Coaster World – Wildfire

 

We wrote an article about Kolmarden without talking about Wildfire, their wooden Rocky Mountain Construction roller coaster which pulls worldwide attention from coaster enthusiasts all over the world. Not only because Kolmarden is of course more than Wildfire, but also because Wildfire deserves his own article. The greatness of it can’t be described in just a few words.

Source: N8N Rides

In April 2014 Kolmarden announced they would add a new roller coaster to their park. Not any kind of roller coaster, they chose for a wooden roller coaster from the American manufacturer Rocky Mountain Construction (abbreviated to RMC). Wildfire would be a ‘topper track’ coaster, the second which RMC would have built from that kind. At the time of the announcement, RMC ‘only’ opened three roller coasters. Two of those were conversions from existing older wooden roller coasters, only Outlaw Run from Silver Dollar City was completely new.  Wildfire would also be completely new.

The news was big in the world of coaster enthusiasts! Only three RMC coasters existed but those who had ridden one were extremely enthusiastic about it. With inversions on wooden coasters and new crazy elements, RMC was innovating the world of (wooden) roller coasters and every coaster enthusiast was curious and excited for that. Wildfire is the first and still the only wooden roller coaster in Europe to feature inversions. And Wildfire is a record coaster too. It is the highest operational wooden roller coaster in the world together with Everlands T-Express (South-Korea). Both coasters are 56 meter (183,3 feet) high.

When it comes to speed, Wildfire is on the third spot. But the difference with Dollywoods Lightning Rod is just 2,5 km/h (1,5 mph) and the difference with the second fastest woodie in the world, Goliath from Six Flags Great America, is only 0,9 km/h (0,5 mph). Wildfire scores a bit less on length. Worldwide it’s only at the 21st place when it comes to woodies. But in Europe, only Parque Warner Madrid’s Coaster Express is longer. But which coaster enthusiast would rather ride that one?!  When it comes to the angle of the first drop, Wildfire is back in the top three on the third place with an 83° first drop. Only Six Flags Great Americas Goliath (85°) and ZDT’s Amusement Parks Switchback (87°) do better. For now at least.

Wildfire opened at the end of June 2016. While every coaster enthusiast was excited about this ride opening for the public, some Swedish environmental activists and neighbors weren’t. In October of the same year Kolmarden had to close down Wildfire because the permit was revoked by the government citing environmental concerns. The future of Wildfire was in doubt, there even was fear that Wildfire was going to be torn down. But lucky it didn’t come that far. In March 2017 the city council approved the zoning for the roller coaster and it got to re-open in June 2017.

If you want to ride Wildfire straight away when entering the park, like we did, then embrace yourself for a steady walk. Wildfire is located at the very back and Kolmarden is not very small… It would be interesting to see a morning rush to this coaster. But of course, who wouldn’t want to ride Wildfire immediately?! If they expect a rainy day you better go ride it when you can, because Wildfire doesn’t run when it’s raining.

We were very excited to this coaster, for me it was only my second RMC coaster but the first one I did blew me away. Outlaw Run (Silver Dollar City) is still my favorite coaster, from the nearly 500 coaster’s I’ve ridden. How would Wildfire compare? High expectations are never good and only lead to disappointment, so I already was happy I could ride it after all the problems it faced. We didn’t take the time to admire the impressive structure Wildfire is and immediately went for our first ride. It was a calm day, so after 5 minutes we got to seat in the middle of the train for our very first ride.

The first conclusion was: great, but to be able to really judge the coaster right we had to do more rides on other seats. We rode another two times after that first ride, once back and once front. After that, we went exploring the rest of the park. What Kolmarden has to offer besides Wildfire, can be read in this earlier published article. After we were done with that, we filled the resting time with rides on Wildfire. That day we ended up with ten rides on that Swedish monster.

And with every ride, the ride experience got better and better. Some coasters can be  appreciated more every time you ride it an extra time and for me, that counts for Wildfire too. Not that I was disappointed after the first ride but I really didn’t know where to rank the coaster on my list. At the end of the day I knew it for sure, Wildfire is my second favorite coaster on my list. It was a choice between Phantasialand’s Taron and Cedar Points Top Thrill Dragster. The latter one is special to me as a Cedar Point fan boy and will always be special for me, as it was the coaster that made me discover Cedar Point and other American theme parks when I followed the construction of it when I was a little 14-year old boy.

But in all honesty, Top Thrill Dragster is great but has less to offer than Wildfire or Taron. Taron has two great launches (not as great as Top Thrill Dragster of course), doesn’t lose his speed and momentum, and has quick cornering and two or three ejector airtime spots. And above all, the immense theming around it is the cherry on the cake. It also has great restraints, which are a huge plus too. I doubted very long where to place Wildfire against this.

In the end, it’s personal. As always of course. I’m a big fan of wooden roller coasters and in the end, I’ll chose a coaster aimed at airtime more than a coaster with quick cornering. That made me prefers Wildfire above Taron. Wildfire has some great corners too but it’s mainly aimed at airtime, and ejector airtime you get! Taron has better and way more theming around it but the environment Wildfire is placed in is amazing as well. The view you have from the lift hill is unseen. I doubt there’s a coaster with a better view. Of course during the ride you don’t get the time to enjoy that view, but when in Kolmarden be sure to do the cable way nearby Wildfire. From that ride you have an amazing view on Wildfire and its environment.

But why isn’t Wildfire exactly my number one?! To nitpick and at least mention one less thing about Wildfire… it’s a bit too long and that makes it lose its speed a bit near the end. After the last inversion, Wildfire doesn’t rage the same way over his track as he does before. It’s a bit less powerful, a bit slower. My number one, Outlaw Run from Silver Dollar City, doesn’t lose his momentum. It is a shorter ride, true, but when the ride is that great, it isn’t a big issue for me.

One thing I do find the very best at Wildfire is its first inversion. That inversion beats every other inversion I’ve ever experienced. The hang time you get is enormous. It is just so much fun. I’ve done this kind of inversion only once before on Junker (Powerland, Finland) but Wildfires version executes it just better. Wow!

We only went one weekend to Sweden just to go to Kolmarden and ride Wildfire. Was it worth it? Yes, it was. Kolmarden is a nice park and Wildfire is a world class roller coaster. If you have the chance to go to Sweden, don’t doubt and just do it! You won’t regret it.

Speed
Length
First drop
Turns
Airtime
Smoothness/comfort 
Intensity
Theming

That gives a final score of 4,9 for Wildfire! That’s clearly a world class score and it’s well deserved.

 

Post Author: Frederik