One of the better-known roller coaster
design companies, Arrow Dynamics products are found in theme park
s around the world.
History and Innovations
Arrow Development Company opened in 1946, working primarily as a small-job machine shop. They soon purchased a small children's park in California, and refurbished the used equipment and designed new rides. After designing a carousel at the request of the city of San Jose, Arrow was approached by Walt Disney, who hoped to build a park. In the early 1950s, Arrow designed and built an entire series of rides for the park that would eventually be named Disneyland. In 1959, the company collaborated with Disney to produce its first roller coaster, the bobsled-style Matterhorn. When Disneyland became a success, Arrow was inundated with requests for rides and produced a series of innovative results. At the same time, they also produced transport systems, including the tram system that brings guests from the parking lot to the front gates at both Disney parks. Arrow's research and development team has come up with a number of brand-new rides over the years. In 1963, they created the first log flume, and introduced the steel corkscrew coaster in 1975 and the first launched shuttle loop in 1977; the first suspended coaster was created by Arrow R&D in the early 1980s. For the 1984 World Expo in New Orleans, Arrow designed the "shoot-the-chute" ride, a blending of a log flume and a roller coaster that ends with the 20-passenger boat racing down a 50-degree drop to the splashdown. In the late 1980s, Arrow designed the hypercoaster, which broke the 200-foot limit for the lift hill. In 1998, they produced their version of the wild mouse coaster, and broke all the rules in 2001 by introducing the new 4th Dimension coaster.
Arrow developed its own software for designing coasters, which allows for advanced track geometric control, improved analysis of banking dynamics, and other essential data used to produce roller coasters. They also developed the ArrowVision ride control system, which helps ensure safe, quality rides by running detailed diagnostics designed to monitor and maintain all Arrow rides. The company's engineering skills have also been called upon by NASA, for which Arrow designed orbit simulators and the capsules used to put the first monkeys in space.
Notable Arrow Coasters
- The first shuttle loop coaster was called the Screamin' Demon, and it opened at Paramount's King's Island in 1977. After the 1987 season, the ride was transferred from Ohio to West Virginia for installation at Camden Park, where it was renamed Thunderbolt Express. Currently SBNO, a sign on the ride indicates it is being repaired and will reopen in 2002.
- In 1978, Six Flags Great Adventure opened a pair of shuttle loops that interlocked with each other. The Lightning Loops operated there until the end of the 1992 season, when they were broken apart. One loop was sent to Frontier City and renamed Diamond Back, and the other to Six Flags America with the name Python. The Diamond Back is still running today, but the Python went into storage after the 1998 season to make room for the park's new Vekoma boomerang coaster. Reportedly the Python is in a field somewhere near the Intamin-designed Superman: Ride of Steel coaster.
- Arrow's prototype suspended coaster, the Bat, opened to PKI visitors in April 1981. It immediately became wildly popular, and there are still many fans of the Bat today. It was plagued by maintenance problems right away, and in July 1981 it was shut down due to problems with the chain lift. The problems were solved and the ride reopened, but repeated mechanical issues forced its eventual shutdown. It remained SBNO for the 1984 season while the management tried to decide what to do - it did, after all, have a perfect safety record - but in November 1984 they decided to tear it down. Destruction began in 1985, but was not completed until 1986 when the space was needed for a new ride.
- Another Arrow coaster, however, did not have a perfect safety record. There were never any fatalities or even severe injuries on Drachen Fire, but shortly after it opened in 1992, complaints of a rough ride began flowing into the management office at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Originally built with six inversions, Arrow tried to ease the ride by having the final corkscrew removed after the 1994 season. The ride was still too painful for most passengers - many complained of a sore neck and back - so it was closed after the 1998 season. Drachen Fire has been SBNO since then.
- After almost a decade of low production and little innovation, Arrow in 2001 introduced the prototype 4th Dimension coaster, X, at Six Flags Magic Mountain.
Locations with Operating Arrow Coasters
- United States - Buffalo Bill's Resort & Casino, Busch Gardens Tampa, Busch Gardens Williamsburg (2), Canobie Lake Park, Cedar Point (5), Disneyland, Dollywood, Enchanted Village, Frontier City, Fun Spot, Grand Slam Canyon, Great Escape, Hersheypark, Kennywood, Knoebels, Libertyland, Michigan's Adventure (2), Myrtle Beach Pavilion, Paramount's Carowinds (2), Paramount's Great America (2), Paramount's King's Dominion, Paramount's King's Island (3), Silver Dollar City, Silverwood Theme Park, Six Flags AstroWorld (2), Six Flags Darien Lake, Six Flags Elitch Gardens, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Six Flags Great Adventure (2), Six Flags Great America (2), Six Flags Magic Mountain (4), Six Flags Over Georgia, Six Flags Over Texas (2), Six Flags St. Louis, Six Flags Worlds of Adventure, Valleyfair! (3), Worlds of Fun
- Elsewhere - Blackpool Pleasure Beach (3), Calaway Park, Dunia Fantasi, Everland (2), Expoland, Fantasia, Formosa WonderWorld, La Ronde, Lotte World, Marineland Theme Park, MGM Dizzee World, Nagashima Spa Land, Nara Dreamland, Ocean Park, Paramount Canada's Wonderland (2), Rainbow's End, Salitre Magico, Sea World, Space World, Tokyo SummerLand, Universal Studios Port Aventura