Although most roller coasters currently in development will be made of steel, theme parks all over the world still offer wooden roller coasters for riders. Wood coasters like Kings Island's "The Beast" and Cedar Point's "Gemini," both in Ohio, are still popular among park guests for their authenticity, ride atmosphere and enjoyment. There are several other characteristics of wood coasters that make them preferred over their steel counterparts.
Wooden roller coasters are amusement park staples. They offer a rickety ride that preceded the steel variety in theme parks across the country. Wooden coaster enthusiasts enjoy the rough ride and the feeling of being jostled around on the tracks. To many, these coasters represent a part of theme park history that can still be enjoyed by today's coaster enthusiasts. Many wooden coasters in today's theme parks have been around since the 1950s. In fact, the "Leap-the-Dips" coaster at Lakemont Park in Pennsylvania has been operating since 1902.
Cost of Materials/Inspections
One advantage of wooden roller coasters over steel coasters is the cost to build them. Wood is cheaper than steel, thereby making it a cheaper way to create a thrill ride. However, wooden coasters typically require more maintenance. According to ThemedAttraction.com, all roller coasters are subject to daily inspections. But on wooden roller coasters, technicians are able to walk the entire track, checking for loose nuts and bolts and any other irregularities, attending to the ride with a more hands-on approach. This differs from steel coasters, as technicians cannot walk the entire track and must use binoculars to check for potential hazards.
In general, steel roller coasters are taller, longer, faster, smoother and more thrilling than wooden roller coasters. But wooden roller coasters can also be engineered with similar intensity. For instance, Cedar Point's "Mean Streak" in Ohio features a 161-foot drop and 5,400 feet of track. The "El Toro" coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey is an 181-foot tall wooden coaster that reaches speeds of 70mph. It's the only wood coaster in the world to feature a 76-degree angle drop.
The majority of wooden roller coasters are designed to be fun and less intense so that they can be enjoyed by riders of all ages. Compared with steel coasters, wooden coasters generally don't feature large drops, vertical loops, sections of upside down track and intense speeds so they can be enjoyed by more than just the thrill-seeking crowd. Wooden coasters are one of the oldest means of theme park entertainment and continue to be enjoyed today's riders.