At the most simplistic level, roller coasters consist of tracks and support structures. Usually the material used for these components are the same. You’ll usually find steel roller coasters with a steel track and steel supports and wooden roller coasters with a wooden track and wooden supports.
Hybrid roller coasters are roller coasters that have different materials for the track and supports. Either wooden tracks with steel supports or steel tracks with wooden supports.
Roller coaster types are categorized by the material used for the track. So, examples of steel coasters with wooden supports are mine train roller coasters like Adventure Express at Kings Island, Cedar Creek Mine Ride at Cedar Point, and Carolina Goldrusher at Carowinds.
Examples of woodies with steel supports have become a bit more common over the years. Ravine Flyer II at Waldameer, Great White at Morey’s Piers, Hades 360 at Mt. Olympus, and Invadr at Busch Gardens Williamsburg come to mind.
If you’d like to see more, Roller Coaster Database lists these two modalities separately. There’s a list of wooden roller coasters with the category Hybrid (Steel Structure) and steel roller coasters with the category Hybrid (Wood Structure).
Rocky Mountain Construction’s Hybrid Roller Coasters Are Giving Woodies New Life
Starting with New Texas Giant in 2011, Rocky Mountain Construction has taken the industry by storm with their hybrid roller coaster make-overs of wooden roller coasters. After removing the old wooden track and adding their steel I Box track, these coasters take on a new life. They retain the familiar experience of riding a wooden coaster with open trains and lap bars. They also often keep the same overall ride footprint and supports, but thanks to the steel track they’re reborn with wild new maneuvers including extreme banking and inversions that flip riders upside down in a variety of ways.
Given this trend, you may see the term “Hybrid Roller Coaster” included in marketing messages hyping rides like Cedar Point’s new Steel Vengeance. Just note that the true definition of a hybrid coaster is a mix of materials and not some completely new roller coaster type. We’ve had hybrid coasters for many, many years. It’s just that Rocky Mountain’s breed of hybrids that’s driving this trend are really gaining in popularity. And deservedly so.
What’s Your Take?
Have you ever ridden a hybrid roller coaster? How about one of the Rocky Mountain coasters? What’d you think? Let us know in the comments.