As a mature and
discerning reader, I’m sure you find it easy to look back at your
childhood with great fondness, yet appreciate the importance of
adulthood however monotonous.
Maybe we miss the
carefree days of going to the playground more than others, hence our
unbridled obsession with theme parks. And while there are people like us
willing to queue for rides, manufacturers are keen to capitalise on
exercising the child within.
feeling of a swing where you soar high above the ground with wind
through your hair and butterflies in your stomach isn’t confined to
the local playground. Just like the swing is the staple of the
playground, swing-style rides have become the cornerstone of the theme
As we have
reflected upon many times before on Coaster Kingdom, the idea of a ride
based around the concept of a pendulum is hardly new, with reinventions
of an idea that has been around for decades.
earliest memory dates back to Huss’ Pirate, a fair maiden of a ship
that sails the high seas by gradually rocking its fibreglass keel up to
a height of 50ft casually restraining fifty thrill seeking pirates with
a simple five-seat-wide lapbar.
As has become
traditional with spin rides, the idea has since been reinvented over and
over again. Variants of the Pirate Ship now spin, loop and tip riders
higher into the stratosphere than ever before, and in 2005 S&S
joined the party with their unimaginatively-named Screamin’ Swing.
as a low capacity upcharge attraction, the Screamin’ Swing now comes
in variants of up to 40 seats, with Thorpe Park’s being the largest at
the time of launch with 32 seats
So, what makes
Rush different from all the other Pirate Ship variants globally? To be
honest, not much. It is bigger than most swing rides; faster too. But
there’s bigger. And faster.
Thorpe Park have
been trumpeting the ride as the best thing since playtime, calling it
the “world’s biggest speed swing”, a claim made all the more
spectacular by the sheer ambiguity of it. Compared to other Screamin’
Swings, it is merely a higher capacity ride, not larger in terms of
And while it is
bigger and faster than most Frisbees and Pirate Ships, Huss’ Giant
Frisbee and KMG’s Afterburner XL rule the roost, both in terms of
speed and height, and on top of this both have a revolving gondola too.
Surely not a leg to stand on for our humble Screamin’ Swing?
While we struggle
to find any reason to get excited about Rush, it’s worth remembering
that compared to the Frisbee and Afterburner, you’re not held in over
the shoulders, just by a simple lap bar. With overhead restraints
renowned for killing any sensation of airtime, if Rush has the airtime
to offer, it could well triumph by default owing to the overall
sensation, as opposed to the sheer audacity of it.
You won’t find
many S&S rides at a beauty pageant, but Rush is a complete
monstrosity that would make winning first prize at a freakshow a mere
legs of what looks like a gigantic swing are completely disproportionate
in terms of size, with the arms supporting the eight-wide gondolas
comically undersized. In terms of contrasting sizes, it is like
Pavarotti duetting with Kylie Minogue.
With the usual
palette of Lost City colours (aqua, red, gold) and the whole structure
crowned with a monstrous grey cross support, Rush really misses the boat
in terms of identity, with heads only being turned by the motion of two
arms mirroring each others hypnotic swings and the screams of 32 riders
being vaulted high above the pathways below.
The speed of
Rush’s queue may well be comfortable, but the experience certainly
isn’t thanks to the painfully loud sound of the compressed air that
powers the ride, which makes an already monotonous task of queuing
Rush’s queue moves away from a simple cattlepen and guides awaiting
riders right under the path of the swing with the pendulous arms
scooping 32 riders skywards with quite intimidating haste.
The queue heads
around towards the back of the ride, where the views become limited and
the sound of compressed air almost unbearable before you wrap back
around the front of the ride where the queue splits into four rows, two
each side of one of the supports with one row per side per swing.
Like most theme
park spin rides, loading is needlessly complicated relying on visitors
to remember the colour and number they’re staying on to find their
seat. Such organisation is obviously wasted, and as soon as the gates
open 32 people are elbowing each other out of the way to sit closest to
their beloved and won’t be moving for love nor money.
Like Slammer, the
ride is upholstered with deep, deep seats and a lap bar that hinges down
from your side and is then vertically adjustable.
though, there are no shoulder restraints, and with only a handle big
enough for a single hand to hold on to, nervous riders will be
struggling to find anything of worth to hold onto to make Rush anything
less that terrifying.
With the dull roar
air being your only warning, the two arms smoothly begin their pendulous
ascent into the sky above.
Compared to most
other swing rides, the first swing is impressively large and smooth, and
as it climbs towards the queue or path below, smoothly reverses and
swings to about twice the height with equal power.
By the third
swing, the ride begins to show its true colours.
The feeling of
thrust is far more powerful and artificial than Vortex, and without
being able to see the rest of the gondola, you have no sense of placing
exactly what angle you’re swinging at in relation to the ground.
And as you warm to
the sensation of swinging through massive 85ft tall crescents, Rush
leaves you in the cold as it quickly slows down in just a few swings,
airtanks still growling aggressively as you smoothly slow to a stop and
32 excited riders make a beeline for a small exit gate.
is a great ride, and there is no doubt whatsoever that the public have
grown to adore the ride.
But there is the
inescapable fact that swing rides have existed for decades. The
unassuming Pirate Ship, for example, offers superb and sustained
sensations of weightlessness with a flimsy restraint, and while Rush is
a noble step forward as opposed to a complete bastardisation of the
concept, you can’t get away from the fact that in the days of Pirate
Ships, Frisbees, Afterburners and the like, that Rush is just another
To address the
angry rabble gathering outside CK Towers, Rush is by no means a
write-off. Rush seems remarkably well received with the layout of
seating offering a rogues gallery of expressions ranging from the
absolutely aghast to extremely exhilarated.
Like Slammer, the
seating design is one of the rides greatest virtues with a feeling of
vulnerability that eclipses even Air’s supposed claims of feeling
‘free’. Wherever you sit, too, you are genuinely guaranteed a
Yet, while this is
one of the ride’s fortes, it is also its achilles heel. While Pirate
Ships, Afterburners and to a lesser extent Frisbees all are fun rides
with a wonderful feeling of being part of a party, on Rush you feel very
insular and alone. While this adds to the psychology of, say, a
freefall, on Rush it is a shame that the happy sensations of fun and
excitement are to be enjoyed all on your lonesome.
Rush’s strong points is the speed at which it climbs to the uppermost
swings. You’d expect this merit to afford the rider more high swings,
yet ironically what could have proven to be Rush’s biggest asset is
wasted with just four high swings before the ride quickly slows down.
between Rush and other similar rides are going to be inevitable, and
that’s the problem – that there are so many rides that it can be
compared with. There are few people that haven’t enjoyed a Pirate
Ship; this alone has spawned the Frisbee, which in turn has forged the
creation of the Afterburner.
pigeonholed these rides, each variant thereof offers a unique sensation.
The Afterburner is the finest such example, with the sensations of the
Afterburner 24 and 32 being oceans apart.
So yes, Rush is a
decent swing ride. But it has failed to make the idea its own. The idea
of a 21st century Pirate Ship is a hotly contested genre – while Huss
and KMG run the marathon, S&S have merely taken a step in the right
Rush may well tick
all the right boxes, but they’re the same old boxes that have been
ticked over and over again.
29 August 2005
▪ Good feeling of speed, and fast
▪ Excellent sensation of feeling very vulnerable
▪ Guests seem to like the ride
▪ Very short in terms of duration
▪ A very ugly ride
▪ Too similar to Pirate Ships, Frisbees, Afterburners etc