Gliding on Glass
by susskins

If some coasters are like metal, and some are like waltzes, it stands to reason that some are like Electronica.  Enter the coasters of Bollinger and Mabillard.

B&M coasters are the hot sexy sports cars of the coaster world.  Ultra refined, smooth as glass, sensual and sinuous.  (Forceless, some say, but that's subjective.)  If you've ridden a coaster named Batman, you've probably ridden a B&M coaster.  Not all the Batman coasters are from B&M, but most are.  Check your local Six Flags.

lifthill1.jpgMr's Bollinger and Mabillard are responsible for a good many of the Inverted coasters in the world.  You can tell the Inverteds by their ski-lift style of trains.  Dangling under the track, feet swinging in the breeze, the fear of getting your ankles smashed by that beam just ahead that you can't POSSIBLY clear.  B&M coasters are also four-across seating, so they process people like mad.  That unfortunately makes the front row very desirable, because the view from the middle of the train is a little on the obstructed side.  And the view during your ride can make a huge difference.

I've never ridden on a B&M inverted, because I don't fit.  Tall folk with big torsos are just about guaranteed to have problems.  I can't even fit in their special FatBoy seats.  (There's always one in the middle of the train, with special restraints just for the gigantic.  Not special enough in my case.  Damn this genetic predisposition towards pizza and cheeseburgers.  And funnel cakes.  And blueberry pie.)

Inverteds aside, I love B&M coasters.  I've ridden Kumba at Busch Gardens Africa in Tampa, Florida.  lifthill2.jpgIt's a spectacular looper woven into the ground.  Loops, corkscrews, screaming tunnels, a neat element called a Cobra Roll, and some excellent head-chopper effects.  I've also ridden Hulk at Universal Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida.  A great launched coaster with the launch hill encased in a giant gun barrel.  Wicked fun, and my fiftieth coaster.  It's got a great roll-over at the top of the launch that drops you to your left and down simultaneously.  It's one of those gasping for air moments that I love.

One of the most frustrating events of my life was being denied a ride on Nemesis, a unique B&M inverter at Alton Towers in Great Britain.  Because of local restrictions, Nemesis was built half-buried in the ground.  It was the only way they could stay below the tree tops and not piss off the locals.  It was a huge pain in the ass, as it meant that the site had to be massively excavated.  And it turned into a huge benefit, because so much of the ride is spent ripping through tunnels and trenches, which really promotes the sense of speed.

fabiocoaster.jpg And I couldn't fucking ride it.  Arrgh.

Even so, it was a treat to watch.  It's like a giant toy train set that produces screams galore.

Take a look around when you're at a park.  If you see four-across seating, you've got a B&M.  And don't forget, it was a B&M coaster that Fabio was riding on when he smacked into a bird.  How can you not love a coaster for that?

Keith swears was nowhere near Fabio when the "bird" incident occurred.



I was watching a special on coaster the other day and they showed one that went underground, but I missed where it was at. I wonder if it's the one you write about.

Despite my claustrophobia and fear of coasters in general, that seemed like a very cool ride.


There are a few that go underground. At Alton Towers, they have one called Oblivion that pauses at the top of the short lift, giving everyone a direct downward view at a steaming hole in the ground. Then it breaks loose and plunges straight down, directly into the hole.

It's a one-trick-pony, but for some people it's a really effective trick.


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