Bolliger & Mabillard Files Patent for Stand-Up Coaster Restraint

Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M) may be planning to revive its stand-up coaster model. Last week, the Swiss coaster manufacturer filed a patent for a new “passenger restraint system for roller coasters” that is designed to keep riders in a standing posture. And the design may be headed to SeaWorld Orlando for a custom launch coaster — more on that later in the post.

To date, B&M has built only seven stand-up coasters, with the most recent being Georgia Scorcher at Six Flags Over Georgia, which opened in 1999. The company’s first coaster was a stand-up — Iron Wolf at Six Flags Great America, which opened in 1990. That coaster now operates with floorless trains as Firebird at Six Flags America.

Opening in 1999, Georgia Scorcher is the last stand-up coaster B&M built. Photo © Six Flags Over Georgia.

A summary of the patent describes the invention as a “passenger restraint” to “maintain a passenger in an essentially upright posture (standing) during a roller coaster ride.”

Riddler’s Revenge at Six Flags Magic Mountain

The document explicitly references one of the company’s existing stand-up coasters, Ridder’s Revenge at Six Flags Magic Mountain as featuring a similar “upright posture” riding position.

The new restraint design includes a “fixed column and a seat column.” The seat column is able to move vertically via sliders to be height-adjustable to fit passengers, as shown in the graphic below.

But more noteworthy is a hydraulic system that would allow the seat column to move up and down slightly during the course of a ride, which would significantly increase rider comfort compared to previous stand-up coasters.

This figure illustrates how the restraint would move vertically to accommodate the rider’s height while also moving up and down slightly during the ride, resulting in a more comfortable ride.

For the more mechanically-savvy, the summary further details the design:

The seat column is coupled to the fixed column by an articulated linkage, and the passenger restraint system further includes a device for balancing the seat column, which balancing device includes a cylinder fixed, at a first articulated end, to the fixed column and, at a second articulated end, to the seat column.

Like the company’s original stand-up coaster trains, the restraint locks in place once the rider is in a standing position. A saddle would protrude from the seat column between the rider’s legs.

The actual over-the-shoulder design should look familiar to B&M fans.

B&M’s vest-style restraint as seen on Wild Eagle at Dollywood. Photo © Dollywood.

The restraint is very similar to the vest restraint found on B&M’s newer models such as wing coasters as well as select inverted and dive coasters.

The newer vest-style restraints are designed to provide a more comfortable ride with less “head-banging” that sometimes plagues B&M’s traditional restraints.

The design would be a noticeable departure from the traditional restraints found on existing B&M stand-up coasters.

The patent states that the invention is designed to provide “suitable holding of the passenger while ensuring better comfort for the passenger during roller coaster rides.”

Is the new stand-up coaster model destined for SeaWorld Orlando?

Here’s where things get very interesting.

Earlier this year, multiple contractors filed liens against SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment for not receiving payments for their work. Since all of the company’s parks were closed during the first few months of the (ongoing) COVID-19 pandemic, there was no revenue being generated to make these payments.

What does this have to do with B&M’s new stand-up coaster?

In 2019, rumors circulated that SeaWorld Orlando was planning to build a “surf coaster,” a prototype coaster from B&M. Surfing of course lends itself to the standing position, so some believed that B&M might be reviving the stand-up coaster model, perhaps a new-and-improved version.

B&M’s lien for the “engineering design and fabrication of a custom Launch Coaster.” Courtesy of Orange County Comptroller.

But back to the liens. One of the many liens filed against SeaWorld was filed by B&M for a “custom Launch Coaster.”

Thunderbird, a launched B&M wing coaster at Holiday World.

If built, this would be B&M’s second in-house launch coaster, followed by Thunderbird at Holiday World (Incredible Hulk’s launch was designed by a third-party company). Another lien filed in June by another company requested payment for the design of a “penguin coaster.”

Custom launch coaster? Penguins? Surfing? Where does the stand-up coaster fall in all of this?

Time will tell if, when and where B&M brings the stand-up coaster model back to life. In the meantime, you can view the restraint design patent in its entirety here.

What do you think about B&M’s possible plans to bring back the stand-up roller coaster? Let us know in the comments section below.