New Roller Coaster for Big Dippers
By Alex Thompson, PA
A new roller coaster will be fitted with outsized seats for the larger thrill-seeker, it emerged today.
The so-called “big boy seats” mean adrenalin junkies of all sizes will be able to sample the £3 million ride being built at Drayton Manor Theme Park, near Tamworth, in Staffordshire.
The seats add to concerns about the rise in size of the average Briton.
According to promotional literature from the ride’s German manufacturer: “This seat has been developed to suit the needs of corpulent riders.”
The roller coaster – called G Force – does away with traditional shoulder restraints and pins punters in their seats at the hip, leaving the rest of their body dangling free.
The design has been hailed as revolutionary. It means thrill-seekers can experience g-forces of 4.3 while whizzing along at speeds of up to 70km per hour (more than 40mph).
The maximum weight of riders will not be determined until after tests.
The chairman of the Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain welcomed the new seats, which he said were a world first aside from a prototype in Germany.
Andy Hine said: “I have a lot of club members who are larger and get very upset when they get to a park and queue for two hours and are told they can’t get on a ride.
“I think the designers are doing the right thing. I have seen the embarrassment it causes when people who are not necessarily large, not obese, get to a ride and can’t do the seat belt up.
“The general size of people is getting bigger and at last someone is addressing that from a leisure point of view. These are the first specially designed big boy seats in the world.”
Mr Hine said that in American theme parks, where the problem of obesity was greater, riders were routinely invited to sit in a sample chair and try and lock the restraints before joining a queue.
Another enthusiast, Justin Garvanovic, founder of the European Coaster Club, said the ability to accommodate bigger passengers on G Force was a “really nice by-product” of the new type of restraint.
Colin Bryan, managing director at Drayton Manor, said he was excited about being the first theme park in the world to commission such a coaster.
He said: “We have built up an enviable reputation for innovation and this will add to our ride stable of the world’s first stand up tower drop, Europe’s only stand up roller coaster and the UK’s fastest wet-knuckle ride.
“Coaster fans from all over the world can’t wait for it to open.”
A Drayton Manor spokeswoman added: “We are having to design bigger seating arrangements for bigger people. We appear to be going the same way as America.”
She said: “If you get on a ride in America, the average setting on an over-the-shoulder restraint is bigger. If you’re a slim Brit on an American ride, you’re going to be swimming about in the harness, it’s set for ten-ton Tessies.”
The ride will feature one big boy seat – which has a wider locking mechanism and bigger surface area – in the back row of the two trains.
It will be officially launched at the 280-acre site on July 26.