Shuttle roller coaster

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Triops, a Vekoma shuttle coaster at Bagatelle.

A shuttle roller coaster is a type of roller coaster that does not complete a full circuit, but rather travels backwards at some point during the course, or simply ends at a different place.


Early History

The first shuttle roller coasters were in fact the first roller coasters ever built. Inspired by the so-called "Russian Mountains", these wheeled cars built on tracks found popularity in Paris in the early 19th Century.[1]

In 1884, Switchback Railway opened at Coney Island. It consisted of a car that traveled on two tracks between two towers and was the first roller coaster designed as an amusement ride in America.

With the development of the chain lift however, the shuttle roller coaster became redundant, with full-circuit coasters allowing bigger and better layouts, without the need for the car to be pushed back up the track.

First launched shuttle coasters

Greezed Lightnin' at Kentucky Kingdom.

The first two launched shuttle roller coasters were built by competitors Arrow Dynamics and Schwarzkopf in 1977. Arrow built three that year: Black Widow at Six Flags New England (now defunct), Screamin' Demon at Kings Island (also defunct) and Zoomerang at Circus World (relocated to Fun Spot). Arrow's model used an electric motor to launch the train, while Schwarzkopf used a weight-drop mechanism. The first shuttle coasters built by them was King Kobra at Kings Dominion (now located at Hopi Hari in Brazil), White Lightnin' at Carowinds (now located at Gold Reef City in South Africa) and Tidal Wave at California's Great America (now defunct).

Schwarzkopf later switched to a flywheel launch mechanism. The first two coasters based on this design were released in 1978: Montezooma's Revenge at Knott's Berry Farm and Greezed Lightnin' at Six Flags AstroWorld. The first Schwarzkopf Shuttle Loop in Europe was Turbine at Walibi Belgium. Montezooma's Revenge is the last operating Schwarzkopf Shuttle Loop in the U.S.

Meisho Loop the loop

In 1979, Meisho Amusement Machines debuted the Loop Coaster at Tojoko Land. After debuting, an improved model named Loop the Loop was built at a few amusement parks in Japan, and the variant model Moonsault Scramble at Fuji-Q Highland was built.

Meisho's model used a catch car lift, pulled to the top, and drops riders backward through the station into the single vertical loop. It then traveled up the opposite hill, through the loop, and into the station.

Senyo Atomic coaster

In 1980, Senyo Kogyo debuted the Atomic Coaster at Mitsui Green Land. The Senyo model used a chain lift, pulled to the flat top and dropped riders backward through the station and second downhill, through the single vertical loop.

Montezooma's Revenge at Knott's Berry Farm.

Vekoma Boomerang

Flashback, a Vekoma Boomerang at Six Flags New England.

In 1984 Vekoma debuted its Boomerang shuttle roller coaster, which uses a chain lift behind the station to launch the train. In addition to the original Boomerang, Vekoma also designed the Invertigo or Inverted Boomerang, and the Giant Inverted Boomerang. As of 2021, 55 Boomerangs have been built, and three similar models; Invertigo, Giant Inverted Boomerang and the Junior Boomerang.

LIM-launched roller coasters

In 1996 Premier Rides debuted the first roller coasters ever to use linear induction motors (LIM)s to launch the train, and in 1997, opened Batman & Robin: The Chiller at Six Flags Great Adventure, a pair of dueling launched shuttle roller coasters.

Superman: Escape from Krypton, an Intamin launched roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain

In 1997, Intamin introduced it's Reverse Freefall Coaster. In this model, the train is accelerated out of the station along a long, level track using linear synchronous motors (LSM), rises straight up a vertical tower, then free-falls back down to return to the station. The two operating reverse freefall coasters are Tower of Terror II at Dreamworld and Superman: Escape From Krypton at Six Flags Magic Mountain, both of which first broke the 300 foot and 400 foot barriers.

In 1998, Intamin introduced its first impulse coaster, Linear Gale at Tokyo Dome City in Japan, which featured inverted trains traversing two vertical towers. In 2000, Intamin introduced Superman Ultimate Escape with a spiral tower and one vertical tower. Intamin introduced Wicked Twister in 2002, a variation with two spiral towers. With each pass through the station the train accelerates faster and travels further up the towers.

Family and wooden shuttle roller coasters

Although many very small shuttle roller coasters have been built, such as those form Heege Freizeittechnik, family shuttle roller coasters didn't appear until 2011, when both Vekoma and Gerstlauer built their first.

At IAAPA 2012, Great Coasters International showed off their new wooden shuttle roller coaster concept. Switchback at ZDT's Amusement Park, created by Gravity Group, is the world's only operating modern wooden shuttle roller coaster, with an 87 degree vertical spike and rollback.

See also

For a list of all the shuttle roller coasters on this wiki, see Category:Shuttle roller coasters.


Roller coaster types