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Story Land rolls into 2014 with new roller coaster


GLEN — Story Land is celebrating its 60th birthday in 2014, but instead of receiving presents, it is giving one to the public: a wooden roller coaster named Roar-O-Saurus, which, although not yet open, already has aficionados singing its praises.

The new coaster is Story Land's second, joining the steel Polar Coaster, which has been in operation since 1987. Roar-O-Saurus will be a big component in the new dinosaur-themed section of the park.

American Coaster Enthusiasts — a group dedicated to the enjoyment and preservation of roller coasters — said on its website that New Hampshire currently has seven roller coasters, only one of which, at Canobie Lake Park in Salem, is wooden. Canobie Lake also has two steel coasters, while Funworld Game Center in Nashua and Santa's Village and Six Gun City, both located in Jefferson, each have one.

The 12-passenger Roar-O-Saurus features a lead car that boasts the likeness of "Rory," a green triceratops. The coaster has a lift height of 40 feet, sends riders soaring down a first drop of 38.5 feet, features 1,242 feet of track length, and provides riders 12 unique "airtime moments," according to Jack Mahany, who is Story Land's assistant general manager.

Scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend, Roar-O-Saurus was designed and built for Story Land by The Gravity Group, LLC, a Cincinnati, Ohio-based company that claims to have "more design experience and expertise than any other wooden roller coaster design team."

The Gravity Group has built wooden as well as steel coasters throughout the U.S. and also in China. In 2003, The Gravity Group was the roller coaster animation consultant for the movie 'The Polar Express.'

Eric Dziedzic, Story Land's general manager, said Roar-O-Saurus "will provide children of all ages the experience and memory of riding their first 'big' coaster with mom or dad, or vice versa. Our niche in the theme park industry has always been young families with children 2-12. Our new coaster will expand that demographic slightly and add to the family memories created here in the 'Land Where Fantasy Lives.'"

Owned by Palace Entertainment, which on the East Coast owns and operates amusement parks, water parks, and family entertainment centers including Lake Compounce, Water Country, Kennywood and Dutch Wonderland, Story Land was founded in 1954 by Bob and Ruth Morrell of North Conway.

The couple built the park around dolls they had purchased while they were in Germany, adding rides and play areas around what originally was intended to be a showcase village for the dolls.

Roar-O-Saurus is the newest addition to Story Land and thanks to a preview given earlier this year to American Coaster Enthusiasts, it has garnered critical acclaim and a national audience.

In a recent article on the CNN Travel website entitled "The most insane new U.S. roller coasters,", author Pam Grout included Roar-O-Saurus.

"Big? Bad? Not so much," Grout said, adding, however, that "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."

Grout noted that because "Roar-O-Saurus' numerous twists and turns are built into such a tight space and because it moves at a surprisingly frenetic pace, (Dave) Lipnicky, of American Coaster Enthusiasts, claims this new dinosaur-led coaster packs an impressive wallop."

jkoziol@newstote.com

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