Wonder Wednesday

Did you know that the centre of the CN Tower is hollow?  In the middle of it’s three splaying legs is a hexagonal core; the same one that we can see continuing straight up above the first/lower observation pod to the base of the second/upper pod.  Which means is that this is an open shaft that runs from the ground to the base of said pod, roughly some 335m (1100′) high.  And it. Is. Most. Spectacular.  Looking so much like some giant science fiction construct, like a huge accelerator or the central spine of a space installation.  It’s awesome, in both senses of the word.

Unfortunately… that’s not entirely true anymore.  In 1997 the original location for the egress stairs (yep, the CN Tower has a set of fire escape stairs) was taken over to install an additional pair of elevators, and the stairs were moved from their outer perch to within the core.  I don’t think they take up the whole thing, but the amazing hexagonal vista is now a truncated one.

(Want to hear another amazing thing about this core and the tower as a whole?  This entire concrete structure was done using a moving slipform that slowly moved upwards about 6m per day, supported by the very structure it was building. Segments were removed from the slipform as it rose to create the tower’s iconic shape, including the final hexagonal shape that rises all the way to the base of the upper observation pod.  Amazingly it only took 4 months for it to reach that final height, and it was done so accurately that the whole thing is only 29mm off from being perfectly vertical.)

Coaster Wednesday

Well, this happened today:

A photo from underneath of Railblazer's intertwined track

Yep!  Time to indulge in my love of coasters with a trip to California’s Great America.  A park that somehow I hadn’t been to in almost a decade, despite it being just a stone’s throw from my house.  (What is wrong with me?)  But it was an opportune time to visit… not too busy (18 coaster rides total for the day) and with a chance to try out Railblazer (pictured above), a single-rail coaster by RMC.  RMC is on fire right now with their coasters, and their single-rail concept is new enough that only 5 are existence at the moment.

And it certainly shows that RMC know what they are doing (as if their hybrid coaster revamps haven’t been proof enough).  This is one compact footprint of a ride, but it packs a lot of punch in that small area.  Railblazer is gloriously twisty, with a tonne of negative-G moments that’ll pop you out of your seat, plus a very short stall that’s still pretty sweet.  Surprisingly, the experience of the single rail and single-rider cars, and thus a drop off on either side of you, wasn’t as pronounced as I thought it’d be.  It did afford plenty of view on either side, but it didn’t provide all that much extra “feel” as I expected.  But no matter!  It’s still a darn fun coaster.

As did remain their inverted coaster, Flight Deck, mainly for its last element that is worth the price of admission alone:  a barrel roll that drops immediately into a low helix directly over a large pond.  There’s just something about that combo that is amazing, it just flows in a way that satisfies, very fitting for a hard-burning jet fighter.  Doubly so if you take the leftmost seat so you can skim just over the water.  Triply so if you take the front seat, where with the track above you and your feet dangling it’s all view, all the time.  And as the park wasn’t super busy today, I took the front all four times, getting the leftmost seat 3 of those times.  Loved it.

Gold Striker remains a great new-school woodie, and it has quite the bit more airtime than I remembered it having.  I think ensuring there was room to the lap bar helped a bunch so that I could actually pop out of the seat.  It’s a coaster that from the first, curving drop never lets up, lots of twistiness, and the sound walls make for a great visual experience if you lean towards them.  Plus it has a nice bit of woodie roughness.  Good stuff.

Demon was great for its classic Arrow Dynamics feel and for the themeing – a few lit tunnels with manacle laughter, plus the great stone devil maw you dive into before the deliciously classic double corkscrew.  Nostalgia joy!

Grizzly also promised some nostalgia as an old-school woodie, but unfortunately it felt pretty tame overall.  It’s no Wilde Beast, alas…

And the stand-up coaster from my last visit has been converted to a floorless model.  While the old stand-up restraints were head-mashers, as a standard sit-down this failed to excite me much.

Lo, thus was a grand day of coaster riding had.  I got my positive and negative gees, my inversions, my rattles and rumbles, my hang time, and as I crested the loop on the inverted coaster, I got to yell “Kick some sky!”

(Thank you to Robb from Theme Park Review for that one…)