What Was: Moonsault Scramble
In 1989, Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio opened Magnum XL-200, a massive steel coaster manufactured by Arrow Dynamics. It was billed as the world’s first hyper coaster - a coaster that exceeded 61 meters (200 feet) in height. Although many consider it to be the first coaster to reach these heights, it wasn’t actually the worlds world’s tallest roller coaster at the time. Six years prior, Fuji-Q Highland in Japan opened the first roller coaster to break the 61 meter height barrier with their now defunct attraction, Moonsault Scramble.
What was: moonsault scramble?
Moonsault Scramble opened on June 24, 1983 and operated for 17 years before closing in 2000. It was manufactured by Japanese company, Meisho Amusement Machines, and constructed by Okamoto Co. Ltd. From a quick glance, this ride appears to resemble the well known Boomerang model of Vekoma. It is a fairly compact ride only requiring 180 m x 90 m (590.5 ft. x 259.3 ft.) of space, and it has the distinct double spike feature synonymous with the clone. However, Moonsault Scramble predates the boomerang by a year, meaning this ride was unique when it opened.
The ride features a length of 460 m (1,509.2 ft) and reaches a top speed of 90 km/h (55.9 mph) - pretty basic stats for a roller coaster. One of the two distinct things that make this ride stand out to enthusiasts was its height. Standing a staggering 70 m (229.7 ft.) tall, it met the definition of a hyper coaster. Despite being the tallest coaster in the world at the time, many enthusiasts do not consider it to be a hyper coaster. The reason for this is due to its classification, a shuttle coaster. This means that entire train does not reach the maximum height of the track, which explains why the top speed for the ride is slow compared to other coasters of similar height
The Ride experience
As for the ride experience itself, Moonsault Scramble had some interesting features. Riders would board the 24 passenger train and were secured with an over the shoulder restraint. This system allowed for a theoretical capacity of 560 riders per hour. Once clear, the train would slowly advance forward and engage with a catch car. It was then winched to the top of the first spike and released at the top. Riders would fall in reverse through the station and into a very unique element. The 20.5 m (67.3 ft.) Pretzel Knot is the second thing making this ride notable, simply due to its rarity. Alongside its wonky shaping, the inversion was also noted to exert a massive +6.2 G’s on riders, making it the most intense coaster in the world throughout the entirety of its operating years. It kept its title until 2001 when Gold Reef City in South Africa opened Tower of Terror, a roller coaster which pulls +6.3 G’s of force. On top of this, the Pretzel Knot inversion was only found on Moonsault Scramble until Banshee at Kings Island opened in 2014.
After the pretzel loop, the train would travel across a straight section of track, then coast up the second spike. Unlike the first one, there is no mechanism to pull the train to it’s apex. Instead the train would fall back down the spike and complete the rest of the layout forwards, with a slower speed. Finally, the train would pass through the station twice, allowing for the brakes within the station to bring it to a complete stop. Below is a POV of the ride experience, give it a watch!
Moonsault Scramble closed in 2000 to make room to Dodonpa (now Do-Dodonpa), a S&S Air Thrust coaster. The park still has the trains in storage,but it’s unlikely we’ll ever see them in use again. The ride left a lasting impression on enthusiasts, and it can be argued that it was Moonsault Scramble that introduced Fuji-Q to building record breaking rides. Roller coasters such as Fujiyama, Eejanaika, and Takabisha are now all known for their impressive records and statistics.
As for the ride today, it has become a focal point for discussing which coaster was the first to truly break the 61 meters (200 feet) height barrier. Would you consider it to be Moonsault Scramble? What is your opinion?
Until next time,