Coaster pretzel loops

Coaster pretzel loops

Loads of theme park coasters are absolutely innovative these days. Outstanding examples in this past month or so are Nemesis Relaunched, the new Hyperia at Thorpe Park and Top Thrill 2 at Cedar Park. Whist the latter was launched just a week or so ago the former is yet to be launched (date is 24th May) although it has so far undertaken numerous test runs. These coasters are all the rage at the moment, and there’s so many Youtube channels following the progress of these.

No-one can claim the 420 foot rise on Top Thrill 2 isn’t anything but. Its absolutely stupendous! The ride’s maximum speed is said to be 120 miles per hour! Its not a lengthy ride but more than made up for by the coaster taking two shots at the vertical rise. That is, it takes a run at the huge vertical section before dropping back right past the base station and up another vertical section, before attaining an even faster speed and soaring right over the top of the 420 foot rise.

Fox News’ presenter Kenny Crumpton rides Top Thrill 2 and ends up taking a second trip on it!

Hyperia in comparison couldn’t be more different yet its also a new type of ride. Its the UK’s tallest and fastest coaster featuring a height of 236ft and speeds of over 80mph. On one of the loops it delivers an almost Zero-G sensation! The section preceding the lift hill is unique too for its an outward airtime section – it forces the trains to lean sharply into the curve before straightening for the lift hill. There are some excellent inversions/loops which I shall discuss later.

One can spend all day writing about these various hyper coasters and I have many favourites. I was brought up on a diet of fun fairs and coasters and have enjoyed the use of UK fun fairs since long gone such as Battersea and the Kursaal Amusement Park. I’ve done several POV movies on the München Looping at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland. I did in fact write three posts on that ride some years back on the older versions of this blog. Hence its absolutely clear I keep up to date with theme parks and follow a number of Youtube channels on this. I’ve wanted to write about Hyperia almost from day one and have been following much of the progress of this stupendous ride on Youtube channels. Maybe I’ll get to Thorpe Park and sample it one day!

Anyhow I don’t think I’d be a good write on the merits of Hyperia. There’s so many doing a good job covering Hyperia that anything I wrote would pale into insignificance. Besides, I’ve also long wanted to discuss coasters in a different sense – including the feel that one gets riding these when watching POVs on Youtube. I don’t know if any others do get the actual sense of being on any of these coasters even though they are seated at home and not riding the real thing – in other words feeling the motion, the force of the inversions, the loops and even the pretzels.

And the latter is what I want to discuss. There aren’t too many coasters with pretzel loops. That’s a loop where the G-Forces give riders an ever stronger sense of flying. There’s Manta (Sea World Orlando), Tatsu (Six Flags Magic Mountain), and Superman (Six Flags over Georgia/Great Adventure). All of these are B&M coasters and the ones I’m most familiar with. Which of these is the best? Well for me it has to be Manta. What follows is a POV on Manta. I’m strict about POVs – the track ahead must be visible at all times on any of the coaster rides I watch!

Manta at Sea World Orlando POV. The last pretzel coaster to be built in the US and no doubt the best there.

The reason is the pretzel is right at the start and that leaves the excitement of the inversions for the second part of the ride. With Tatsu the pretzel is towards the end and the preceeding inversions do in my view deflate the sense one has in riding through that – even though its the biggest pretzel loop of any. Superman has the pretzel nearly at the start however I think its in the wrong location because the ride is meant to be about flying in the same sense as Superman would do. Thus it should be near the end (as the ride’s piece de resistance) and the one invert near the beginning. Nevertheless I think Superman Ultimate Six Flags Great Adventure has a touch more thrill than Superman Ultimate Six Flags over Georgia even though they are basically the same ride.

Superman Ultimate Six Flags Great Adventure POV ride.

I think in a sense if a coaster has a pretzel loop, it needs to be strategically placed where it can give the maximum thrill but not take away from the remainder of the ride. Manta is the only one that can do this! Similarly there’s Acrobat at Nagahima Spaland in Japan although I think the lack of features along the ride does sort of reduce the speed sensation it offers.

It must be said that Flying Dinosaur at Universal Studios Japan does offer a trick the others don’t have! In that respect it really is the best one! It does have an inversion before the actual pretzel loop but that’s where it differs. That first inversion takes it into a partial pretzel loop and the the next, the full proper pretzel loop, is preceded by a swing to the left instead of a direct run at the pretzel itself, so the pretzel loops are in fact enhanced by these moves and the whole ride sustains a quality of thrill throughout. (Unfortunately I can’t embed the video in question which is why there’s a link instead!)

Back to the notion that one can indeed ‘feel’ these coasters (it doesn’t matter whether they have pretzel loops or not) this is something I certainly can do. In other words I can ‘sense’ the ride’s motion – and in fact give my body the sense it’s rotating through the inversions or round the loops and so on. It took a long time to achieve that. One way to look at this would be to for example, if one gets a certain feeling from some experiences such watching Youtube videos where people are at a great height with a huge drop below (like climbing a building for example). Well, the sensation that one gets does really occur – its far greater than butterflies in the stomach! One can train the body to react to the various coaster turns and loops in much the same way!

Thorpe Park Hyperia banner - it simply says Hyperia Find your fearless - and the background is a mass of orangey-gold colours.

Now this is why I really like Hyperia which is Thorpe Park’s new hyper coaster. Its because it has a lot of elements that have been seemingly placed in all the right spots which would offer an exceedingly great POV ride. It has a twisting vertical drop. There’s an Immelmann and a stall loop! Certainly the coaster’s creators have thought long and hard about which element should be where and the amount of thrill each would offer without taking away anything from any of the following elements. Whether that will turn out to be the actual case remains to be seen as the ride hasn’t even had its public launch yet – but I am sure many will find it to be just that! Some are saying Hyperia will deliver 100%. I shall be watching the first POV rides on Youtube to confirm what I am thinking!

The topping of the new Hyperia ride at Thorpe Park with a UK flag and a Thorpe Park flag unfurled at the top of the ride to mark the occasion. A good bit of the theme park can be seen in the background including the lake and a crane that lifted the final top bit into place.

The topping out of Hyperia at Thorpe Park March 2024. Twitter/X.

As for the subject matter of this post – which is about pretzel loops – Hyperia also has what can be described as a relation of the pretzel loop – known as an Immelmann Loop. With Manta, Superman, Tatsu, the riders have to be vertical hence these three coasters require the rather unusual arrangement of lifting the riders into a horizontal position because otherwise, if it was a normal coaster running through a pretzel a lot of issues would arise including the integrity and safety of the riders because riding upside down in a back to front loop isn’t the usual thing!

With Hyperia this isn’t such an issue because as mentioned, its a non inverting Immelmann Loop. Its not a full Immelmann loop for the cars only turn partially (according to Coasterpedia its a Junior Immelmann). Its part pretzel but no more than that and its the part an ordinary sit down coaster can tackle without any specialist arrangement being necessary. The first ride to have an Immelmann was Speed Monster at Tusenfryd in Vinterbro, Norway – and other rides have since followed this style of loop. Hyperia is of course the first in the UK to have this – and its going to be far superior to other similar rides!

All the pretzel loop coasters are in the US, Japan or China. The UK hasn’t any of course. It has some great coasters no doubt and Thorpe park offers the thrill seeker a great choice of rides. Even so, Hyperia is a step ahead still in terms of thrills because for a start it offers a vertical rise plus an Immelmann Loop. In terms of UK coaster development its a significant step.

Non-inverted Immelmann confirmed in this Tweet/X post by Jack Silkstone.

Below we can see Hyperia’s non-inverted Immelmann loop. Nevertheless there are those who applaud the fact the UK has taken up a new ride with properties that is to all purposes and intents an Immelmann – and its claimed Thorpe Park itself merely says ‘Immelmann’ – which has led to coaster forums debating whether its an Immelmann or a non-inverted Immelamn! The park’s blog however agrees its a non-inverted Immelmann & confirmed in a post dated 13th February 2024. The Immelmann is evocative of a pretzel too, and one can see elements of that on the Hyperia although not in any complete shape or form.

Jack Silkstone’s film of Thorpe Park’s Hyperia behind the scenes includes a close up of that non-inverting Immelmann loop section.

Jack Silkstone’s behind the scenes film of the new Hyperia also includes close up shots of the train entering what is slightly evocative of the start of a pretzel loop. Its the next bit after the ride’s official Immelmann loop and then the outward airtime hill – and its a Zero G stall. In one Youtube video water is seen spilling out of the dummies as the rider passes through this section!

The main feature image is from Manta at sunset front seat on-ride 4K POV – as featured in the first video.