Don’t miss out on the thrilling experience of an alpine coaster! Check out these four fun facts about this stunning ride and start planning a journey today.
For many tourists, going on a mountain getaway is the perfect way to spend a holiday. Luckily, the U.S. has plenty of mountain landscapes to quench the thirst for high-altitude adventure. The Great Smoky Mountains are one of the most popular areas for just that, with the tourist hub of Pigeon Forge as the epicenter of fun and exploration.
Getting on an alpine coaster is among the best ways to experience the magic of the Great Smoky Mountains in Pigeon Forge. In particular, the Wild Stallion Alpine Coaster, situated at Skyland Ranch, represents the ultimate attraction in this regard. It’s an eight-minute ride, but the breathtaking views make it seem longer. Plus, the memories and impressions you get while winding through the Smokies’ forests will last a lifetime.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of riding an alpine coaster, you’re probably wondering what they’re all about. Let’s look at some basic information about these unique rides and review some must-know facts about them.
What Are Alpine Coasters?
As the name suggests, alpine coasters are a mountain-specific variant of the more familiar roller coasters. The ride is powered by gravity, which is why these coasters are usually built with an inclination of 10-30%, producing enough speed to get that roller coaster rush but leaving the opportunity for more relaxed sightseeing.
Several factors make an alpine coaster different compared to the traditional variant. These unique traits stem from the coaster’s primary purpose, as alpine coaster visitors come more for the awe-striking vistas than the adrenaline.
First, there’s the sitting. Alpine coasters commonly feature fixed carts, which largely resemble bobsleds, built as open as possible so as not to obstruct the view. Second, riders can affect their speed with manual brakes. In other words, if something catches your eye, you can slow down to soak up the view.
The History of the Alpine Coaster Phenomenon
It should come as no surprise that the first alpine coaster saw the light of day in the Alps. The ride in question was built in Austria in 1996 by Brandauer, a German manufacturer. The design represented a continuation and development of the bobsled coaster concept, which had already been popular for about two decades.
The first ride trademarked as the Alpine Coaster came a year later. The German Wiegand company was responsible for the construction of the parallel track ride – a design that soon became a staple of alpine coasters worldwide.
Essential Alpine Coaster Facts
An alpine coaster is a unique ride, so it’s best to know some key facts before buying a ticket. Here are the most important considerations about this type of coaster, from safety to ideal ride times.
1. Safety Considerations
Alpine coasters can go as fast as 27 mph. The rides could, in theory, go even faster were it not for a safety system built into each cart. A centrifugal braking mechanism stops the cart wheels from rotating too rapidly, ensuring the top speed never passes the mentioned 27 mph.
Other brakes embedded into the coaster include the manual system, automated end-point braking, and, in some rides, distance control. This last feature is convenient for safety. It decreases the speed of a cart if the distance between it and the next cart ahead becomes too short.
Of course, all these braking systems contribute significantly to safety. In addition, an alpine coaster will always feature individual belts secured in place by special locking mechanisms.
Alpine coaster rides have particular age, weight, and height limitations. These measures are put in place to ensure the security of riders and may vary from one ride to the next. Generally speaking, solo riders must be at least 8 years old and 56 inches tall.
If accompanied by an older rider (16 or up), passengers can usually be as young as 3 and no shorter than 28 inches. For most carts, the total maximum weight is around 375 pounds.
3. What to Wear When Riding
While your selection of clothes will, naturally, depend on the weather conditions, one general rule always applies: You should never wear anything loose. This includes footwear like sandals and flip-flops, as well as any other items that may fall off as the ride twists and turns.
It’s worth noting that the weather in the Smokies can vary in terms of temperature and precipitation. For that reason, it’s best to come prepared.
4. Best Time to Take a Ride
Alpine coasters operate in most weather conditions, as long as the weather doesn’t get too extreme. For instance, there’s usually specialized gear for rainy days, but a thunderstorm will prevent the ride every time. Since you can hop on a cart in the rain, whether you do so or wait for the clouds to disperse will be a matter of personal preference.
Some coasters have evening or night rides. However, our recommendation here would be to opt for a daytime ride. This will allow you to see the environment in all its splendor. For maximum effect, try getting on the coaster during the golden hour – one hour before sunset, when the mountain’s colors become especially pronounced.
Alpine Coasters – An Amazing Way to Experience Mountain Landscapes
You can see the mountains like never before on an alpine coaster cart. If you’re in the Smokies or another mountain area, you shouldn’t miss trying out this attraction. The rides are safe and exciting and will undoubtedly represent one of the best experiences to take away from the vacation.