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The Serpent Lives On

Anaconda is a 2,700 foot long steel roller coaster that was designed exclusively for Kings Dominion by Ron Toomer and Arrow Dynamics at a cost of $5 million. Construction began in 1990, and continued for nineteen months before its

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official opening on March 23, 1991. Twenty-one tractor-trailer loads of columns and twenty-two train cars of track were received for the construction of the ride. The trains and track are products of Arrow, however the support columns were manufactured by Southern Ohio Fabricators out of Woodlawn, Ohio. At the time of Anaconda’s debut, it was the only roller coaster to feature an underwater tunnel and its butterfly configuration was the only one in existence in the United States. It should also be noted that it was Kings Dominion’s first roller coaster with more than one inversion. While it only has four inversions, the park’s 1991 marketing campaign boasted six.

Anaconda is located in the Safari Village (previously Congo) section of the park over the former site of King Kobra, a flywheel-launched shuttle coaster that operated from 1977 to 1987. The ride’s capacity of 1,400 riders per hour was originally intended to be achieved by running three trains of six cars each, but was later changed to two trains of seven cars each. Riders are arranged two across in two rows for a total of 28 riders per train. There is a 48” height restriction in place, making it a favorite amongst younger children who haven’t quite met the standard 54” requirement put forth by the newer steel coasters in the park. Anaconda’s speed exceeds 50 miles per hour at 5.1 G’s, and has a thrill rating of 5 (aggressive thrill) by Kings Dominion. The coaster has sported two different color schemes so far, starting with dark green and orange from 1991 to 2002. In 2002 the supports were painted a lighter green and the track a reddish-orange with yellow rails. This color scheme was re-used in February 2014 when Anaconda was prepped and repainted for Kings Dominion’s 40th Anniversary Celebration.

The ride’s duration is a minute and fifty seconds and begins with the train leaving the station to ascend a 130 foot high lift hill. From there riders drop 144 feet into a 126-foot underwater tunnel before ascending again into a 360 degree vertical loop perched 100 feet above Lake Charles. The vertical loop is followed by a 90 foot tall sidewinder inversion and a small hill before entering the first brake run which slows the train to a crawl. The second half of the ride kicks off with a semi-steep drop into a butterfly figure eight configuration that transitions into a double corkscrew which dangles riders just 20 feet above the water’s surface. A small bunny hop and a slight dive to the left under the lift hill leads the train into the final brake run, where a short waiting-period commences as the other train prepares to leave the station.

Cover picture from Kings Dominion.

Written by: Ann Hills

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