Thursday, June 30, 2022

Unique thrills in Denmark: Record-breaking roller coaster Fønix has risen at Fårup Sommerland

By Judith Rubin and Martin Palicki

At 40 meters (131 feet) in height, 905 meters (2,970 feet) in length and a top speed of 95 kilometers per hour (60mph), the new Fønix coaster, a custom creation of Vekoma Rides, debuted at Denmark’s Fårup Sommerland in April 2022.

At €13 million, Fønix (Phoenix, in English) represents the largest investment in the history of Fårup Sommerland. The park is banking on Fønix’s unique package of thrills to differentiate it from other European parks, rival major coasters around the world and help reinvigorate tourism in the region.

“We take great pride in presenting a roller coaster that is without comparison the biggest in Denmark – a fact that will come to leave a significant imprint on both the Danish and the international amusement landscape,” said Fårup Sommerland CEO, Niels Jørgen Jensen. “We hope and trust that, by way of such a substantial addition, we will be able to attract both Danish and international guests to Fårup Sommerland as well as the rest of the Danish tourist industry in general.”

Fårup Sommerland is banking on Fønix’s unique package of thrills to differentiate it from other European parks, rival major coasters around the world and help reinvigorate tourism in the region. Photo courtesy Vekoma

From Orkanen to Saven to Fønix

Fønix also represents the continuation of a productive collaboration between Fårup Sommerland and Vekoma Rides. The park’s 2013 Orkanen attraction is a custom Vekoma Suspended Family Coaster. Saven, a coaster opened in 2020, is a custom Vekoma Family Boomerang.

“After the success of Orkanen in 2013, something else was needed,” explained Stefan Holtman, Sales Manager/Senior Design Engineer, Vekoma Rides. “Fårup Sommerland and Vekoma were discussing a new addition to the park already in 2018. During a joint trip to Legendia Park in Poland, the Fårup Sommerland owners were taken with the Lech Coaster there.” (Lech Coaster is a high-speed, high-thrill, compact steel roller coaster version of Vekoma’s Bermuda Blitz design, installed at Legendia in 2017.) [See “Heavy Metal,” InPark Magazine issue #68]

“However, as Fårup Sommerland is a typical family park, we were concerned that a Bermuda Blitz coaster would be a bit too intense for their target group,” said Holtman. “Therefore we had to work on a less intense version, focusing more on airtime while reducing positive g-forces. This is how Fønix was conceived.” The amount of concept design and engineering work required meant a potential opening was at least three years away. But an eight-year interval between new ride launches was too long. The solution: launch an intermediate ride for the 2020 season and follow it two years later with Fønix, the big thrill ride. “This was the birth of Saven, the first out-and-back Family Boomerang in the world, which turned into a great success for the park and was the perfect step up to the launch of the record-breaking Fønix coaster in 2022.”

Fønix grew out of a longstanding, productive collaboration between Fårup Sommerland and Vekoma Rides. Photo courtesy Vekoma

Pacing and airtime

In addition to extreme size, height and speed, Fønix was designed to deliver riders substantial “airtime” – the experience of weightlessness achieved through drops, loops and twists – of which the Fønix boasts 14 different occurrences. At the same time, Fønix introduces a unique design feature to the roller coaster community: a so-called “stall loop”that combines the classic loop with an inverse “camelback,”thus providing an experience of zero gravity for 2.5 seconds. Picture a traditional roller coaster loop, but with the top flattened down a bit, resulting in more time for the train spent upside down.

“The key design drivers for Fønix’s track design were pacing and airtime,” said Benjamin Bloemendaal, Head of Concept Engineering, Vekoma Rides. “From the exit of the Stall Loop all the way to the final brake run, the vehicle maintains a breakneck pace leaving no time to catch your breath.” The design focuses on rapid-fire direction changes and repeated pops of airtime. The ride’s three inversions are spread strategically throughout the length of the course to create the best possible variety in the experience.

One of the inversions takes place above the loading station. Guests waiting to board the coaster witness the train fly through overhead, inverted and at near-top speed. For riders, the effect provides a near-miss effect as they maneuver through the station’s structure.

“We first incorporated this element on the Lech Coaster in Poland and it was one of the elements that we definitely wanted to carry over to Fønix,” said Holtman. “On Fønix we actually enhanced this near-miss effect even further, by placing the approach to the flip-over at ground level. The train seems to fly-up to the hole in the building only just in time.”

“The key design drivers for Fønix’s track design were pacing and airtime,” said Benjamin Bloemendaal, Head of Concept Engineering, Vekoma Rides. Photo courtesy Vekoma

A brand-new experience

Anticipation among roller coaster enthusiasts in Denmark and around the world had been building ever since Fønix was officially announced about a year ago. From the Fårup Sommerland press release upon its opening: ‘“A ride of this nature is simply wonderful news for us here in Europe. The days of jealously looking west at parks in the US are over,” says Justin Garvanovic, founder of the European Coaster Club.’

Established in 1975, Fårup Sommerland marked its 45-year anniversary in 2020. Each year, the amusement park is visited by approximately 600,000 guests of which about 80 percent are Danish. Over the years, the park has won an array of awards. In 2021 it was named Europe’s best amusement park (in the category of less than 1.5 million guests) at the Park World Excellence Awards. The park has also received honors from Kirmes and IAAPA. Fårup Sommerland’s vision is to be the epitome of unique family experiences in the entire Nordic region, and its slogan is “The greatest experiences are the ones we share.”

For their part, Vekoma’s team enjoyed the challenge of creating a brand-new experience. “We love when parks work with us to create rides that have never been done before,” said Holtman. “Fårup Sommerland’s great partnership through the years has allowed us to create some truly special attractions.”

Vekoma Rides is a market leader and brought to the project decades of experience and hundreds of designers and engineers. Vekoma coasters can be found at parks on five continents. They have worked with notable clients including Six Flags, Universal and Disney, and several of their projects have been honored with TEA Thea Awards. For more information on Vekoma, visit www.vekoma.com.

Guests race to ride the new coaster on opening day. Anticipation among roller coaster enthusiasts in Denmark and around the world had been building ever since Fønix was officially announced about a year ago. Photo courtesy Vekoma

Fønix at Fårup Sommerland – Details

Technical specifications

  • Track length – 905 meters
  • Height (structure) – 40 meters
  • Maximum speed – 95 km/hr
  • Number of inversions – three
  • Footprint – 144 meters x 66 meters
  • Number of trains – two
  • Number of coaches per train – four
  • Number of passengers per train – 16
  • Height restriction – 1.20 meters
  • Restraint system – Lap bar with vest

Unique ride elements

  • First Drop:  40-meter, eye-catcher ride element with near-vertical 80° descent that pulls out into a trench at a top speed of 95km/h.
  • Stall Loop: A one-of-a-kind, on-ride sensation with an inverted crawl at -0.5G hangtime, twisted vertical drop and 30-meter tall eye-catcher
  • Station Fly-Through Corkscrew: Disorienting, near-miss, on-ride sensation and one of a kind interactions with guests in the station that see the train flip over their heads at a speed of 60km/h.
  • Rodeo finale: The low profile track enhances the sensation of speed, rapid-succession direction changes and seemingly out-of-control, seven-fold airtime sensation.
Photo courtesy Vekoma
Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin ([email protected]) is a leading journalist, publicist, strategist, blogger, content marketing specialist and connector in the international attractions industry. She excels at writing about all aspects of design and technical design, production and project management. Areas of special interest include AV integration and show control, lighting design and acoustics, specialty cinema, digital video and world’s fairs. Judith has ties to numerous industry organizations. From 2005-2020 she ran communications, publications and social media for the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). In 2013, she was honored with the TEA Service Award. She was development director of IMERSA, and co-chair of the 2014 IMERSA Summit. She was publicist for the Large Format Cinema Association in the 1990s, now part of the Giant Screen Cinema Association (GSCA) and has also contributed to the publications of PLASA, IAAPA and the International Planetarium Society. Already making her mark as a magazine and book editor, Judith joined World’s Fair magazine in 1987, which introduced her to the attractions industry. Launching as a freelancer in the mid 1990s she has contributed to dozens of publications and media outlets including Funworld, Lighting&Sound America, Sound & Communications, Urban Land, The Raconteur and The Planetarian. She joined InPark in 2010. Judith earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute. She has lived in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area, and now makes her home in Saint Louis, where she is active in the local arts and theater community.

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