on fact, Wild Wild West was a 1999 Barry Sonnenfield flop. The
brassy claim of $200 million taken at the box office was watered
down by the fact that $170 million was spent on special effects and
a star-studded cast. A somewhat hammy plot left a bad taste in
reviewersí mouths and kept the audiences at bay. What could have
been an extravagant summer blockbuster came to fruition as a botched
re-make of a 1960ís television series.
Wild West stared two bickering special agents in post-Civil War
America by the name of James T. West and Artemus Gorden (Will Smith
and Kevin Kline respectively). Their mission was to seek and
apprehend Dr. Arliss Loveless (Kenneth Branagh), a bitter maniac who
lost his lower-half of his body in the war who kidnaps a group of
scientists employed to create a super-weapon in order to cease the
newly re-United States from the president.
before Wild Wild West hit the silver screen, the Roller Coaster
Cooperation of America (RCCA) and Intamin with the creative genius
Werner Stengel modelled
the first Wild Wild West ride at Movie World in Bottrop, Germany, on
early Cyclone designs such as Astrolandís historic Vernon Keenan
coasters are now a fashionable part of the best parksí line-ups as
opposed to a poor-mans alternative to a full-size steel coaster.
When the wooden coaster is the ride of choice to accompany larger
steel coasters for the very largest theme park operators, you
perhaps come to realise that the wooden coaster is now a staple part
of a line-up rather than a passing phase.
World Madrid opened with three major coasters (Stunt Fall opened
soon after), the second largest of which was the wooden Wild Wild
West. Despite being the same in namesake as the original at
Germanyís Movie World, Madridís version was an original design,
again from RCCA and Intamin with Stengel at the drawing board.
Wild West forms a golden backdrop to the weathered timber-framed
buildings in the Wild West Territory at Movie World. The conical
turns and structure of this coaster almost appear to be the rugged
landscape of the Wild West in the distance forming the horizon to
this bleak township.
entrance to Wild Wild West is incredibly subtle; through the open
doors of the Last Trust Bank. Inside, the room is bathed in a
ghostly silence with the empty teller windows at the back and a
deserted Post Office counter. Beyond the iron bars of the teller
windows you walk through an open safe door before you exit back out
into the daylight.
after, you re-enter the building. After walking through a brief
undecorated hallway, you enter a room with more pomp and
extravagance than Buckingham Palace. Decorated in padded blue and
gold wallpaper, the room is lit from above by a beautiful chandelier
the size of a horse-drawn stagecoach and furnished with Gold-trimmed
chests of drawers decorated by busts and ornate oil paintings.
top of a flight of stairs, the queue circumnavigates a mock coaster
car with one seat atop a comic-book style spring. The station is a
fairly large affair with riders counted through a turnstile. Whilst
it is up to you where you sit, you can only fill available seats, so
you are not afforded the chance to queue for the extreme front or
station layout is fairly confusing as each car has itís own
Ďpení, further split into three sections for each row. It makes
it hard identifying what seats are empty, and if at the front or
back of the car how to get there through a labyrinth of fencing.
Wild West is equipped with Intaminís fairly decent ore cars. Three
tiered rows per car afford every rider with a good view, and the
seats and restraints are very comfortable. Lap bars invite stapling
from staff, though, and the seatbelts use Intaminís reliable but
ever-so-fiddly pinch-and-pull buckle, which can slow loading.
the none-too-substantial cars, the merits of Intaminís rolling
stock become apparent. The low-sided cars really add to the feeling
of exposure, something you rarely get on wooden coasters, and the
restraints are as snug as you want them to be.
the station, you roll over the transfer track before swooping down
to the left accompanied by whoops of excitement from riders. You
smoothly engage on the lift, and quickly climb up to a height of 120
view at the top is much like sailing a boat around the edge of a
whirlpool before youíre dragged into the cyclonic vortex. You
gradually spiral down clockwise towards the ground, getting faster,
faster heading towards the lift hill structure now at ground level,
still sharply banked to the side, you burst through the wall of wood
into an upward spiral still going clockwise.
regain about two thirds of the lost height before swooping back down
in a smooth turning drop towards the ground and then climbing back
over a large mountain of wood. Still banked to the right, you climb
over this huge hill, drop smoothly back to the ground again before
peeling through an 85ft turn-around.
back to the ground in the opposite direction sends you reeling
skywards, subject to a little earthy vibration before you swoop
downwards into a counter-clockwise spiral, climbing back up into the
structure of the overhead track and tunnelling through several parts
of the structure.
train breaks free from this spiral into a fairly promising series of
bunnyhops, all of which fail to deliver, and the exit of one is
trimmed before a last headchopper from the main turnaround sends you
barrelling to the left and climbing onto the final, and rather sharp
the station, encouraged by staff, most people heartily applaud Wild
Wild West before embarking on the saga of unfastening the seatbelts
and exiting the ride.
reviews aside, an average snapshot of riders on Wild Wild West will
return many happy smiles. People are in love with the ride. Itís
good to see people loving a wooden coaster, but when it comes to
explaining why, things become quite a bit harder. Are they in love
with the earthy sensation of Ďshake, rattle and rollí associated
with wooden coasters? Are they in love with the crude and brusque
transitions from element to element that you normally find on wooden
coasters? How about the powerful negative G-forces that people cheer
with excitement on Superman: Ride of Steel elsewhere in the park?
No. Despite being a wooden roller coaster, Wild Wild West possesses
none of these qualities.
leave much to like, surely? Wild Wild West is a ride you have to
bear with. Itís a grower and really focuses on the sensation of
speed without inheriting a feeling of recklessness like Tonnerre De
shares many characteristics with a lot of the other great family
coasters in Europe. Fun is at the very heart of everything Wild Wild
West stands for. The ride shares the same impeccable pacing as Big
Thunder Mountain and Trace Du Hourra, and speed is never fleeting,
but nobody should ever have the feeling that theyíve dipped their
toes into something they shouldnít.
coaster purists will have a hard time comparing WWW against the
greats such as Tonnerre De Zeus, Megafobia and even in terms of
airtime Stampida, but judging Wild Wild West on itís own merits
you will find a really fun ride.
dust rolls across the Western Territory, itís high noon. Will
Smith (James T. West) stands at loggerheads with Werner Stengel
(Rockabilly Rollercoaster). Who will win this shootout? Who will
leave families shooting their pistols in the air with unanimous
delight? Werner Stengal, thatís who.