Evolution was a massive spinning and rotating ride which was installed as one of 25 new rides for the 1999 season as the park declared a "War on Lines".
The ride was impressive to watch as it swung 360 degrees while spinning its passengers, and was dazzling at night with its hundreds of fair style lights flashing and lighting up the night sky.
Located between Granny's and the Dream Street Skyride station, Evolution was rarely seen running by the majority of park guests. Since its installation, it was plagued with problems, mainly caused by an overly complex operators panel which few could run.
After spending only a few seasons at the park and running a handful of days each of those seasons, Evolution was disassembled in the 2002-2003 off season and relocated to Six Flags St. Louis where it received modifications to its theme elements and operators panel and now runs as Xcalibur.
|Evolution's massive center column and passenger compartments arrived in the parking lot during the winter of 1998/1999. The ride's site preparation simply involved disassembling the Fantasy Fling ride which would be relocated next to Batman The Ride.
|With the pieces all
on site, assembly started with the erection of the massive legs and
central arm with counterweight. With those parts in place,
assembly of the central spokes which supported the passenger cabins came
next. The ride's lighting panels were placed in the
Skyride's car storage area while assembly of the ride
structure took place.
The Evolution was designed for quick assembly as it moved form fair to fair throughout Europe, so putting it together at the park was a relatively quick and easy process. The ride operator's booth was placed atop the ride's computer control room, housed in a modified shipping container. The shipping container had wood sheathing added to it to make it look more permanent.
The site preparations required construction of a large concrete pit, necessary to accommodate the size of the wheel as it swung towards the ground.
|The ride was put
through a rigorous test cycle and state inspections prior to it being
allowed to open to the public.
With the rides first cycle some of the decorative lenses from the lighting components were dislodged and plummeted to the ground as the ride movements and air moved by the ride shook off anything left loose.
Evolution was quite impressive to watch cycle and guests stood at the construction fences looking as the massive ride went into motion.
Given the angle of the ride's spinning wheel, it became evident just how necessary the pit was to give the ride the clearance required for it's 360 degree swing.
Portions of the ride structure actually traveled below ground level during a ride cycle.
|Evolution, like many rides on the European fair circuit was designed to be flashy and catch people's attention. The dazzling array of lights which covered so many of the ride's surfaces along with bright colors and mirrors drew your eye from long distances day or night. It was as much a spectator attraction as ride, as your senses were assailed by the sounds and sights of this massive piece of equipment in motion.
Watch a video of Evolution in action:
|Nauta, Bussink & Bailey
|Evolution or Imperator
|34.5m (113 feet)
|Evolution Wheel Diameter:
|15m (49 feet)
|Number of Gondolas:
|Load per Gondola:
4 persons at 75 kg each= 300 kg
64 persons at 75 kg each = 4800 kg
64 persons at 165 lbs each = 10582lbs
|20m (approx. 66 feet)
|24m (approx 79 feet)
installation was originally planned for Movietown, occupying the patio of the HBO Backlot Commissary, but ended up being placed between the Skyride
Station and Granny's.
Some of Evolution's signage ended up being used as part of the FrightFest decorations, although they were never illuminated.
|Unlike the Buccaneer, Looping Starship, and Pendelum rides, Evolution's motion was controlled. Instead of gravity influencing the direction and speed of the ride's movements, Evolution's speed and direction was determined by motors located in the hub of the ride at the top of the leg supports. The ride could be heard in operation for quite some distance as motors hummed both in the hub and at the base of the rides spinning wheel.
|The closed sign was
often what most guests saw when they approached Evolution, and finally
after a few seasons of difficulties the ride was removed.
Today the footprint of Evolution is still easy to discern, as the round pit and four footing locations are clearly visible from the ground or from the heights of the Skyride and Big Wheel. The ride's queue line is still in place though the railings have been removed and the landscaping has filled in around it.
|In the Spring of 2003, Six Flags
St.Louis in Missouri announced that they would be adding a major new
thrill ride known as Xcalibur. In reality, the ride was Great
Adventure's Evolution which had been disassembled, repainted, and given
a medieval makeover.
Xcalibur also was enhanced with the installation of a new in-car sound system which gave the ride an exciting new musical score.
Evolution still operates today at Six Flags St Louis, entertaining thill-seekers with its dizzying manuevers.
Originally on the
European Fair Circuit
Located at Six Flags
Great Adventure 1999-2002
Relocated to Six Flags
St. Louis 2003-Present