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Octotron Is New Thrill Ride At Belmont Park

The Octotron.
The Octotron.
Courtesy photo

Slow ride, take it easy. Not.

After a delay of several weeks due to bad weather and smoothing out kinks, the much-awaited Octotron thrill ride made its debut at Belmont Park.

This was a big deal among the amusement park sect, because the Octotron, created by acclaimed ride manufacturer Chance Morgan, is one of two in the country and the only one on the West Coast. The other Octotron, known as a Unicoaster, is installed at the Mall of America in Minneapolis. Chance Morgan makes other rides such as "Yo-Yo" and "Wipeout."

But Octotron is apparently the star. As one observer said of the ride, "the nauseous need not apply."

Riders sit side by side in roller-coaster style seats on a track. As the car circulates, riders can control the movement of their car, forward or backward, as well as the speed of the spin. Combined with the effect of being on a regular rollercoaster, it becomes a double spin sensation.

By the way, the more faint at heart can simply not spin at all. Riders have also been known to be face down during the whole experience, which lasts about 90 seconds. Each ride is $5.

It's enough to make those who are more comfortable on terra firma heavily squeamish, but Octotron has been a smash with Belmont Park customers. Colleen Quinones, assistant general manager of San Diego Coaster Company, which operates the park's rides, said that 700-800 take a spin on Octotron per day. The park is only open on weekends until March, when it will be a seven-day thing.

"People like it a lot," Quinones said. "There's a line all the time any time it's open. People were calling and asking about it. It's definitely becoming a draw."

Quinones said riders have been known to make multiple trips on the Octotron, assuming different positions."You can ride face up or face down," Quinones said. "People want to keep going and going. It's fun, even if you don't flip around. The speed of it is cool. It's a challenge for everybody, but anybody can ride it."

Anybody with a strong constitution and not much fear in their system, that is.

"It doesn't look like you're going terribly fast," said San Diego Coaster Company operation supervisor Rachel Crain. "But once you get on it..."

Russ Erickson is brave enough to handle the Octotron. He's part of the maintenance crew that keeps the ride running, and when he's not doing his job, there's a good chance you might find him spinning around on the Octotron.

"I love it; it's a great ride," said Erickson, who said the cars can spin at speeds of up to 28 rpm. "You control it yourself; the trend with rides is to make them unique. (Octotron) doesn't make you sick like a normal ride."

That's comforting.

Erickson isn't alone among Belmont Park employees. Quinones and Crain, neither of whom comes across as the daredevil type, have been known to indulge in Octotron. In fact, if you work at the park, it's pretty much of a given that you're an Octotron fan.

"All the employees ride it on their break," Quinones said. "They love it."

And so do visitors to Belmont Park. Octotron has given them a different kind of spin cycle.