El Diablo (Port Aventura)
Once upon a time a thriving coaster
company was the Bolliger and Mabillard of their day. Developing each and every
ride with oodles of initiative, Arrow Dynamics were the manufacturer first
approached by many parks as they could satisfy most parks’ specific
lot of money was routed in the direction of a preordained concept, the Pipeline
coaster, which, due to design issues never happened. The money invested in this
project was lost forever in a whim that was never to be. Whilst Arrow were
concentrating on this disaster, other companies over took them with new and
successful concepts, ironically often twists on coasters Arrow had championed
(stand up coasters, inverted coasters…).
wasting money on this and progressing nowhere, Arrows brochure now only
consisted of passé coasters that were no longer attractive. It was with this in
mind that the last coaster of any relevance that they sold was a mine-train.
Since then the former greatest have now lowered their benchmark to creating the
likes of wild mice.
of the last coasters they sold was El Diablo. As a new coaster in a new park
they had a great opportunity to show off what they were capable of. As a runaway
mine train, the theme is merely that: an out of control train, unrestrained
around an abandoned Mexican silver mine.
it is geographically close to the Silver River Flume, which resides in the Far
West, it is far beyond the dusty streets of the west, instead in Mexico, which
makes for a long walk.
You enter past a millpond on the right, around which one of the rides’ later helixes goes around. To your left are more turns, this time both above and below, all supported with a wooden framework.
After the helix the track rises up and over the entrance before diving through a smoking building. It is under here that you enter, and the queue takes you through the centre of the rides’ final turn, next to the brake run. The queue slaloms through some large mining buildings before some steps take you into the station.
theming here is top-notch. Instead of a mountain (mines go underground anyway),
the first half takes place over a gorgeously blue lake, the second ducks and
dives through tunnels and caverns. The wood supports also make for a very rustic
look, again, something many mine-trains lack.
those of you who have ridden the Vampire, the first of many similarities, this
time in the form of the ‘chirping’ noise the brakes make as the train
arrives, and subsequently departs from the station.
station is large for a runaway mine-train, and you can pretty much choose where
you sit. It’s a runaway mine-train, so it makes little difference, so it would
probably be best to head for where the queue isn’t.
you get in the train, it takes the form of the Big One with the single lap-bars
that annoyingly fall into you as you board, and the bucket style fibreglass
seats on which you sit. Like the big one, leg room is one inch too small, the
bars are annoying, and the seats comfortable whilst the train is stationary.
the staff have run along the length of the train checking bars, the train slowly
coasts out, and once it leaves, dives down a surprising six-foot drop into a
tight turn deep down underground with bare rock walls to your right. It is this
most fun turn that will take you up to the first lift.
lift is of average speed and takes you about 45ft up above the same lake shared
by the earlier mentioned Silver River Log Flume that intertwines El Diablo.
Therefore, you are likely to get over-excited Log Flume riders waving ardently
the top of the lift, the train drops slightly, slaloming through the Silver
River Flume above the lake, making a sharp turn before hitting some brakes and
starting the second lift. It isn’t particularly smooth considering it has
traversed some dead track brightened up by a couple of turns. No effort to add
padding to the seat has been made so you are merely sitting on a fibreglass
shell. It rides pretty strangely too, very stunted with a shuffling type feel,
as if the train is too long.
second lift takes you up to about the same height as the first. The first can be
seen to your left climbing in the opposite direction and as your attention may
briefly be diverted, you soon climb over the top of the lift.
dip off to the left, turning 180-degrees, straightening out and going along a
most perplexing straight of track. You then turn 180-degrees back round to the
right passing a transfer track (equating to even more dead track) before hitting
the third and final lift.
the award for the worst piece of track in living history goes to…
living foible apparently arose due to contractual problems resulting in a chunk
of the ride being left out. What is left is a lift hill with a ramp of track
taking you to the next lift. You can look behind you in disbelief if you wish,
and sure enough, there it is, the most peculiar piece of track ever fashioned. A
brake run is likely to entertain you more.
ride goes onto redeem itself somewhat following this most entertaining cockeyed
stretch of track. You dive down sharply, swooping into a deep, dark and long
tunnel. You climb out of this and motor into the millpond helix, wrapping around
a disused wooden waterwheel over a patch of water. You climb, dive through a
hole in the wall of a building before enveloping the queue line and hitting the
enclosed brake run, turning and returning to the station.
what of the ride? Bearing in mind this is a family ride, it isn’t as bad as
many people say. That said, however, if it wasn’t for the final jaunt off of
the third lift, this ride would be just diabolical. The first ten seconds bode
well, but the leg between the first and second lifts are pretty lacklustre and
devoid of any memorable elements.
the second and third lift just defies explanation. I cannot think of enough
adjectives to express the most remarkable length of track I have ever travelled
on. And to have the transfer track halfway through the ride? That is surly a
all picks up after the third lift though. If the whole ride consisted of such
fluid and swooping dives and turns then we would have a winner. The finished
ride though is a bit of a sham, and from what I have ridden so far, what I
expect from Arrow.
seems Arrow created some very unique concepts very early on. Perhaps they lost
the plot soon after this, but they have since been making scores of middling
rides that lack innovation (though they did try), consistency and any