Yukon Striker roller coaster opens at Canada's Wonderland | News Coverage from USA

Yukon Striker roller coaster opens at Canada’s Wonderland

It’s all in the anticipation.

With the sight of twisted tracks rising high in the sky and the sounds of screaming passengers piercing the midway, roller coasters start playing mind games before park visitors even board them. Then, as riders slowly climb the initial lift hill, thoughts of “What have I gotten myself into?” race through their minds, their pulses quicken and adrenaline starts to pump.

Dive coasters, such as the new Yukon Striker at Canada’s Wonderland in Vaughan, Ontario (near Toronto), take the element of anticipation to an absurd extreme. Instead of immediately freefalling after reaching the top of the lift hill, their trains extend just over the edge of the first drop and come to a complete stop. Suspended for what seems like forever (but is really only a few seconds), passengers are left to hyperventilate and ponder over the madness that’s about to take their breath away altogether.

So there I was, wide-eyed with anticipation, staring down 245 feet into the abyss of the world’s tallest dive coaster and wondering what the heck I had gotten myself into. The over-the-shoulder restraint stoked my anticipation even more. The newly designed vest-like device offers a little give in the upper chest area. Suspended some 22 stories in the air and facing the ground on the 90-degree drop, my torso began inching away from the back of the seat. Yikes!

Then – finally – the train released and accelerated to 80 mph (making Yukon Striker the fastest dive coaster in the world) before descending into an underground tunnel that’s built into a lagoon. Feeding into the discombobulation, it looks like it dives into the water.

The disorientation continued with four train-flipping inversions, including a full 360-degree loop. Yukon Striker is the only dive coaster to include such a maneuver. It also offers two Immelmann inversions. Named after a WWII German flying ace, the element turns a train upside down, then flips it right-side up and sends it racing headlong in the opposite direction. At such extreme velocity, Yukon Striker’s inversions and G-forces felt especially intense.

With a running time of 3 minutes, 25 seconds and a length of 3,625 feet, the Canadian ride is also the world’s longest dive coaster. For its final chapter, the train hits a brake run, halts and descends 90 degrees down a shorter second drop, and navigates around a 360-degree helix.

In addition to its world records, Yukon Striker is the only coaster at the park to feature 90-degree drops, and the only one with floorless trains. The extra-wide trains contain three rows of eight riders. The passengers that sit in the two seats on either end of the cantilevered cars’ rows (as I did) have no track as well as no floor beneath them. With their legs dangling and nothing shielding them, the experience is unnerving for riders.

Yukon Striker is the park’s 17th coaster, which is the most for any park in the country and the second-most for any park in the world. It joins giga coaster Leviathan and hypercoaster Behemoth as the park’s headliner thrill machines.

“This completes our trifecta of B&M coasters,” says Grace Peacock, director of communications for Canada’s Wonderland, referring to the signature rides. “B&M” stands for Bolliger & Mabillard, an attraction manufacturer based in Switzerland that is known for designing and building highly regarded coasters. “It is a world-class ride. Like the two others, it features B&M’s characteristic smoothness,” Peacock adds.

Indeed, despite its extreme height and speed, Yukon Striker delivered a ride experience free of any bone-rattling roughness. That allowed me to focus on the G-forces and the other thrill-inducing merits of the coaster.

The ride is the focal point of the new Frontier Canada land. It represents a return to the park’s roots as well as a storied era in the country’s history. “Frontier Canada was meant to be one of the original five themed sections of the park. But it got shelved,” explains Peacock. She says the park looked at old concept drawings and plans for inspiration. The coaster’s loading station is nicely themed with mining cars and a retro water tower that evoke the Klondike Gold Rush in Western Canada.

The station also features an intriguing new system designed by Canada’s Wonderland to accommodate passengers’ loose articles. Riders place their items in bins before they step into the train. Using an overhead conveyor system (similiar to those used by dry cleaners), the bins travel to the other side of the station and await passengers as they exit the coaster. It helps speed up the loading and unloading processes and keeps the articles secure. It also allows passengers to keep items such as mobile phones with them as they wait in line instead of having to place them in lockers.

 

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