Bolliger & Mabillard vs Intamin | Roller Coaster Showdowns

Roller Coaster Showdowns

Bolliger & Mabillard and Intamin are responsible for creating many of the most popular and successful steel roller coasters of the past two decades.

Bolliger & Mabillard: Creating Innovative Crowd-Pleasers for the Masses

Bolliger & Mabillard are known for their fun, crowd-pleasers that appeal to a wide range of theme park-goers. Riders often remark on their creations’ smoothness that encourages re-rides. Their most successful ride designs include the Batman: The Ride inverted roller coasters and their Superman Ultimate Flight flying roller coasters as both have been copied and installed at different Six Flags parks.

You can identify B&M’s roller coasters by their four-across trains that ride along rails that sit on a box-shaped spine. B&M has added several successful, innovative twists on roller coaster designs. They are responsible for the first inverted roller coaster where riders sit ski lift-style below the track. This built on the previous suspended coaster design as it allowed for the trains to traverse loops.

B&M’s popular sit-down looping coasters include Incredible Hulk at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Kumba at Busch Gardens Tampa. They’ve also produced tall, hilly hyper coasters like Diamondback at Kings Island, Nitro at Six Flags Great Adventure, and Apollo’s Chariot at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Floorless roller coasters like Medusa, Bizarro. and Kraken at SeaWorld as well as dive coasters Griffon and SheiKra at the Busch Gardens parks. Flying roller coasters include Manta at SeaWorld Orlando and Tatsu at Six Flags Magic Mountain. And most recently, wing roller coasters like GateKeeper at Cedar Point, Wild Eagle at Dollywood, and X-Flight at Six Flags Great America.

Intamin: Creating Today’s Record Breakers & Thrill Machines

Intamin is a company that has pushed the limits of roller coasters both in terms of height and speed. They designed 8 of the 10 tallest roller coasters in the World including the popular American coasters Millennium Force, Intimidator 305, Top Thrill Dragster, and Kingda Ka.

Intamin also designed the former record holder for most loops (10) on a roller coaster, Colossus at Thorpe Park. And with Superman The Escape, Top Thrill Dragster, and Kingda Ka, they’ve also pushed the speed envelope by setting and breaking new records while launching riders in excess of 100 mph.

Intamin can also boast two of the most highly ranked rides by roller coaster enthusiasts. El Toro at Six Flags Great Adventure and Bizarro at Six Flags New England have been repeatedly rated at the very top of the best wooden and steel roller coaster lists in polls. Other popular Intamin rides include Volcano: The Blast Coaster at Kings Dominion, Stormrunner at Hersheypark, Xcelerator at Knotts Berry Farms, California Screamin’ at Disney’s California Adventure Park, and Maverick at Cedar Point.

Which Roller Coaster Designer Would You Pick?

It’s been awesome having both of these companies providing their array of thrill rides all these years. They’ve spoiled us with the majority of the best steel roller coasters on the planet. Thankfully, we don’t have to pick, but what if you did? If there was only one of the two, which would you pick?

Vote below by clicking on one of the images and you’ll see how others voted.

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Let us know why you voted the way you did by leaving a comment below.

27 Comments

  1. As a ride operator at Six Flags Great Adventure, I’d have to go with B&M. They are a lot more considerate of the ride operators. The restraints are easier to push down and are never below arm level for us. With Nitro, you only need 2 fingers to check the ride, but on Kingda Ka, I literally have to jump in the air to put enough force on the harness and I have to bend down a lot. Also, Nitro is the best ride in the park, so B&M wins.

    • Simple question of size (read: gimmicky and overdone) vs. quality (superior overall ride experience). Nothing beats that B&M hummmm.

  2. For a long time I think I would’ve answered this question with B&M but now I’m not so sure. I love both but I think Intamin has the edge here for me. Although they both have variety I think Intamin has a little more variety. Particularly I think about all of the launch coasters I love(stormrunner, maverick, TTD, Kingda Ka, Volcano) and 300 footers (INT305, Mill Force). I feel like B&M performs well across they board but they only have one speed compared to Intamin who can take it to the next level. B&M does positive g’s really well but Intamin also has plenty of coasters with extreme airtime. I think El Toro and the fact that Intamin has a couple of great wooden coasters also adds to that fact that they are the best. When I think about the most thrilling, most exciting rides I’ve had all Intamin coasters come to mind. Like I said above I LOVE LOVE LOVE B&M but I’d have to go with Intamin on this one.

  3. I’m fine with either one, they’re both fantastic, but my personal favorite would have to be B&M.

  4. isn’t kraken a floorless?

    • Yes it is. Thanks for pointing that out.

      • Isn’t Montu at Busch Gardens Tampa also floorless?

        • No it is an inverted coaster

          • Inverted and floorless are not mutually exclusive. Montu is a floorless coaster because your feet dangle.

  5. Love both but because my absolute favourite ride is Tatsu I have to vote B & M.

  6. My husbands favourite is Gatekeeper, so another vote for B & M

  7. Intamin for me, Love B&M but I have more Intamin’s in my favorites… I like the funkier track layouts like on stormrunner, Fahrenheit, I305, Skyrush, and Maverick…

  8. Both are exceptional and it’s interesting that so many great coasters are coming from Swiss companies. However, on my own top ten list, 6 were made by Intamin so I voted for Intamin. Also, 4 of the 6 – El Toro, Millennium Force, I305 and Skyrush – use cable lifts and I’m all for cable lifts. I’d like to ride a B&M coaster with a cable lift. Nitro is a fabulous coaster on my top ten list but the ascent to the top is agonizingly slow. Not to say that all B&M hypercoasters are slow; Apollo’s Chariot manages to reach the apex in very little time.

  9. I’ve been an Intamin fanboy for quite a long time, but recently I’ve found it hard to look down at B&M as I did before. I’ve talked about this on this site before, but I’ve always thought that Intamin has more variety than B&M. To me, it’s like B&M is Led Zeppelin and Intamin is Pink Floyd: (this analogy doesn’t go too deep, don’t over think it) B&M has enough variety to satisfy and intrigue, but very rarely do you ride an Intamin and think: “This is a lot like (insert name of other ride here)”. However, with the introduction of wing coasters and my first trip to Busch Gardens Williamsburg this past summer and my experience of riding Alpengeist (which is now matching Bizarro in my favorite coaster spot) I feel as though , despite the fact that B&M does take a few notes out of Vekoma’s book of copy-pasting Roller coaster designs, they definitely have the capabilities to create very unique rides, just so long as that’s what the park they are selling to wants. Nonetheless, my vote still goes to Intamin. Imean, think about it, Bizzaro, Expedition GeForce and Millennium Force, and other chart-topping roller coasters are all designed by the same people. For that reason, Intamin still gets my vote.

  10. quite frankly ( and this is going to offend 54% of people ) i find B&M’s bland, boring and lacking thrill. when I say this I am referring to their newer rides like Gatekeeper and Diamondback while all the Intamins bring white knuckle thrills like Top Thrill Dragster, Millenium, and El toro. to top it off Intamin builds woodies and flats but B&M only builds steel coasters.

  11. (Sorry, this is gonna get long.)

    B&M: Innovation, Diversity & Competence

    Bolliger & Mabillard is not only a true pioneer in coaster innovation (having originated celebrated coaster types such as inverted and wing coasters), but it also has MASTERED a greater variety of ride types. Intamin, having eclipsed its rivals when it comes to launched coasters and hyper/giga coasters, has tried its hand at multi-loopers and inverted coasters in this past two decades, but these rides don’t seem to provide nearly as much power or excitement as their B&M counterparts. It is true that B&M is much stronger and more effective with certain coaster types than others, but I’d say in general it provides a fairly excellent experience across the board. The most glaring exception I see is their stand-up coasters; I feel B&M could’ve focused more on maneuvering those rides to make a more unique and impactful stand-up experience. However, B&M’s general pairing of competence and breadth makes it a strong contender. Moreover, the company’s impeccable engineering made them the first manufacturer of steel coasters that really figured out how to make its rides smooth, re-ridable, and capable of aging well.

    Intamin: Master of Speed & Maneuvering

    When Intamin designs to its strengths, the outcome isn’t just good—it’s amazing. The best Intamin coasters all combine an effective use of speed, intelligent pacing, a variety of positive, negative, and lateral G-forces, and creativity. B&M seldom integrates all of these areas powerfully because it usually gets stuck focusing on special elements. And it’s the predictable placement of these special elements that has tinged their reputation with an unmistakable sense of mundanity. But because Intamin has no such preoccupation, it’s free to focus on how to maneuver its trains to give the most impactful experience, whether that means injecting lots of ejector airtime, quick lateral movements, a barrel roll here or there, or a nice moment of floater air—or, in some cases, all of these things. This is why Intamin has dominated the scene when it comes to launched coasters, hyper/giga/strata coasters, and Mega-Lites, and has even created a splash with their top-ranking wooden coasters. Intamin’s strengths with these coaster types more than makes up for its weaknesses in terms of their inversion-oriented coaster types. It’s worth considering that my favorite ride on an Intamin (so far, El Toro) easily beats out my favorite on a B&M (at this point, Alpengeist).

    Wasting More of Your Time Before I Announce My Vote…

    I feel very torn here. B&M’s strengths and Intamin’s strengths are so very divergent. From its sprawling, acrobatic multi-loopers, like the iconic and poetic Kumba, to its small but forceful inverted coasters, like the unparalleled Nemesis or even the understated Flight Deck, B&M is downright inspiring—when it’s not coasting with formulaic models. B&M’s most original and creative models, many of which hit the scene in the 1990s, were a huge reason I fell in love coasters as a kid. Admittedly, sentimental value plays a role here. On the other hand, Intamin has dominated the coaster scene for the past decade and a half, and for good reason. Intamin just knows how to make a ride experience memorable and powerful. As I’ve said, I believe Intamin’s strongest rides are more impressive than B&M’s. However (warning: I’m drifting into RollerCoasterPhilosophy territory a bit), maybe there’s a certain narrative quality I see in B&M’s signature rides that I don’t quite see in Intamin’s. Hmm. The more I contemplate the more I feel the need to go with my gut.

    My Vote (thanks for bearing with me): B&M.

    If something’s your favorite, it’s just your favorite. But I will say, whereas I think B&M’s heyday has passed, Intamin is killing it right now, and the coaster world is better off for it.

    • I dare say from my knowledge i believe Intamin actually created the first winged coaster with furios baco at port aventura excpet they phrase it as wing rider so it does not show up as the first one even though it was built in 2007 versus B&M’ first raptor at gardaland in 2011.

      • Ah, that’s a good point.

  12. Well, let me say, first of all, that it is one of the saddest things in the world that Cedar fair is no longer using Intamin period. They offer the most thrilling coasters, drop towers, and one could even argue flats, but I think that HUSS or Zamperla are the kings of that category. But on the bright side, they are using B&M. While not creating rides that are as thrilling as Intamin, they have a nice pacing to them and offer their fair share of thrilling moments. And every time I hear rumors of a new coaster, I hope it’s an Intamin. And my guess is that they will continue their excellence. They have created some great Big Three combos, at Hershey, Cedar Point, and have 2/3 at Kings Dominion. They have a necessity to take risks, unlike B&M, who often falls behind in the height, speed, and drop angle categories. And my favorite part about Intamin? The cable lift. I love it. But not to say B&M is bad, it’s just that Intamin is better by a slim margin.

    Please do a Gravity Group/RMC vs. GCI before you leave! Thanks!

  13. I’ll take BnM

  14. B&M coasters are way too slow. The second hill on their coasters is almost always close to the height of the lift hill calling for very slow crest speeds. When I’m on a B&M coaster, I always feel like they could have just made that second hill about half as tall as the first one and you will get some major airtime. But, B&M seems scared to make their coasters ball-to-the walls jam packed with airtime and speed.

    Intamin coasters push the limits of what is possible. People always glorify B&M for their smoothness, but I find some (possibly half or 1/4) of B&M’s coasters rough and not enjoyable. Ex: Scream and Batman at SFMM. All of the stand up coasters and Hulk at IOA had a little bit of headbanging. All of the Intamin coasters I have ridden ( Millennium Force, Maverick, TTD, Wicked Twister, King Da Ka, Superman Escape from Krypton, Green Lantern and California Scream’n) are smoother than any B&M hyper I have ridden.

    Intamin coasters also push what is possible with speed and length. Formula Rossa hits speeds of 149mph and is 6000+ feet long. None of B&M’s coasters reach in the 6000’s. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the longest B&M roller coaster is Leviathan at 5,486 feet long.

    Intamin also has a great variety. I personally love the Zac-Spin roller coasters. They give you such a unique experience and one you would not think would be possible on a roller coaster. The only coaster from B&M where you have a one-of-a kind thrill would be the flying coaster and possibly the wing coaster (Which I did not find that thrilling).

  15. I think they both produce great coasters, but B&M wins hands down. If I think of all the greatest, most re-ridable coasters in the world they are mostly B&M:
    Batman
    Manta
    Kraken
    Hulk
    Montu
    Kumba
    Superman
    Green Lantern
    SkeaKra
    Nitro
    Goliath

    Etc

    intamin tends to make its mark with “dare rides” like Kingda Ka; rides that are great in that they push the boundaries of height and speed etc but not so much in the way of an enjoyable ride experience.

    There are notable exceptions however, such as the Great Adventure’s El Toro and the tame but still quite fun Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens Tampa.

  16. B&M coasters lack intensity. Intamin has more airtime. Point made. Intamin is better.

  17. I think that the choice of either B&M and Intamin depends on the type of thrill-seeker you are. For example, if you are an adrenaline junkie, then you probably would like Intamin better. But, if you prefer smooth, interesting rides, you probably would like B&M better. I personally have never been on an Intamin coaster, but I have enjoyed MANY B&M coasters. From what I understand, Intamin creates the thrill, but not the deep thinking about it; while B&M is a bit milder, but creates the excellent elements of a coaster. In the end, my vote goes to B&M.

  18. My top 5 roller coasters are kraken, alpengeist, storm runner, sky rush, and apollos chariot. They are both fantastic companies, with intamins more intense and B&M’s smoother. B&M loopers are better than intamins loopers, but their hypers are both equal. Intamins has launch coasters and b&m’s don’t, so they are equal. Intamin has more variety, but still I like B&M better because of apollos chariot.

  19. I never understood why people glorify B&M for their smoothness. Every single Intamin I’ve ridden has been way smoother than the B&Ms I’ve ridden. These include Maverick and Millenium Force at Cedar Point and Cheetah at Heide Park. I’ve always known B&M for their wicked coasters e.g. Flying coasters, Dive coasters, Wing coasters etc. Intamin, to me, always seemed more focus on pushing the limits with Formula Rossa, Millenium Force, Kinda Ka etc. I’m gonna conclude that if you want your park to be more child friendly or are on a lower budget that you go with B&M, and if you want to provide the ultimate thrill and spent a little more you will go with Intamin. Both manufacturers are great for their own reasons and it very much depends on what experience you wish to provide.

  20. I think that B&M is a world class. However Intamin has produced rides such as I305, Millenium Force, Bizzarro, Formula Rosa, Skyrush, Fahrenheit, Storm Runner, Maverick, El Toro, Top Thrill Dragster, Kingda Ka, Superman Escape from Krypton. Also drop towers like Zumenjaro Drop of Doom, Lex Luther, and Falcons Fury. They also opperate in 22 countries, where as B&M only is in 14. Intamin constantly pushes the boundrys of what is possible and B&M sticks to the same stuff. Even Fury 325, the newest B&M is just a little bit taller and faster than both I305 and Millenium, both better than Leviathan, B&Ms other giga. Overall I would say Intamin is by far the better company if you are a true thrill seaker like me.

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