Byron: After taking a break from writing on the site, I am thrilled to be writing again, and what better way to return than to review a ride of Helix’s caliber.
Helix is a Mack Rides roller coaster at Liseberg in Gothenburg Sweden. It features two launches, seven inversions, several strong airtime moments and a sprawling terrain-based layout. Helix was the bucket list coaster for me ever since it opened in 2014, and after years of anticipation, I had the chance to ride it in the summer of 2018. I was so excited I could barely contain myself and before I knew it, I was packed in like a sardine ascending the crowded Liseberg escalators to The Next Level. Every guest in there, including myself, shared one common goal: Ride Helix.
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Helix is a new classic. It’s not the tallest, fastest, longest, or most intense roller coaster in the world, it doesn’t even come very close in any of those categories. It’s not a record-breaker, and it’s not a gimmick. Liseberg and Mack Rides agreed that the vision of this ride should be something more lasting and meaningful.
I wended my way down metal staircases and over strange rocky landscapes lit in green. Brilliantly, as the queue progresses, the music does also. Starting off somewhat ambient and mysterious, IMAscore’s original soundtrack builds. The further into the queue you go the more it takes shape. By the time you’re in the station, Helix’s now-iconic theme is being blasted in its full glory.
I stood in front of the closed air gates, watching tracer lights on the ceiling follow the train the precipice of the first drop and kiss it goodbye. The next train rolled into the station, the air gates opened, and I boarded it. After pulling down only a lap bar, the restraints were checked. Ride operators in all corners of the station gave their obligatory thumbs up and I felt myself starting to roll forward. The train was dispatched, and I was off on my very first ride on Helix.
Helix wastes no time getting started. The train immediately drops out of the station and twists up into its first inversion, a corkscrew. Although it starts rather slow and floaty, the train is quickly whipped through the second half of the inversion, at a much quicker pace as the shaping of the element follows the downward slope of the terrain.
A somewhat gentle turnaround to the left suddenly puts a straight section of track into the view. The linear induction motors engage the train as soon as it comes in contact, and things really get started.
The thin white streak of launch fins disappear from view as the track pitches up before banking right and morphing into another much larger corkscrew over the escalators and next level building.
A sharp forceful turn to the left follows the downward slope closely yet again, before the ride gains some elevation, hopping over the escalators for the second time via an airtime hill that delivers a strong pop of vertical air, before yanking riders down the hill and to the right, adding some strong laterals to the mix.
Next comes the Norwegian Loop. The dive loop portion of this element comes seemingly out of nowhere as Helix uses the elevation change in the terrain to its advantage. A brief ascent sets riders up for a powerful, snappy, inverting twist to the left. From here, there’s a brief pause in pace giving riders a chance to appreciate the scale of the element, before the train dives suddenly straight towards the ground. Pulling up from its nosedive, Helix exerts rather intense positive force on riders as they transition into the Immelman, rising and fully inverting riders again before slowly rolling right side up and plummeting back to ground level.
Riders whiz through a small canyon while and bottoms out just inches above the ground. The canyon itself is jagged exposed tan rock, adding to the remarkable scenery on the ride.
As the train rises above the landscape, a strong moment of airtime follows. The profiling of this hill is more drawn out shallow, like one found on a B&M hyper. However, the ride takes it at such a speed that riders are treated to a prolonged moment of strong ejector air.
The track levels and rises into yet another inversion. Riders may brace themselves for another extreme maneuver, only to mesmerized by a lasting floating sensation as the world passes them by during a perfectly crafted zero-g roll.
Before riders can take half a breath, Helix hops up and banks to the left hard. This is a small moment on the ride, but it’s a flash of aggressiveness in its expansive layout, just in case you forgot that this ride does have some teeth.
What follows is a forceful dive down the hill, this time to the left, as the train hugs the ground closely. The pace slows for a moment as the track rises back up and turns right. Another straight section comes into view. The LIMs once again engage the train and accelerate it gradually but consistently. Riders get a moment to appreciate the sheer speed, as Helix builds momentum for its third act.
As the launch track ends, the train rises up almost vertically into an inverted top hat. Riders are suspended dauntingly high above the midway before they gracefully transition out of it, rolling the opposite way from which it entered at a much shallower angle.
A quick turn to the right feeds into a massive airtime hill, at the apex of which there is a stunning unobstructed view of the park and surrounding area. The airtime itself is a rare combination of quantity and quality, pushing riders up into their restraints for what feels like an eternity. The forces are sustained as the ride drops a great distance, once again following the sloping contour of the hill. Only at the bottom of this drop does Helix reach its top speed of 62 miles per hour.
The track bank to the left and rises up into an s-curve which it navigates nimbly. As the ride starts to let up and speed is scrubbed off, Helix enters its grand finale by banking left into a slow, drawn-out, and hang time filled heartline roll. Finally, the train rolls into the brakes and skids to a stop.
What Holds Helix Back?
As you can probably tell, I hold this ride in high esteem. That being said, it has received some criticism from certain enthusiasts, so I’d like to address those points honestly.
This is not an extreme ride. It has intense moments, and in my opinion, it leverages those moments well and balances them with more fun and graceful elements, but this is not an insane experience. If you’re expecting it to ride like Maverick or even Taron, you may be let down.
The launches are not very forceful. They serve more as a source of speed than as thrilling elements unto themselves. They are certainly fun, and very necessary to the ride’s remarkably consistent pace over such a long course, but they are not slam-you-into-your-seat, take-your-breath-away launches.
Helix warms up over the course of the day. Just like many of RMC’s rides, as well as plenty of others, it can start the day quite sluggish. As it warms up, however, the ride experience really benefits. My night rides on it were what really sold me and I cannot recommend trying Helix at night enough.
What Makes Helix Great?
There are a lot of really good roller coasters. There are a lot of really good rides that people say are great. There aren’t however, a lot of great roller coasters.
Every part of the ride experience helps to enhance the others. The anticipation built by the masterful score and visuals in the queue serves to elevate the character of the ride and the actual ride experience justifies that anticipation and adds even more value to those parts of the queue.
Within the coaster, the incredible balance between and variety of forces holds your complete attention. The impeccable use of terrain is both a feat of engineering and an assurance that Helix will never be replicated. The beautiful surroundings are respected and enhanced by the ride’s ability to navigate them with grace, and in turn, they enhance the experience on Helix.
Of 4,531 feet of track, not a single inch is wasted. It excels in each of the wide variety of elements it attempts. It flashes its intensity while not relying on it. It stays fresh and dynamic over its lengthy duration. In what could otherwise be dull or repetitive moments, Mack Rides, Designer Werner Stengel, and Liseberg all worked hard to make Helix as complete and fulfilling a ride experience is possible.
I got to experience this ride with my brother, and sharing something that is so special to me with him is not an experience I’ll soon forget.
At Liseberg, a park with nearly a century-long history, Helix has already cemented itself as a crucial part of that, ingraining itself in the culture of the park and the surrounding city.
This isn’t a perfect ride, but most complaints seem pretty trivial when put in perspective. It’s not the most intense ride in the world, but Helix is exactly what it set out to be. A ride to share, to bond over, to remember, and to love. Helix is without question, one of the world’s great roller coasters.
Thanks so much for reading, I really do appreciate it! Make sure you check out our recent Fright Fest Update and Halloween Horror Nights reviews and keep an out for some very exciting content from Asia. Have you ridden Helix? what are your thoughts? Comment below and let us know!