Playland announces “Canada’s fastest launch coaster” (and don't worry, the wooden one isn't going anywhere)

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      Thrill seekers, rejoice: a new roller coaster will be coming to Playland in 2024. 

      The as-yet-unnamed new coaster is being touted as “Canada’s fastest launch coaster,” according to a press release from the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE), and will be built by amusement ride company Zamperla. 

      “We are thrilled to be providing Canada’s fastest launch coaster to Playland,” Zamperla CEO Antonio Zamperla said in a statement. “It will be that attraction that takes thrills to the next level at playland.”

      Zamperla had previously built the Skybender ride for Playland.

      The new 380-metre coaster will have an “opening tunnel, 18 metre first drop, airtime hills, helices and sweeping turns.” The ride will seat 12 passengers at a time, and feature a launch acceleration of 1.3G—making riders feel about 30 percent heavier. 

      “We spent a lot of time talking with PNE about ride placement and ensuring that the experience will perfectly compliment the park’s current line-up of rides and attractions,” Zamperla said.

      “The experience” is due to replace the steel star of Final Destination 3, Corkscrew, which shuttered in 2018, though unlike its predecessor the coaster won’t include any inversions. (For reference, Corkscrew was 730m long with a 21m maximum drop—so the new kid on the block is going to be shorter and faster.)

      Launch coasters use mechanical devices—in this case, linear synchronous motors—to rev the train up to high speeds, allowing it to cruise over hills without the need for lift systems. 

      PNE President and CEO Shelley Frist said in a statement that the coaster represents Playland’s success in the face of adversity. 

      “Despite the best efforts of the COVID pandemic, the PNE has displayed its resiliency and innovation by not only surviving the pandemic, but by pivoting our business throughout it to emerge in a place to invest in this spectacular ride,” Frist said. “This is an incredibly exciting day.”

      Currently, Playland boasts three roller coasters: the family-friendly Bug Whirled and Kettle Creek Mine Coaster, and the iconic Wooden Roller Coaster.

      While “Canada’s fastest launch coaster” sounds impressive, take the wording with a grain of salt. 

      Currently the only launch coaster in the country is the Backlot Stunt Coaster at Canada’s Wonderland, which goes from 0 to 68 km/h in three seconds, for an acceleration force of 0.6 G. (That means riders move at about 60 per cent of the speed you’d go at if gravity provided all your acceleration, e.g. getting dropped out of a plane with no parachute.)

      The 1.3G force of the promised coaster could mean going twice as fast in three seconds. Or going slightly faster with a much shorter period of acceleration. 

      There is one other launch coaster in Canada in development: a kids’ coaster at Canada’s Wonderland that will top out at 50 km/h, due to open in 2023.