The bobsled coaster design, also known as a Flying Turns Coaster, is one that dates back to the first golden age of coasters in the early 20th century.   INTAMIN updated the concept with modern steel construction and polyurethane wheels.

In the early 1980's several parks around the world invested in these coasters which offered a new twist on coaster design, simulating a bobsled run.  

These fun family coasters suffered two major drawbacks.   First was low capacity, with only a total of 6 passengers per car, and the ride having only individual cars.   To compound the capacity issue, passengers were seated 2 guests per lap bar (flume style) with one person sitting between the legs of the other.   As a result, many cars were dispatched at less than full capacity. 

The second drawback suffered by the bobsled design was susceptibility to moisture.    The slightest bit of rain or even condensation on the trough would require the ride be shut down until the track was completely dry. 

As a result of these problems, the ride vehicles were later modified for greater capacity, and the rides were either removed or moved to small parks. 


The Sarajevo Bobsled was introduced for the 1984 season, and capitalized on the Olympic fever around the country with the Los Angeles Olympic Summer Games that year.   Originally, the ride was just going to be called The Bobsled as seen in the logo above.  The Sarajevo moniker was added to help reinforce the Olympic tie-in without having to deal with copyrights owned by the Olympic Committee.  The Olympic Winter games had been held in Sarajevo Yugoslavia in February of 1984.

Original plans for the Bobsled called for a canvas "mountain" to be added around the ride.   The canvas was supposed to extend from the trough to the ground throughout the ride course, partially obscuring it, and creating a more realistic bobsled run.   The mountain idea was dropped prior to construction. 

The ride trough was painted on site, and in the top two pictures you can see the white crescents on the parking lot pavement where the track sections were painted, and the blue stripes being added  to the track once it was installed.

As a promotion for the ride, the park offered its first Bring-a-Snowball and Get-in-Free offer on opening day 1984.  They announced it a couple of weeks prior to opening when it seemed the weather was too warm to snow again.  A week before the season opener a snow storm blanketed the northeast.  Needless to say many people took advantage of the offer.  They placed a bobsled in the entrance area as a promo for the ride and filled it with the snowballs that guests used to get in free.

The ride had many operational drawbacks including not being able to run with any moisture on the tracks, and low vehicle capacity.  This along with the rides novelty resulted in long lines which often extended far beyond the queue and into the Games area.  

A big challenge in operating the ride was starting it.   Each of the ride's three block brakes had to be manually cleared when the ride would start.   Initially, the block brakes were staffed (like a flume) with attendants watching the cars pass by.    As time passed, those attendants were deemed unnecessary, and the ride would operate with a 3 person crew ( A Ride Operator and two Attendants).  

The ride featured three in-course brake runs.   When the ride would start or restart, one attendant would be sent to brake #1 and the second would be sent to brake #2.   As the first sled would come to the block, the attendant would have to hit the green button to advance the sled manually.   On days with low staffing, the attendant who advanced the sled through brake #1 would then have to run down the stairs and across the ride area to brake #3 and clear the sled as it came through.   if that person could not get tot he brake fast enough, the ride would shut down, and the whole process would have to start all over again.  On drizzly days, the starting of the ride could happen several times in the course of a shift, and attendants could be run ragged.

The sleds were all equipped with functional roll bars in the event a sled should turn over in the trough.   Such an incident never happened, but always felt like it could as the sleds rode at precarious angles through the turns, and guests would often lean into the turns.



Technical Information
  Manufacturer: INTAMIN AG, Switzerland
  Ride Model: Swiss Bob
  Description: Simulating the excitement of actual bobsledding, riders in six-passenger sleds will glide unrestricted down a twisting trough of steep banks and sharp turns.
  Number of Ride Vehicles: 8 sleds
  Number of Guests per Vehicle: 6 seated in-line (3 pairs)
  Weight of Each Sled: 1400 lbs
  Loading: One sled leaves the station every 16 seconds
  Approximate Capacity: 1300 guests per hour
  Speed: 0 - 32 mph
  Ride Duration: 1 minute 40 seconds - 2 minutes
  Highest Peak: 64 feet
  Lowest Point: Ground level
  Total Track Length: 1490 feet
  Total Weight of Ride: 360 metric tons
  Shipping of Ride: The ride will be dismantled in its Switzerland test location and shipped in 70 40-foot cartons.
  Safety Restraint: Lap bars - one per pair of riders
  Length of Sleds: 14 feet
  Seat Features: Specially padded seats.
    Each sled is also equipped with inside handrails.
  Lift System: Each sled will be moved to the ride's peak via a lift chain, disengage from the lift, and then, propelled by gravity, move on road wheels down the concave trough.
  Braking System: Drive tires in conjunction with pneumatic-operated brake platens located at specific intervals along the pathway control accelerating, decelerating and stopping vehicles. 

At each electronically sensorized location, the computer signals the drive tires to adjust for vehicle speed, load, and position on the track or weather conditions.
  Construction Materials: Steel trough attached to steel columns sunk in
    cement footings.
  Cost: $5.0 million
  Operating Dates: May 1984 to September 1988

The Bobsled was originally scheduled for removal in fall of 1987  and in its place the park was supposed to have received an Arrow multi-looping coaster named “Ninja” for 1988.   Due to some last minute changes, Ninja was installed in Six Flags Great America where it was named Shockwave.  The Sarajevo Bobsled remained at the park for an additional season, and the one year delay meant that Great Adventure would receive a slightly taller version looper in 1989 which would take the record for height and speed.

In September of 1988, the Bobsled was closed for removal, and signs went up announcing the addition of a new coaster which would be the world's tallest and fastest when it debuted in April 1989.  The Great American Scream Machine parts began arriving on site as the Sarajevo Bobsled disassembly was in progress.

When the Bobsled was rebuilt at Great America as Rolling Thunder, it received modified cars which increased capacity and sped loading times.

Today, the Bobsled has been relocated to the Great Escape, where it operates as the Alpine Bobsled.

The parts of the Bobsled are loaded on to trucks and sent off to Six Flags Great America for reassembly as Rolling Thunder for the 1989 season.   The Bobsled ran at Great America until 1995 when it was put into storage and was later relocated to The Great Escape where it opened as the Alpine Bobsled in 1998.   

Postcard Bolt

This is one of the thousands of bolts discarded when the Bobsled was disassembled in 1988
Before During After
Now as the Alpine Bobsled at The Great Escape: