Wooden roller coasters haven’t evolved and spawned off as many sub-genres and types as steel coasters have in the past few decades. But in recent years, elements like 90-degree banking and smooth steel-like rides have started to change the story. Nothing would be as genre bending as another new looping wooden coaster, but should woodies have loops or just stay in their proverbial lane?

This may be somewhat of a rhetorical question as Rocky Mountain Construction seems to have plans for a looping wooden coaster already, but I know that there will be a variety of opinions on the matter. A while ago Scream Scape mentioned this article that references Rocky Mountain Construction’s ability to make a looping woodie:

According to Rocky Mountain, “We will be building cars we think will be revolutionary for the industry.” They go on to state that the combination of their new track and cars will be able to allow a wooden coasters to perform inversions, a feat no one has tried since Son of Beast at Kings Island.
Spokane Journal via Scream Scape

Son of Beast Kings IslandAnd perhaps, to be more accurate, the title of this post should be: “Should Coasters With Wooden Supports Have Inversions?” Because, if RMC has designed a hybrid like the New Texas Giant, then those steel rails technically make it a steel coaster, not a woodie.

Didn’t They Try This Already with Son of Beast?

I never got to ride Kings Island’s Son of Beast, but I do know that it’s reputation hasn’t been the greatest. The massive woodie that used to have a steel vertical loop, has been plagued by issues, but I don’t think they were a result of the ride’s loop. I’d love to hear from people who have ridden it.

My Take – There’s Room For Different Types of Woodies

There are many that don’t like El Toro and other prefabricated coasters because they are too similar to steel coasters, so I know that there are plenty of wooden coaster purists out there that would probably like nothing but classic woodies and their direct descendants. I say that there’s room for different types of wooden coasters. I think that there will always be a place for a traditional wooden coaster. But, if a park like Six Flags Great Adventure wants to set some kind of speed or steepness record with a prefab, why not? And if Silver Dollar City’s rumored 2013 hybrid coaster successfully executes a corkscrew or vertical loop, then I say that’s great!

CoasterImage has more great photos and videos of Kings Island including pics of Son of Beast.

What do you say? Should a looping wooden coaster even be attempted? Leave a comment below and vote in this poll. Image courtesy of CoasterImage. [poll id=”74″]

About The Author

Founder of CoasterCritic.com. My favorite coasters are B&M hypers and gigas. I'm also a huge fan of terrain roller coasters.

30 Responses

  1. Cade

    Well, with Rocky Mountain at the helm of this new project, I feel more comfortable that it will be a success, at least I feel more comfortable with this than I did with Son Of Beast.

  2. Matt

    I voted yes as long as it is executed smoothly. I think Intamin pre-fabs are the perfect type of woodie to try creating loops on. They are smooth and laser cut perfectly. If RMC does do this, I hope it is a smoothly executed and non-painful inversion. I think they can do it, considering what they did to Texas Giant they can do many things.

  3. Jonathan Hawkins

    The loop was the one part of Son of Beast that was smooth as glass (it was also made out of steel). It was the sheer size of Son of Beast combined with apparently shoddy construction work and really heavy trains that undid it. I think inversions can certainly be done on wooden coasters, but I don't really see the point. It seems like the only reason to do it would be as a gimmick (look! looping woodie!), but as for the actual ride experience, it couldn't do anything that a steel coaster could do better.

    Then again, I've never cared that much about inversions to begin with. I much prefer woodies to steel, and there are no coasters with inversions in my top 10 favorite steel list.

    • The Coaster Critic

      Good points Jonathan. You're right it would be a gimmick move for sure and I couldn't imagine that it could be executed better than a steel coaster. And it's interesting how airtime has seemed to overtaken loops in many enthusiasts' top 10's.

  4. Atadritaata

    I think son of beast loop was removed because it was in a 218 feet tall coaster, i don’t think it had anything to do with the wooden structure. It was something like in phantom revenge, that they removed the loops.
    So i think a wooden looping coaster wouldn’t be a problem as long as it stands under the 200 feet mark (just like steel ones)

  5. dc

    Son of Beast was disappointing, to say the leas,t after the first drop. No airtime, bunny hops or other surprises. The most interesting feature was the loop, as well as the coaster's smoothest moments. At last it was better than The Beast, still the worst woodie I've ever ridden.

  6. John Grabowski

    I was fortunate to ride Son of Beast a couple of times, but without the loop. I'm not in favor of loops on wooden coasters, though I suppose if they could find a way to do a wooden loop, that'd be interesting. The Beast and Son of Beast are probably my favorite woodies – really great rides IMO though I can't say I'm an expert. New Texas Giant is amazing, but does so by being a hybrid. I hope Cedar Fair finds a way to re-open Son of Beast.

    – John Grabowski, Fort Wayne, IN

  7. swimfreak

    I have ridden son of beast after the loop was removed. It was a very intense ride even for me a wooden coaster lover. The hight lights (when I rode it) were deffenty the huge slanted helix as a the turn around point and the pure speed and hight it had. I rember sitting at the final bracks before the station just blown away. I would love to get another ride on SOB on it even if it dosent have the loop. Also, about the whole loops on woodies or no loops, I am all for hybrids haveing loops but i think clasic woodies should stick to airtime.

    • SolarPlexus

      I have to admit, even though I didn't care for Son of Beast, the Helix was pretty sweet.

  8. dc

    A better use use of SOB would dismantling it and let The Gravity Group recycle it into two smaller but really good coasters. Why is it that nearly every "record-breaking" coaster disappoints? (Millennium Force being the notable exception.

    • TF

      If they want to stop spending so much on maintenance costs, I'm not sure turning that thing into two Gravity Group rides will solve much. Yes, they'll certainly be more fun than Son of Beast ever had a chance of being, but King's Island will still be spending a lot on it. Great Coasters seems to have a much better record of reduced planned and unplanned maintenance. And a GCI (or two) would appeal to an audience larger than just the enthusiast community.

  9. Danny

    I've ridden Son of Beast twice, once with loop and once without. As mentioned previously… the loop was the smoothest part of the ride. It was jerky and intense but nothing like Space Mountain. I think the problem with SoB was a few people that shouldn't have been riding coasters because of pre-existing health conditions were riding. I still prefer The Beast though.

    • SolarPlexus

      The Beast is one of the Best Rollercoasters ever built and its over 30 years old!! I love that ride.

  10. SolarPlexus

    I Rode Son of Beast 2 times with the loop. The only reason I rode it a second time was to make sure my dislike for it was true. It sucked. Horrible rough ride. Normally I like Woodies. Even Mean Streak is pretty fun in its own twisted sort of way. I figure they need to revolutionize Woodies in different ways,like giving us the feeling of being out of control without beating the crap out of us.

    Fun article!!

  11. Emily

    I think a Wooden coaster with a loop would be interesting. I have not had very good expirences with wooden coasters(Georgia Cyclone is one of the only wooden ones Ive ridden) But I think a wooden one with a loop would be really fun. The only reason I don't like wooden roller coasters is the only two I've been on had one lap bar that went across both riders. Of course, the people I rode with were much bigger than me, and it was not fun almost flying out of the car.

  12. Paul Roig

    the new hybrid coaster in silver dollar city will have a loop and i think its a zero G roll. that's cool cause its my favorite inversion!!

    • The Coaster Critic

      Yep. I've heard the same thing. Not sure if we can say it'll be a loop for sure, there's a section that looks like its shaping up to be a loop. We'll see soon.

  13. Jack

    yes son of the beast finally is not the only woodie with an inversions

  14. Paul Roig

    new photos show that it doesn't entirely invert so it is more like an overbanked than a loop, like a stengel dive… its cool though

    • @mattmcirvin

      It sounds like it might be in that gray area in which people will be arguing forever over whether it's a real inversion or not! (What would coaster-enthusiast forums do without this kind of thing?)

  15. coasterfan

    I rode son of beast twice, both times with the loop. I had a great time. It was an awesome thrill and I would have to agree with some of the other posts. The loop was the smoothest part of the ride and I according to what I have read/seen, the loop was not the problem.

  16. Joey Till

    Well like you said this should be "should coasters with wooden supports have loops". Im interested in Rocky Mountian for sure trying this. But no other company. But Im not pushing it to much because if this would be the case that we would start finding multiple looping woodies or "hybrids" it would take away the thunder of the classics that are out there. Woodies are supposed to provide a classic rickedy airtime expirience.


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