Arrow Development. Arrow Dynamics. S&S Arrow. You probably know the name of the company and its products, but do you know the story behind them?
American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) will release its “The Legacy of Arrow Development” documentary film this Friday, and we had the chance to preview the roller coaster documentary that details the history of the amusement-industry legend.
UPDATE: Watch The Legacy of Arrow Development below (our review is below the video):
After watching the video, I recommend you clear some time in your schedule this weekend. You’re gonna want to watch this.
The documentary is roughly 70 minutes long, but it doesn’t feel like half that. It’s well paced — presented as a timeline from the company’s humble beginnings to its final days working on X at Six Flags Magic Mountain.
The meat of the documentary, however, is everything that happens in between. The highs Arrow celebrated and the lows they endured made for possibly the wildest ride in the film.
Although I was familiar with Arrow’s significance in the coaster industry and their many creations prior to watching, I was unaware of the company’s gritty history.
I was unaware that the company faced much adversity getting off the ground in the beginning. I didn’t realize how large of a role Walt Disney played in Arrow’s early success (and survival). I did not know that the company essentially created a rival by helping Vekoma.
I won’t ruin all the factoids and surprises. Trust me, there are a lot of them packed into the show. It might even be worth a second viewing to catch it all.
I also enjoyed the interviews (both current and archival) with people who worked for Arrow and those who dealt with the company and its products.
The interviews with Arrow employees’ family members were especially touching. Their stories painted a picture of amusement-industry visionaries who worked not to gain fortunes, but to create innovative and memory-making attractions.
I appreciated the filmmakers’ focus on not only Arrow’s coaster designs, but their other rides that also played pivotal roles in the company’s success, such as the log flume.
The Legacy of Arrow Development may not be a “tear jerker,” but you can’t help but feel sorrow for the company’s struggles. And the high dose of nostalgia in the archival footage of their past attractions (I’m looking at you, Big Bad Wolf), will evoke bittersweet emotions.
But the documentary doesn’t end on a depressing note. Although they may not have survived the early 2000s, Arrow’s effects on the industry are still felt to this day, as the documentary so perfectly illustrates.
And while too many of Arrow’s famous creations have disappeared in recent years, plenty are still in operation. One is the first modern (and double) looping coaster, Corkscrew, which opened at Knott’s Berry Farm in 1975 and now lives on at Silverwood Theme Park.
This documentary is a must-watch for roller coaster enthusiasts. Even casual coaster riders (especially history nuts) will enjoy the show, especially the on-ride coaster videos.
The Legacy of Arrow Development will be released this Friday, Feb. 26, 2016, at 3 p.m. ET on the ACE YouTube channel. We’ll post it here once it’s live.
UPDATE: If you missed it above, watch The Legacy of Arrow Development.
Learn more about the documentary at the ACE website.
What is your favorite Arrow coaster, past or present? Share in the comments section below.