'N' Roller Coaster
and Aerosmith, Together At Last.
photographs and logo art below © Disney. All Rights Reserved.
a time, I harbored a fantasy that I'd someday make movies. Didn't
have much interest in directing an Academy Award-winning tear-jerker
like Out of Africa; though; I leaned more towards doing
things like Terminator, or Evil Dead. So in high
school and then in college, I took some Super-8 film courses.
class in particular made an impression I'll never forget. We took
a look at some raw, silent footage of pigs just walking around,
laying in the mud, nosing through the slop trough, doing the things
pigs do. Dull as dishwater. Then the instructor showed the same
footage again with a slaphappy banjo tune playing behind the visuals.
Now they had a sort of "Hee-Haw" quality to 'em and
everybody started chuckling.
this is real interesting, Mr. Steven Spielberg-wannabe.
What's yer point?" Indulge me for just a moment longer.
We watched the same clips one more time with an ominous, minor-key organ score
droning in the background. And suddenly those damn pigs were kinda
creepy, like any second they were gonna grow claws and fangs;
call it "Porky's Revenge." Of course, what the instructor
illustrated with this simple exercise was the all-important role
music plays in triggering and amplifying specific emotional responses.
Think about some of your favorite movies; can you imagine Jaws without its heart-pounding score? "Duh-da... Duh-da... duh-da,
duh-da, duh-da, duh-da, duh-da..." John Williams' infamous
theme is probably the single most important contribution to that
picture's horrific impact.
brings us to the issue at hand. From the day it opened, Disneyland's Space Mountain has always been one of my favorite thrill
rides. But when the Imagineers took the brilliant step of adding
on-board speakers and a Dick Dale-performed guitar soundtrack
to the experience, what was once already an exceptional coaster
became something truly one of a kind. The first time I soared
through the Mountain with that driving tune pouring into my ears,
I flipped. Everything about that ride - the turns, the drops,
the final run into the exploding light tunnel - seemed twice as
fast, twice as intense, twice as satisfying. And the music made
all the difference.
has taken this idea to a much higher level with its Rock 'n'
Roller Coaster at the Disney-MGM Studios theme park in Florida.
Not only is this the first Disney rail-rider in the U.S. to get
us motorvated with an electromagnetic launch and include inversions,
the RnRC is, like Space Mountain, fully enclosed and it
features the aurally awesome contributions of Aerosmith, a band
that knows how to shake the rafters.
Islands of Adventure opened, Disney has been taking it on the
chin; somewhat unfairly, members of our community and the media
at large have wondered if the Imagineers aren't prepared to meet
Universal head on. After one ride on the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster,
you'll know that Disney is still a force to be reckoned with.
To borrow a line from Spinal Tap, this one goes to eleven.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Rock 'n' Roller Coaster rocks and rolls at the end of the park's Sunset
Boulevard, right next to The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (which, by the way, is now four times as fun as it was
when it first opened; those service elevators are more out of
control than ever). Walking under an inverted Cadillac, ridin'
high on loopy coaster tracks/gee-tar strings, we approach a rather
mundane building...mundane, that is, except for the 40-foot-tall
electric guitar body rising up its facade.
Off to the
right is the entrance to the line, where you can choose to start
waiting then and there or pick up one of Disney's new FASTPASS
reservation system tickets. (I wish I could tell ya how well the
FASTPASS system works, but each time I rode - and I rode a lot
- the regular line was so short and moved so quickly, I never
bothered with a FASTPASS.)
back and forth beneath a canopy outside the building, we're sent
through the turnstiles and up a ramp to the front door of G-Force
Records, a fictional, Hollywood-based purveyor of rock and roll.
Right through the door, we enter a circular vestibule ringed with
guitar-fret columns and illuminated posters advertising the label's
recent releases (Well, sort of. These placards actually plug Disney's
own Hollywood Records artists... gotta love them savvy Disney
We then pass
through a regal pair of glass marble-encrusted doors and make
our way past display cases filled with old guitars, amplifiers
and reel-to-reel tape decks. And that hallway leads us into a
waiting room outside the individual recording studios. While we
bide our time, we can groove on some vintage rock concert posters,
relics of psychedelic pop-art hawking bands like the Quicksilver
Messenger Service and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. "Oh, wow,
like, I was at that gig, man!"
Behind a couple of doors, you can hear the muffled sounds of musicians and
engineers toiling away. Brief announcements over the PA system
further add to the authenticity: "Mike, we need a drum kit
in Studio B." Along the far wall, there's a second display
case filled with artifacts like "close and play" turntables
and 8-track tape decks. Remember those? I'm sorry to say I do.
ushered into a split-level booth where we can watch through a
glass wall as Aerosmith finishes a recording session, tinkering
with the sound mix. A lowly studio grunt sweeps up in a room full
manager, played by Illeana Douglas (co-star of the new Action TV series on Fox and featured performer in several major motion
pictures), stands talking on her cell phone. Aerosmith sees and
greets us enthusiastically, but they're already late for a concert
and their manager is anxious to get them on their way. Righteous
buds that they are, the band mates all complain; they don't want
to leave us stranded. Howzabout she sets us up with tickets to
the show, backstage passes, transportation, the works? She's pretty
frazzled but says she'll take care of it. They head outside and
she makes another call.
is due to start soon, so we gotta haul if we're gonna see any
of it. She does a quick head-count and orders up a big stretch
limo. And a very, very fast one. No time to spare, people.
Out to the alley we go.
past dusk and we find ourselves on a gritty city sidewalk, one
of Hollywood's neon-lit backstreets. Above us, racks of scaffolding
climb up the brick walls of an apartment building. We're headed
over to the "Lock and Roll" parking garage where our
limos await and while we meander over, we can watch several tire-screeching
launches. These limos ain't your discreet, jet-black Town Cars;
we get to travel in chrome-grilled, shark-finned, metallic-baby-blue
hot rods. They make a turn, pause and then flat-out rocket away.
Oooh, I want sumathat now...
As you're walking down the final stretch, be sure to read all the entertaining
pre-board signs; as always, the Imagineers have left no detail
to chance. And finally, we get to climb into our own high-octane
land yacht. Another thoughtful touch that I loved: the guitars
etched into metal step-guards on the car sidewalls - superior.
Once again, I say the front seat is where you'll want to be on
this machine. It makes for a little smoother cruisin' and the
launch from that perspective is just awesome. Snuggle in, pull
down the harness, and get ready to burn some rubber!
We glide around
the bend and pull up to stop before a freeway entrance ramp. The
on-board audio comes to life. Friends, we're not listening to
the radio, we're feeling it. With two high-frequency tweeters,
two mid-range speakers and an under-seat subwoofer per passenger,
the soundwaves literally flow through your entire body. It's incredible.
of Los Angeles' classic rock dee-jay Uncle Joe Benson tell us
that if we're late for that Aerosmith concert, don't panic; the
station's gonna be broadcasting live from the show, so we won't
miss a thing. Sure enough, the ecstatic cheers of the audience
fade up, louder and louder. Man, does that ever get the
In front of
us is an ivy-covered cement arch, our freeway on-ramp portal.
And hanging beneath that arch is an alphanumeric light panel,
displaying traffic conditions and the like in a most humorous
revs, growling like a caged animal itchin' to run wild. Steve
Tyler climbs inside yer skull and lets loose with a primal scream:
"Are you ready TO ROCK?!!" Let's get it on!
BAM! The train
plows forward like it was fired out of a cannon. Guitars howl,
drums rumble, the limo redlines. Street signs and rail guards
whistle by in a blur. With power chords booming through our bones,
we hammer down the straightaway, hitting 60 miles per hour in
a hair under three seconds.
this is a Disney coaster.
sails up into a double-inverting Cobra Roll, twisting and turning,
flipping and rising, falling and charging through the dark of
night. Holy Mother of Mercy, this puppy is In-Yer-Face Mountain,
Big Thunder Shout 'n' Wail Road, the Shatterhorn! Bottoming out,
we peel around banked curves, flying past palm trees, Randy's
Donuts, interstate freeway markers, through the "O"
of the famous HOLLYWOOD sign, traffic jammin' with pedal to the
metal all the way.
riffs and reverberating beats punctuate every move we make. Custom-tweaked
tunes, like "Love In A Roller Coaster" ("Love In
an Elevator") and "What Kind of Ride Are You On?"
("What Kind of Love Are You On?") blast outta those
speakers and shimmy yer innards the way real rock and roll should. Wango Tango!
and on, we plow through a corkscrew loop, swing through a few
more turns and all too soon, arrive at the arena, where a red
carpet and formal valet waits to escort us off the train.
Outta my way,
dude... I'm gettin' right back on.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
several mad dashes through the exit gift shop (don't tell me you're
surprised to hear there's a gift shop), I did finally poke around
a bit on one occasion. And it was awfully hard not to blow a few
bucks on one of the very cool RnRC tee-shirts, caps and jackets;
there's some nice stuff to be had. If you're really jonesing for
a souvenir, you'll have plenty to choose from.
But, of course,
it ain't the knick-knacks that make this thrill ride memorable.
With the awesome intensity of linear synchronous motors (like
those found on Superman:
The Escape), more than 32,000 butt-kickin' watts of audio
output and Aerosmith's party-hearty rock and roll, Disney has
created, at long last, a rollercoaster that ranks with the best
of them, at least in my book. I know a lot of you will disagree;
the RnRC isn't even close to being the tallest, steepest, fastest,
or the most intricate coaster out there. And yes, frankly, it's
a little too short. I should add, though, that even if it were hours long, I'd still want for more.
I just hope
I'm not spoiled forever; every "silent" coaster won't
seem quite the same again.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
'N' Roller Coaster
- TRACK LENGTH:
- TOP SPEED:
60 Miles Per Hour
- MAX. G
- RIDE DURATION:
1 minute, 22 seconds
- CARS: Each
"Limotrain" accommodates 24 passengers.
PER TRAIN: 120
Vekoma, Vlodrop, The Netherlands