Bat (Kings Island 1981)

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Bat
Bat (Kings Island 1981) logo.png
Kings Island
Location Mason, Ohio, USA
Status Defunct
Operated April 26, 1981 to August 1983
Cost $3,800,000 USD
Replaced by Vortex
Statistics
Manufacturer Arrow Dynamics
Type Steel - Suspended
Product Suspended Coaster
Riders per train 28
Propulsion 2 chain lift hills
Height 100 feet
Top speed 34 mph
Length 2456 feet
Inversions 0
HELP
A footer from The Bat, with Vortex track visible beside it

The Bat was a short-lived steel suspended roller coaster at Kings Island in Mason, Ohio, USA. It was a prototype suspended coaster by Arrow Dynamics. The ride operated from 1981 to 1983.[1]

The Bat was advertised as the first modern suspended coaster, however, this is incorrect as Alpen-Flug opened for a very short period a few years before the opening of the Bat.

History

In 1978, park executives traveled to Arrow Development's factory in California where they tried a prototype Suspended Coaster. The park subsequently partnered with Arrow and development on The Bat started. The construction of the ride was visible throughout the 1980 season. On October 29, 1980, Kings Island invited local news media outlets to reveal more details of the new coaster. It would be named the Bat and the new trains were on display. Several Halloween characters such as the Dracula, the Dracula's wife and a human version of the Bat were invited to the announcement as well.[2] Construction of the ride was completed the following month and had cost the park $3.8 million. The new station would be a Victorian mansion.[3]

The Bat performed its first test run on April 4, 1981. The first test riders were Walter Davis and John Roode. However, the Bat was experiencing some issues. The safety monitoring system was sensitive and would shut down with a single train on the track. Plus, the coaster was going faster than it should, causing aggressive swinging. To address the issue, shock absorbers were installed on the underside to soften and slow the swing. The Bat was stated that it was a prototype and to expect issues.

A media preview was held on April 22, 1981 and the ride opened to the public at the start of the season on April 26.[4] Due to sporadic operations, guests would wait in the line for more than 3 hours, stretching near the Racer's entrance.

The Bat was closed for four days in late July during which the ride was modified. At the bottom of the second lift hill, the chain dog would sometimes be misaligned, causing it to become bent or to break off.[5] Engineers addressed this and also repainted areas of the ride including the undersides of the trains. The paint had been chipping off and quick repair jobs had caused problems as they would flake off or drip.[3] The Bat closed again in August 1981 due to problems with the brake system.[6] The ride reopened three weeks later during Labor Day Weekend of 1981.[7]

By the time Kings Island closed for the 1981 season, Arrow-HUSS started address the Bat's issues. The trains were overhauled with each part being replaced. In addition, the over-the-shoulder restraints were changed to flatter collars to improve the ride experience. The sensor placement was reviewed and modified. Additional stress cables were installed in the structure to help defer the strain the outward pull of the helices placed on the supports. With these changes made, the coaster was strengthened and painted again.

During the 1982 season, the Bat briefly operated for a month. The ride closed down on May 21, 1982, due to a mechanical malfunction. Behind the scenes, park officials found out that the track and supports were damaged due to the lack of banking on the turns. With no proper banking, too much stress was put on the track. On June 3, park officials said the closure was for an indefinite amount of time, and that they were waiting for Arrow-HUSS to complete an analysis of the problems. The Bat had been unreliable since opening and prior to its closure, it had been down 30% of the time.[8][9] Following the closure, The Bat did not operate at all for the rest of the season while park officials negotiated with Arrow-HUSS on how to proceed.[3]

Modifications were made to the ride during the 1982-1983 off-season in an attempt to slow the speed of the trains and reduce how much they swing in order to reduce the strain on the track and supports. A car was removed from each train to reduce its weight and additional shock-absorbers were added to the remaining cars. Additional supports were added to the structure and existing welds were strengthened. Finally the lift hill motors were replaced with more powerful units.[3]

The Bat reopened on May 21, 1983 and operated intermittently. In mid July, it was again closed for repairs, but reopened on July 23. The Bat was ultimately closed in August due to mechanical issues. At the time, guests were told it had closed for the day and the cause of the closure has never been revealed. During the remainder of the 1983 season the Bat was occasionally tested while the park worked on it with Arrow-HUSS, but it never reopened to the public.[3]

In March 1984, Kings Island announced that it the Bat would not operate at all that season as they continued to review its mechanical problems, however, they emphasized that this was only temporary and that they hoped to have the Bat running again.[10] In the meantime, King Cobra debuted in April. In order to fix the ride, it would require new banked track with brakes above the trains similar to Big Bad Wolf and XLR-8. Unfortunately, the Bat was declared to be far too expensive and complicated to fix. So Kings Island decided to cut their losses and on November 6, the park announced that the ride would be demolished.[11] Dismantling of the roller coaster began immediately and took six weeks to complete, at a cost of $70,000. The park has since revealed that The Bat gave 1.8 million rides in total, fewer than a single season on The Beast.[3]

The site was reused for Vortex, which opened in 1987. Vortex also used the Bat's queue line and station. In 1993, the park built another suspended roller coaster called Top Gun. For the 2014 season, it was renamed The Bat.

Design

Elements

Two chain lift hills. The Bat was 100 feet tall and 2,456 feet long. It reached a maximum speed of 35 mph.

Colour scheme

Red track and black supports.

Mechanical problems

Throughout its operation, it was apparent that the structure was not designed to handle the large lateral forces created by the trains.[12] The trains traveled faster and swung more aggressively than expected. A pair of shock absorbers were added to each car shortly after opening to mitigate this, however these wore out and required replacing daily. A second pair was subsequently added to reduce the load on the first. During the 1982-1983 off-season, a third pair were added in attempts to slow the trains down further. As the trains swung from side-to-side, the chain dog (attached to the top of the train) and the brake fins (attached to the bottom) were sometimes misaligned with the lift hills and the brakes. This damaged components which needed replacing regularly.[3]

Subsequent Arrow Suspended Coaster installations used banked track, which lowered the lateral forces. The brakes were positioned underneath the track, but above the train, fixing the alignment issue.[3] Arrow built two new Suspended Coasters in 1984 and went on to build a further seven.

Trains

3 trains with 7 cars per train. In each car, riders are arranged 2 across in 2 rows, for a total of 28 riders per train. Prior to the 1983 season, a car was removed from each of the trains in order to reduce their weight.

References

External links

  • Bat on the Roller Coaster DataBase.