Rollercoaster Ranking – Stand Up Coasters
Time for a bit of cross-manufacturer comparison in the rankings. This dying breed of coaster has been far from a success story in the industry, the general consensus being that they aren’t very good. This makes me sad however, as some are actually very good, plus it’s a rare and unusual experience and we know how much I care about those. If conservation status ever makes the leap over to ’80s steel coasters, I’d be happy to become an ambassador (for a select few).
The type was first introduced to Japan in 1982 by local manufacturer Togo. Two of their existing coasters at the time were given modified Stand Up trains. One of these still stands today, offering both a seated and standing experience alternately on its daily cycle, but the other has sadly been lost along with the park it called home.
Arrow Dynamics had a go at a similar concept in the following couple of years over in the USA, taking a couple of existing coasters and attempting to retrofit them with new vehicles. Neither appeared to have much success, each operating for a single season before the ideas were abandoned. It took Togo themselves to bring the first purpose built layout over to the States in the form of King Cobra at King’s Island – a layout that was to be replicated several times both in the same region and back home.
Intamin joined the fray in 1986 at Six Flags Magic Mountain with their own version that spawned a couple of sequels, all with the same name for some reason and only one of which remains. Once the ’90s hit, it was B&Ms turn to take what they had learnt from previously helping Intamin and they went on to create the largest ever Stand Up coaster in the very same park. 1999 saw the final build of this type and there has seemingly been no desire or interest in reintroducing the concept this side of the Millennium.
Where once the pioneers were attempting to enhance the traditional sit down coasters by introducing a new riding position, these days B&M have flipped that idea on its head and have been gradually converting their originals back into sit down coasters with underwhelming results. As of writing, only 10 Stand Ups remain in operation across the world and I’m 70% of the way towards completion (sadly only one original layout left to go). Here’s the lowdown on who does it best and which ones you should catch while you still can.
There are many problems with the B&M models as far as I’ve experienced. Firstly, they’ve aged pretty poorly, particularly given the usual smooth and sophisticated nature of their creations. Combined with this, the restraint system is pretty diabolical, with a rock hard shoulder harness rising up on either side of your head, ready to give the ears a right good bashing on the now bumpy track. Green Lantern served this up a treat, even when I knew what to expect and thought I could handle it. For me it remains the worst ride to ever come from the manufacturer. Not a good start.
Aside from general discomfort, the main issue I take with the B&Ms is that they don’t do the sensation of standing any real justice. While clambering into the contraption you’re obliged to park your rear end on something similar to a bike saddle, taking some of the weight off of your legs and essentially putting you in an uncomfortable sitting position rather than actually doing what it was supposed to do in the first place. This was their first attempt and, as above, it was grim.
The only remaining Intamin edition has similar seating issues to the B&Ms but thankfully less of the tracking issues mainly, I assume, due to the fact that it does very little with its layout – a grand total of 4 consecutive inversions and 2 corners. It has been a very long time since I rode this one and I distinctly remember being unnerved by the sensation, while not necessarily enjoying it. So it has that going for it.
I persisted with B&M’s largest in the world layout and it rewarded me with semi-decent returns. Being newer it hadn’t quite been reduced to the same level of quality as the earlier models in this list and in the right seats (middle), in the right row (front), with the correct stance (brace), it turns into a long, fast paced and rather relentless multi looper with some interesting forces. I think there’s some praise in there somewhere.
It turns out Togo are the only manufacturer that did the concept justice in my eyes and they began it all with this one. You truly are just standing on a metal plate, surrounded by complicated, but not invasive, restraints and it’s an extremely surreal experience. Though the layout of this one makes Shockwave look like a masterpiece, the full force and feeling of flex through the legs in that loop is a sensation like little else in this game and I have a massive amount of respect for the madness.
Kick things up a gear and you get a racing coaster that, rather than inverting, contains airtime. I’ll emphasise again that riders are literally stood on a flat surface while being subjected to said forces and as such, standing airtime is a terrifying thing, way out of the common comfort zone of a happy floaty feeling.
Combine the two and you get a masterpiece. After 20 seasons of service, Canada’s Wonderland decided they no longer had a place in their hearts for this model, but thankfully it was saved from near extinction by this small Italian park. And what a gem they’ve salvaged.
Though I’d had unnerving airtime on a Stand Up before, my feet had never even left the floor. On this ride, the large hill after the loop throws riders clear off of their metal plate, into the confusing but not consoling restraints, with both arms and legs flailing in a moment of pure insanity. I’ve never before had to think about how I land myself on a coaster in anticipation of the next corner and for that alone, this attraction is something truly special to the hobby.
Personally I’m hoping that modern technology can revitalise this feeling some day, it certainly has potential. If not, I’d better get started on that conservation fund.