Location: Knott’s Berry Farm, Buena Park, CA (1975-1989), Silverwood Theme Park, Athol, ID (1990 – Present)
Opening Year: 1975
Built By: Arrow Dynamics
Top Speed: 46 MPH
Height: 70 feet
Corkscrew opened in 1975 at Knott’s Berry Farm in California.
It was the first modern roller coaster to travel upside-down, and was built by Arrow Dynamics, a seasoned roller coaster company that had been at the forefront of nearly every major roller coaster innovation in the mid-20th century.
Ever since the roller coaster was first conceived in the 1800’s, eager designers were already seeking to take it to the next level. The most obvious solution to pacify hungry riders would be to take them where no human being has gone before – upside down.
Would it be possible to make a roller coaster that would take riders head-over-heels? There had been several ill-fated attempts in the early 20th century, but they had all closed down within months; the forces were simply too strong for average guests to handle.
Roller coaster designers would think long and hard about how to make going upside-down a possibility, but it wasn’t until the advent of computer-aided design that the engineers at Arrow Dynamics finally figured out a solution.
Giving up on the idea of a vertical, circular loop, the engineers instead devised a sort of “barrel roll” type maneuver that would be more elongated, thereby reducing the stress that would be placed on the riders.
The result of several years of testing and experimentation, “Corkscrew” opened with great fanfare at Knott’s Berry Farm in 1975. The ride consisted of a drop, a turn, two corkscrews, and not much else. Just one year after its opening, the world’s first vertically looping roller coaster opened right in their backyard: Revolution at Six Flags Magic Mountain.
After thrilling its riders for years, it finally closed down in 1989 and was shipped to a small park called Silverwood in Idaho, where it still operates today, giving rides to a new generation of riders.