RailBlazer Coaster Announced at CA Great America for 2018!
This morning California’s Great America officially revealed their new attraction coming in 2018, RailBlazer. The ride will be a first of its kind RMC Raptor coaster, using a single rail design (at least, if they beat Six Flags Fiesta Texas to opening). Trains will carry eight riders seated inline with each other. The park had been teasing the new ride as “Project SR1” for the past several weeks, and we more or less predicted this would be it. The SR1 is a reference to the beautiful California Highway 1 (State Route 1) that runs down the Pacific coast, and a reference to “Single Rail 1”.
State Route 1- No
Steel Route 1- No
Steel Rail 1- No
Single Rail 1- Yes ?
— CA Great America (@CAGreatAmerica) August 16, 2017
Both park GM Raul Rehnborg and Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor spoke during the announcement, and emphasized that RailBlazer is the new kind of ride that the master plan for the park that was approved last winter allows (and allows to be built more quickly). They both praised this as being part of a new era for CGA.
“RailBlazer is a revolutionary roller coaster concept that will be an intense and exhilarating ride experience for our guests,” said Raul Rehnborg, vice president and general manager, California’s Great America. “In addition, it marks the company’s initial investment in the park following the City of Santa Clara’s approval this year of the new park master plan, and kicks off a multi-year transformation of California’s Great America into a world-class destination for everyone in the Bay Area and beyond.”
But now on to the good stuff, what will RailBlazer look like?
The main feature of RailBlazer is that single rail design, with riders straddling the track. Rocky Mountian Construction has been working on the design for a little while, and promoting a lot recently. A test track they built at their location in Idaho has shown what the track and trains look like in real life. As the press release from CGA states, “with a…single file train hugging the rail, the coaster will give riders an unobstructed view of the ground and air as they speed smoothly over the twisting track.”
Along with the unique rail and train design, the ride will feature a 90 degree first drop from a height of 106 feet. The trains will reach 52 miles per hour, with lots of heavily banked turns and airtime elements, as we’ve come to expect with RMC rides. There will be three inversions, including a 180 degree stall, a zero-G roll, and a dive loop.
One interesting little tidbit on the ride is that it will feature what GM Raul Rehnborg called a “silent anti-rollback mechanism” on the lift hill. The ARB is what makes the “clack clack clack” sound we’re used to on roller coasters. The sound comes from a part on the trains called a “dog” that clicks over ratcheting pieces on the hill (you can learn more about ARBs in our C101 post on lift hills). CGA construction manager Lowell Esposo explained to me that the RailBlazer trains will use a system where the “dog” is actually magnetically lifted up while the train is in operation, so it won’t click over the catches on the track. It only drops into place if power is lost (like from an E-Stop or a power issue). This is a unique feature CGA requested RMC include on their trains, since the park is generally noise sensitive due to its location in a pretty dense urban area.
Speaking of trains, we’ve been told the ride will use three of them, which hopefully will help with the limited capacity of the eight rider inline seats. We were told that they expect capacity to be in the high 600s riders per hour, which hopefully won’t be too crippling (at least after the early days of the ride). I’m also hoping there will also be a single rider line…
The park showed off sketches of the design, highlighting some of the features. The train design is reminiscent of a car, with front grill and bumpers, again tying into the State Route 1 theme. The three trains will be yellow, red, and green, and definitely look very open!
So with the train design clearly working into the theming, let’s talk a little bit more about that.
RailBlazer Theme and Design
As mentioned, RailBlazer is themed to the Pacific Coast highway, and is playing into it with the car design. The park described the theme as “reflective of an off-road adventure, with immersive sensory theming that embraces the great outdoors of the Bay Area and Central Coast.”
That means lots of mountainous looking terrain around the track. RailBlazer starts with a drop through a rock tunnel, has several sweeping sections over lakes, and includes low to the ground sections through rock trenches. The design is sort of reminiscent of Maverick at Cedar Point. The queue lines will also include water ways and rocky surroundings, along with trailhead signs marking the start of the trip. The overview video below shows the theming and landscaping pretty clearly, as well as the location of the attraction.
Interestingly enough the “Invertigarden” (the big grassy field where Invertigo used to stand) is not going away. Despite the common assumption that’s where the new ride would go, it sounds like RailBlazer is mostly going to take up the space where the construction walls are now. Impressively that means nothing really is being taken out to make space for it (except the RC boats). Rehnborg also told us that the area around the ride is going to get redone as well, with additional theming put in and improvements in the landscaping and such. This reminds me of what Six Flags Magic Mountain has been doing recently, using new attractions to also improve sections of the park. Rehnborg said they definitely plan to use a lot of the investment coming into the park for more than just rides, including doing re-design projects on the midways like this.
Railblazer is planned to open next Spring for the 2018 season, and we’ve been told steel for the ride should be on site in the next month or so. We’re hoping to see upward construction happening this year, and hopefully we’ll get a chance to see some of the work (maybe during WinterFest). For now, if you want to check out the full replay of the RailBlazer announcement, the CA Great America has it on their Facebook page here. Make sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest on RailBlazer and other 2018 announcements that are coming out today and in the coming weeks. Finally, you should definitely let us know in the comments what you think of RailBlazer (and if you’ve got any questions about it we can try to answer)!