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Story Land gets ready to roll out the Roar-O-Saurus

By Daymond Steer
BARTLETT – The Roar-O-Saurus roller coaster might not have hatched from Story Land yet, but it's already big news as CNN named it among the top 10 "most insane" new roller coasters in the United States. It has also gotten a good word from the American Coasters Enthusiasts Club which helped CNN with its story.
The hope is Roar-O-Saurus will be ready to go May 24, which kick's off Story Land's 60th anniversary year.
"Big? Bad? Not so much," wrote Pam Grout in her CNN article published recently. "But when you figure that the Story Land customer base is 12 and under (oh yeah, and their parents), a brand new wooden roller coaster that catches air is pretty extreme."
Story Land's other roller coaster, the Polar Coaster, provides many children with their first roller coaster experience.
Grout, when reached by a reporter, said she made her list after speaking with roller coaster enthusiasts and the International Association of Amusement Parks. She said there were several coasters that didn't make the cut but she didn't have an exact number.
The Roar-O-Saurus is designed to appeal to older children up to their early teens. However, one expert says it will also appeal to parents and coaster enthusiasts alike. The Polar Coaster requires a child rider to be 36 inches tall. Roar-O-Saurus riders need to be 42 inches tall.
According to CNN, the Roar-O-Saurus is 1,242 feet long, 40 feet high and attains speeds of 35 miles per hour. That's a far cry from the bigger coasters on CNN's list such as the 4,124 foot Banshee at King Island in Ohio.
But the Roar-O-Saurus offers 12 moments where the passengers are given the sensation of elevating off their seat. The first car in the 12-passenger roller coaster train looks like the head of a green triceratops and the other cars make up his body.
Story Land assistant general manager Jack Mahany was a little surprised and very pleased with the ranking.
"We were excited that a coaster as small as ours made the most insane new roller coaster list," said Mahany. "I think they are right. I think the insanity of it is the 12 moments of airtime in a small footprint of a roller coaster. It is going to be an amazing ride."
Mahany said Story Land's demographic is 2 to 12 years old but the Roar-O-Saurus expands the demographic into the early teens.
"What we tried to do is make it so the whole family is involved," said Mahany.
The coaster's structure has already been completed. Once the ride vehicles come, some electronics will be installed and the testing process will go on for a number of weeks before the state of New Hampshire performs a safety inspection. Gravity Group, in Ohio, is building Roar-O-Saurus.
"It's been a very challenging winter to build a roller coaster," said Manhany.
ACE members, who are always looking for new coasters, along with the International Amusement Park Association have promoted this new coaster, said Mahany. Some ACE members also took a tour of the construction site.
"When CNN picked it up, it really went big," said Mahany of Roar-O-Saurus' popularity. "The young lady who wrote the article is scheduled to come up here and ride the coaster this summer."
The CNN article quotes ACE public relations director Dave Lipnicky, who lives in Texas, as saying this will be a "crazy good year" for roller coaster lovers.
Lipnicky found out about Story Land through an ACE publication. Last June, Lipnicky visited Story Land along with ACE members from Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Their visit came after "Coastercon," ACE's largest annual event, which was held at four different parks in New England.
"We decided to extend our vacation and we went to the park and we thoroughly enjoyed it," said Lipnicky of Story Land. "We had a really great time."
Lipnicky and his friends visit as many amusement and theme parks as possible. Other ACE members came up for the construction tour.
According to Lipnicky, Roar-O-Saurus should appeal to multiple generations of riders. What also makes the Roar-O-Saurus special is that it's a wooden coaster, which harkens back to the early days of amusement parks.
Lipnicky says Gravity Group knows how to make small wooden roller coasters that are fun. As evidence, he pointed to the Wooden Warrior at Quassy Amusement Park in Connecticut.
"Although that coaster is only 35 feet tall, so it's not intimidating to kids, it still packs a wild punch," said Lipnicky. "It is every bit as exciting as a 75-foot or even an 85-foot roller coaster. They manage to put that amount of thrills in a coaster that doesn't go above 35 feet. Some would say that would be impossible to do but the Gravity Group did it."
Lipnicky said wooden coasters have a more "visceral" feel while steel coasters are perfectly smooth. "Purists" would describe steel coasters as feeling "almost sterile," Lipnicky explained.
Mahany said new wooden coasters are smoother than the old ones but the Roar-O-Saurus will have some of that "rocky" feeling that "people really love."
The experience of riding a wooden coaster can change depending on temperature, humidity and sunlight, said Lipnicky, adding wooden coasters run slowly in the morning and are noticeably faster in the evening after they warm up.
Mahany said that makes sense to him. Mahany said he's driven Story Land's train on occasion during his 40 years at Story Land and the train does roll faster at 3:30 p.m. than it does at 9 a.m.
"I suppose that's something we will have to experience," said Mahany about variations the roller coaster rides at various times of day.
There aren't too many roller coasters in New Hampshire but Lipnicky said Canobie Lake Park in Salem has a "wonderful" wooden coaster called the Yankee Cannonball. Last year, ACE gave the Yankee Cannonball an award for its historical importance.
"It will be tough for the Roar-O-Saurus to unseat the Yankee Cannonball but let's say it's going to give the Yankee Cannonball a definite run for the money," said Lipnicky. "I would say the two parks could probably have a little bit of a boasting contest of who has the best coaster in the state. I bet you there will be plenty of ACE members fighting with one park and plenty of ACE members fighting with the other park."
Lipnicky said this is his second year in a row working with Grout. Last year, they worked on a story about top 10 coasters around the world and this year the CNN editor wanted to focus on the U.S.
Lipnicky said his phone and email have been busy since the CNN story was published.
There are about 20 ACE members in New Hampshire and there are about 300 in New England and 5,000 worldwide. It's the most established amusement park fan organization. ACE is a not-for-profit organization and part of its mission to promote and preserve coasters
"We were established in 1978," said Lipnicky. "We are basically the granddaddy of all coaster clubs."
Lipnicky, who works as an economist, said since 2009 the economy has improved a little bit every year. He said the amusement industry seems bullish on the economy and has made investments pertaining to coasters, other rides and restaurants.
"Last year we saw a big jump in coaster installations and that was worldwide and a similar jump worldwide this year with even more coasters going into the U.S.," said Lipnicky.
Mahany said the name "Roar-O-Saurus" came from a discussion at Story Land. The storyline is Rory, the little dinosaur, learned to roar on the coaster. There is a tunnel on the coaster and when the train goes through it, riders will hear Rory do his thing.
"We wanted a friendly dinosaur," said Mahany. "We came up with the triceratops as the leader of the train."
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