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Knott’s Heir to Corkscrew Is Sure to Boomerang

<i> Times Staff Writer</i>

A roller coaster that turns riders upside down six times will replace Knott’s Berry Farm’s 14-year-old Corkscrew, which turns them upside down just twice.

The new ride, as yet unnamed but known generically as “the boomerang,” is scheduled to open in 1990, according to Knott’s spokesman Stuart Zanville. It will be built in the same area as the pioneering Corkscrew, which was the first modern coaster to perform upside-down revolutions. The Corkscrew is scheduled to close Sept. 17.

Manufactured by Vekoma International of Holland, boomerangs have been built in at least four other amusements parks in the United States and Canada and in other countries around the world, according to such roller coaster authorities as Paul L. Ruben, editor of RollerCoaster! magazine.

As described by Ruben, the ride begins when a train is pulled backward up to the top of a 45-degree slope. The train is then catapulted through a heart-shaped “double barrel roll,” in which riders are turned upside down twice. They then enter a separate upside-down loop and ascend a second slope. From that point, a height of more than 100 feet, riders are shot through the whole sequence again--backward.

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“I enjoy the boomerang very much but can’t ride it more than about three times in a row without feeling a little nauseous,” Ruben said. “The double barrel backwards is particularly harrowing and disorienting.”

The ride is comparable to but bigger than Knott’s Montezooma’s Revenge, a more jolting coaster than the Corkscrew, he added.

Zanville, who has not ridden a boomerang but confirmed Ruben’s description, said: “Vekoma tells us (the boomerang) has the tightest loops and turns of any roller coaster, so there are very, very rapid changes in direction, which are supposed to be extremely exciting.”

The total cost of the new ride, including installation, has not been determined, Zanville said.

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Canada’s Wonderland--an amusement park near Toronto that opened a boomerang called the Bat in May, 1987--paid $3.7 million, a Wonderland spokesman said. The Corkscrew, opened in May, 1975, cost Knott’s $1 million.

The Bat lasts about two minutes and packs a top speed of 50 m.p.h., Wonderland officials said. The Corkscrew lasts one minute and 15 seconds and hits up to 32 m.p.h., Zanville said.

Plans are under way to sell the Corkscrew, Zanville added, though a buyer has not been named.


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