Ravine Flyer II Review
By Ryan Flamm
When one thinks of Waldameer park in Erie, Pennsylvania, the first thing that comes to mind is their headline attraction, Ravine Flyer II. Ravine Flyer II is an iconic part of the park’s history–one which required a great bureaucratic battle raging on for eight years to bring to life.
Originally a Custom Coasters International, Inc. creation, Waldameer turned to The Gravity Group L.L.C. to design and construct the Ravine Flyer II in 2008. This twisted woodie features a 118-foot curved drop down the hill angled at 60 degrees, 2900 feet of twisted, heartlined track, and one 90-degree banked turn.
As we approached the ride, we took note of the steel support structure as this is a wood-hybrid coaster. Being a small park, Waldameer constructed few switchbacks for this coaster and, more often than not, they are not in use. As this was the case, we ended up walking right onto the coaster. Ravine Flyer II was running just one of their two trains as usual. Not only that, the train wasn’t even filling up.
The train is a factory-standard six-car Generation IV train from Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters with two benches per car. The train featured the standard PTC belt and buckle as well as the usual individual ratcheting lap bar and loop-shaped seat divider. The padding was soft and comfortable which is of importance in regards to the aggressiveness of Ravine Flyer II. As is indicative of the Generation IV trains, each car’s rear wheel well is raised slightly to give the rear axle a few more degrees of roll compared to the Generation III trains. In effect, this causes the rear seats in each car to be slightly higher than the front seats.
We sat down in the second-to-back row and secured ourselves. The ride operators at Waldameer are very strict on loose articles; nothing in the hands, glasses must be over the eyes, etc. and, as such, checked seats rather slowly. A couple of thumbs up from the ride operators and we were out of there. Interestingly, the brake valves on Ravine Flyer II are very quiet when the brake calipers open–especially compared to the brake valves on the other woodies by Gravity Group and Custom Coasters.
After a short left turn, we climb the lift hill. The lift hill on Ravine Flyer II is a bit on the slower side but it was not very obvious as the lift hill is only 80 feet-tall. At the top of the lift is one of the most beautiful views on any coaster in the country. The vastness of Lake Erie over the many trees makes for a postcard-worthy image. After a slight slowdown, we crest the lift and descend down the first drop. We experienced a good amount of floater air and laterals as we transitioned through the tunnel into the bridge. The bridge hill delivered more floater airtime. Next is the turnaround, a series of moderately-banked turns that deliver aggressive laterals followed by another floater-generating drop.
Next, we floated back over the bridge and into two more floater hills. Turning up the hill, we experienced another floater hill, a moderately-banked turn, and an additional floater hill. At this point, Ravine Flyer II started to lose steam seemingly more-quickly than it should so the hills did not deliver any airtime. Next was the 90-degree banked turn which gave us some good laterals before we turned back up the hill. Finally, we experienced two more hills before turning into the brakes. These last two hills were the most disappointing for me because they really should have had airtime but did not.
In terms of smoothness, Ravine Flyer II had a few rough spots but overall, Waldameer is taking very good care of it.
Overall for me, Ravine Flyer II was a disappointing ride. It seemed like Gravity Group went really conservative with this ride in a similar manner to coasters by Bolliger and Mabillard around the time it was build. The first half is pretty aggressive and fun but the second half is boring and sluggish even at night. For me, this is a coaster that should be in my top 10 but doesn’t even break the top 20. This coaster seems more lazy than anything.