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March 17, 2005

Power Keg Launch Coaster Testing At Silver Dollar City

Article written by:
Eric Gieszl, Editor

Artist Rendering For PowderKeg Roller Coaster, Silver Dollar City
Riders fly through the Ozark Forest at speeds of up to 53 mph on the Powder Keg roller coaster. Enlarge

Powder Keg Launched Coaster Testing
Powder Keg launch coaster testing at Silver Dollar City. See more photos of the coaster testing here.

Branson, MO -- Silver Dollar City has begun testing Powder Keg, the park's all-new launch roller coaster that is due to open at the theme park in a couple of weeks.

Powder Keg shoots riders into a thrill zone within seconds of climbing aboard, launching them from 0 to 53 mph in just 2.8 seconds. Constructed within the forests of the Ozark Mountains and winding down a hillside, Powder Keg is a family thrill ride unlike any other in the history of the park. It combines launching speed with spiraling turns, negative gravitational or "G" forces, and "floater" hills to create a thrill ride of great magnitude.

"An air launch system like this is amazing - there is great launching speed yet virtually no impact on the environment," said Stan Checketts, founder and CEO of Powder Keg manufacturer S&S Power of Logan, Utah. S&S is the world's leading manufacturer of compressed-air rides and the largest ride manufacturer in the United States.

Checketts said Powder Keg is one of only three like it in the world that uses clean compressed air technology for incredibly fast and energy-efficient acceleration. "Unlike traditional mechanical or hydraulic systems, this technique runs cleanly, and the ride runs smoothly while soaring through the trees at speeds up to 64 miles per hour."

A $10 million project for the park, Powder Keg takes riders from the initial big blast up a lift to a 110-foot drop, into spiraling and dragonfly banked turns, through a wave of floater hills with negative G forces, giving riders the experience of weightlessness above the trees. As required by Silver Dollar City policy, only those trees that had to be removed were, with three additional trees planted elsewhere for every one removed.

Themed in the Real History of the Ozarks

In keeping with Silver Dollar City's internationally-awarded commitment to bringing the colorful history of regions to life, Powder Keg salutes the miners who worked in the great Marvel Cave, which is located below the theme park. In the late 1880s, tons of nitrogen-rich bat guano were hauled out of the cave's massive sinkhole using an archaic pulley system. The guano was taken by stagecoach and railroads to powder mills across the state and the country where it was used to make valuable black powder.

"The Powder Keg ride begins in a powder mill amid barrels of nitro-explosives that rock and tip," said Brad Thomas, general manager of Silver Dollar City. "As the nitro 'explodes,' the cars blast out of the building with special effects of fire and smoke shooting through the roof!" While the ride offers thrills, it has been designed to accommodate families. Anyone over 42 inches in height can ride, which is roughly a five or six-year-old, said Thomas, who cites guest surveys that resoundingly requested a family thrill ride as the reason for choosing Powder Keg.

A trip on Powder Keg lasts nearly three minutes and spirals around six acres on 3,500 feet of track. The ride carries more than 1,000 people per hour with 16 passengers per train. Silver Dollar City's Corporate Development team and the Maintenance & Construction Division are handling theming and construction.

See more photos of the testing of Powder Keg here.

Photos courtesy of Silver Dollar City and S&S Power. All rights reserved.

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