Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Passing of A Legend

Ron Toomer

Tonight, just a few minutes after arriving back from a trip from Branson... I heard the sad news of the passing of a legend. Ron Toomer.

Some of you reading this may not know who Ron Toomer was. There is the unfortunate fact that many coasters are know by their names, occasionally their manufacturers, and rarely their designers. Only are the greatest designers remembered. Ron Toomer was one of those.

Ron Toomer was designer at Arrow Dynamics from the 60's until his retirement in 2000. During that time he quite literally designed the modern steel roller coaster. Starting with Six Flags over Texas Runaway Mine Train, to the birth of the modern hyper coaster Magnum XL 200. Of course his primary contribution to Worlds of Fun's history itself was his design of the famed Orient Express.

In the days before computers, when coasters where designed by pencil and paper instead, Ron Toomer looked no further then a wire coat hanger as his means for designing the steel monsters of the 1980's and 90's. One has to remember that before Orient Express there were really only 2 ways to go upside down on a coaster. The Loop and the Corkscrew. With Orient Express, Ron Toomer introduced the first inversion to the modern patheon of inversions, on Orient Express it was known as the Kamikaze Kurve, today it is known as the Boomerang element. This tight, twisted pretzel roll inversion shocked riders from its inception, all the way to its final end in 2003. Orient Express, and its designer Ron Toomer lead the way into the modern world of coasters with inversions and twists with the names of zero-g rolls, cobra rolls, immelmanns, and batwings.

The Boomerang (Kamikaze Kurve) on Orient Express

Coasters with the names of Shockwave, Great American Scream Machine, Big Bad Wolf, and the still operating Viper at Six Flags Magic Mountain are all a testament to Ron Toomer's genius.

Magnum XL-200 at Cedar Point. A similar appearance to Mamba is not inconsequential.

Ron Toomer's legacy at Worlds of Fun wouldn't begin and end with Orient Express either. In 1989, one his biggest contributions to the roller coaster world opened. Magnum XL-200. At a towering 200 feet tall it became the worlds first hypercoaster. Nine years later, Mamba, a coaster derived from the roots of Magnum began towering over Kansas City's own Worlds of Fun. Mamba, may have not been designed by Ron Toomer, however the technology found in Mamba, could not have been achieved had not 10 years earlier, a man had not came up with the idea of a coaster that towered to the sky. That man was Ron Toomer, and though he may have passed from this world, his visions have not. One more good reason to go out and ride a coaster this weekend.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A NEW Northland Attraction!

Yes I know folks it has been a little bit longer then I expected for an update. However, truth be told it took me a LONG LONG time to scan everything you will be seeing over the next few months. A friend of ours, Bill Valiant was able to borrow a whole box of goodies from Hunt Midwest storage. I cant begin to tell you which felt better, seeing tons of old WoF stuff I have never seen before, or hearing that Hunt didn't throw anything away... (THANK GOODNESS!)

I'll get back to you on that.

I just shared with you the first page of my favorite "find". If you scroll down you will find the rest of the 7 pages of a promotional newspaper insert that ran I believe in the Clay County Dispatch Tribute only a few days after Worlds of Fun had its 1973 Grand Opening.

A lot of it is self congratulatory, advertisements from various vendors involved with park construction. Personally though, I think the ads are part of the interest.

However, if you take the time to read the articles, which I highly recommend by the way, there are a lot of good historical tidbits to be found and discovered. You can read each page by right clicking on it, and opening each image in a separate window or tab.

Page two, If you are going to read any of this, don't miss the Jack Steadman story... it explains quite a bit... Including why the park rides had such err.. "unusual" names. Word to the wise, don't schedule "riding naming" meetings and beer drinking parties at the same time. That is unless you want to end up with rides named Schussboomer and Finnish Fling.

Ah look the park is supposed to be INTERNATIONALLY themed... I would have never realized that.... (sorry I couldn't help it)

Interesting article on the old Fins and Flippers Show...

Honestly, I never knew that there was a bus that was specifically for Worlds of Fun. Pretty neat idea. This page also has a great story on the Worlds of Fun Railroad, most of it is directly lifted from the Press Releases, but still some great stories in there, especially about how ELI got its name. It gives a much better explanation then I have been ever able to give...

If you don't know much at Cotton Blossom or Victrix... read about it here.

Best part of this? Viking Voyager with dragon head boats! Yes there is also a story there about the park shows at the time too.

And finally a word from our sponsors...

Hope you guys loved this as much as I did!