At European Adventure, the westernmost part of Korea’s best-known theme park Everland, you can feel as if you are somewhere in a village in Europe with its quaint buildings modeled after Amsterdam’s canal houses and seasonal flower displays. Here the mammoth roller coaster T-Express is particularly eye-catching. Inspired by a sightseeing train through the Alps, this thrill ride looks majestic against the backdrop of the mountain towering behind it.
As spring approaches, T-Express is now back into operation finishing its regular winter hibernation for safer rides.
Wooden you know it?
T-Express is Korea’s first and Asia’s third ever wooden roller coaster that welcomed its first passengers in 2008. Roller coasters are broadly classified into those constructed out of steel and those made from wood. Compared to steel ones, the exterior of a wooden coaster gives a softer feel and even a beauty that reminds one of nature.
However, beauty is fleeting as they say, and the wooden frame that supports the rails doesn’t look as sturdy as a steel one. Would wood be as safe as steel? Is there no danger of the whole edifice collapsing at some point? This nagging doubt is where the true charm that increases the thrill of wooden coasters comes from.
To construct T-Express, a new kind of manufactured wood called laminated panels was used. A laminated panel is made by pressing nine layers of thin wood and molding them together at high temperature to create a material that is seven times stronger than ordinary wood. These panels show little deformation and damage, and noise and vibration during the operation of the roller coaster can be greatly reduced. Compared to a steel coaster, the ride is also smoother.
As one of the longest roller coasters in the world, T-Express has 45,000 wooden blocks for its 1,641-meter-long rails. Altogether they weigh 617 tons and span 110 km when laid end to end. The number of bolts used to connect them to each other also amounts to 50,000.
Falling for T-Express
The highlight of T-Express is, more than anything, the first drop, which plummets the riders down from a height of 56m at an angle of 77 degrees, which is about the height of Niagara Falls. Before the drop, which comes after a torturously slow chain lift climb to the top, riders can take a moment to enjoy the panoramic view of Everland spread out before their eyes – if they are brave enough!
During the first drop, the speed of the train increases up to a dizzying 104km/h, and as the fall ends and the train suddenly rockets up again, the gravitational acceleration reaches 4.5G. This means that passengers experience 4.5 times stronger gravity than when they are on the ground. This intense momentary feeling of pressure is another factor that adds to the thrill of the roller coaster. The gravitational acceleration felt by F-16 fighter pilots during their mission is 6G, so riding on T-Express you can almost feel a little like flying in a jet airplane.
After the heart-stopping first fall, the roller coaster journey continues through more drops, banked turns, and camel backs to test the riders’ nerves. All told, there are a total of 12 instances of “airtime,” the state of weightlessness in which the rider temporarily floats in the air. This phenomenon is caused by inertia when the car falls or reaches the top of the ride before dropping down again.
To experience the hair-raising twists, turns and drops of T-Express from the comfort of your own screen, check out this video below!