COASTER-net.com > Ride Gallery > Thunder Dolphin
Uniqueness and creativity have always been a quality sought out in thrillrides by coaster enthusiasts around the globe, and one steel coaster has pushed these two things to a whole new level in 2003. The Thunder Dolphin of Japan's LaQua Korakuen Park is a megacoaster like none other, situated right in the middle of downtown Tokyo, where only the greatest inventiveness can fit a 26-story tall, 3,500-foot long steel mammoth, the result being one incredible feat of coaster design and ingenuity. Crafted by Intamin AG of Switzerland, the layout of gray skeleton track for Thunder Dolphin climbs up buildings, races along busy streets, performs rooftop maneuvers, dives down walls, and even threads right through the center of a ferris wheel during the truely unique experience - all of that after a 263-foot high cable lift hill boasting the steepest angle of any ride over the 200-foot height mark, aiming upwards at fourty-five-and-a-half degrees. After an initial 80-degree plummet, the hypercoaster's dynamic tiered 36-passenger train gets going at a good eighty-one miles to the hour, those speeds being further enhanced by the dense urban setting. One other uniqueness in the ride course comes when the train encounters a 'trick-track' maneuver in which the track swerves from the right to left several times on the roof of a shopping mall, making for the first such element on any steel coaster of its kind. The Thunder Dolphin experience roars into the Tokyo, Japan park as its fourth currently-operating coaster track to be installed, past ride additions to Korakuan Park including Linear Gale, known for being the first Intamin 'Impulse' coaster; the Spinning Coaster as well as the enclosed Geopanic ride.
Visitors to the Tokyo park load into one of two trains in a sleek station, pulling down individual lapbars to hold them firmly into place. After it's all clear to go, the train is lead straight out of the station and up to face the diagonal skyward angle, cable lift yanking the train high into the cityscape. Thrillseekers are presented with an unmatchable view of the downtown city, with the LaQua Tokyo Dome stadium across the parellel street to the left, a visible portion of the park to the right, and high-rises all 360 degrees. In next to no time, the train reaches the peak, and the plunge begins. The drop takes riders down at an ever-increasing clip as the descending track steepens, more, more, until all eighty degrees are reached, then it's back the other way, pulling out gradually as Thunder Dolphin attains its top speed of 81 miles per hour. Passengers reach the bottom a good 45 feet from the ground and scream right back up towards the complex's shopping mall. Climbing up the wall, the gray-colored track sends the ride onto the rooftop around a steep right-hand L-curve, then over a fast-paced airtime hill leading across the top of the mall. The coaster flys around a second steep bank to the right and dives off the top of the building through an archway, down the second-largest drop heading straight towards the park's ferris wheel. Riders are whisked straight through the ride's center loophole as they ascend into an overbanked 135-degree-veering curve. The layout runs parellel to the lift hill as it leads the train down to the ground to be whisked over the top of a high-speed, low-profile hop dishing up all the airtime you could ask for and feeding into a second climb to the top of the mall. This time around, Thunder Dolphineers encounter the trick-track and are sent careening right to left and left to right - right off the edge of the rooftop one last time and towards a city street. Flying downwards, the track sends riders back down to the bottom and into the magnetic brakes to quickly slow the train and lead it around a final turn back to the station.