By Adam Sandy
The 1990's belonged to the roller coaster in United States amusement parks. The time period was dubbed the second "Golden Age" of roller coasters. Parks of all sizes bought everything from hyper coasters to small wooden rides to ensure that they had a coaster to market. With a downward shift in the economic climate at the beginning of the 2001 season amusement parks looked to balance their coasters with new types of attractions.
© 2003 Adam Sandy
However, two large problems arose. First, many large regional parks had built up their attendance bases so that they had trouble keeping the lines moving when they heavily publicized their new attraction. Many flat rides could seat several guests, but did not have a capacity that came close to matching a coaster's hourly throughput. Second, many parks had trouble adjusting their marketing concepts to fit a flat ride. Many had used the superlative approach to advertising for the last decade (biggest, fastest, longest, tallest, etc.) and had trouble creating a campaign around a flat ride that was not immediately eye-catching, even though they gave a good ride.
Huss Maschinenfabrik of Bremen, Germany noticed a void in the flat ride market and worked to fill it. The concept they unveiled in 2001 was the Giant Rides. Bob Dean, V.P. of Sales and Marketing for Huss, said, "We asked our clients, what new products and ideas would you like to see? Most said they were searching for something unique, highly marketable and be within a more reasonable price range."
Delirium is a powerful ride that sends 50 outward facing riders on a continuous ring with their legs dangling free in the air - spinning madly at the bottom of a giant arm that swings back and forth up to 137 feet in the air. Riders spiral in a 240-degree arc between 2 o'clock and 10 o'clock.
Height of Support Tower:
Height at Full Swing:
8 per minute
1 minute, 40 seconds
April 12, 2003
HUSS, Bremen, Germany
Two of these, the Giant Top Spin and Giant Frisbee, were super-sized versions of existing Huss rides. The Jump Squared was a larger, improved version of the original Jump while the Delirium was an original ride. The first corporation willing to try the new rides was Paramount Parks. For the 2002 season they installed a Giant Top Spin at Kings Island. The attraction was enclosed and themed to Tomb Raider: The Ride. Paramount was so happy with the success of the Giant Top Spin that they ordered a Giant Frisbee for Kings Island and a Jump Squared for Canada's Wonderland.
An article in the November 18, 2002 issue of Amusement Business, the leading amusement industry newsweekly, read, "The park now has 12 roller coasters and for 2003, Kings Island officials wanted a non-coaster thrill ride that would have its own marketing legs. It also wanted a ride that had a huge presence in the park and that had a large capacity. Enter Huss again with its Giant Frisbee, and again park officials felt it was the exact ride that was needed. To be located in the Thrill Zone area of the park, Delirium will have a strong presence and will be constructed so that the spinning gondola will fly over the midway. People will be able to walk under the ride as it swings overhead to a height of 130 feet."
While the Giant Frisbee, dubbed Delirium by the park, was the first Giant Frisbee built, it represented a pinnacle of twenty-five years of ride development. Huss debuted the Pirate Boat, purchased by the Bembom Brothers, in April 1978. This was their interpretation of the classic swinging ship ride. In 1994 they updated the concept and debuted the Frisbee, the first was owned by German showman Rudolph Robrahn. The company grafted a large spinning disc on the bottom of a swinging pendulum. The result was a popular ride that was successful on the German fair market. In 1995 the first park model Frisbee appeared at Everland Park, South Korea. Towards the decade's end Huss went through corporate changes. While the company's primary market had always been the German carnival industry they felt that amusement parks worldwide was where future profits lay.
During the 2000-2001 time period the company developed its line of Giant Rides. According to an article in Amusement Business Huss sold its Environmental Technique Division, which gave it the working capital to afford the research and development in a new breed of flat rides. While there had been some other super-sized attractions, such as Nauta Bussink's Evolution and the Soriani & Moser Top Star Tour, none had been marketed as anything but a flat ride that was a little larger than average. Even Intamin's Gyro Swing (the Maelstrom at Drayton Manor and at Lotte World) and Mondial's Revolution (the Psyclone at Paramount's Canada's Wonderland) had been pushed as standard rides. Huss gave all of their rides different marketing and theming concepts to allow potential customers to understand different ways to achieve a calculated return on investment.
The new Giant Frisbee had several differences from its predecessor. It swung 50 passengers up to 120 degrees (137 feet), while the old version only swung 40 guests up to 90 degrees (63 feet). In addition, the guests faced outwards as opposed to the inner looking ring the original Frisbee utilized.
Delirium opened to the public at Paramount's Kings Island on April 12 behind an advertising campaign that described the ride's actions as "being caught in the heart of a storm." Guests lined up to experience the next generation of thrill rides and loved the end result. Screams of fear turned to joy as they rang out over Kings Island's Action Zone. While Tomb Raider: The Ride was a good experience, the fact that it was indoors hampered the ride's visual impact on guests. Delirium was out for all to see in the middle of the Action Zone area of the park.
The ride on Delirium is an exhilarating experience. Before boarding guests are divided into two groups of twenty-five on either side of the ride vehicle. They are led out by a ride operator and board. Like the Giant Top Spin the seats are built and attached to the ring in groups of two and feature a similar over the shoulder restraint. After all riders are secured a large hiss of air is heard and the floor falls away in eight pie-shaped wedges. Shortly thereafter the disc starts spinning and the powerful pendulum goes higher and higher with each swing. After only a few arcs the ride is spinning riders perpendicular to the ground and thirty seconds later the ride is at full power.
Riders shout intermittently as they experience the unique change from looking straight up at the sky to diving towards earth. The disc's rotation, slower than on the standard Frisbee, is enough to keep guest's views constantly changing but doesn't elicit any feelings of nausea. Once at full swing the ride reaches 76-mph and 4.5 G's when it bottoms out. However, guests are treated to unique hang time as the Giant Frisbee reaches the apex. Here they float, seemingly in suspended animation, and look out over the park. The Son of Beast wooden roller coaster, Drop Zone freefall tower and the Eiffel Tower observation tower all are seen from a unique perspective- nearly upside down. The disc continues to rotate and riders are plucked from the sky and feel their stomach drop as if they are on a roller coaster. Here they experience -0.5 G's as they plummet back to earth.
After swinging impressively for almost two minutes the ride's cycle starts to end. After flying to the top of the arc the next swing only takes riders up to the ninety-degree mark and the next one barely swings over the ride's lighted sign. After a few gentle swings the arm stops moving and riders are returned exactly where they began their journey. A hiss of air is heard, the floor raises, the restraints are released and riders leave with large, contented smiles on their faces.
Delirium is a landmark attraction in the history of flat rides. It combines the intensity and wild experience associated with the rides of the German fair scene with the marketability and visual impact traditionally associated with a roller coaster. The flat ride of the Twenty-First Century has arrived and it is called the Giant Frisbee.
You can try Delirium for yourself by taking a trip to Kings Island.
Photos by Adam Sandy, copyright © 2003 Ultimate Rollercoaster.
Delirium logo courtesy of Kings Island. All rights reserved.