Monday, April 30, 2012

Scott and Carol Present: Leviathan at Canada's Wonderland

Don't let the bright sunshine fool you, we awoke to snow flurries and had grave doubts that a steel coaster would be able to even run due to the cold. We were very relieved to see coasters testing all through the park from a neighboring McDonald's. The highest temperature during the media day was 44 degrees Fahrenheit, or 6 .66 degrees Celsius. A big round of applause to the maintenance staff at Canada's Wonderland who keep the rides operating in these low temperatures.

Here is the skyline view from outside the parking lot before we got close to the sign. You can see the steepness of the first drop and how the track stretches from one end of the park to the other. Guests standing in line to buy tickets will hear the roar of the train every one and a half minutes on a normal day.

The Medieval Faire section of the park is where the Leviathan station is located, and the bright colors nicely frame the fountain. There is something about being in an amusement park early in the season, when everything is pretty and fresh, that adds to the park experience.

The design and execution of the sign/fountain, was done entirely in house, according to Norm Pirtovshek, the Vice President & General Manager of Canada's Wonderland. "They built me a model, and I asked them if they could do it 16 feet wide and 10 feet tall, on top of a fountain. They assured me they could, and they are amazing fiberglass molders, and pretty good with an airbrush too." We think most park visitors will agree.

The back side of the dragon has a drawing of part of the track, which is done to scale. It was so cold that day we were expecting the fountain to freeze, but it never did. The Leviathan in mythology is a fire-breathing sea serpent, the eyes light up at night and vapor spurts from his nostrils. We could have used some of his fire breathing today.

A few details about the coaster are incorporated into the retail shop. The important figures are 306 feet or 93.3 metres tall, and top speed of over 90 mph or 148 kph. We were old that on the Leviathan Media Day the weather reduced the top speed by 12 kph to about 84.5 or 136 kph, not that we noticed. Our wind chill chart does not go that high but just be aware that we lost feeling in our fingers midway down the first drop.

Norm Pirtovshek started at Canada's Wonderland 30 years ago as rides maintenance manager. "The placement of the ride was set to disperse the crowds, he says, because we were thrill heavy in Action Zone. My favorite part of the ride is the first drop. I also appreciate how close the ride is to the midways, to help entertain the guests who don't ride." So when you see Norm in the park, feel free to say high and mention that you saw him on News Plus Notes. He also wanted us to mention Dinosaurs Alive, their new family attraction.

Here a train of auction winners begins the first drop. The First Riders Auction raised over $41,000 for the Sick Kids Foundation, which works with local Toronto hospitals. None of them were reported as suffering frostbite, and the screams of joy indicated their lungs were working just fine. Leviathan is restricted to riders 54 inches and taller.

In a departure from recent B & M giga coasters, the seating arrangement is four seats straight across, which speeds up the lines for both the front and back seats considerably. Each train seats 32 riders, and with no seat belts, around 1600 guests per hour should keep the line moving constantly.

With so many airtime hills, the ride provides many thrills along the way. The long left curving dogleg extends the longest float during the ride, at least on this day.

The overbanked turn by the front gate signals beginning of the return run back to the station.

Leviathan has limited interaction with Dragon Fire, the old Arrow/Huss multilooper. The return run pops up above first loop before the diving brake run just outside the station.

Here a group of riders is nearly to the top of the first floater hill following the first drop.

Looking though the first loop of Dragon Fire, you can see the front seat rider's legs are still high from the negative g force of the preceding airtime hill.

So with $28 million Canadian dollars, Bolliger & Mabillard has built their tallest coaster yet. The 16th coaster for Canada's Wonderland, the only park worldwide with both a 230 foot or 70.1 metres, and also a 306 or 93.3 metres, there is no longer an excuse not to get a passport and visit the Great White North for some good coaster riding.

Editor's Note: Here's a cool video of Scott and Carol taking a spin on Leviathan! If you're wondering about the amount of air-time to be found on the ride, make sure to pay attention to Scott's legs! ~ Mike