In the ever-evolving world of amusement parks, roller coasters stand as iconic symbols of thrill and innovation. With the reimagining of Top Thrill Dragster into Top Thrill 2 at the forefront of theme park news, let’s delve into the world of roller coasters that have embraced change, and explore how technological advancements, creative refurbishments, and innovative designs have propelled other coasters to go from disliked to acclaimed.
Although the name Rocky Mountain Construction has become synonymous with roller coaster reinvention, today we are looking at non-RMC coasters that just needed a bit of attention to overcome their biggest flaws. Here are 5 of the best-improved roller coasters.
1. Phantom’s Revenge at Kennywood
Phantom's Revenge stands as a thrilling testament to the evolution of roller coasters. Originally opened in 1991 at Kennywood Park in Pennsylvania, USA, as the Steel Phantom, this coaster underwent a transformation that would define its place in history. The Steel Phantom was designed by Arrow Dynamics and quickly gained attention for its innovative inversions and high speeds. However, the ride's intensity led to mixed reviews and discomfort for some riders.
After minor attempts to improve the coaster, Kennywood Park decided to revamp the Steel Phantom. In 2001, the park collaborated with roller coaster manufacturer D.H. Morgan Manufacturing to overhaul the coaster, resulting in the rebirth of the ride as Phantom's Revenge.
The transformation was striking. The ride's inversions were removed and replaced with a sweeping layout filled with banked turns and airtime. While one may think removing elements from a coaster might lessen the ride’s excitement, this dramatic makeover not only improved the coaster's thrill factor but also its popularity.
The best element of the ride remains the 232-second drop as riders plunge through a neighboring coaster, Thunderbolt. Phantom's Revenge has continued to gain praise and remains a favorite of guests and coaster enthusiasts alike.
2. PowderKeg at Silver Dollar City
PowderKeg, located at Silver Dollar City in Missouri, USA, epitomizes the successful transformation of a failed attraction into a great coaster. Originally introduced as Buzzsaw Falls in 1999, the ride, designed by Premier Rides, combined a water flume with a coaster element, offering a unique fusion of two ride types. However, the ride experienced considerable downtime and elevated water costs.
In 2005, Silver Dollar City decided to overhaul the attraction in partnership with manufacturer S&S, resulting in the birth of PowderKeg. This renovation retained the steel coaster track sections and removed the flume elements. One of the most notable changes was the introduction of a powerful compressed air-launch system, propelling riders to a speed of 53 miles per hour in just 2.8 seconds. The coaster's layout was reconfigured to emphasize speed, airtime, and thrilling turns, making it a standout attraction in Silver Dollar City's lineup.
3. Hades 360 at Mt. Olympus
Located at Mount Olympus Water and Theme Park in Wisconsin Dells, USA, Hades 360 is a reinvention of the original Hades roller coaster. Originally opened in 2005 as Hades, this wooden coaster, manufactured by The Gravity Group, gained fame for its intense drops and a massive underground tunnel that transports riders beneath the park’s parking lot. Over the years, the coaster gained a reputation for being incredibly rough.
However, in 2013, the coaster underwent a radical makeover, becoming Hades 360. The defining feature of this transformation was the addition of an inversion—a 360-degree barrel roll—making it the world's first wooden coaster to include such an element. The coaster also received new trains and a significant retracking. The modifications have paid off immensely as Hades 360 has regained its title as being a favorite for those looking to ride a wild wooden coaster.
Carry on reading for roller coasters 4 & 5...