Great Escape coaster earns an Olympic farewell

LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Monday was a day that doesn’t come often at Six Flags Great Escape. As visitors closed out the summer with roller coaster rides and eager waiting for the water park to open as temperatures brushed 90 degrees, one ride was in for its final day of service.

On Monday morning, a group of around 100 visitors were told it wasn’t clear exactly when the ride would start operation for the day. Many Great Escape visitors and staff would tell you that such an occurrence was never uncommon for the Alpine Bobsled, a ride ending 25 years of service at The Great Escape this year. Even so, an eager crowd was happy to wait.

“We like to be there to say goodbye to a ride – especially a beloved ride,” said Wade Abott, New York Regional Representative for American Coaster Enthusiasts. “It doesn’t happen that often.”

Nearly 100 visitors from American Coaster Enthusiasts arrived at The Great Escape on Monday to see and ride the Alpine Bobsled on its final day of operation among the park’s coasters. The ride’s retirement was announced earlier this summer, closing out a career that included years at Six Flags Great Adventure and Great America before settling at The Great Escape.

The enthusiasts who came out got to get a look at the ride an hour before it opened to the general public, hearing from park president Rebecca Wood and taking a photo in front of the purple-and-white halfpipe that makes up the ride. American Coaster Enthusiasts members came from New York, New Jersey, and even as far as Ohio and parts of Canada to see the attraction in action.

“We’re sad to see it go, but we’re going to send it off with a fond farewell and a celebration of a life long-lived,” said Abott. “I actually first rode this coaster when it was at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey when I was a teenager.”

For a period of time, it wasn’t clear exactly when those visitors would get to climb into one of three Olympic sports team-themed toboggans and take a ride. The Alpine Bobsled is a trackless coaster, with those toboggans cruising along the twists and turns of a smooth halfpipe that requires careful testing to ensure readiness for use.

The visitors got to climb to the top of the catwalk running up the coaster’s initial climb, taking pictures from up high. While they were there, park management determined they could run some tests – which soon told them that it was, indeed, time for a series of rides worthy of the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Games which inspired the ride to begin with.

The Alpine Bobsled’s departure leaves a gap that makes room for an exciting first. In 2024, The Great Escape is set to introduce new roller coaster The Bobcat. Built by designers Gravity Group, the ride will not only be the first roller coaster to come to the park since 2003, but the first completely new wooden coaster to be introduced to a New York theme park since 1999. As enthusiasts say farewell to one legend, they’re already excited for the next.

“Bobcat seems like such a fantastic coaster,” said Abott. “(Gravity Group) builds fantastic, family-sized wooden roller coasters. This is going to be a perfect addition to the park, and a perfect replacement to this.”

While the Alpine Bobsled closes, The Great Escape will remain open through September and October.

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