Advertised as “a revolutionary coaster ahead of our time,” Time Traveler at Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO is indeed a groundbreaking/trailblazing phenomenon. The new coaster from Germany’s Mack Rides represents a $26,000,000 investment and forward-thinking technology which certainly puts a new spin on things. I wanted to resist using the phrase “a new spin” but in this case it’s so appropriate as to be almost inevitable. Time Traveler is the first full circuit spinning coaster to feature three inversions and two launches. The 360-degree spinning vehicles operate with a controlled spin thanks to adjustable magnetic spin control. This allows not only for control but for considerable variation in the ride experience. When I saw the first test videos I was so intrigued that I decided it was a must-ride.
Layout, Theme and Setting
Set in the Ozarks and surrounded by trees, Time Traveler is a terrain coaster with 3,020 feet of track. The entrance is lavishly themed, with an amazing collection of clocks and rotating clock gears hanging from the rafters. Which leads me to the story behind this. The inspiration is a flight of fancy involving an inventor and clockmaker named Charles Henry “enthralled with the idea of speed, time and flight” whose dream is to build a machine that defies time. This theme is reflected not only in the ride queue and loading station but on the ride vehicles, decorated with make believe clock gears which look like wheels. These unique vehicles seat riders in two rows per vehicle, with two of the riders in each vehicle facing forward and two facing backward when the train is dispatched. Each of the three trains is composed of four vehicles for a total capacity of 16 riders. The restraint consists of a lap bar lowered from overhead by the ride ops. Trains are unloaded before reaching the loading area.
In addition to two LSM launches, Time Traveler features a 90-foot 90-degree drop, dive loop, vertical loop and zero-g roll. What’s unusual about the inversions is that the vehicles are to some degree spinning while traveling through them. The course also includes a number of overbanked turns.
A ride on Time Traveler begins with the gong-like sound of a clock striking the hour as the train is dispatched. Right out of the gate, without further preamble, it begins its precipitous descent. A 90-degree drop will obviously feel steep under any circumstances but the fact that the vehicles are spinning their way down adds an entirely different dimension. I found this refreshing and admittedly somewhat disconcerting but a whole lot of fun. After the drop the train ascends to the left and enters a dive loop, followed by two overbanked turns, one left and one right. This brings the train to a straight section of track where the first launch takes place.
Although anticipating the launch, I had no way of anticipating what position I would be in when the train was actually launched. I would estimate that my vehicle spun 360 degrees and then some before coming to a stop, facing sideways. In 3 seconds it was launched from 0 to 47 mph and I must say that being launched sideways was a first, not to mention a blast. The launch was followed by an overbanked turn leading into a 95-foot vertical loop. There is so much going on in such a short period of time that I found it difficult to process but the remainder of the course includes a zero-g roll, launch from 30 to 45 mph while the train is in motion and additional overbanked turns. The zero-g proved to be a definite highlight.
One of the things that most impressed me about the ride is the sense of disorientation experienced by riders. Nothing about this ride is straightforward. At various times I found myself facing forward, backward, sideways, any which way, not to mention upside down. By the middle of the circuit I had lost all sense of direction. Which brings me back to the spin. As one prone to motion sickness, I approached this coaster with some trepidation but any concerns I had were quickly dismissed. The spinning is easily tolerable, not at all dizzying and not at all like the spinning on rides such as teacups or Tilt-A-Whirl.
I got to ride Time Traveler as an invited guest of Silver Dollar City, whose publicity department provided me with complimentary admission to the park and courtesy skip the line passes to Time Traveler. All impressions and opinions expressed about Time Traveler, however, are my own. Many thanks to SDC for enabling me to experience this one of a kind attraction.
Time Traveler is a family friendly coaster, which is to say that it doesn’t fit into the extreme thrill category. That being said, it’s thrilling enough to appeal to – and titillate – anyone from casual parkgoers to hardcore coaster enthusiasts. The sheer novelty makes this coaster one of the most exciting rides to open in 2018. Each of my three rides on Time Traveler was somewhat different from the others; there was no danger of its becoming repetitive. To sum it up, Time Traveler is not only fresh and unique but highly entertaining. Final rating: 9 out of 10. Video courtesy of Silver Dollar City.
What’s your take? Have you ridden Time Traveler and if so, how would you rate it?