Washington State Fair’s old roller coaster to get a hip new companion


A few new twists — plus some curves and loops — will accompany traditional trappings at the Washington State Fair in September.

The renovated classic wooden roller coaster will operate on the same midway as a hip, new, higher-speed ride, granting fairgoers’ wishes that the fair has worked several years to fulfill.

A new looping inversion roller coaster arrived in April and will be installed soon on the 66-acre fairgrounds.

The attraction will debut at the same time as the fully renovated wooden coaster, a fixture built in 1935 that cost about $250,000 to restore over the past four years. The old coaster continued to run during the annual 17-day fair; sections of deteriorated wood were replaced during the offseason months.

Karen LaFlamme, spokeswoman for the fair, said both rides will offer fun for different breeds of thrill seekers.

“It is great to offer both versions — both the classic as well as something more contemporary so that you’re capturing both audiences,” she said.

Lisa Zigweid of Kirkland, the Northwest representative for American Coaster Enthusiasts, said the new ride will attract more people to the annual late-summer fair.

The fair has long promised a looping coaster, Zigweid said, and her group is pleased the promise was kept.

LaFlamme said the fair board for years has discussed having a more modern coaster. It was a matter of finances and available space that led the board to this 180-foot-by-60-foot model.

“We don’t have extended space,” LaFlamme said. “We wanted something that offered the thrill but didn’t take as large of a footprint as the giant coaster we (already) have.”

The new ride, made by Italian manufacturer Top Fun, is about 62 feet high and reaches a maximum speed of 50 mph. Its maximum G-force is plus-5.8, comparable to the force felt in a Formula One race car during heavy braking, according to a fair news release. It seats 36 riders and runs two trains simultaneously.

The wooden coaster had a maximum speed of 38 mph before its renovation. It will be speed-tested this summer after the final work is finished, LaFlamme said.

The most notable feature of the new ride is an inclined loop, tilted at about an 80-degree angle. Zigweid said the incline is a rare feature.

The new coaster will add depth to one of the most popular aspects of the fair, LaFlamme said. In addition to the wooden coaster and the new ride, the fair has three SillyVille coasters for youngsters and two other grown-up coasters — the Wild Cat and Kersplash.

The new attraction was originally named the Typhoon, but fair officials decided that wasn’t a good fit for this part of the country. A naming contest is underway; LaFlamme said there are more than 500 entries submitted so far.

The fair will spend more than $1 million on the coaster. Exact construction and installation costs have yet to be determined.

The soon-to-be-named new ride and the newly renovated wooden coaster will debut at the 2013 Washington State Fair, which runs Sept. 6-22.

Puyallup resident Patty Mannie and her family are fair fanatics. She said visible structures like the wooden coaster help promote Pierce County.

The new ride will only add to the fun, she said.

“I’m excited to go for a ride, of course.”