This spring, Canada’s Wonderland launches its newest roller-coaster, the Yukon Striker. When the gates to the park open on May 3rd, adventure-seekers will be treated to the fastest, longest, and tallest dive coaster in the world.
On April 24th, the park hosted a preview event for the Yukon Striker, giving television and radio hosts, as well as YouTubers, bloggers, and other media outlets a chance to speak to the engineers and designers who built the coaster. They were also allowed to try the attraction out for themselves. It was a day of thrills and fun bathed in bright sunshine.
The Yukon Striker is located in the new Frontier Canada section of the park. It is a gold-rush themed area with classic rides like the Mighty Canadian Minebuster, Timberwolf Falls, and White Water Canyon. Interestingly, Frontier Canada was initially planned for the park’s opening in 1981 but did not go ahead for various reasons. In 2019, under new ownership, Canada’s Wonderland is transitioning the park back to its Canadian roots.
Don’t Look Down
The Yukon Striker is a towering steel monster. It whisks along a 1.1-kilometre track and is capable of reaching speeds of up to 130 kilometres per hour. The track winds its way underground beneath a pond over which the nearby Vortex suspended roller-coaster skims during its run. The Yukon Striker lifts riders up a 75-metre track before plummeting to earth, and veering through a series of four vertical loops at high speed. Its two trains seat up to 24 passengers each in three rows, and the ride is as one member of the American Coaster Enthusiasts describes it, “as smooth as a moving couch.”
The most exciting part of this ride is the nearly vertical drop, giving riders the sensation of freefalling. But it teases for a few moments as the trains are suspended at the very top, leaving thrill-seekers to stare downward at what awaits them. For those brave enough to open their eyes, there is a breathtaking, unobstructed view of the park before the train hurtles toward the earth.
A View To A Thrill
Sophie Bolliger, Head of Marketing at the Swiss roller-coaster consultancy Bolliger & Mabillard, says it took her company about five months to create the Yukon Striker’s design.
“We wanted to create a unique, fun, thrilling experience. It’s fantastic to see the Yukon Striker come to life,” she says. “It’s wonderful to see people smiling when they get on it and still smiling when they get off – that’s the best part.”
Peter Switzer, Director of Maintenance and Construction at Canada’s Wonderland, agrees. His team brought Bolliger & Mabillard’s vision to life.
“It’s rewarding to see those first riders,” he says. “To go from a sketch on a piece of paper, through the iterative process of design and construction, and then to today to hear those screams, laughs, and comments like ‘I’m not going on that’ and ‘I’m really glad I went on that’ is special.”
Switzer is not a stranger to the adrenalin rush the Yukon Striker triggers having ridden it many times. “I’m a roller coaster geek,” he says proudly. “This is the best part of my job.”
Yukon Striker is located approximately where the roller-coaster SkyRider stood – it was sold to an amusement park in Italy. Incorporating a brand new coaster into an existing terrain as though it had always been there posed a unique set of challenges.
“We have to interface it with buildings and other rides, and also with the underground structure,” he says. “We have an extensive underground structure that we don’t want to disturb with compressed air, water, gas – all of those things are needed to keep the park and rides operational.”
This summer, visit Canada’s Wonderland in Vaughan off Highway 400 a short drive north of Toronto to experience the Yukon Striker, as well as many other attractions that will appeal to the entire family. The park is open May through October.
By Katherine Ryalen
– Ryalen is a Durham-based author and lifestyle blogger. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.