Parks Elmwood Lake Park

When I did my RCT3 remake of Six Flags Over Virginia, I had mentioned that I had eventually wanted to remake some of my old RCT3 parks in Planet Coaster…And It only seems fitting that because Elmwood Lake Park/Tennessee’s Great America was one of my most well-received finished parks (And one in which 90 percent of the rides and coasters can be recreated within Planet Coaster’s limits lol) that it would be the first one I’d want to recreate…I think I should let you know, some things in this version will be a smidge different than the RCT3 version to make it a bit more realistic.....Without further adieu…..

August, 1970

Date: April 7th, 1970
Subject: NEW THEME PARK PROPOSAL
To: Tennessee Amusement Corps.
From: Lynchburg City Hall

To whom it may concern.
We are delighted to inform Tennessee Amusements Inc. that your request for a brand new fun park in the state of Tennessee has been accepted and we were successfully able to procure 182 acres of land here in Lynchburg. We had attached a Mercator projection of the area. We hope that you will be able to make Lynchburg, Tennessee more than just Jack Daniels whisky. We hope that you will make this place into a paradise for families and adrenaline junkies!

That letter was sent to me months ago.

And now...the first phase of Elmwood Lake Park is slated to be completed next year!

Oh God, where are my manners? I forgot to introduce myself! My name is Bill Walsh and I work in the amusement park business. It may not seem like much in terms of civic development, but many young people interested in roller coasters and thrill rides would kill for a job like mine. I'm most likely going to be elected as general manager for this place when it opens. I really hope so!

I have some pictures of what the place looks like!



It's so serene and peaceful...it's almost a shame that it will soon be replaced with roller coasters and screaming people...



The Arrow Development company of Clearfield, Utah has been hard at work building one of these new state-of-the-art steel tubular-track mine train themed roller coasters!



After months of deliberation, the name “Vermont Maple Train” has finally been decided. I think that it’s a great name for a mine train themed coaster and I have no doubt that when this park finally opens, it’ll be a big hit with families and thrill-seekers alike!
 
November,1971

Well, it’s been four months, The park is really coming along great! Hopefully by next May, Elmwood Lake Park will be slated to open to the public, and I'm sure the public will LOVE it!



We're giving Vermont Maple Train a test run to check for safety. So far, the ride runs perfectly fine with no trouble whatsoever. I have a gut feeling this will be a very popular ride for years to come! It's both thrilling and family friendly!



A small assortment of flat rides are currently being built at the park, such as an Eyerly Roll-O-Plane named "Twist And Shout!" and Parachutes!



And what is a proper theme park without a Ferris Wheel?



Here is the entire park perimeter! So far it doesn’t look like much, but we anticipate that this sapling of a theme park will one day bloom into a beautiful tree of amusements!
 
March, 1972

In just two months time, Elmwood Lake Park will open it's doors to the public for the very first time...My palms are getting sweaty just from the anticipation...More upgrades have come to the park to make it an all-around more well rounded place before it opens! Lets take a look, shall we?



Our park's carousel was built and designed by a Swiss company by the name of Intamin. They did one helluva job building it and we hope this ride will become a big hit with the families!



We also added another thrill ride by the name of Whirler! Whirler is a "monster" ride designed by a Mr. Anton Schwarzkopf and the ride itself looks like it's going to be a lot of fun to ride! If Whirler becomes a success, we will definitely try to contact Anton's company again in the not-so distant future!



An eatery was also established on the left side of the park. A quaint little place called The Cafe Americana. Menu choices are your standard fare carnival foods, funnel cakes, corn dogs, hamburgers, french fries, soda, candy apples, popcorn, lemonade.....It'll be a great place to fill your tummy and cool off in those hot summer days!
 
After weeks of a complete lack of motivation to completely copy and paste every last post of the RCT3 version to the new PLC version, I finally decided to abandon that idea and just do what I did with Whispering Cliffs. A smaller, condensed timeline story separated by decade.

THE 1970s



Elmwood Lake Park enjoyed an extremely successful opening season in 1972. Despite being a such a small park, it really struck a chord with the general public of Lynchburg, Tennessee and slowly but surely became one of the most popular attractions in the area.







This success directly lead to Bill Walsh, the owner and COO of Tennessee Amusement Corps to build a second, larger roller coaster at Elmwood Lake Park in 1974. This time, it was a wooden out-and-back roller coaster built by William Cobb that featured a top speed of 45mph, plenty of airtime moments, and a large banked helix with multiple dips.
Elmwood Lake Park then proceeded to hold a “Name that Coaster” contest in the local Lynchburg newspaper where the name Screamin’ Eagle won by a landslide. Screamin’ Eagle quickly became a fan favorite at the park.



1976 brought a new flat ride to the park, the Wave Swinger! A fun, yet family friendly attraction.






Around 1975-1976, steel roller coasters had suddenly become insanely popular, especially due to the fact that in 1975, Arrow Development successfully resurrected a coaster concept thought to have been extinct since the 1930s….a coaster that goes (gasp) UPSIDE-DOWN! And in that span of two years, roller coasters with inversions started popping up everywhere! With Arrow Development building multiple “Corkscrew” model coasters along with Cedar Point’s “Corkscrew” a roller coaster featuring both a vertical loop AND a double-corkscrew (very cutting edge for the time) and Anton Schwarzkopf from Germany building the Revolution at Magic Mountain (first modern coaster with a vertical loop).
Bill Walsh wanted a piece of the pie, and that is why in 1977….







He called upon Anton Schwarzkopf to build Super Looper, considered to be the very first compact and movable steel looping coaster. While not considered a tall and fast coaster, especially by today’s standards. This coaster was incredibly cutting-edge for the time and caused a massive wave of people to start visiting the park for years to come…

Because of this, in 1979, Bill Walsh had an idea. A roller coaster with one loop was enough to bring thousand and thousands of people into his park….How about a coaster with multiple loops to kick off the new decade?



By mid-1979….pieces of orange and red Arrow Development-style track started to appear onsite…..
 
THE 1980s









Elmwood Lake Park kicked off the Decade of Decadence with a brand new steel roller coaster from Arrow-HUSS named Fireball. Fireball was a very unique specimen for its time as in 1980, it broke the record for the most inversions on a roller coaster with a whopping five! Two consecutive loops, an all-new “Immelmann” inversion after a banked turn and finally, a double corkscrew before a meandering s-turn back to the station. Many people consider Fireball to be the first “mega looping” coaster ever built….and of course, when Fireball opened, it was a massive hit among the general public and thrill seekers.



1981 brought a unique type of ride to the park, an all-new Intamin first generation Freefall ride known as “Espionage” Espionage's ride experience is as follows, four riders enter a large steel cage with over-the-shoulder harnesses. The cage goes up a giant elevator in the middle of the tower and at the top, it moves to a second track which is shaped like a giant letter L. After about a 6-12 second wait, without warning the cage drops down the track, giving the rider the sensation of free falling. Magnetic brakes stop the cage and a chain drive, similar to that on a ten speed bicycle grabs the cage and brings it to an upright position.



Also new for 1981 was a Round-Up ride, another X-treme thrill ride which was essentially a cross between a rotor and an Enterprise.



1982 and 1983 brought no new additions to Elmwood Lake Park…However, during those two seasons, Bill Walsh was in contact with the legendary Anton Schwarzkopf for a second time…Given the success of both Super Looper and Fireball, Bill Walsh had the idea of having Anton return to the park for a second time for an even bigger steel looping roller coaster….This time, he had given Anton a large canvas twoards the rear of the park and free reign to build a true masterpiece of coaster design…

After building Shockwave at Six Flags Over Texas and Mindbender at Six Flags Over Georgia in 1978, it was time to build a new style of steel looping roller coaster for the 80s…























And finally, in 1984, Anton Schwarzkopf’s magnum opus was built. A monstrous looping/twisting steel roller coaster by the name of Vampyre. Vampyre was the tallest and fastest roller coaster at the park with a top height of a staggering 156 feet tall and a top speed of 64mph. To date, Vampyre was the only steel roller coaster to feature three consecutive loops in a row. To make things even sweeter, these were round circular loops as opposed to clothoid loops, which made for an incredibly intense ride experience, possibly some of the most intense inversions in roller coaster history. After a series of intense banked turns Vampyre hits a mid course brake run that actually fully stops the train before going into the second lift hill which brings the ride to its highest point… the train turns to the left before plummeting into its other signature element, a massive 146 foot tall drop into a large banked turn. An element so intense that it caused even the strongest and most seasoned thrill seekers to start greying out. Reportedly, Vampyre at that point pulled around 6Gs, which is an insane amount of g-forces for a coaster! After the turn came the “fourth loop” which was really just a large banked 360 degree turnaround. After a tunnel through the artificial mountain, Vampyre comes to a stop….Leaving riders to wonder just what the absolute hell they just went through…

When Vampyre opened, reactions amongst the general public was a bit mixed, but it achieved almost instantaneous legend status among coaster enthusiasts, being lauded as the most X-Treme coaster of all time, with some even saying that the renowned Crystal Beach Cyclone was LESS intense than Vampyre! Of course, Super Looper was rendered completely obsolete by Vampyre, however both coasters stood strong at Elmwood Lake Park as a true testament to Anton Schwarzkopf’s genius.




1984 was a massive, HUGE season for Elmwood Lake Park, which was why in 1985, it was quite a shock to find that the crowds were rather….meager in comparison to the year prior, especially towards the beginning and the tail end of the season.
Bill Walsh had deduced that while there were plenty of rides and attractions that catered to the older, more experienced thrill seekers, there weren’t really any rides that catered to the younger demographic of parkgoers….Sure, there were a few “family” rides like the carousel, the Ferris wheel, and Vermont Maple Train, but there weren’t any “kiddy” rides.



That problem through, was rectified in 1986 with the debut of KidTown USA, Elmwood Lake Park’s children’s area! This beautiful, whimsically themed area featured a wide array of small, gentle flat rides geared twoards kids and even a small roller coaster by the name of Mini Maple Train. When this area debuted, the main goal was to attract more families into Elmwood Lake Park….




However things didn’t get better…they only got worse….KidTown USA barely made a dent in the overall attendance in the park….And it seemed that people, mainly families, just simply weren’t interested in Elmwood Lake Park, instead opting to go to country star Dolly Parton’s “new” theme park, Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, as it had more of an appeal to families….As a result, Elmwood Lake Park began to lose a huge amount of revenue….



Then….at the worst possible time…a near-disaster struck the park….On a stormy night in midsummer 1987, a stray bolt of lightning struck the peak of Screamin’ Eagle, causing a large fire to break out on the top of the lift hill. The Lynchburg Fire Department was able to put out the fire, however a huge portion of the lift hill had collapsed as a result, putting the famed wooden coaster out of commission for the rest of the season.





This made the financial situation of Elmwood Lake Park go from bad to exponentially worse….Tennessee Amusement Corps. Simply could not afford to hire a new manufacturer to fix up the classic woodie…And eventually…the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and it’s assets were liquidated….meaning that the 1987 season was to be Elmwood Lake Park’s last….Tennessee Amusement Corps had shut down entirely around the same time…..





And sure enough, in 1988…the park did not open at all…..And the story remained the same for 1989….Elmwood Lake Park had been abandoned and left to rot, just like Eagle Park or Chippewa Lake Park…….

Or had it?

TO BE CONTINUED......
 
I've made some changes from transitioning from RCT3 to PLC so you might come across some little surprises :)

THE 1990s



The 1990s didn’t start off pleasantly for Elmwood Lake Park at all, as the famed theme park was still derelict and would stay that way for the next few years….suburban developments started to circle around the SBNO amusement park like vultures, eventually waiting for the property value to go down just enough to swoop in, level the park, and replace it with condominiums, town houses, and strip malls.



However before any of them could even think about making a move….the park was purchased in late 1992…By a little known company known as…..



Cedar Fair L.P, the owners of the famed Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, Valleyfair in Shakopee, Minnesota, and Dorney Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Cedar Fair purchased the park for upwards of $70,000,000 USD, and put aside a multi-million dollar budget for the park to clean up the overgrown areas, refurbish the attractions (including damaged Screamin Eagle), improve the atmosphere of the park, and overall just restore Elmwood Lake to its former glory…….







In the summer of 1993, for the first time in more than five years, Elmwood Lake Park opened its doors once again in an opulent grand re-opening gala! Thousands and thousands of people stampeded the park gates, eager to get the chance to ride their favorite rides and roller coasters again such as the newly refurbished Screamin Eagle, Super Looper (which was now sporting a snazzy new electric blue paint job), and Fireball.






However the ride that most people wanted to go on the most…was the world famous triple looping monster Vampyre, which reportedly had upwards of four hour waits that opening day!



Elmwood Lake Park’s grand reopening was such a huge financial success for Cedar Fair that almost immediately, they started market research into building a new major coaster at the park for 1994….And in the midst of the reopening season, a large plot of land started to be cleared in front of Screamin’ Eagle….







The result of this land clearing was an all-new cutting edge Bolliger & Mabillard inverted roller coaster named Steel Savage. At the time, Steel Savage was the tallest and fastest inverted roller coaster in the world at a height of 140 feet tall, a drop of 120 feet tall, a top speed of 61mph! After the giant swooping first drop, the train goes into a 110 foot tall vertical loop followed by a 102 foot tall cobra roll and a 71 foot tall high speed zero-G-roll! After the mid-course brake run, the train goes into a high speed corkscrew and a series of tight, intense banked turns and helices before dropping into what is arguably the climax of the ride….






A sudden 70 foot tall drop into the dark underground! Immediately after, the train busts into a second high speed corkscrew and a final helix before emerging from the ground into the final brake run! This was the first time a huge underground tunnel was attempted on an inverted coaster and was arguably the element that made Steel Savage considered one of the best inverted roller coasters of all time.

Also in 1994, Cedar Fair made the surprising decision to rename the park entirely. Elmwood Lake Park was no more, and from now on, it would forever be known as Tennessee’s Great America. Many questions had risen about why they would change the name of the park, and although the official reason is unknown, it was theorized that the new general manager of the park, Jason Walker wanted to pay homage to the two Marriot theme parks, Six Flags Great America and California’s Great America (Then known as Paramount’s Great America).



1994 was overall a successful season for the park, however in the midst of the season, it was marred by a horrific fatal tragedy. A teenage girl fell to her death on Espionage, the park’s Intamin first gen freefall after her over the shoulder restraint reportedly unlocked during the ride. Espionage was promptly shut down and was demolished via controlled implosion at the end of the 1994 season....





In mid-1995, it was announced that Tennessee’s Great America was going to be adding a new roller compact steel coaster to take the place of Espionage in 1996. This coaster was soon revealed to be Twister, a Vekoma “Boomerang” coaster. While Twister was a mass produced cloned coaster, it’s small footprint and exciting ride layout made it a decent replacement for Espionage.



At the end of the 1996 season, it was decided that the front pavilion of the park needed a major overhaul, which was why for 1996, Halloweekends was cancelled and the season ended Labor Day weekend instead of the end of Halloween. The original Café Americana and the old Parachute Drop ride were unceremoniously demolished in the renovations, leading to some fans of the pre-Cedar Fair park to be quite disappointed.



A beautiful garden and fountain was now located where all three main paths met, adding to the beauty factor of Tennessee’s Great America.



The Parachute Drop was replaced with a more modern drop ride, also filling the void that Espionage left. A brand new S&S Space Shot/Turbo Drop tower complex known as Stratosphere! At 190 feet tall, Stratosphere had become the tallest ride in the whole park. Riders got a choice as soon as they board the queue line, Violet launches you up while Blue launches you down!



A long overdue attraction, a fun Dodgems ride was put in where the old Café Americana once stood.. and Coaster’s Drive In, a staple all-American eatery in all of Cedar Fair’s parks was the replacement for the Café Americana.



Also, in 1997 was the retheme of KidTown USA into Camp Snoopy, bringing Charles’ M. Schultz’s beloved Peanuts characters into Tennesee’s Great America! There was also the opening of a new kiddie coaster in the area, a Zierer Tivoli by the name of Fireball Junior, a smaller family-friendly accompaniment of the large Arrow looping coaster in the same park!



The 1990’s came to an exhilarating coda with the announcement in the summer of 1998 that for 1999, the park was going to expand westwards behind Screamin Eagle and that the park was going to receive a brand new cutting-edge steel roller coaster that same year…..



And of course 1999 brought two major attractions to the park! The first of which was a huge upcharge slingshot ride by the name of Vertigo. At 220 feet tall, it stole the record from Stratosphere as the tallest ride in the park!








The second of the new attractions was a B&M Stand-Up coaster by the name of Rage. Compared to it’s contemporaries, Chang at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, Riddler’s Revenge at Six Flags Magic Mountain, and Mantis at Cedar Point, Rage was a much smaller stand up coaster, however that didn’t mean that it didn’t pack a serious punch! Rage was the first and the only stand-up coaster to feature a cobra roll element and was very much praised for having a smooth, forceful, and snappy layout despite being a bit short (in stature and length)



The 90s sure was a decade to behold for Elmwood Lake Park/Tennesee’s Great America. Not only was a completely SBNO park brought back from the dead, it’s new owners brought about a new golden era for the park, adding new attractions left and right, thrilling adrenaline junkies from sea to shining sea, and they had no intention of stopping any time soon! Y2K was soon arriving and thrill seekers were truly looking forward to whatever was coming for the new millennium…

Although I don’t want to give away too much, let’s just say that soon the park would have to learn a harsh lesson that sometimes, going out of your way to build a record breaking ride can be more trouble than what it’s really worth in the end.
 
The 2000s



The year 2000 itself didn’t bring any new major attractions to the park, which was quite a disappointment at the time, however TGA slowly started to hype up the next year’s addition…which they said was really going to blow people’s minds and change the face of TGA forever…



But first….a little bit of backstory…

Not even a full month had passed since Rage was announced in 1998 that Jason Walker was already looking to the future…Jason Walker had a vision to one day build a hypercoaster at the park. (A hypercoaster, of course being a coaster at least 200 feet tall and with a 200 foot tall drop) At first, he had planned to debut a B&M hypercoaster similar to Nitro at Six Flags Great Adventure at the park. But then after Jason Walker realized the market demand for a second, more modern wooden coaster at the park, he decided to be a bit more ambitious….the idea came to him around the beginning of 1999 (While Rage was still under construction, mind you) that Tennesee’s Great America should in the next three years, become home to the world’s tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster and that unlike most roller coasters who have an outside designer like Steve Okamoto or Werner Stengel, Jason Walker himself was going to design this coaster. The project was tentatively titled “Roar” and was going to feature a layout that was pretty much a wooden version of Magnum XL-200 at Cedar Point. The concept coaster was going to be 205 feet tall, feature a 200 foot drop, and have an approximate top speed of 74 miles per hour. However, after discovering that “Roar” was already trademarked by Cedar Fair’s rival, Six Flags, he then swiftly changed it to “Rampage”



However in May of 1999, Paramount’s Kings Island announced Son of Beast, a massive record smashing wooden coaster that reaches a top height of 218 feet, has a 215 foot drop, reaches a top speed of 78mph, and will also feature the first inversion on a wooden coaster in more than 80 years. Needless to say, Jason Walker was absolutely furious when Son of Beast was announced. He publicly accused Paramount Parks of stealing his idea for a wooden hypercoaster and even went as far as to threaten them with a lawsuit.



However, after being dissuaded from taking legal action, Jason Walker was now a man on a mission to outdo Paramount’s Kings Island. The original design was scrapped and he came up with a new design that didn't have a loop, but instead reached a height of 230 feet, had a massive first drop of 225 feet, and reached a calculated top speed of a whopping 83 miles per hour. The coaster also featured a more compact L-shaped “triple out and back” layout which included a large polystyrene mountain similar to the one at Paramount’s Kings Dominion which would enclose the first major turnaround on the coaster, a mid-course brake run, and several airtime hills in an “oval section” before the final brake run.



And in 2001, Rampage became a reality! After having ample difficulty finding a manufacturer for the project, as RCCA and CCI were both having financial issues, GCI refused the project as it was too large of an undertaking, and Intamin couldn’t guarantee a spring 2001 opening, the project was finally handed over to a surprising manufacturer for woodies, Vekoma. Vekoma had already built three wooden roller coasters in Europe the year prior and had no qualms about bringing the model to the States. To date, Rampage was actually the first and as of 2019, only hypercoaster ever designed by Vekoma.








However, once Rampage was open to the public, reviews for the ride were mixed at best….The coaster was praised for it’s massive, ostentatious first drop of 225 feet, it’s exhilirating high top speed of 83mph, and for it’s large camelback right after the MCBR that delivered some impressive floater airtime, however right off the starting gun, complaints had arisen about the ride’s roughness, especially in the enclosed turnaround section. Another huge complaint came from the fact that right before the ride’s oval section, trim brakes had to be installed due to the very high lateral G-forces during the initial testing phase. This meant that the train crawled throughout the entire section, delivering negligible airtime traversing the small bunny hills and the double down and having such little momentum towards the final turn that a final brake run was almost unneeded.



Then…the controversies arose. Reportedly, not even a few months after it opened, parkgoers became very concerned at the way the track and supports would bend and sway while the train traversed through the course…And eventually, the ride needed to be closed for a few weeks after a number of park guests reportedly saw “metal objects” falling off the ride’s structure. Inspectors found that a number of rivets holding the structure together had been insufficiently tightened, and of course a blame game started between Jason Walker, the man who designed the coaster and Vekoma, the manufacturer of the coaster. Walker claiming that Vekoma was rushing the project while Vekoma claimed that they were being rushed by Walker to have the coaster open by 2001. Eventually the ride was fixed and was able to continue operating…



Then, in August of 2001, it was announced that Super Looper was being put up for sale and that it would be dismantled at the end of the 2001 season. This very much upset longtime parkgoers that regarded Super Looper as a classic attraction, being the first looping coaster in the southern US.



What happened to Super Looper after it was removed from the park?

It remained in storage at the park for a year until it was purchased by rival amusement corporation Six Flags, where it was initially going to be built at Six Flags Fiesta Texas to replace Joker’s Revenge. However plans for that fell through and it was then swapped between Six Flags America and Six Flags New England for the next few years until Six Flags decided to sell the ride.





Eventually, Super Looper found a new home at a small boardwalk amusement in Jacksonville, Florida named Family Land Florida in 2006. Family Land Florida is home to many thrilling flat rides, an S&S Space Shot ride, and two roller coasters. A Pinfari Wacky Worm by the name of “Tiki Coaster”, and an unusual family coaster built by Giovanola named “Coast-to-Coaster”. Looking for a new “thrilling” coaster, the family that owned the park bought Super Looper and constructed it at the boardwalk park under the it’s new name Python.



Around the holiday season of 2001, it was announced that TGA was to receive not one, but two new attractions for 2002, even starting an advertising campaign on the official website named “2 for 2002”.
The first of these attractions was a new thrill ride, a Chance Rides Revolution by the name “Revolution”…





And, the new coaster to take Super Looper’s place, a brand new Intamin inverted impulse coaster named Venom. While Venom was a cloned attraction, it turned out to be a very popular attraction among parkgoers as it was the very first launch coaster to be built at the park!



2003 brought a long missing attraction to the park. A heavily themed Intamin river rapids ride named “The Lost Temple” guaranteed to soak its riders every time! It was the perfect ride for those hot summer days when the Tennessee sun can become quite oppressive…



After 2003, the three season streak of adding new attractions had ended. 2004 and 2005 went by without any sort of new additions to the park at all…In fact, in 2005 the park had removed Vertigo, the upcharge slingshot ride due to lack of ridership. In September of that same year, it was surprisingly announced that Twister, the Vekoma Boomerang was also going to close forever. This however, turned out to have been an inaccurate and poorly worded announcement in the sense that the coaster was in fact NOT closing, just undergoing a “major refurbishment before the 2006 season.



The “refurbishment” was the addition of a brand new Vekoma built train to replace Fireball’s old third train that had been used on the coaster for years. The ride also underwent a name change from Twister to Hang-Time and received a snazzy new magenta and black paint job! These new refurbishments were well received and the ride was noticeably much smoother.



In that same year, an absolutely MASSIVE plot of land was cleared around where Vertigo once stood, with a Greco-Roman themed fence surrounding the entire area. And then in August, a piece of black Intamin style track appeared onsite and the coaster community collectively lost their minds….TGA was getting another Intamin for 2006….Speculation was abound at that point. Was it going to be a looping coaster like Thorpe Park’s Colossus? Or maybe a megacoaster like Expedition Ge Force? Or maybe something entirely different….














Then, it was announced….

Hercules: The Revenge, a brand new Intamin LSM launched steel coaster based off of the re-imagined Greco Roman legend of The Twelve Labors of Hercules. After being defeated by the Hydra in 2005, Hercules has made his triumphant return, this time instead of a rough woodie, as an exhilarating launched steel coaster, and is this coaster a sight to behold! Not just one, but THREE launches in its course! The first one out of the station is a rolling gradual launch to 35mph which is enough momentum for a helix and a few banked turns….However, the second launch is where the REAL ride begins. 35 to 75mph in just 2.5 seconds! After this, the train crests a 152 foot tall top hat element and down a 138 foot tall drop, giving absolutely UNREAL ejector airtime. The train proceeds to blaze through multiple back-to-back banked turns and overbanks to make you feel like you’re on the end of a bullwhip, especially in the back seat. Afterwards…the train hits a brake run and comes to a halt….but the ride isn’t over yet…After a few seconds of waiting…the train launches you without warning from 0 to 58mph through a Roman arch! During this launch, four flash pots activate, causing a burst of flames to erupt from the sides of the arch! After the third launch, the train goes into what is known as a “BayernKurve”, which is just two back to back overbanked horseshoe curves and straight downwards into an underground cavern, completely in the dark! The train then emerges out of the cave and into the ride’s grand finale, a large heartline roll charmingly named a “Roman Roll” before hitting the final brake run. The name comes from the fact that instead of normal coaster supports, concrete replicas of roman columns were used to support the track.



When Hercules: The Revenge opened in spring of 2007, it was instantaneously lauded for its high speed, excellent theming, strong layout, and of course, it’s airtime! Some had even said that Hercules The Revenge was a contender for the greatest roller coaster in the world!



However…just shortly after Hercules: The Revenge opened to the public, the park would once again face a fatal tragedy. One that would once again, spark massive amounts of controversy about an already controversial attraction…..



Around noon of June 29th,2007. Train 2 of Rampage had failed to make it to the mid-course brake run. At first it was assumed that the train valleyed, however the truth was far, far worse…Inside the mountain turnaround, the train hit broken track and a wheel careened off the front car….The front car suddenly jackknifed and T-Boned, causing the other four cars to break off the track. When rescue workers found the decimated train, they were shocked at what they saw, likening it more to a massive highway pileup than a coaster derailment. Many of the riders on board received serious injuries, including five people who were in critical condition….Unfortunately, one of the passengers who was in critical condition was a hemophiliac…..And he unfortunately passed away in the hospital just hours later of severe blood loss.

Of course, after this tragedy, all fingers once again pointed at Jason Walker, who was now being publicly accused of rushing construction of Rampage in an arbitrary attempt to show off to Kings Island. And that now, a person was dead and many more were injured due to his gross negligence of safety regulations and quality control. Walker had attempted once again, to blame Vekoma for using “sub par, cheap lumber” for their wooden coasters and even directly insulted the company’s reputation by saying “No wonder Robin Hood and Loup-Garou are so rough.” This time, the coaster community did not buy that as an excuse and saw Walker’s attacks on Vekoma as a way to divert criticism away from him, the man who designed the coaster.

Eventually, this controversy ended in Jason Walker being ousted from his position as GM of the park by Cedar Fair where he proceeded to be slapped with a hefty wrongful death lawsuit by the deceased's family.



The park reopened a week after the 4th of July of 2007, sans Rampage, which was understandably put into Standing But Not Operating or SBNO mode for the rest of the 2007 season. Speculation arose about the possible removal of the ride, given it’s tumultuous history and troubled safety record…




However in the end, The new GM of Tennesee’s Great America, C.J Lorenzo decided instead to refurbish the coaster and reopen it in 2008. He called upon Great Coasters International to help work on retracking the entire mountain tunnel, the rough sections of track, beefing up the support structure, and giving the coaster three new Millennium Flyer trains. However, as they were retracking the ride, GCI found that the main cause of the track problems with the coaster was the unprecedented amount of stress that the 225 foot tall drop was putting on the trains. If left unchecked, this wear and tear could cause even more problems in the near future….The only option was to shorten the first drop from 225 to 155 feet….thus stripping Rampage of its hypercoaster status…..As a result, the top speed of the coaster was slowed from 83 to 67mph.




However, despite the disappointment of the shortened first drop, parkgoers were pleasantly surprised at how much smoother the coaster was now that it was retracked and had new trains. And as an added bonus, the trim brakes were completely deactivated during the second half of the ride, giving Rampage the intense ejector airtime during the second half that was sorely sought after.



Around 2009, a rumor started that Fireball was going to be removed at the end of the 2008 season to make room for a new “major addition” in 2010. However park officials stepped in and said that the rumors were false.



A classic ride did end up biting the dust after the 2009 season though….Due to high maintenance costs, Round-Up bit the dust….




Soon enough, it was going to be replaced by not just a new flat ride, but an entire new area known as the River District, featuring multiple shops, a long overdue HUSS Pirate Ship ride, a Moser Rides Muzik Expres, and a huge, beautiful pier across Elmwood Lake giving parkgoers gorgeous views of both of the big A-List coasters of TGA, Hercules: The Revenge and Vampyre.



But not even a month after the River District was announced…On September 13th, 2009….Coaster enthusiasts around the world were greeted with possibly some of the most heartbreaking announcements possible…..As it was confirmed that Vampyre would permanently close and be demolished after the 2010 season to make room for “future developments”…..
 
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