What these two have in common is that they’re dual launch coasters manufactured by Intamin. Both reach a maximum speed of 70 mph. What they don’t have in common is that one (Volcano) is an inverted coaster – officially a suspended catapult coaster – and the other is a “blitz coaster” which rides on the track. Volcano, located at Kings Dominion in Doswell, VA, opened in 1998 and Maverick, located at Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH, opened in 2007.
Layout, Elements and Theming
Volcano, whose theme is obvious from its name, consists of 2, 757 feet of track wrapped around a manmade mountain and volcano. It features four inversions: a rollout and three heartline rolls. Maverick, with a western theme, boasts 4,450 feet of track in a more or less out and back layout. It features two inversions in the form of a twisted horseshoe roll. Volcano operates with three trains containing four cars with riders seated two across in two rows for a total capacity of 16 riders. Maverick operates with six trains consisting of four cars seating two across in two rows for a total capacity of 12 riders. Both coasters operate with over the shoulder restraints. (Maverick used to have hard restraints but these were switched to more comfortable soft restraints.) In this category I would be tempted to give Volcano the edge for its unique theme, superior height (155 feet as opposed to 105 feet) multiplicity of inversions and element of surprise (more about that in the section on ride experience). However, Maverick’s steep drop, longer track, overbanked curves and momentum more than compensate for the lesser number of thrill elements while the setting, over water, makes it more scenic than Volcano. Additionally, Maverick bears the distinction of being one of only 7 operating coasters to include a twisted horseshoe roll; it’s the only coaster in the USA to incorporate this element. In this category there is no clear winner.
A ride on Volcano begins with a left turn out of the loading station into a tunnel and onto the first launch track. Then boom! The train accelerates to 70 mph before making a 200-degree turn behind the mountain and entering the second launch tunnel. The second launch comes literally out of the blue, totally unanticipated, and that’s what makes it so good. Riders are blasted upward out of the volcano into a rollout during which the train is completely inverted. And I must say that finding myself flat on my back 155 feet in the air, looking up at the sky, was one of the more memorable and unique coaster experiences I’ve had. The rollout at that height was in fact the tallest inversion on any coaster until the record was broken by Gatekeeper in 2013. The remainder of the course consists of three heartline rolls high above the ground interspersed with more wide turns. An 80-foot drop into the brake run brings the ride to a conclusion.
A ride on Maverick begins with a dispatch onto the first launch track. The train takes off and upon reaching the top of the launch hill drops 100 feet at a daunting 95-degree angle, reaching a maximum speed of 57 mph. It then makes several turns – right, left, right – before traversing an airtime hill. Another turn leads into the twisted horseshoe roll. This is a wonderful element, nothing short of awesome. The twisted horseshoe is followed by a turn into a tunnel containing the second launch track. The difference between Maverick and Volcano here is that Volcano’s trains are launched simultaneously upon entrance into the second tunnel whereas Maverick’s enter the launch tunnel prior to being launched so that the launch is fully anticipated. At any rate, the train is launched to 70 mph and after exiting the tunnel, ascends a hill, then negotiates an overbanked turn. This is followed by a further turn which leads into a canyon – a nice, scenic touch – with an S-curve. Before the train enters the canyon, plumes of water shoot up alongside the track. The remainder of the course consists of two additional overbanked turns and an airtime hill. It should be noted that a ride on Maverick is a bit on the rough side; the same is true of Volcano.
And the winner is…Maverick. If one were to judge by the theme and thrill elements Volcano would come out ahead but in terms of the overall ride experience Maverick prevails. Volcano is a blast, both literally and figuratively, whereas Maverick is off-the-wall wild. Maverick’s tagline is “The Old West Was Never This Wild” and that about sums it up. It has more zip than Volcano and the pacing is spot on.
What’s your take? Have you ridden Volcano and Maverick and if so, how do you think they match up?