'Looping Thunder' goes silent at Oaks Park
When it opened 21 years ago, having made the trip from Italy, where it was built – as reported at the time in THE BEE – the Looping Thunder roller coaster was the first real "thrill ride" at historic, non-profit Oaks Amusement Park in Sellwood.
But, when this year's Oktoberfest celebration ended, Looping Thunder went silent – except for one last ride, on September 25, to give park employees, and the crew that diligently maintains their rides, one last unforgettable ride.
"It's given millions of 45-second rides since its inaugural run in 1996,which was my second year working here; I grew up with this ride," recalled Oaks Promotions and Events Manager Emily MacKay. "During my breaks back then, I'd ride it all the time!
"But now, it's time to 'retire' it, and replace it with something new," MacKay told THE BEE.
She wouldn't go into great detail about the replacement ride, about which their CEO was in Germany making final arrangements in early October, but we did get a few hints: The new ride will be another roller coaster, and it will be located in about the same space as the old one being dismantled.
"It will be a little larger, and 30 feet taller, and will have three inversions instead of one – and it features a greater-than-vertical initial drop," revealed MacKay. "And, importantly because our emphasis is on being a family-oriented park, our new coaster has lower height limit, which opens it up to more kids!"
If all goes well, the new roller coaster will be operational on the park's opening day next year, April 28, 2018, she said.
But from now through December 1, they're holding a contest to name the new ride. The winning entrant will receive a $500 Oaks Park Gift Card, to be awarded at the new coaster's grand opening next spring.
"Another hint could be that the colors will be blue and fuchsia pink," MacKay suggested with a wink. "Don't let the fact that we've received about 4,000 entries already deter you; there have been a dozen or more so far for 'Coasty McCoasterface', and as many as 50 entries similar to 'Oaks Park – The Coaster', so be creative!"
Before December 1, enter online – oakspark.com/attractions.html – and go to the "Coming Soon" box near the top of the page on the right, then click on "Click here for more info" link to enter.
"Although millions of people have enjoyed the old ride, guests have been begging for a more extreme roller coaster, and we are going to deliver on that request!" promised McKay.