Rowdy Bear Ridge Adventure Park opens world’s first CoasterKart
Rowdy Bear Ridge Adventure Park, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, has installed the CoasterKart, the world’s first installation of the attraction developed by Josef Wiegand. The track system of the CoasterKart is similar to that of Wiegand’s AlpineCoaster. The difference lies in the electromagnet mounted underneath the CoasterKart’s two-seater vehicles, which glides tightly over metal plates via its own rail and thus drives the vehicle in a contactless way, allowing for a weather-independent and quiet operation. Rowdy Bear Ridge Adventure Park is owned and managed by Lisa and Mark Williford.
The CoasterKart installed in Pigeon Forge comprises a 620 meter (2,034 foot) long track built on a terrain with a gradient of over 15 percent. In the two-person karts, whose speed can be interactively controlled by riders via a joystick and can reach a top speed of 25 mph (40 kph), guests rush along the track passing through two tunnels. At the end, a kind of final launch section makes for a surprising element. Currently, the attraction operates with seven karts; in the long term, a capacity increase to a total of twelve karts is planned. Unlike the AlpineCoaster where two riders are seated in-line, the CoasterKart has the two seats positioned side-by-side. Rolling on a raised stainless steel track, the attraction boasts an hourly capacity of 500 and is operable year-round.
“The CoasterKart brings a new type of interactive experience to the market,” contends Mark Williford. “Almost like a ‘turbo’ throttle, the Kart can accelerate without the need for downhill gravity. The coaster is appealing to a wide demographic as the customer can control the speed and accelerate. And with the user control variable, the customers want to ride over and over.”
In Europe, there are also CoasterKart projects underway, with one currently under construction in Wales. According to Wiegand, an installation on the roof of a football stadium is also being planned.