With all the talk of the new version of Rattler, I thought I'd post some pics of the old version. Not the crappy version of late, but some pics from opening day.
Gates just opened and everyone headed for the huge beast down the hill. Unfortunately, FiestaTX had media day DURING opening day and trains dispatched at about one every 5-10 minutes. Reports later that day said that folks who didn't get there early had a 5+ hour wait. I was halfway up the zig-zag ramp and still waited 2 hours.
The original drop with the rockslide shed over it. It's hard to tell from the pic, but NOBODY has their hands up. Lots of folks did at the top of the hill, though!
Rattler's infamous drop was altered from the original design because of the TxGiant/Hercules lawsuit. See, TxGiant was the tallest wood coaster, Hercules had a longer drop due to terrain. Both parks wanted to claim "world's biggest woodie." FTx, in order to claim the title with no chance of argument, extended the structure of the first drop over the cliff so that one single support would go from the bottom of the ravine to the top of the structure. Thus, they had the tallest structure AND the longest drop, instead of just the longest drop. This changed the shape of the drop, making it a bit steeper and making the subtle twisting that created the "whiplash" issue with riders that eventually became the drop's undoing.
Here you can see how the need to extend over the cliff wall before making the drop created the twists. At the top of the lift, the track curves left and then is extended (where the four flags are) beyond the angle the drop needs to thread the track halfway down. It angles right then at the point under the cross track, angles left again. Just past the visible part of the pic, it angles right again to hug the bottom of the quarry wall. Iron Rattler solves this issue by putting a zig-zag track at the bottom of the drop, allowing a straighter plunge to the bottom, hopefully avoiding the hungry lawyers in the process.
Here, the original double-down of the horseshoe turn is shown in all its glory. Iron Rattler looks to be re-establishing this profile, but with the addition of overbanked turns at the top and at the midpoint where it dives over the cliff edge. Should be good!
Second half of the original horseshoe drop. It's not difficult at all to imagine this as an overbanked turn.
Entrance to the tunnel, which looks to be largely kept intact in the new version. Easier to see how the bottom of the first drop twists back in toward the quarry wall here.
Opening-day riders enter the tunnel for the first time. Again, notice the lack of hands-up riders!
Rattler enters the final helix after the station fly-by. I've heard some folks say that the final helix will be included in Iron Rattler's layout, but screenshots from the SFFT video seem to point to it going right into the brakes after the tunnel. Time will tell. I'm hoping for the fly-by and the helix!
Make no mistake, as awesome as the one-two punch of the first drop and horseshoe turn were and as good as the tunnel drop was, the Rattler as a whole always felt like it could've been, should've been much better. Much of that sentiment had to do with the helix, or as a late friend called it, "Le Monstre plateau".
I saw Rattler as the coaster equivalent of a really hot, nasty sleepover date: Wild, crazy, rough, dangerous times followed by a period of sleeping, followed by a slightly lesser version of the nastiness from before.
^Here's a shot showing how the horseshoe turnaround lost the double-down element in later years. Compare that to the pics I posted today and it's a pretty dramatic change, completely altering the ride experience on that section.
To add to this coverage, I fetched (Arf! Arf!) a video showing an on-ride POV of what Rattler was like when it opened - and I'm sure it was ten times worse than what it was the day before they closed it.
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