"It's Big, It's Fast, It's Wicked," proclaims Lagoon, but after experiencing it it's also worth adding, "It's Fun!"
Last summer, Lagoon just north of Salt Lake City introduced to the public their newest thriller, a one-of-a-kind launched steel roller coaster named Wicked. While it may not be in same league as some of the well-known record breakers, the Wicked roller coaster certainly does set a new standard for Lagoon.
"This is a one-of-a-kind coaster, there is nothing like it in the world," says Dick Andrew, Executive Vice President of Marketing.
For a traditional amusement park, Wicked is a big attraction and it's obviously the biggest in Lagoon history.
Before we hop on board Wicked, a few things should be said about the park.
Lagoon is a "traditional amusement park" that dates back to the late 1800s. The park has actually been at its current location in Farmington since 1896. When visiting Lagoon, you'll find a midway that runs the length of the park with an assortment of attractions directly on or branching off the midway. The park's Merry-Go-Round with 45 hand-carved horses has been making the rounds since 1906. While most are of a smaller variety, Lagoon's eight roller coasters offer plenty of fun and there's even a classic "out and back" wooden coaster from 1921 named simply – Roller Coaster.
Lagoon's newest roller coaster, Wicked, is wedged into a corner of the park and bordered on one side by the venerable Schwarzkopf looper, Colossus The Fire Dragon.
One of the positive things about Lagoon is that you're probably not going to have to wait hours to try out Wicked as evidenced by a rather short queue. They're not trying to set any records for a queue maze here.
Inside the station, riders board a two-car train, each car sporting a single row with four seats across. Once seated riders are secured by a comfortable lap bar restraint.
If you're accustomed to the safety blanket of a bucket style roller coaster car, this may be too unnerving for you. Wicked's trains are designed with cars that have open sides, nothing in front of you and elevated seats for an unobstructed view.
After a quick safety check by one of the operators you're set to go.
As the train rolls away from the loading platform what's to come is hidden from view inside the dimly lit building. The track reveals nothing as it veers off to the left where you cannot see.
Leaving the traditional lift hill start out of this setup, Wicked's manufacturer Zierer instead opted to get this roller coaster rolling with a much newer technology. The slow familiar climb up an angled hill, is instead replaced with the same technology that rocketed the first roller coaster riders to the milestone 100 miles-per-hour a decade ago.
Linear synchronous motors or LSMs are responsible for propelling Wicked into action. Of course, technology like this isn't cheap. Lagoon had to break the bank, investing $10 million for this state-of-the-art launched coaster.
There is little to anticipate on Wicked. After you round the 180-degree turn to the left all you see is the track changing direction and heading straight up before you.
With little notice the LSMs kick in sending the train rocketing up out of the tunnel at 60.7 feet per second. As you head straight for the moon, a second set of LSMs on the launch tower fire and propel you even faster up the launch tower or "top hat" element.
If you're not screaming yet, you will be as the train reaches the top of the eleven-story tower, cruises over the top and begins a 90-degree freefall.
That second set of LSMs on the launch tower keeps the momentum going. By the time the cars reach the top there still is speed to burn and as the track bends over the top the momentum forces you up and out of your seat (it feels like an ejection) for a moment of joyful roller coaster bliss. The airtime at the top and as you begin the descent down the opposite side of the launch tower is absolutely thrilling or horrifying depending on who you are.
While many launched roller coasters offer little more than one-trick, Wicked keeps on delivering long after the blast off. Some may argue that Wicked actually offers a superior ride experience in comparison to the launched coasters that are four times higher and more than twice as fast.
Descending from the 110-foot launch tower there is a list of exciting elements that have been included in the 2,051 feet of tubular steel track.
If the airtime at the top of the launch tower wasn't enough there is a second pop at the bottom as the train now traveling 55 miles-per-hour jumps over a speed hill. Approaching the boundary of the park, the trains come into a near inverting turn called the Immelmann, which forms one end of Wicked's double out and back layout.
If you feel like you're floating through this inversion you're probably right. The point of the Heartline is to roll the train 360-degrees horizontally at top of a hill with no gravitational forces acting on the riders.
After a 180-degree turn above the station, you enter the block brake zone. Not bad for the first half of a roller coaster.
A short dive follows before entering one of Wicked's more unique portions called the Half Pipe. Here the designers placed two back-to-back Half Pipe elements that have the train weaving back and forth and turning at the crest of a steeply angled hill. From the sidelines the train mimics a skater in a half pipe.
Wicked concludes with a turn around a man-made pond and then dives into a tunnel before coming to a smooth stop in the brake run. Launch to brake run, Wicked is a little over a minute of continuous thrills.
Lagoon started the 2007 season with high expectations for Wicked and so far it seems it didn't disappoint.
"We anticipate that Wicked will be well received by the public and that 2007 will perhaps be our most exciting season ever," said Andrew at the start of the 2007 season.
Is it exciting? Absolutely! While not the tallest or fastest, Wicked is one of those roller coasters that makes you want to jump back in line to ride again. That says a lot and it's certainly a good reason to make the trip to Farmington to experience Wicked for yourself.
Height: 110 feet
Descent angle: 90°
G-force: 4.85 G's
Top speed: 55 mph
Length: 2,051 feet
90-Degree Ascent and Descent, Zero-G Roll
Two LSM Launches
Number of Vehicles:
6 - 8 passenger cars
June 1, 2007
Wicked logo courtesy of Lagoon. All rights reserved.
Photos taken by Eric Gieszl, copyright © 2007.