As celestial a coaster as Intamin has ever produced, Skyrush holds the number 2 position on my list of the 10 most intense coasters I’ve ridden. (See my post of July 7, 2017). Riders start screaming as soon as the train is dispatched and makes its swift ascent of the cable lift hill, in anticipation of what lies ahead. What lies ahead is an astonishing ride that’s noteworthy for its insane angles and abrupt changes of direction.
The ride begins with a 200-foot right-angled 85-degree drop at 75 mph, continuing on a course of twisting track. A rider in the front seat finds himself or herself looking almost straight down and because of the way the drop is angled, a rider in any seat is likely to experience a complete loss of equilibrium. I find myself so far off balance that I can’t even hold my hands straight in the air. Plus the force at the bottom of the first drop is a whopping 5 G’s. The remainder of the course is an exercise in convolution. The sinuous track contains some seriously – I mean seriously! – overbanked turns/curves. Some of the twists are pretty tight, as can be seen in the featured image. The elements as a whole make for a ride as thrilling as it is exhilarating. And the setting over the water is idyllic.
Skyrush also gets high marks for originality, as it’s the first coaster to feature trains seating four across with two inside seats and two outside wing seats. The wing seats are farther forward than the inside seats, making for an interesting configuration. (I happen to be a huge fan of wing seats, as I enjoy the freedom of riding off the track.) Sounds good, doesn’t it? Well, it is – with the exception of one serious flaw, a flaw that in my opinion prevents Skyrush from being a top ten coaster.
The same riders screaming in fear and anticipation at the beginning of the ride may find themselves ready to scream in agony as the ride progresses, as a result of the punishing restraints. The restraint consists of a lap bar pulled down from overhead and sitting on the lap/thighs. This tightens painfully on every drop/twist/turn, pressing into the thighs, hence earning Skyrush the derogatory nickname of “Thighcrush.” Whereas the restraints on coasters with inversions tighten perceptibly in vertical loops, they don’t cause any discomfort. This is a totally different story and probably a surprise for first time riders who don’t board the train with the expectation of having their legs pulverized.
Comparison With Restraints on Other Forceful Intamin Rides
Hersheypark describes Skyrush as “a very active ride.” That is an understatement. I would describe it as frenetic. Certainly the extreme ejector airtime calls for very tight restraints but there must be a way to adequately restrain riders without torturing them. Let’s compare this with El Toro, another Intamin coaster with extreme ejector airtime. The restraints on El Toro are unusually tight and may not accommodate larger riders. Yet as snug as they are, they don’t become increasingly constricting during the course of the ride or cause discomfort to anyone other than those who struggled to fit into them in the first place. Would this restraint system work on Skyrush? Theoretically, yes, but in practicality probably not because the design of the trains is so different. Presumably, however, a similarly effective yet painless restraint system could be used on Skyrush, even if it meant switching to over the shoulder restraints. Intimidator 305, yet another Intamin coaster with extreme ejector airtime, operates seamlessly with OTS restraints – a testament that this type of restraint system is appropriate for non-inverting coasters.
Safety Plus Comfort
What a world class coaster ideally offers – in addition to thrills – is safety plus comfort. Skyrush is a good coaster, bordering on greatness, which delivers everything but comfort. I cannot say enough about this. The way I’ve approached every ride I’ve taken on Skyrush was to hope that it wouldn’t be too painful – and let’s face it, that is not a good way to have to approach a ride although in this case it’s a realistic one. I find that the level of discomfort varies from seat to seat and even train to train, but almost every seat is going to be uncomfortable to some extent. You might ask why I even ride it under the circumstances and the answer is a simple one: adrenaline rush! But at what cost? More than a day after last riding Skyrush my left leg was still so sore that it hurt to walk. This is not what someone should take away from an aggressive thrill ride at an amusement park!
What’s your take? Have you written Skyrush and if so, what did you think? Did the restraints spoil your enjoyment of the ride?