Ahhh, the Corkscrew. It really is an interesting ride, isn't it? Yeah, just
"interesting". After all, it is a good, neutral adjective. The point is, there's
no secret about many people's feelings toward the Corkscrew. It's been muttered by more
than one guest on a warm summer's day. "Silverwood has a couple of really cool wooden
coasters..oh yeah, and then there's this other one called Corkscrew. Sure, it goes upside
down, but it's pretty boring."
And let's be honest with each other: it is a pretty tame ride, isn't it? Well, sure. But
do you really know all about the history of this ride? Do you realize where it's been, and
what it stands for? Amazingly enough, there are a few people who come to Silverwood just to
ride the Corkscrew. It may sound crazy, but a glimpse into the history of this steel roller
coaster just might make you realize what this ride really is: legendary.
Rewind back a bit to when roller coasters were just experiencing their second
"golden age" the 1970's. Rides and attractions were popping up all over the
country, and it seemed as though designers were trying to do whatever they could to make
sure this coaster boom - like the one of the 1920's - resulted in something permanent. A
small designer in Clearfield, Utah by the name of Arrow decided to take an idea that was
prevalent - but at that time extremely dangerous - during the first coaster boom, and try
it again. They were going to take riders upside down for the first time in this modern
1975, the Corkscrew opened in Buena Park, California at a place by the name of Knott's
Berry Farm. The ride was met with instant critical acclaim, and guests from far and wide
rushed to see the ride perform its double corkscrew maneuver. Back then, the ride was
nothing short of miraculous. People first perceived the ride as dangerous, then as scary,
and finally, as amazing.
It goes without saying that that little Corkscrew ride spawned virtually every looping,
inverting steel contraption that exists today. Take a look at your favorite steel looping
coaster: is it an inverted, stand-up, floorless, 4th dimension? Well, chances
are that no matter what your answer is, the ride wouldn't be in existence today without
the Corkscrew breaking ground in 1975.
In 1990 after many continuous years of expansion, Knott's Berry Farm began to draw crowds
of considerable size and was beginning to see the need to seriously compete with Disney,
Six Flags, Universal and the others in the SoCal coaster arms-race. Constrained by space,
Knott's realized that in order to put in something new, the Corkscrew would have to go.
After all, 15 years is a long time for one ride in one spot, and Knott's needed something
new. Fortunately, Knott's found a buyer in a little upstart theme park somewhere up in
Northern Idaho called Silverwood.
rest is history.
Silverwood today is the proud owner of this bit of coaster-memorabilia, and after a couple
of paint-jobs, the Corkscrew stands proud for what it has always been: the first modern
roller coaster to turn riders upside down. Located closer toward the entrance of
Silverwood than the other coasters, the Corkscrew is a rather tame coaster, and as a
result, the ride is often a walk-on.
Riders pull down their overhead shoulder restraints as they board the single train.
Quickly, the passengers are dropped out of the station into a sharp turnaround and up the
chain, to the peak of 70 feet. After reaching this height, a quick right turn is made, and
the train heads down a steep drop to fly by the station. The roar and the rattling of the
entire frame of the ride are enough to get the blood pumping.
Corkscrew then enters yet another sudden turn and moves directly into the double corkscrew
maneuver. Riders have the pleasure of staring down the barrel rolls as their train
performs the moves with grace, style and speed. Here is a move that coasters even today
wear with pride. Oh, the beauty of it all...
Then, almost as if there is no time to spare, the ride makes it's final turn and heads
into the brake block. Soon, that very brief ride aboard the Corkscrew has come to an end,
and riders can truly say they have experienced a little slice of history in what was once
regarded as a world-class thriller.
Nope, it ain't anything "world-class" these days. In fact, it could be said that
the Corkscrew is a warm-up for rides such as Timber Terror and Tremors. But the point is
that the Corkscrew will always have something none of those other rides have: an unmatched
track record in the annuls of coaster history.
It's stood the test of time, and you can bet it will stand through a lot more.