Wooden Coaster Adds First Barrel Roll

By Vector & Ink May 13, 2013

Corkscrew. Barrel Roll. Inversion. All of these terms are used to describe a long-sought-after goal: taking a wooden roller coaster upside down. Last month, the newly christened Hades 360 roller coaster, located at the Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, became the first wooden roller coaster to accomplish just that. Originally built in 2005, the coaster’s turnaround was rebuilt this summer to include a 360-degree barrel roll that is fully visible to passersby.

“It’s something that we’ve always wanted to do,” says Korey Kiepert, P.E., an engineer and partner in the Cincinnati, Ohio-based Gravity Group, the company that designed the ride and added the inversion. “It’s something that modern technology has allowed us to do ….We just tried to take our existing bag of tools and apply it to something new. And I think that’s the heart of engineering: taking what you know, and trying to make something new out of it.”

The 4,726 ft long roller coaster, originally called the Hades, reaches speeds of 60 mph, has a lift height of 136 ft, and includes a 140 ft drop at 65 degrees into an underground tunnel. The ride also crosses beneath the park’s parking lot twice, boasting the world’s longest underground tunnel for a wooden roller coaster, at 700 ft. The coaster also includes a dramatic 110-degree overbanked turn.