Volcano The Blast Coaster

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Volcano: The Blast Coaster
Volcano The Blast Coaster (Kings Dominion) entrance.jpg
The sign and ride.
roller coaster
USA.png
Kings Dominion
Location Doswell, Virginia, USA
Status Defunct
Operated August 3, 1998 to 2018
Cost $20,000,000
Replaced Smurf Mountain
Haunted River
Statistics
Manufacturer Intamin
Designer / calculations Ing.-Büro Stengel GmbH
Type Steel - Launched - Inverted
Model / product Suspended Catapult Coaster
Riders per train 16
Propulsion 2 LIM launches
Height155 feet
Drop80 feet
Top speed70 mph
Length2757 feet
Inversions4
Steepest drop90°
Duration1:10
HELP
Volcano The Blast Coaster's Logo.jpeg

Volcano: The Blast Coaster was a launched inverted roller coaster located at Kings Dominion in Doswell, Virginia, USA. Opened in 1998, it was the first launched inverted roller coaster and the only one to complete a full circuit until the opening of Battlestar Galactica in 2010. It was the fastest inverted coaster when it opened as well as having the world's tallest inversion. It was located in the Safari Village section of the park.[1][2]

History[edit | edit source]

The volcano that the ride was built in and around has existed since 1979 and a number of attractions were set inside the mountain before the volcano existed, such as Smurf Mountain. The huge fiberglass structure first was home to three attractions that made the park's Lost World section. The main attraction, an Arrow Dynamics log flume first known as Haunted River occupied the mountain's interior. The attractions would go on to operate for 16 years before closing for good in 1995. The next year, Flight of Fear opened near the vacant mountain.[3]

Around the same time Flight of Fear opened, Intamin would develop their own LIM inverted coaster to compete with Premier Rides. They would introduce two new inverted launch coaster models: an Impulse Coaster (shuttle) and a Suspended Catapult Coaster (complete-circuit).

Paramount, the owner of the park back then, released a five-year plan for the park from 1994-1999. The plan called for a Nickelodeon-themed kids area (now Planet Snoopy), Flight of Fear, and Top Gun: The Jet Coaster. Top Gun would've been a B&M Inverted Coaster like Montu at Busch Gardens Tampa and Flight Deck at California's Great America. But the company declined the project and went to nearby Busch Gardens Williamsburg instead to build Alpengeist. Kings Dominion then approached Intamin, contracting the company on their Suspended Catapult Coaster model. But instead of being Top Gun-themed, it instead was slated for the park's Smurf Mountain, and would be volcano-themed.[4] Kings Dominion is the only former Paramount park that did not get a Top Gun coaster.

Starting in the fall of 1996, all three attractions inside and around the volcano were removed to make way for the ride. Kings Dominion began teasing the attraction, with August 1997 the day where the ride would be announced.[5]

On August 1, 1997, Kings Dominion announced that they would be adding Volcano The Blast Coaster. It would be a prototype Suspended Catapult Coaster by Intamin.[6]

As part of development, all traces of the attraction's predecessors were removed. In order to build the ride, several holes would have to be sliced into the mountain, much like Wonder Mountain's Guardian at Canada's Wonderland. The mountain was gutted on the inside and the summit was lopped off. The opening was then modified to allow a train to pass through. Soon enough, the mountain was transformed into a volcano. Part of Haunted River's flume was left next to the ride's post-ride gift shop, at the base of the volcano.

An ovierview of the ride

Following multiple delays, the attraction opened on August 3, 1998.[1] It was the only Suspended Catapult Coaster ever built. It smashed Alpengeist's record for fastest inverted coaster, at 70 mph, was the fastest launching coaster in North America at that time, and featured the world's highest inversion, a 16-story roll out that looped out of the volcano's crater. It was an instant hoot with thrill junkies, and was proudly proclaimed by the park as, "Virginia's only active volcano." Guests waited up to 5 hours to ride Volcano The Blast Coaster. The ride would remain wildly popular with guests from opening until its demise.

During the first year of operation, Volcano did not have an LIM boost during the ride. This resulted in the coaster's trains often failed to crest the first inversion, and rollbacks were frequent. In order to ensure that the ride could make it over the roll out, Kings Dominion ran the trains with only half capacity; only eight people got to ride on one train as it had four seats.[7] During the 1998/1999 off-season, Volcano was upgraded with a second launch between the roll out and first turn. In addition, the trains returned to normal capacity.

For the 2003 season, the restraints were repainted black. They were originally yellow.

On June 23, 2006, a train rolled back down the track, and the riders were hit with shards of metal that flew as one of the launch systems was badly damaged. Fifteen riders had to be rescued and two were injured, one suffering a contusion in his arm and a cracked skull. The injured ones were later taken to the hospital. It was determined that the train that had passed before the hit one had loosened some of the steel that held the launch track in place, and when the second train passed, it dislodged a fragment of the launch, sending metal shards hurling at guests. Volcano remained closed for three weeks after the incident before returning to operation on the grounds that the incident was the result of human error and not faulty equipment.[8]

Maintenance was a hassle with Volcano. The unique design of the ride, coupled with the prototype launch system, made replacement parts very hard to come by. Most had to be made overseas at Intamin's plant and shipped to the park for assembly. In addition, the mountain made accessing the higher points on the coaster tricky; workers had to zipline from the mountain summit to the desired track.

In 2014, the queue line was updated with a new loading station. At that point, riders passed through the old separate loading station.[9]

By 2018, Volcano The Blast Coaster suffered extreme technical difficulties. The coaster operated for a few weeks during the season. The coaster last operated in July 2018. The ride had been operating intermittently, and no comment was made on the closure. Kings Dominion frantically tried to get the coaster back online. Volcano was testing a couple of times. However, the mountain had several holes, as too much stress was put on the track. Re-tracking the ride wasn't an option, as the uniqueness of the coaster made new track segments difficult to come by. The park ordered a replacement coaster for Volcano, but to no avail. According to Kings Dominion, the ride had reached the end of its service life. In order to keep it running, they would need to spend an exorbitant amount of money and redo the whole ride from scratch, similar to what Universal's Islands of Adventure did with The Incredible Hulk Coaster.[10] But the park did not possess the resources needed for such an enormous undertaking. They knew this ride was a fan favorite, but rebuilding the coaster became far beyond their resources.[11]

On February 8, 2019, during the off-season, Kings Dominion announced that Volcano The Blast Coaster would no longer be in operation. Park fans were shocked and devastated at its removal.[12] By June, everything was demolished, as well as the mountain. A section of track, a car and signage was donated to the National Roller Coaster Museum.[13]

Design[edit | edit source]

Volcano: The Blast Coaster required 5,000 horsepower and 5 megawatts of power to launch each train.

Elements

Ride experience[edit | edit source]

Volcano used a first-of-its-kind launch system to propel the train to 70 mph in just seconds. The loading station was housed inside the mountain, in an almost cave-like structure. After departing the loading station, riders made a 90 degree turn and approached the LIM launch, where the train launched from 0-70 mph 3.7 seconds. The coaster made a broad, sweeping, 200 degree turn to the left before reentering the volcano and being boosted by another LIM launch, accelerating the train from 45 mph-65 mph in 1.5 seconds. The second launch would lead directly into a 155 foot tall roll out. The coaster turned left and entered a series of banked curves and three heartline rolls, the first being 140 feet, the second being 125 feet and the third being 113 feet, meant to reduce monotony, before dropping 80 feet into the mountain and hitting the brakes.

Color scheme[edit | edit source]

Volcano The Blast Coaster had a yellow track and maroon supports.

Trains[edit | edit source]

3 trains with 4 cars per train. In each car, riders are arranged 2 across in 2 rows for a total of 16 riders per train. Riders were held in by over-the-shoulder restraints.

Rollbacks[edit | edit source]

Like Intamin's Accelerator Coasters, including Xcelerator at Knott's Berry Farm, Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point and Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure, Volcano would occasionally be subjected to rollbacks down the ascent through the volcano structure. This was especially true during the coaster's first season when the lack of a second launch forced Kings Dominion to make drastic changes to the ride's capacity. Following the addition of the second series of LIMs, rollback frequency was decreased. Most that did occur happened in early morning, when the electromagnets were just beginning to return to operation after a night of idleness. Due to the dual launches and first turn, most rollbacks took several minutes to fully resolve. Often, the train would have to be wheeled into the station and repeat the course.

Facts[edit | edit source]

  • During operation, eruption sound effects, timed to coincide with the inversion out of the volcano's summit, played in the queue. A fire effect on the mountain also was added during the ride's early years.
  • Volcano: The Blast Coaster serviced around 18-20 million riders during its lifetime.
  • The fire that erupted from the mountain top would occasionally, if conditions were right, produce hovering smoke rings that would instigate UFO sightings. This caused the ride to be featured on the news. Similar rings have been observed above other coasters to use flamethrowers, like Bizarro at Six Flags Great Adventure.
  • It has been rumored that the massive amount of disrepair that the coaster fell into at the end of its life prevented Kings Dominion from having riders get their final rides on Volcano.
  • After the ride closed, Kings Dominion gave fans permission to turn the former entrance into a memorial for the ride. Within five days of the park's 2019 season opening, the entrance was turned into the largest makeshift coaster monument ever. A larger, more permanent memorial is rumored to be built in the near future, much like Son of Beast at Kings Island.
  • The gift shop is one of the only remnants from Volcano: The Blast Coaster.
  • Volcano: The Blast Coaster only appeared during the Winterfest event in 2018. However, the ride did not operate at all due to its mechanical flaws.
  • Contrary to what many coaster fans believe, Volcano: The Blast Coaster is not the only full-circuit inverted launch coaster. Battlestar Galactica at Universal Studios Singapore is a dueling coaster with a launched inverted and launched sit-down side, both complete-circuit. The same is true of Dueling Dragons, another Intamin build. Both inverted sides use LSM launches instead of LIM launches, however.
  • Many plans have been laid for a replacement for the ride; originally a Bolliger & Mabillard Wing Coaster seemed planned for the site. But later documents reveal an S&S Worldwide 4-D Free Spin coaster planned instead for the site of the nearby HUSS Top Spin The Crypt, which closed nearly a year after Volcano. Currently, there is no replacement planned for the coaster's former site.

Photo Gallery[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

Highest inversion on a roller coaster
August 3, 1998 – May 10, 2013
Preceded by
Viper
Highest inversion on a roller coaster
August 3, 1998 – May 10, 2013
Succeeded by
GateKeeper
Fastest inverted roller coaster
August 3, 1998 – May 5, 2002
Preceded by
Alpengeist
Fastest inverted roller coaster
August 3, 1998 – May 5, 2002
Succeeded by
Wicked Twister