It was only two months ago that Canada’s Wonderland announced it was building a world-record breaking dive roller coaster, and as of mid-October, Yukon Striker’s imposing lift hill and 90-degree, 245-foot drop into an underwater tunnel will be complete.
The construction project is moving quick – all of the coaster’s track and columns could be finished by the end of 2018 if things go according to plan. But despite the seemingly rapid progress, Yukon Striker has been long in the works.
“We started construction in January of 2018 and will wrap up in April 2019,” said Peter Switzer, Director of Maintenance and Construction for the park. “But the planning timeline took much longer and started back in 2014.”
That’s when the big decisions were made as to what attraction options were available to the park, based on funds, footprint, and things like desired features and height. Site surveys were done to assess how the new ride will interact with existing attractions and park amenities. Geotechnical boreholes extracted soil samples to understand the conditions of the soil. That information was paired with the foundation requirements from the ride manufacturer (Bolliger & Mabillard) so the structural engineer could design the proper concrete foundations to hold up the coaster.
Things really progressed this past winter with the construction of the underwater tunnel.
“That was a pretty major part of the project,” said Switzer. “Logistically, and from a time and cost point of view.”
A diversion channel was built for the man-made ‘lake’ under Vortex, to allow the building of the tunnel but also to help protect the environment by preventing silt runoff downstream. Vortex itself was in the way, so three of its columns and two pieces of track had to be temporarily taken out in order for the tunnel to be built.
The concrete walls, floor and roof were constructed, two pumps installed to keep rainwater out, four pieces of Yukon Striker’s roller coaster track put in, and then the whole thing was fenced off, covered up and hidden from view during the park’s operating season. The tarps were finally removed on Yukon Striker’s announcement day, Aug. 15, 2018.
The construction project involves a lot of different players: the ride manufacturer Bolliger & Mabillard from Switzerland, local structural engineers, architects, landscape architects, electrical contractors, iron workers, civil contractors, plus Canada’s Wonderland’s own project management team.
Since the park opened in April for guests, work continued on the Yukon Striker site, with the construction of the ‘pit’ area that houses the main motor and gear box for the lift assembly, as well as the evacuation unit. The loading station began to take form and steel support columns began being erected in August. After Labour Day, when Splash Works closed, the pathway up from Mighty Canadian Minebuster was closed to allow for continued work on the lift hill and building the drop track up from the tunnel.
Land near Timberwolf Falls is being cleared for Yukon Striker’s north end, including a below-grade element where the coaster will take riders for an exhilarating ‘dip’.
There’s much more still to come:
- More foundations will be cast;
- Columns and track will be erected;
- Electrical and pneumatic work continues;
- Buildings will be constructed, including the loading station;
- Queue lines, the entrance and exit will be built;
- Landscaping and planting work will be done;
- Canopies, lighting and sound systems installed.
All aspects of the roller coaster will then undergo comprehensive testing for several weeks, to have it ready for the first public ride in April of 2019.
Yukon Striker is an impressive engineering feat and will be a breathtaking addition to the landscape and attraction lineup at Canada’s Wonderland next year!