Zamperla unveils new coaster model: Double Heart Lightning

By | June 25, 2021

AT: Tim Baldwin

VICENZA, Italy — Zamperla is one of the most well-known manufacturers in the amusement industry. The portfolio of rides the company offers is impressively broad. Among the up-and-coming products for Zamperla is its roller coaster lineup. Just recently, a new compact thriller has been announced.

Dubbed Double Heart Lightning, this multi-launch coaster checks a lot of boxes.

There are two sizes to this model. One stands 50 meters (164 feet), the other 70 meters (230 feet). The track length of the 50-meter model is 1,062 feet; the larger has 1,650 feet of track. Of note, riders are traveling over certain sections multiple times. The speeds of the two models are a fast 68 and 80 mph.

“We love the triple-launch concept; we think it is a lot of fun,” said Adam Sandy, roller coaster sales and marketing director. “We also looked at the marketplace and saw a demand in two areas. At 50 meters, we see other manufacturers making a product of similar size, but we worked to make a model with more track and to be taller for this type of attraction. We think there is a big demand for coasters in that size and price range. We also know clients are out there who want record breakers. At 70 meters, it is technically a hyper coaster because you’ve surpassed 200 feet. That’s a different dimension of marketability and scale. So even if you want to do something really tall, it is still a compact footprint and much less of an overall budget cost compared to a traditional chain lift coaster.”

Typically, a coaster standing more than 200 feet would stretch through a park. Sandy feels that the industry still seeks large attractions in contained spaces.

“It works in so many ways. When you have legacy properties — theme parks that have been around since the ‘70s — we think of them as sprawling properties. A lot of those have matured so much that we really have to work to get coasters into them sometimes,” he said. “Park goers might not realize the challenge of getting a coaster into a certain site. In new builds like American Dream or pier parks — all are different types of properties — saving space and challenges of footprints are things I come across in the majority of projects we talk about.”

The footprint of the 50-meter model is 70 by 15 meters (229 by 49 feet). The giant model requires 120 by 19 meters (393 by 62 feet). Riders must meet a 48-inch requirement.

Zamperla isn’t the first company at the table with a multi-launch coaster, but the management is confident in its signature elements to make Double Heart Lightning stand apart. One thought process was an introduction of airtime in addition to inversions. 

“The signature moment is when you go over the top, and you go over an airtime hill that then twists and reverses direction into a vertical drop,” said Sandy.

The towering attraction features the Lightning train vehicles that were introduced at the 2019 IAAPA Expo.

“These new trains can do lifts and launches, and we really said we need to create a great vehicle that we can adapt to many different thrills. With that, we have a seating restraint that is very comfortable,” Sandy told Amusement Today. “Another selling point is the spacing. We have a lot of space between each row. When talking about capacity and dispatch times, we think we can achieve very good capacity [numbers] and not just on paper that really doesn’t translate.”

A turntable option allows the operator to continue loading a second train while one is out on the course. Two trains on the 70-meter version can accommodate 955 passengers an hour. A single train can provide 690 rides an hour on the 50-meter version and just shy of 600 on the large model.

Zamperla has placed a lot of time in developing the ride experience.

“The smoothness is two parts. One is the vehicle. We rethought everything — the seat contour, the restraint, which is a lap restraint — and we’re offering a much more open experience,” said Sandy. “Park goers are telling parks they want the experience to be more free — less enclosures, less fiberglass. That was our design direction on the vehicle. Another big change, which is a part of our long-term strategy, is to do a better job of engineering our fabrication pipeline. We’ve done a good job adding team members to the engineering side, but when we had track going out to subcontractors, we found it wasn’t always as good as we wanted it to be. We have brought that track fabrication in house. I think there is a little bit of art in addition to the science in designing coaster track.”

Even with a compact model, Sandy doesn’t feel the desire to theme an attraction is an overwhelming challenge with this genre. “With the Lightning vehicle and Zamperla’s background with fiberglass, I think we can come up with some cool concepts on the train itself and tell stories that way,” he said. Zamperla’s background with lighting systems can also add flair and thematic elements to the ride. Tunnels and storytelling elements on the lower sections give parks more options for a storyline visual.

The vehicle seats four rows of four riders. 

“Four was really important for us when we sat back and asked ourselves what we could improve upon from our thrill platform in the past. When the three-across seating was introduced at Coney, we knew [that property] had a lot of single riders. It gave us the opportunity to step back and see how we want the thrill platform to function in the future, and we looked at the possibilities of two and four. Because real capacity are key drivers, we thought having four across made sense,” Sandy said. “When building two-across or four-across, there really aren’t a lot of cost differences in metrics there, so we liked the visuals that come with the four across, and the end seats kind of stick out over the track. Overall it was a design decision that we felt worked really well.”

This article appears in the JULY 2021 issue of Amusement Today.
View the entire issue for FREE with our digital edition!