Space was the challenge Gerstlauer faced when designing a coaster for one of their most recent projects, the Monster at Adventureland Park. The plot of land housed their log flume, which had been at the park for decades. In that time it had become a park-goer favorite, but it had also proved to be extremely difficult when it came to getting new parts or having the ride serviced. Molly Vincent, the park’s Director of Advertising, said the following when the Monster was announced, “The Log Ride has been a park staple for decades — tens of thousands of photos, screams and splashdowns have been had on this ride, but all great things must eventually come to an end. We know that this was a fan (and personal!) favorite. The Log Ride is over 40 years old, and while still structurally sound, technology for rides has advanced by leaps and bounds in that time period. It is requiring an enormous amount of upkeep and maintenance that isn’t feasible long term.”
When the Gerstlauer team designed the new coaster for the site they had to work around a lot of issues, one of the most difficult being the plot of land allotted for the new scream maker. The majority of the area around the log flume was existing pathways and infrastructure, so there were only a few areas where this boundary could be breached.
“It was a challenge to work with the relatively compact area and the sky ride crossing it. But challenges are also fun and usually lead to interesting layouts. To be honest, sometimes I just have good ideas for layouts and this project worked out nicely. For coasters, when I start designing them, the track just ‘flows’ naturally and it is easy to design the layout,” said Gerstlauer engineer Andreas Simonis.
The difficult balance Andreas and the design team had to face was making the ride fit and making a GOOD ride fit. The new coaster utilized Gerstlauer’s famous vertical lift and beyond-vertical drop, but also had to offer a nice balance of elements. In addition to real estate being a problem the coaster had to work around the existing sky ride. This was no easy feat as the sky ride cut right through the middle of the ride area. The Gerstlauer team managed to work around it and ended up crossing over and under the sky ride in eight different locations! This certainly added a new level of excitement for those who were used the sky ride to get from one side of the park to another.
The ride’s signature element ended up being the Negative-G Stall Loop, an eye-catching inversion that Gerstlauer debuted in 2015 on Power Park’s “Junker” roller coaster. It features a rise into a hill, a sharp, twisting dive to the right and traditional vertical loop essentially stretched out to offer additional “hang time” in the inversion. The extended negative is the closest that many riders will get to experiencing what it feels like in the cockpit of a fighter jet.
The ride features a total of 5 inversions after the initial 133-foot first drop. The final three come in rapid succession. An airtime hill takes riders up and over the sky ride, the vehicle dives into an Immelmann, flips right side up going under the sky ride, offers significant hang time in the Dive Loop and then speeds up and over the sky ride into a corkscrew for the ride’s finale.
In addition to being difficult to design the coaster was not easy to install. Franz Maier, Gerstlauer’s technical expert in the field, worked with Adena Corporation, who erected the ride, to make the ride erection work. Each part of the sequencing had to be planned so that they could still get the crane in and out of the ride area because erecting some areas before others had the potential to box in the crane or other parts of the ride. It took a lot of team work, but the plan worked to ensure that the erection process went as smoothly as possible.
While some of Adventureland’s attendees may still miss the log ride, it seems that a great number of them have forgotten that it got caught in the grips of the Monster. The coaster opened on June 4, 2016 to guests who were camping out in the parking lot in order to take some of the first rides. The rapid fire combination of 5 inversions and a 101-degree first drop has park-goers and roller coaster fantastic thrilled with the experience.
The Monster is Adventureland’s largest investment in the history of the park and was truly a collaboration between the park, Gerstlauer, and the Adena Corporation. We hope you can go for a ride during your next visit to the Midwest!