I went on the Crazy Mouse yesterday at the Clay County Fair, Spencer, Iowa. Very awesome, but I also took my 71 year old mom on the ride. Not so good, but she is still breathing.
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Crazy mouse or wild mouse coasters are single car roller coaster developed in the mid-20th century. Unlike traditional coasters that feature long ride trains, crazy mouse coasters feature a small car that only sits between 2-4 passengers. They are noted for fast turns and short sudden drops.
Unlike the dramatic and expansive tracks of large roller coasters, wild mouse coasters are generally very compact rides that appear to be fairly tame. They do not usually feature large drops, inversions or corkscrew elements. At first glance, riders may assume the ride is intended for children, but the crazy mouse provides a great deal of punch for its size.
The original wild mouse coasters were designed in the late 1950s by German ride pioneer Franz Mack. They were built from wood and featured very small single cars, allowing only two tightly-seated adult riders. One of the earliest versions was at the Blackpool Pleasure Beach in England and still operates today.
The thrill factor in crazy mouse coasters relies on their small side. Because the cars are wider than the track, going around sharp, switchback turns leaves riders feeling as though they are about to be flung off the ride. The short, sudden drops are often unexpected, and give a g-force jolt to the riders. It is not uncommon for seasoned roller coaster fans to be terrified out of their wits on crazy mouse coasters, as the overall feel of the ride is completely different than a traditional roller coaster.
After initial popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, crazy mouse rides fell out of fashion in the wake of incredible new roller coaster technology. They remained popular with traveling carnivals and fairs, as the tracks were easily compactable. In the 1990s, steel wild mouse coasters began to regain popularity in theme and amusement parks. Even the world-class theme park Disneyland chose to include a crazy mouse coaster in their expansion park, Disney’s California Adventure.
The revitalization of the wild mouse rides led to new innovations, made possible by advancements in the roller coaster industry. In 1997, the first spinning mouse cars were introduced at Dinosaur Beach in New Jersey. Although the track remains similar to regular coasters, the car spins freely in circles, adding new dimensions of excitement, or terror, to the ride. Adding loops to wild mouse rides has also become popular, with one of the earliest being at the Tobu Zoo in Japan.
Crazy mouse coasters are not for the faint-hearted and should not be mistaken for children’s rides. They are often somewhat jerky when compared to smooth-running regular coasters, and those with back or neck injuries should consult with a doctor before riding. As with all amusement park rides, read and follow all safety directions before boarding a ride.
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