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November 2001

Coast to Coast

Symptoms: racing heartbeat, tingling feet, bulging eyes, sensation of stomach being turned upside down or projected into throat area, emotional instability (not sure whether to laugh or cry) and tangled hair. Typical sufferers: thrill seekers. Common cause: roller coasters. For these symptoms and more, the world has Werner Stengel to thank. At age 13, the future midway ride designer took his first life-changing ride on a rather tame wooden roller coaster. In 1964, Stengel teamed up with builder Anton Schwarzkopf to create the first German metal roller coaster. Within the next two years, Stengel had set up an engineering studio in Munich and designed “Jet Star 1,” the first Achterbahn—named for its figure-eight design—to feature steep curves. His most impressive accomplishment came in 1975, when he designed the unprecedented “looping” roller coaster. In addition, Stengel developed carrousels, Ferris wheels and water rides. The exhibition “Roller Coaster, Achterbahn—Desiger Werner Stengel” will celebrate the king of the thrill at the Münchner Stadtmuseum until June 30, 2002. On display are Stengel’s original plans—photos and models— for four of the world’s largest transportable structures: 3-looping, built in 1984; 4-looping “Thriller,” 1986; 5-looping “Olympic looping,” 1987 and the inverted roller coaster “Euro Star,” 1995. Indeed, Werner Stengel is the most innovative developer in the field of roller coasters. Without his gravitationally-challenging innovations, the world would be left with “boredom parks”. “Roller Coaster, der Achterbahn–Designer Werner Stengel,” Münchner Stadtmuseum, St.–Jacobs–Platz 1, Tues.–Sun. from 10 am–6 pm. Entrance fee for adults is DM 5, reduced prices for groups and children 6 years and younger.

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