Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Blast From The Past - Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom's Vampire

Editors note: I apologize for the quality of these photos, they were taken with my then brand new, top of the line Minolta SRT201 1.6mb digital camera. Digital sure has come a long way since 1999.

The removal of Chang and talk of the revival of Six Flags relocation plan reminded me that this isn't the first time a coaster was removed from the park and moved to another Six Flags.

The first "victim" of the plan was The Vampire, a standard 1st generation Vekoma boomerang. The Vampire was built in 1985 at Nanhu Amusement Park in China. Simply called The Boomerang, it suffered from low ridership, because for some odd reason park patrons thought it was haunted.

The coaster was purchased in 1989, by then owner Ed Hart. The Vampire opened with Kentucky Kingdom - The Thrill Park in 1990. Located in the front of the park, near the Pirate ship, The Vampire was the "Big" coaster for several years.

Over the years the Vampire suffered many malfunctions and under went many modifications.

It operated at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom through the end of the 1999 season and was dismantled in December of 1999.

The Vampire didn't sit in Kentucky for very long, it was trucked to Six Flags New England. After many upgrades, a new 2nd generation Vekoma train, a new paint job and a new name, it opened in May of 2000 as Flashback. Of note is the fact that it's still operating in Massachusetts.

Vekoma introduced the Boomerang coaster in 1981, with the first one being built at Reino Aventura in Mexico City in 1984.

No longer a modern marvel, the boomerang is still thrill to ride. It's simplistic design and small foot print offer up some pretty big thrills. The standard boomerang is one of a very few coaster models that riders can experience going through a loop backwards.

The train is towed up a 45 degree incline and then dropped. It travels through the station and into a boomerang element, through a vertical loop and up a track nearly parallel to the first incline. The train is towed to the top of the tower, then released and then riders get to experience the course backwards.

To quote Vekoma's website, "It seems such a simple concept: the train runs the track once forward, then runs it backwards again. Two completely different ride experiences on the same track! It saves space and money without sacrificing the thrill."

There are currently 43 standard Vekoma boomerangs operating worldwide, making the it the most cloned coaster ever built. And, even today, the boomerang is still an open production model.