Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Knoebels Debuts New Custom Steel Roller Coaster: Impulse

Impulse from the adjacent midway.
Saturday April 25th, 2015 marked the opening of one of Knoebels Amusement Resort's largest ever projects, a brand new, custom designed steel roller coaster named Impulse.  To say the park and its guests were excited is a great understatement, and despite temperatures hovering around 40 plenty of people showed up hours before the ride was set to debut.

A unique view of the ride once the sun came out!
Eventually the skies cleared and the sun warmed riders who swarmed the new coaster, creating a long queue - much to the delight of the park, no doubt.  In a show of true Knoebels dedication, crews worked late into Friday night to finish up the station and queue areas, with Impulse having already received the State's official sign off.  Scott, Carol and I were able to meet up for the ride's premier, which started early in the day with a first rider auction.

The first-rider auction winners on the first train out!
Knoebels is a true family destination, and so it makes sense that they would support Florida's Give Kids The World with the funds raised in the auction.  Twenty four seats were auctioned off, filling the first three trains out of the station.  In the end the event raised an impressive $7,325 for Give Kids The World, which provides lodging, entertainment and park tickets to families with ill children while they are in Orlando.

Riders heading up the lift hill.
Impulse is an especially special project for Knoebels since it is the first big ride constructed under the leadership of the "next generation" of Knoebel family members, including Dick Knoebel's sons Brian and Rick and Buddy Knoebel's son Trevor.  The new leadership team made quite a splash with their first big purchase, going all in on a modern steel roller coaster.  At the ride's opening the team described shopping at IAAPA for the perfect ride and encountered manufacturer Zierer.

Scott was able to speak with Rick Knoebel about the process of selecting Zierer as the ride manufacturer, how Impulse's colors were chosen (simpler than you'd think!) and also more on the ride's cars.

Taking the plunge!
To fit Impulse into Knoebels' layout, a couple of older attractions were retired.  By utilizing the large areas consumed by the Bumper Boats and Boat Tag, the new coaster would fit in perfectly.  Its compact layout can be easily seen from both the park's entrance road and parking areas, drawing in guests as they arrive.  The back portion of the coaster actually directly borders the entrance road - I wonder if the park will find that cars will slow down to watch Impulse in action!

Completing the vertical loop.
From what we heard in Rick's interview above, it sounds like several ride manufacturers were considered before the park ultimately contracted with Zierer.  The Germany company has many rides in Europe, and is still breaking into the North American market - at least in terms of large coasters.  Two of their more noticeable projects in recent years in the U.S. include Wicked at Lagoon and Verbolten at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

These riders appear to be having a blast!
Naturally with such a large ride opening a representative from Zierer was on hand.  Scott was able to speak with Martin Weichselgartner, Managing Director at Zierer:

As you can tell from this interview, Zierer is very excited about possibly expanding into the U.S. with more rides - and after seeing their recent creations I would agree.  The company was able to create a perfect ride for Knoebels, unique and thrilling but still family friendly.  Best of all, Impulse has a 48 inch height requirement so a huge portion of the park's guests are able to ride if they like.

A close look at the trains.
In Scott's interview with Martin he spoke about a recent redesign of the bogey wheels, which lead to the extra smooth ride experience.  Here is a close up photo of the design, showing off the bogey wheels which can pivot, allowing them to keep in contact with the track and thus smoothing the ride.

Impulse was exceptionally smooth, and with the comfortable restraint system the ride experience is top-notch - I can't stress that enough.

Another interesting item pointed out by Scott, the lift motor is mounted vertically instead of horizontally.  The perimeter of Impulse is fenced off, but you can still walk the outside of it which allows for some neat views of the ride mechanics.  It also doesn't hurt when you are taking photos of the ride - I posted on social media that Impulse loves to be photographed, and I meant it.  When the sun is out the ride's bold colors pop beautifully.

The cobra roll greets riders after the drop.
As for the ride experience, as stated earlier it is thrilling and smooth and perfectly fills a gap in Knoebels' already stellar ride catalogue.  Impulse uses eight seater trains, two rows of four per car.  The lift hill is vertical to save space, and the cars climb to 98 feet above the ground in no time.  There's barely time to take in the view of the mountain in front of you before the trains dip and dive straight down, reaching 55 miles per hour.

The vertical loop.
Next the trains head through two separate inversions during a large cobra roll that faces outward toward the entrance road.  After zipping through the element, riders are once again turned upside down in a classic vertical loop.

Comfortable restraints, even in this element.
After three inversions in a rapid-fire succession, passengers get a few moments of relief in the form of a large fan turn that points trains back 180 degrees.  Another helix follows that, though in the opposite direction.  The twists and banking are fairly extreme, but due to the smooth ride and comfortable trains it is almost hard to notice.

The final inversion.
There's still one more inversion on Impulse near the end of the ride, an extended in-line twist that gives some tremendous hang time.  A 540 degree helix ends the ride and then the trains hit the silent brakes.  The ride stretches 1,975 feet in length from start to finish.  Here's a short video of the ride in action on opening day.

Many thanks to Knoebels for having the NewsPlusNotes team on hand for the ride's opening - a perfect start to their 79th season.  After taking a spin on Impulse we already know the park has a hit on their hands.  This Summer is sure to be a busy one as word of Impulse spreads!  This season also features other changes such as a new LED show on the Ferris wheel, the return of Power Surge, the 30th anniversary of The Phoenix and a 4th train on Flying Turns.

Knoebels recently debuted a new website, perfect for planning your own trip.  Check it out!

One final shot of Impulse at Knoebels.