What these two have in common is that they’re inverted coasters built by B&M (Bolliger & Mabillard). Montu, located at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, opened in 1996 whereas Banshee, located at Kings Island in Mason, OH, opened in 2014. Both are notable for being record setters. Back in the day, Montu was the tallest and fastest inverted coaster ever built, a record long since broken, and Banshee currently holds the record for longest inverted coaster.
Layout, Elements and Theming
Both Montu and Banshee feature out and back layouts with multiple inversions. Montu, themed after an Egyptian god of war, stands 150 feet tall with 3,983 feet of track while Banshee, themed after a spirit from Irish mythology, stands 167 feet tall with 4,124 feet of track. Both operate with three trains seating four across in eight rows for a total capacity of 32 riders and both contain 7 inversions. (The restraints are over the shoulder harnesses; Banshee’s are tighter than Montu’s but that’s fine with me, as I’ve rarely felt as secure on a coaster as I did on Banshee.) Montu’s inversions include, in this order, a vertical loop, Immelmann, zero-g roll, batwing, vertical loop and corkscrew. Banshee’s inversions include, in this order, a dive loop, vertical loop, zero-g roll, pretzel knot, vertical loop and inline twist. Additionally, Montu features a tunnel and trenches. As a result of these enhancements, in this category Montu comes out somewhat ahead.
A ride on Montu begins with a turn out of the loading station and ascent of a 150-foot chain lift hill. Upon reaching the top, the train drops 128 feet to the left, immediately ascending to a 104-foot vertical loop, reaching its maximum speed of 60 mph. It then swoops perilously – and deliciously – close to the ground, going through a tunnel and up into an Immelmann. This is followed by a zero-g roll and batwing. A batwing is a wonderful element under any circumstances, but in this case especially cool because the train drops into a trench prior to completing the element. From the batwing the train ascends to the block brake, drops into another trench and navigates a 60-foot vertical loop. From that point it makes a turnaround to the right, swoops close to the ground and swings around (see featured image), with riders fairly flying along. It then goes into yet another trench before navigating a corkscrew and making a turn into the final brake run. It’s quite a ride.
And the winner is…Banshee. This was a very tough call because both coasters are exceptionally good as well as remarkably similar despite the fact that one is 23 years old and the other is only 5. (This would suggest that there had been no significant advances in inverted coaster design during that 18-year period.) Batwing, pretzel knot – even these are similar. If I were to go by the scenery, Montu would come out ahead, but Banshee has attributes which counterbalance any advantage gained by the landscape. While both coasters are equal in terms of rideability, I find that Banshee surpasses Montu in intensity and theming, especially intensity. The forcefulness of the initial drop is unparalleled on any invert I’ve ridden while the inline twist nails it. Both coasters pack a punch but Banshee strikes me as somewhat more dynamic. Videos courtesy of Busch Gardens Tampa and Kings Island.
What’s your take? Have you ridden Montu and Banshee and if so, which do you think is better?