Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Blast From The Past - Elitch Garden's Original Mr. Twister

Now considered a lost classic, when Mr. Twister opened in 1995, at the original Elitch Gardens outside of Denver Colorado it was considered a dud. The coaster’s name came from its two 360 degree turns and back then that was about all there was to the ride. It had a height of just under 72 feet and length less than 1800 feet. The hills were almost non-existent and one might say it was slower than a kiddie coaster.

The coaster was designed and personally supervised by John Allen of Philadelphia Toboggan Company to Budd Gurtler's (then Elitch Garden's president) specifications and constructed by foreman Frank Hoover. The superstructure and scaffolding of Mr. Twister was designed to intertwine with the 1936 Herb Schmeck/PTC Wildcat, making it nearly impossible for to riders to memorize either coaster’s layout, even the more experienced ones.

During the offseason, at the parks request, John Allen made a return trip to Denver upon inspection Allen discovered the 1st hill was angled at 42.5 degrees, rather than the 45 degrees that the design called for. After this error was corrected, the first hill was modified to include an almost 92 foot steeper drop. The double helix, some extreme curves and that legendary tunnel on the turn was also added. The redesign removed about 110' of existing track and an additional 1060' was added, which included the first two deep drops.

Mr. Twister became a classic and many considered it John Allen’s masterpiece, despite the fact that it was his least favorite. The park advertised that the ride didn’t "have a foot of straight track".

It was regularly rated as one of the top ten rides in the country until it stopped operating in 1994 when the park was relocated. Mr. Twister, which has often been imitated, but never duplicated, operated until the fall of 1994 and was SBNO until January of 1999.