It’s official, Yukon Striker’s first world record has been set: the 75-metre, 90-degree drop has been built and is the tallest dive roller coaster drop on the planet.
The steep lift hill and drop were completed and joined last month, and work motored along at the exit of the underground tunnel with the completion of the first exciting inversion, the Immelmann, just this week. (That’s a vertical climb into a half loop, before the track twists into a roll and levels out).
Building a coaster is serious business for the construction crews, but it’s a fun challenge at the same time.
“I tell everyone who comes to the park that building Yukon Striker is like building a ship in a bottle,” said Peter Switzer, Director of Maintenance and Construction.
In the conceptual phase, there was the logistical issue of figuring out where the roller coaster would fit in with the existing rides, venues and amenities. But the challenge also continued beneath the surface of the ground.
“We have quite the extensive infrastructure underground that we have to interface with. We needed to be able to make it work and make it look like this ride had always been there. That’s the challenge for me and the puzzle to solve,” said Switzer.
Everything has to fit, including matching up sensitive schedules to keep the project moving. As Yukon Striker’s track pieces and columns are being manufactured and delivered to the park, the foundations need to be ready in order to erect the steel. The cranes need to be assembled on site and ready to do the job. Many sections of the coaster require assembly and electrical work to be completed on the ground before they can be lifted into place.
The park is now closed for the season, which gives the construction crews much more flexibility in when and where they can be working. But since April, the other big piece of the puzzle was coordinating construction activities around the park’s operating schedule.
For obvious safety reasons, much work was limited while guests were in park walking around and with nearby attractions running. The project was able to propel forward on much of the vertical work once Wonderland went to weekends-only and Splash Works closed, after Labour Day.
But even the five-day construction work-week proved a challenge for some element builds: like the first Immelmann inversion just out the exit of the underground tunnel. Out there by Skyhawk and the Vortex hill, much of the ground is sloped. So that particular element ended up requiring the pathway there to be closed and several different cranes to assist with moving the track pieces over and hoisting them up into position. As the last weekend of operation approached, the pathway had to be cleared and cranes had to be taken out – including one that had been placed in the drained-out Vortex lake. After the weekend, everything was brought back in to pick up where the crew left off. You can imagine the task of disassembling and re-assembling the cranes each time!
With the Immelmann now complete, the construction team is working ahead to the next coaster element: the negative-G roll.
The massive puzzle continues, but it’s starting to take impressive shape!