The Pony Express roller coaster is located in Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, California. It is Zamperla’s first motocoaster in the United States, opening on May 22, 2008. The ride includes motorcycle-style seating as well as a flywheel launch system.
Pony Express was a $9 million project that was added to the park’s Ghost Town portion. The attraction’s theme is based on the historic Pony Express mail service. The trip is intended to give users the sensation of being a part of this delivery system, zipping over hills and around curves. Its “out-and-back” route provides riders with views of Boot Hill and the Calico River Rapids, both famous attractions in Ghost Town. It gets a thrill rating of “high thrill” (4 out of 5) from Knott’s Berry Farm and is suitable for individuals of all ages.
The ride lasts 36 seconds and is comprised of a 1,300-foot-long steel track capable of reaching speeds of up to 38 miles per hour and heights of up to 44 feet. Each train features eight rows of two seats each, and the ride can carry up to 900 passengers every hour. Each rider’s seat is designed like a horse, and the rider straddles the saddle seat to simulate riding on a horse. An automated restraint device holds the passenger in place by pressing against his or her lower back while enabling the upper body to move freely.
The Pony Express was among the first of its sort in the United States. It is based on a novel design known as a Motocoaster. This model was created by Zamperla, an Italian roller coaster and amusement manufacturer based in Vicenza. Riders sit on the seats like they’re on a motorbike or a horse, hence the name Motocoaster. The ride, unlike most coasters, does not employ potential energy gained from ascending a hill by chain lift. Instead, a flywheel and clutch system catches a line attached to the cars and provides accumulated rotational energy, sending riders from 0 to 38 miles per hour down a straight launch track in under 3 seconds.
During the first two years of operation, the trip ran smoothly and without incident. However, during the park’s annual Knott’s Scary Farm event on October 7, 2010, a train carrying nine riders failed to clear the first hill, sliding backwards into the loading station and colliding with another train. The crash injured ten people, nine of whom were in the automobile and one who was prepared to board the stalled train. All ten were taken to the hospital, although no serious injuries were recorded. A few days later, the ride reopened. Since then, no big Pony Express failures have been reported.
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