can be used here, to give the sense of an even longer tunnel (and for greater speed – as you’ll see).  Way in the distance, you see a larger patch of light.

With a dragon’s roar, the train launches out of the station.  Using a hydraulic catapult (which is an existing launched coaster tech) in around 2 seconds the train is accelerated to its top speed of 70-80mph.  (This is faster than the current Fyre, in about half the distance of the current lift hill)  All of this takes place within the cave… speeding over the treasure, past the lights, the speed mounts.  As the train approaches the end of the cavern, the cars dip down and then curve straight up, blasting out of the cavern into the first loop.  Your first view of the outside is heading up into the loop, arcing over, then back down into the cave for just a moment before shooting up again into the second loop.  As the cars complete the loop, they veer off to the side, and the outside fun begins.

Exactly how the rest of the ride goes from here, well, that I’ll have to leave to the designers, for I am an architect, not a coaster engineer.  The ride should aim for 7ish inversions, travel a good distance, and include experiential elements using terrain and the like to good effect:  the corkscrew takes you through a series of rock arches, the two-circle helix rings around a huge gem, a banked inversion dodges between some trees.  And then, there’s this beauty:

Starting with a hammerhead turn (or similar), the train heads towards and dodges below a cliff outcropping (a potential headchopper element) and flies behind a long waterfall in a graceful arc.  After a second or two, the arc suddenly sharpens and the train turns to exit through the waterfall (due to a convenient rock overhang that splits the water).  The sound, the water that’ll seem to hang in mid-air, and the turn will all combine to make one heck of a memorable moment.  (This waterfall would likely be part of the same structure that houses the starting cavern).

Voila.  With this upgrade of the Fyre, Wonderland will have added a launched coaster that’s also different from most other launched coasters (which often focus on single top-hat elements and that’s about it), will have a new inversion-heavy sweeping coaster, and can recapture the 1981 wow of the Fyre.

The training wheels will be off.  The fighter will be ready for aerobatics.

After the Fyre?

Firstly, some notes:

– They modded the Minebuster by taking out two of the bunny hops and combined them into a single larger hill.  That would reduce the negative g’s, and near the end of the ride the quick hops were nice and a contrast to the smoother hops at the start.  Hmm.

–  Apparently, sometime recently, they removed the shed element from the Wilde Beast.  It wasn’t enclosed, it was just a flat roof that followed the ride around one of the bends.  It made a nice headchopper element plus added a moment of different experience.  Not sure about this – the track still goes under some supports here so it might still have a bit of the headchopper experience, but I wonder why’d they remove that?

After this new Fyre, I’d propose adding a new woodie, in the vein of Gold Striker:  tight, twisty, and with lots of direction changes.  It really is a fine and fun coaster, different than the old woodies.  While the Fyre’s making it’s re-debut, do some promoting of the old woodies, emphasizing their old school merits:  hang time and beat-you-senselessness (and return the old lap bars & design bits!).  Then add the new woodie to the mix.

Also, right away Wonderland could add my previous suggestions for more terrain elements to Vortex as well.  I don’t know if it’s feasible with the height of the lift hill for it, and etc, but there is room and so making Vortex longer would totally be rocking.  Do not underestimate the amazingness (and uniqueness) of those free-swinging cars!

The coaster after that I would make a sweeping inverted coaster, and a dueling twin coaster at that.  Lots of nice big arcs and inversions, with opposing loops and corkscrews that look like you’ll hit each other, etc.  It could be situated in the lake area behind Behemoth, and speaking from the nice sweeping arcs of Flight Deck at Great America, helixes over water really are something sweet.

And lo, there we have it.  Thank you for indulging me on my Wonderland and Coaster fascination!


  1. […] first launched coaster ride, and I am even more of a “convert” than I was before. There’s something really really really fun about going from zero to fast (albeit, […]

  2. […] I was envisioning my replacement for Canada’s Wonderland’s (that’s… awkward to type) Dragon Fyre, this is pretty much EXACTLY the kind of thing I […]

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