What is: Boulder Dash

Hey all! It has been sometime since I last wrote a new post for the site, but after seeing you all greatly enjoy the “What is: Dragon Mountain” blog post, we have decided to continue the series! There are many coasters to cover and hopefully we can explain your favorite coaster through either our channel or here.

As you can probably tell from the title, the coaster in the spotlight is Boulder Dash at Lake Compounce in Bristol, Connecticut in the United States of America. Many enthusiasts recognize the name of this coaster due to it’s famous location and ride experience. Lake Compounce itself is the oldest amusement park in America, located alongside a lake and within the shadow of Compounce Mountain.

(Boulder Dash at Lake Compounce)

(Boulder Dash at Lake Compounce)

What is: Boulder Dash?

Before we dive into the ride itself, let’s look at how it came to be. With it being within close proximity of the mountain, Lake Compounce wanted to construct a roller coaster that travelled along the mountainside. In came Custom Coasters International and designers Larry Bill and Dennis McNulty. The construction process began in June of 1999 and proved to be difficult to execute due to extreme terrain, requiring a system of cables and pulleys to move equipment along the mountainside. On top of this, Lake Compounce made a conscious effort to make sure that the environment would not be disturbed by the construction, only removing a few trees and mounting the coaster to the rocks on the surface. While construction was underway, the park did not have a name for the attraction. To resolve this, they hosted a naming contest asking people what the ride should be named. As we know today, the winning name was Boulder Dash, which was fitting due to the nature of the ride.

That being said, What is Boulder Dash? Boulder Dash is a $6 million wooden coaster that opened on May 21st 2000. Situated along the base of Compounce Mountain, Boulder Dash follows the terrain very closely dubbing it as a mountain coaster. As a result, it is billed as the first coaster to be built on a mountain. Despite its heavy reliance on the terrain, Boulder Dash still delivers with impressive stats. The ride features a 35 meter (115 ft.) drop reaching a top speed of 97 km/h (60 mph) and travelling over 1,440 meters (4,725 ft.) of track (Which also makes it the longest wooden coaster on the east coast!). However, the terrain allows for the ride to undergo a total elevation change of 44 meters (145 ft.), creating an exciting and relentless experience. In fact, the track only reaches 15 meters (50 ft.) above ground level! Pretty insane when you look at the ride’s stats.

(Notice how closely Boulder Dash follows the terrain!)

(Notice how closely Boulder Dash follows the terrain!)

The Ride Experience

Once the airgates have opened, riders will board one of the two Philadelphia Toboggan Coaster trains. Each of which consist of six cars seating four riders in two rows of two, allowing for 24 guests per train. Guests fasten their seatbelts and pull down on their lap bar before getting the all clear. The train makes a small dip to the left prior to ascending lift hill into the foliage of the mountain. At the apex of the lift, riders observe the natural beauty of the setting around them., only to be caught off guard by the 35 meter (115 ft.) drop along the face of the mountain. From here on out it is a barrage of hills and turns featuring both airtime and lateral forces respectively. All while remaining true to its name and hugging the ground. For a more detailed ride experience, watch the POV Frightastic filmed back in 2018! (Huge thanks to Fightastic, go subscribe to him for more quality roller coaster POV’s).

However, Boulder Dash’s story does not end there. Like most wooden coasters, it takes a lot of TLC to ensure they are still providing a thrilling and enjoyable ride. To assist with the upkeep of the ride, Lake Compounce hired Great Coasters International to perform adjustments to the structure, bracing, profiling, and track. In the 2007 off season, the park invested $3 million into replacing 80% of the track and various renovations to the structure. Perhaps the most notable of the changes was the trick track that opened with the ride into a triple up to provide more airtime. However, the element caused discomfort for many riders, leading to it’s removal in the winter of 2016. Now a double up stands where it used to be, still providing airtime to riders.

(New track has been put in place to make Boulder Dash a smoother, more enjoyable ride)

(New track has been put in place to make Boulder Dash a smoother, more enjoyable ride)

Overall, Boulder Dash receives overwhelming praise from enthusiasts all over, earning the title “Best Wooden Coaster” by many. People adore the ride for it’s unique and breathtaking setting, while also packing a punch. Now in traditional Coaster Bot fashion, would you like to see more parks integrate roller coasters with their extreme terrain? And, most importantly, what’s your opinion?

Until next time,

- Andrew