What better way to welcome in the New Year than with a roller coaster ride beyond any other. That’s the hope of Tom Nolan, the Circus Circus VP of the Adventuredome.
“We feel like we have picked a great ride to replace the Rim Runner,” Nolan told GamingToday last week during a conference call. “This will be different than your standard roller coaster. This one you are on the outside when making turns as opposed to inside on standard roller coasters.”
It is called El Loco, which in Spanish means crazy. That would also describe me if I ever had any desire to ride it – being one who enjoys keeping his feet firmly on the ground. Thankfully for companies like Circus Circus that want thrill seekers, I am in the minority.
El Loco, if all goes right with safety checks and the like, is slated to begin operation in late January. Nolan will personally see to that.
“We need to put in 2,000 safety cycles and then there is the process of a Clark County permit,” said Nolan, now in his 23rd year at Circus Circus. “We will take our time and do it right. The electricity is being hooked up now.”
The final piece of the 1,300 square foot track has been completed and one of the electric cars is already on display inside “Thunderdome” for patrons to see.
The company (Utah-based S&S Worldwide) visited a number of times to see how the coaster would fit inside our facility,” Nolan said. “We have been talking with them since 2006. There was almost a deal for El Loco in 2007 but the world changed and everything was shelved until last year.”
El Loco will feature a 90-foot ascent with a “beyond vertical drop” producing a -1.5 g-force, as well as a 45-degree outwardly banked curve and a 180-degree turn into a barrel roll on the track. The ride will last 72 seconds, but what a minute and 12 seconds it promises to be.
“I like seeing kids throwing a fit when mom and dad are set to leave,” Nolan said. “Then I know we are doing our job. Canyonblaster is the No. 1 favorite ride in Adventuredome now. We see El Loco as being just as exciting.”
Canyonblaster is a long train, while El Loco is individual vehicles, and it packs a punch. There are currently six in operation worldwide – the other U.S.-based site is the Steel Hawg at Indiana Beach in Monticello, Ind. S&S Worldwide also developed the Big Shot atop Stratosphere in 1996.
“We will have to see how many attractions Vegas can hold,” Nolan said. “Sahara lost its roller coaster, but there is Slotzilla downtown and the Ferris wheel on the Strip will soon be finished.”
As for Circus Circus it has survived where Stardust, Sahara, Westward Ho and the planned Fontainebleau went down. But the MGM property took a hit from those setbacks.
“We’re 48 years old, but there is no doubt not having the foot traffic has hurt us on the north end of the Strip,” Nolan said. “I’ve seen a lot, and we try here to keep the family experience fresh and new.
“Entertainment is an up and coming segment of the market that’s for sure,” Nolan added. “Gaming is our base, but it’s the overall guest experience of the Vegas visit. SLS is coming quickly and Genting has the old Echelon project. Hopefully more people will be coming back to the island.”
It would be El Loco to think otherwise.
Mark Mayer has over 35 years covering sports events and is the sports editor at GT. Reach him at [email protected].