50 years of coasters – 2015
Whilst my personal selection from 2014 was a little lacking (compared to the overall quality of this decade at least) 2015 is looking to be absolutely stacked. Everything in this list today is, at the very least, incredible. What a year for the coaster industry this one turned out to be!
Much as I’ve enjoyed the B&M wing coasters that have been popping up over the last few years, for me the company’s Flying Coaster type is a cut above the rest. They generally have far more to offer in terms of extremities and often have elements that would put any seasoned rider out of their comfort zone. Acrobat is admittedly a bit of a lazy clone of Florida’s Manta, complete with matching trains that don’t tie in with the loose theme, but I can’t fault the insanely intense ride experience.
So why not have two in a row? I still can’t quite believe how good this ride is. A combination of a fear of clones and a fear of spoilers almost got the better of me and had me originally dismissing Harpy as not worth the effort. In the end it more than paid off the extra lengths you generally have to go to get to this remote Chinese park, by virtue of it’s top tier flyer layout packed with a wicked range of sensations.
Another manufacturer honing their skills and bringing their best coaster model closer to perfection this year was Gerstlauer. Junker is a quintessential Infinity Coaster with a punchy launch, tight manouevres in those tiny trains, powerful airtime and creative inversions. There’s not a dull moment to be found on board.
2015 was the birth of the Jungle Trailblazers, a collection of Gravity Group woodies that opened as the headline attractions of various Fantawild parks throughout China. The fact that so many of them share the same name does them a disservice, as they make use of several different layouts that are all world class in their own right, yet tend to be rather overlooked from an outsiders perspective due to a lack of individual identity. This particular version is notable for having a rare wooden coaster inversion and, to me, for having an insane run of airtime pops all in a row.
A busy year for B&M, who also put out their largest creation to date. The beast that is Fury 325 remains the tallest coaster with a traditional lift hill and marked a drastic shift in style for their model of hyper coaster. Rather than largely focusing on those signature camelback hills, Fury performs a very inspired set of manouevres at high speed as it winds its way out across the entrance plaza, into the car park and beyond. It’s a visual spectacle that’s wonderfully presented, as well as a very standout and special ride experience.
Gerstlauer also had their sights on something big for 2015. Previous local customer Hansa Park had some lofty ambitions to put a vertical lift hill that reaches over 200ft tall inside a building styled like a medieval tower in Helsingborg, Sweden. Things go on in this tower that had not been seen on a coaster ever before and then once you burst out into the open air at over 80Mph, it’s a ridiculous and intense hyper coaster experience, again like no other. How are we only at number 5?
Well partly because there’s still more Jungle Trailblazers to come. This Wuhu version is the only layout that currently cannot be found anywhere else and also features one of those unnatural inversions. It also plays on some similar beats to China’s very first wooden coaster, with an epic combination of larger and smaller airtime hills that the Gravity Group pull off so well.
RMC were solidifying themselves amongst the best of the best by now, putting up smash hit after smash hit. The fact that this conversion from an out-of-date wooden coaster into a vicious, storm chasing, world beating experience filled with the perfect blend of extreme airtime and glorious inversions has become bread and butter to the manufacturer by now is simply scary.
So give them the opportunity to reimagine an iconic and massive racing woodie at another park on the other side of the country and then be astounded by the result. I’ve written at length about how this is my favourite RMC to date on here and it’s a personal top 5 in the world. Yet we’re still not done here for this year.
My favourite Gravity Group creation trumps my favourite RMC for now, by the tiniest of margins up at the top of course. Something about the raw-er experience of an actual wooden coaster at the absolute best it can be, along with the unpredictability that can bring just appeals to me slightly more and this third Jungle Trailblazer was such an incredible shock to the system upon a first ride for countless reasons. I had no idea they could be this good.
Well with a list so packed full of superlatives can there really be anything else left in the world to threaten this bunch? Amazingly, yes.
Cannibal appears to be the US equivalent of Kärnan with it’s intimidating tower structure and unorthodox design, the fact that it’s even more ‘homegrown’ in execution fascinates me.
Impulse is a rare example of a Zierer Tower coaster, another string I need to add to my bow at some point to at least see how they compare with other, similar designs.
On top of all their other achievements this year, B&M also went wild with a launched version of their Wing coaster by the name of Thunderbird. Something else I’ve definitely got to check out at some point.
Click here to continue the timeline.