Screamin’ Eagle Will Become a Coaster Landmark
Screamin' Eagle celebrates its 40th birthday
American Coaster Enthusiasts will designate Screamin’ Eagle as a rare ACE Roller Coaster Landmark during Coaster Con this June. This honor is reserved for rides of historic significance. Celebrating its 40th birthday this season, this wooden coaster certainly deserves the honor.
Screamin’ Eagle’s attributes are many, but perhaps its best secret is that the biggest drop is not the first one, but the third one, as the plunge dives into a ravine for a 92-foot maximum thrill. The fun curves and hill-after-hill layout continue to delight coaster fans and families to this day.
How the Ride Was Built
Roller coaster designer John Allen was president of Philadelphia Toboggan Company from the 1950s to the 1970s. The company was the primary builder of wooden coasters across the U.S., and the legendary designer erected his first coaster in 1949. John Allen began designing more and more coasters during the 1950s, usually smaller coasters, but rose to fame through the 60s with larger, family style rides. As the 1970s progressed, Allen attempted to retire, but the rise of theme parks and the demand for new thrillers would not let him rest…just yet.
Six Flags Over Georgia was the first Six Flags park to bring Allen on board. Together they built Great American Scream Machine in 1973. It was a national record setter at the time. A few years later, Six Flags approached him to build just one more ride.
John Allen's design philosophy was that roller coasters were as theatrically contrived as a Broadway play. He was once quoted, "You don't need a degree in engineering to design roller coasters, you need a degree in psychology." If it’s a matter of putting on a good show from the ground and on the ride, Allen’s observation couldn’t be more profound. Strikingly placed on the green hillside, Screamin’ Eagle has been beautifully seen from I-44 for four decades.
The wooden treasure turned out to be John Allen’s last as he was finally allowed to retire. He was known as saying it was his favorite roller coaster ever.
*Tim Baldwin – editor of RollerCoaster! Magazine, staff writer at Amusement Today and Communications Director for American Coaster Enthusiasts – contributed to this article.