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Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park to reopen Thunderbolt

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After going on Hurricane (SCBB), I'm not very excited for this as my experiences of Hurricane are OK. They are decent coasters, though they are a bit boring expect for that one steep helix.


Don't let the Hurricane discourage you, I have been on a few of other versions of it and they were all so much better than Hurricane, the one that was in Seattle was awesome

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While I'm glad that this coaster is going to have another life in another park, I'm also down that in order to ride this ride I'll have to travel to Colorado. But this sounds like a park that I could someday plan a vacation to Denver, Colorado and I'll add it to my list of "Reasons why I should go to Denver Colorado".


AS for the "you ride a tram up the side of a mountain to get to the park" bit, I'm also reminded of another park in Gatlinburg, TN called "Ober Gatlinburg" that does the same thing, only that this park does not have a coaster, but it does have three water slides and an alpine slide.


"You should be reminded that there is a pillow waiting for you to get off this site and get to bed!"

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Seriously, guys. We're not joking when we're saying it's a long ways from Denver. It's not a "side trip." Just because Denver and Glenwood Springs are both in Colorado does not mean that they are close. 150+ miles in the rocky mountains DOES take a while to go through. The speed limit isn't that high and there are plenty of twists and turns on the interstate. Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is technically in the middle of nowhere.

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^ Okay, guys, settle down. Let me explain myself before we cause more pages of arguements that this post doesn't need.


First, I'm not going to Denver anytime soon ( maybe within a few years); and second, I never mentioned about going to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park as a side trip. If I did go to Denver ( by airplane), I would probably plan to spend a few days in Glenwood Springs. I'm going to St. Louis and Branson, Missouri this year and I wouldn't be spending a week in St. Louis and plan just one day in Branson ( that would just be plain "nuts"), so I'm planning to drive to Branson and spend a few nights there before returning to St. Louis. So if I do go to Denver, I would drive to Glenwood Springs ( and enjoy the pretty scenery along the way), spend a few days in Glenwood Springs ( and get plenty of Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park), then drive back to Denver ( and my ticket home ).


One more thing to add: Silver Dollar City also has a cavern tour as one of its attractions. It is called "Marvel Cave"


I hope this explains things clearly.


Now let's get on and talk more about Thunderbolt. Has the pieces arrived at the park yet?


"Great explaination. Now please explain to me why you won't come to bed?"

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^^If the park will allow a 44 year old man that weighs 250 to ride that kiddie coaster, then I'll ride it too. Of course, I may be years older and a few pounds lighter by the time I travel to Glenwood Caverns, but it they could do it then, then they could do it now. I mean, wouldn't it be bad for me getting kicked out of the park just because I rose such an arguement against the ride attendants that barred me from riding the kiddie coaster. I can ride the meanest, baddest coasters on the planet, but when it come to some dorky kiddie ride that wouldn't even scare a sick dog, they won't let me ride it and . . .


I think I should go now and water the ducks or something.


"No, you should come to bed. I'd even let you cry on me."

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Very interesting and nerdy article can be found here on the logistics of re-installing the former Celebration City coaster.


There are a few nerdy pictures in the article, but for those that don't like to click, I've made it easy for you read


By Dennis Webb

Thursday, May 10, 2012


GLENWOOD SPRINGS—If you’re ever looking to buy and erect a used, Italian-made Windstorm roller coaster, the first thing you might want to do is find Allan Litts.


Oh, and remind him to pack his photo album when he comes to town.


Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park has come to appreciate the value of someone who has assembled the same coaster before, and has a photographic record of it, as it installs the 50-foot-high roller coaster near the top of Iron Mountain above Glenwood Springs.


“That’s become our roa map,” Glenwood Caverns mountain operations manager Nancy Heard said of Litts’ pictures of his previous installation.


Of course, before installing a coaster, you’ve got to find one. Glenwood Caverns tracked down its ride in Branson, Mo. There, the Silver Dollar City theme park had purchased a competing park, Celebration City, and eventually shut it down, leaving assets to sell.


“We were fortunate enough to grab this coaster,” said Glenwood Caverns mountain Operations Manager Nancy Heard.


“What’s really cool is they got their start with a cave,” she said of the company that owns Silver Dollar City.


Herschend Family Entertainment now has theme parks in numerous states after the family first offered tours at Marble Cave near Branson in the 1950s. Heard said the company has served as an inspiration for Glenwood Caverns’ own business model of expanding from just cave tours into an adventure park.




Glenwood Caverns started out with cave tours in 1999, and has been growing its offerings ever since, with attractions such as its Giant Canyon Swing, laser tag, a “4-D” theater and a bungee jump. It is expanding in a big way this year, including by adding another smaller, kid-friendly coaster and the Mine Wheel, a Ferris-wheel-style ride.


But its biggest addition is the former Windstorm coaster, which it is renaming the Cliffhanger because of its location. Perched near the top of Iron Mountain and on the edge of Glenwood Canyon, it will offer breathtaking views of the canyon and the Roaring Fork and Colorado river valleys as riders experience thrilling drop-offs and tight curves during an 80-second, 1,600-foot-long trip with speeds up to 34 mph. At 7,160 feet high, it’s the highest-elevation adult roller coaster in the world, Heard said.


Getting the coaster to the mountains first involved shipping the coaster cars to Florida to be tested, and their wheels and bearings replaced. The disassembled track likewise has undergone testing, refurbishing and sandblasting and will be repainted.




Now the parts and pieces are being shipped to Glenwood Springs in what is expected to take about a dozen trips by semi trucks.


Despite what Heard said has been some grumbling by flat-land truckers, they’ve been delivering the shipments to a parking lot on the unpaved Transfer Trail Bureau of Land Management road, high up Iron Mountain.


Although the coaster came with operating and maintenance manuals, that wasn’t the case when it came to assembly instructions. And that’s where Litts comes in.


Heard said Glenwood Caverns was able to track him down through the connections of the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials, through which Heard is a certified inspector.


“The ability to find someone like that is huge,” she said.


Heard said there may be only about four of the Windstorm coasters in the country. Both she and Litts describe the disassembled track as something of a puzzle. But Litts adds, “It only fits one way. Once all the pieces fit, you’ve got it.”




Litts lives in Florida and also does ride refurbishment, and has worked both for a ride manufacturer and for a Florida theme park. It was in Florida that he worked in the late 1990s to assemble one of the coasters with the Italians who built it. With the language barrier, he said, conversations often involved asking the Italians along the way, “Problem or no problem?” If they said “no problem,” they continued with their work; if there was a problem, they managed to communicate enough to solve it together.


Fortunately, Litts added, “I’ve got a pretty good photo record of ever step of the way” along the assembly process.


Heard said the coaster purchase and installation probably will cost about $1 million when all is said and done.


“We’ll probably spend $50,000 just in bolts, in hardware,” she said.


Old bolts and fasteners—about 2,000 of them—must be replaced with new ones in order to properly meet specifications for torque, or tightness.


Sourcing the bolts, which are in metric sizes and in some cases more than a foot long, isn’t always easy, said Bryan Palmer, general manager of the Glenwood Springs Fastenal office, the bolt contractor on the job.


“When you run into about that large, there’s only so many (bolts) in the country,” he said, holding his hands apart as if describing a good-sized fish catch.


Glenwood Caverns had a concrete base installed for the coaster, but included drains into underlying gravel. That way, the concrete won’t keep precipitation from feeding into the extensive caverns system beneath Iron Mountain and continuing to contribute to the underground ecosystem and growth of other-worldly formations.


Litts said the location of the coaster has been the biggest challenge in installing it. And he’s not just talking about the shortness of breath that comes with working at altitude rather than sea level.


The site’s slopeside location leaves little room for a staging area, meaning coaster pieces must be brought up from the lower parking lot in order of installation.


And the steep terrain means a crane can reach the site from just two sides rather than four, so that a 90-foot crane will have to be used to do the job.




Glenwood Caverns has been shooting to have the coaster open by Memorial Day, although Heard concedes mid-June might be more likely.


After having dealt with the considerable logistics in getting the coaster installed, Heard is looking forward to being one of the first to get to try out the new Cliffhanger ride.


“Oh, I better be. I better be,” she said with the smile of someone who loves the thrill of a roller coaster ride as much as the challenge of installing one.


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This thread is becoming more of an adventure story involving all the trials, perils, and pitfalls of our hero, the coaster called "The Thunderbolt", as it leaves its former home in Branson, Missouri in an adventure as it finds its new home at Glenwood Caverns Adventrue Park, Colorado.


Somebody call Hollywood; I sense a movie out of it!


"(sighs) Whatever happened to those adventure stories that help you fall asleep?"

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Local newspaper published an article about the ride, as well as the park's expected opening date:

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado — The newest attraction at the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, a 50-foot-tall roller coaster perched on a cliff overlooking the city, will be a little late in opening for the summer season.


Officials with the Adventure Park had hoped to host the first riders on the Cliffhanger Roller Coaster this weekend, for the Memorial Day holiday.


Delays at different stages of the Cliffhanger project, however, have put that opening date back about two weeks.


“We're shooting for Strawberry Days,” said operations manager Nancy Heard, referring to the annual civic festival scheduled for June 15-17 at Sayre Park.


The Cliffhanger is billed as the highest adult roller coaster ride in the U.S., in terms of elevation. It will take passengers to the edge of the cliff overlooking the Roaring Fork Valley before making a sharp turn back toward the mountainside and plunging down the track.


“It's puts us in a different league, for sure,” Heard said of the coaster.


Other new attractions are open starting this weekend, including the Mine Wheel, a Ferris wheel with cars decked out to resemble ore buckets, and the Wild West Express, a smaller, child-scale roller coaster.

Apologies for triple post; this was a big update.

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