Up until the middle of this
May, I had never experienced an Intamin free-fall. I'd done others, the
good (S&S), the great (Shot'n'Drop, Detonator), and the absolutely
revolting (Big Ben). But I had never done an Intamin free faller. In 2000,
Drayton Manor debuted its five sided drop tower, standing at 180ft tall,
and opened by a terrible pop band, who fell victim to the Drayton Manor
curse and broke up a while later. The ride was fairly popular, and unique.
Two sides had regular sit-down vehicles, two sides had stand-up vehicles
that (gulp) tilted forth 15 degrees, and an unused fifth side. Rumours
spread about the use of the fifth side; flipping vehicles, spinning
vehicles, and the like. Someone started a rumour about stand-up floorless
vehicles. This spread, and then died, dismissed as pure fancy. Then, Six
Flags over Georgia built their version: a floorless stand-up Intamin Drop
ride. Suddenly, the rumour became very popular, and in 2002, Drayton Manor
announced "The fifth dimension", which incorporated a little
padded banana-shaped "thing" (that's about the best
description), over-the-shoulder restraints, and a tilting degree of 15
degrees. Gentlemen across the country winced at the prospect of being
dragged up a 180ft tower and dropped to the bottom while sitting on their,
er, "naughty bits".
Finally, about halfway
through this May, on a weekday, I decided to try it. It was warm,
overcast, and had an absence of large crowds. I made a beeline for Apocalypse.
A horrible noise filled my distraught mind. It was the noise of...
horrible teenage pop bands. What fun. Fortunately, the queue-up was short,
and most of the speakers were down.
Sit down vehicle:
We were ushered in to sit
down; I took the farthest seat to the left, pulled down the restraint
(leaving a fair few centimetres between my chest and the restraint),
clipped the buckle, and we were off. The seats accelerated up the tower. A
screaming noise came from above, and I nearly died as a car whistled past,
journeying down at massive speeds. I gulped. The car stopped at the top,
and waited. I looked round at the countryside for a few seconds. Suddenly,
the car dropped about three centimetres, stopped, and then plunged the
rest of the way. Never having ridden a drop tower this tall before, I was
shocked at how long we plunged, the top of the bunker comes eye-level just
as the brakes kick in, and the car stops at terra-firma. Very solid
terra-firma, very reassuring terra-firma. The restraints lifted, and I
hopped off to run round to the stand-up cars, barely able to keep my grin
of absolute satisfaction down.
I clambered into the car,
and squatted a tiny bit, pushing down the saddle, and pulling the
restraint close. The saddles locked, and I stood up. The reason for doing
this was to give myself a few centimetres of room, which makes it feel
more like just standing. The car lifted out of the station, and tilted
forward fifteen degrees, pointing my cranium earthward. I watched the
bunker disappear below my shoes. We stopped at the top, staring down.
There was a little bump, adjoined with a click, and we plunged. My feet
left the floor, my shoulders rammed the restraints, and it felt like
eternity while flying towards the ground. I screamed with glee, then with
terror as we entered the bunker, and stopped very fast, the solid pavement
seemingly centimetres from my shoes.
Floorless vehicle review:
I climbed uneasily into the
restraints and pulled them down. The cars lifted away, and tilted forward
fifteen degrees. It wasn't uncomfortable, it was just strange. The car
whipped up the tower, and we stopped at the top next to a stand-up
vehicle. I looked at it just as it went "clunk", and fell from
view. Our car jolted down a bit with the familiar "clunk", and
then shot down.
Now, this was a strange
feeling. It went down at the exact speed of freefall, so I wasn't touching
anything. Therefore, it felt like falling out of an aeroplane and plunging
into a bunker. I screamed. And screamed. The car plunged to a (shockingly
comfortable) stop, and I hobbled off, frightened but happily satisfied.
Overall, it was a fantastic
ride. It offered a fantastic stepping-stone type experience. Since I
hadn't heard any hype about the floorless, I wasn't expecting much but a
-Nice mix of experiences
-Not too uncomfortable in all cases.
-Queues can get long
-Can be a rough
I like this ride, despite