Manufacturer: Arrow Development, Arrow-Huss
Model Type: Corkscrew
Track Length: 1,250 feet
Theoretical Capacity: 1,800 an Hour
All Time Maximum Capacity: 1,797 an Hour
Numbers of Trains: Two
Cars per Train: Six
Maximum Speed: 50 mph
Maximum Height: 70 feet
Duration: 1 min, 10 seconds
Number of Inversions: Two
In 1975, Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, Ca. opened the world's first modern coaster to take riders upside down, called the Corkscrew, it was designed and built by Arrow Development of Mountainview, Ca. Hunt Midwest, then looking for the next thrilling hit for Worlds of Fun thought it a perfect fit for the park, and in 1976 added what was the fifth version of the often-cloned Arrow Corkscrew, named by the park, Screamroller. At only 1,200 feet long, Orient Express would, four years later, would be three times as long, almost twice as tall, and have double the number of inversions. With that being said, Screamroller was unlike any coaster anyone had ever ridden in the Midwest, and two weeks before its grand opening, on April 10th, 1976 Screamroller alone, gave 27,000 rides. Without Screamroller there wouldn't have been an Orient Express and in fact, Screamroller's addition alone, lead to a 10% increase in attendance for the park from 1.06 million visitors in 1975 to 1.16 in 1976.
Screamroller has continued to leave a mark on the park, even today. With Screamroller came the park's first large land expansion, with the addition of the 3.5 acre Bicentennial Square which included Calamity Games, Uncle Sam's Skeeball and the topiary liberty bell. Though Screamroller itself was removed after the 1988 season, its station, and queue line is very much today like it was in 1976. Even the loading gates still line up to the 1976 Screamroller instead of the thirty-year-old Timber Wolf!
However, 1976 wasn't really the only story to tell about Screamroller. In fact, Screamroller's most amazing story is one that didn't even occur until seven years after it opened. In 1983, most likely looking to add new life to an older coaster, Worlds of Fun partnered with Arrow-Huss to convert Screamroller into something entirely new. Arrow-Huss believed they could convert the traditional sit-down cars on Screamroller to stand-up pods, and create the country's first stand-up coaster. At the same time, Six Flags Mid-America (now Six Flags St. Louis) was attempting the same conversion on one of the twin tracks of its River King Mine Train coaster, which was to be re-named Railblazer for the occasion. Worlds of Fun beat Six Flags to the first in the country credit as the newly re-named Extremeroller opened first on May 31, 1983. History often, incorrectly, records the country's first stand-up coaster as the King Cobra that opened at Kings Island near Cincinnati Oh. in 1984. The confusion is due to the fact that King Cobra WAS the first stand-up coaster originally designed AS a Stand-Up coaster, but that still doesn't change history or facts. Interesting enough, Extremeroller and Railblazer were and still are the only true stand-up coasters to ever operate in the country, as starting with King Cobra all stand-up coasters today feature a small bicycle-like seat to help keep riders upright.
it wasn't long until Extremeroller started experiencing problems though, the ride itself, and specifically the lift hill and it's chain were never designed for stand up pods, that were both heavier, and had a completely different center of gravity causing undue stress of the chain lift. The mechanical difficulties caused by these unforeseen problems necessitated the re-conversion of Extremeroller back to a sit-down experience only by early-1984.
When Screamroller was introduced in 1976 it was a revolutionary concept, of going upside down on a coaster. Only four years after it opened Screamroller was eclipsed only a few hundred feet away by the colossal Orient Express, and less than a decade later, the writing was on the wall, it was time for Screamroller to be replaced. In 1988, the plans were made, and at the end of the 1988 season Screamroller was disassembled, and sold to a park in Taiwan where it would operate until 2004 as the Spiral. For Worlds of Fun, the next year saw a colossal new attraction in Screamroller's old location, The mighty Timber Wolf, recycling the station, queue line and transfer track shed from the prior Screamroller without any significant change.
Though Screamroller has been gone now for almost thirty years, it's still hard not to see its impact and presence on the park even today. As Worlds of Fun's first major expansion, it blazed the trail for many other, even grander expansions over the following years, Aerodrome in 1978, Orient Express in 1980, Oceans of Fun in 1982 and Fury of the Nile in 1984 to name a few. Its also possible, even today, to see the remnants of Screamroller both in the obviously re-used station, but also its several concrete footers that can be seen around the ride, one can be seen under the lift hill on the exit walk-way from Timber Wolf, and one can be seen in the pond only partially obscured by landscape rocks.
Of course, not every impact is tangible. Some of the most important impact that Screamroller had can be only measured in the intangibles, those that rode it, experienced it both either as a sit-down or a stand-up or both, those that operated it and played "park the train" games with ketchup and mustard packets, The Scream Jam parties, or even those that may never have ridden it but were impacted by it never the less in EXT's amazing marketing campaign, such as myself.