Knott’s Berry Farm opens first dive coaster in California


Billed as the first dive coaster in California, Knott’s Berry Farm’s new ride, HangTime, suspends riders at a crest before plunging them down a 96-degree drop.

And that’s just the beginning.

The new ride, at the park’s Boardwalk area, opened to the public May 18.

“It just was time for a big thrill ride,” said Rob Decker, Cedar Fair senior vice president of planning and design. “And the concept came up that, ‘Why don’t we look at the heritage of Southern California surf culture and celebrate that?’ It became a dive coaster that had great elements that all were really designed to just give people that impression that they’re riding the biggest wave they could ever find.”

The place to put the latest attraction was in Knott’s Boardwalk — where things liven up at night and visitors see bright lights, hear loud music and pick up on the beach culture of Southern California, Decker said.


Towering 150 feet over the Boardwalk area, HangTime takes riders 15 stories up a vertical lift hill and comes to a dead stop for about seven seconds before rushing down a 96-degree drop.

“When you are lifted up 150 feet and you come up to the precipice and you come over top and we just hold you in that position, as if you’re not already scared out of your wits, we just mess with you at that point,” Decker said. “And then boom — you drop — and not just a drop. We were able to get the drop to be 96 degrees, so not straight down, but it actually curls in. So you don’t even see the track when you’re up at the top.”

Jeff Gahagan, Knott’s Berry Farm’s vice president of maintenance, said it took more than 300 people, including contract and Knott’s employees, to get the ride ready for the public. Crews worked all hours of the day in rotating shifts.

“This ride took the place of two rides,” Gahagan said. “We took out Rip Tide in 2015 and that ride we completely took all the foundations out. This one, we took out Boomerang. And not only did we have to take all the foundations out for that, there were actually some foundations left over from the Corkscrew, which was the rollercoaster that was before the Boomerang. So we had to take everything out of the ground, take all the dirt out for the entire site up to about 5 feet down.”

Riders cruise at a max speed of 57 miles per hour through 2,189 feet of steel track and five inversions.

According to the park, HangTime is the second coaster in the Western Hemisphere featuring a negative-g stall loop, which gives the feeling of floating. Decker said movements are slowed down in the big loops, then sped up, then slowed down for a weightless feeling.

“So it has this sort of feeling like you’re cutting right into the face of a wave,” Decker said. “To me, it just felt like the right thing to do.”

Jessica Peralta is a contributor to Times Community News.