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Knight's Tournament at Legoland California

Legoland California, Carlsbad, California-- Robocoaster ride Review

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

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Knight's Tournament at Legoland California
©Arthur Levine, 2007. Licensed to About.com.
What a wild ride--or not. North America's first "Robocoaster," Knight's Tournament uses robotic arms that allows guests to choose a ride experience ranging from mild to surprisingly potent.

Knight's Tournament Up-Front Info

  • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): You choose the thrill level, using a 5-point scale. Levels 1 and 2 are quite mild. Level 5 is fairly intense--I'd give it a 7.5 on my thrill scale.
  • Height restriction to ride: 40 inches. Maximum height is 6' 4" and maximum weight is 220 lbs.
  • Knight's Tournament and other Legoland California Rides Photo Gallery

What's a Robocoaster doing at Legoland?

Loosely based on Lego's Knights' Kingdom line of toys, the Knight's Tournament Robocoaster at Legoland California includes a dragon (that's made out of Lego blocks) standing guard in front of the ride. I guess riders are supposed to be like knights slaying dragons. If so, these dragon slayers spend a lot of time flying upside down. Apart from the dubious theme, it's not entirely clear why there is a Robocoaster at Legoland at all. It's a wonderful ride, but it seems out of place at a park that's otherwise geared to younger children.

Not that younger children (40 inches and taller) wouldn't enjoy the ride. Guests are given the option to choose a thrill level based on a five-point system. Levels one and two are quite mild. But level five is notably intense. Who would have guessed that one of the most thrilling rides in California is at Legoland?

The ride consists of six robotic arms. Each arm holds two roller coaster-style seats with over-the-shoulder harnesses. At twelve riders per cycle, the lines can get long for Knight's Tournament.

Can resemble a dance routine

As the ride begins, it gently pulls riders away from the loading station, spins them around to face forward and then starts going through its paces. The robotic arms each have a number of articulation points and moves that they can make independently or in combination with one another. They can spin around, quickly extend into the air, or drop within inches of the ground. At the higher thrill levels, riders spend a fair amount of time upside down.

It appears that the ride consistently delivers the same program for a given intensity level. When riders choose the same level, the six robotic arms and their passengers look as if they are performing a weird, high-tech, precision dance routine.

At level five, Knight's Tournament tosses riders around like rag dolls. Swinging this way and that, riders slam into the harness restraints. Heed the warnings about stowing loose articles. The ride takes place over a pool of water, so it's unlikely that riders could retrieve lost glasses, cell phones, or other items. Making use of the water, and adding to the utter disorientation, guests observing the action can trigger water cannons and soak the riders.

As wild a ride as Knight's Tournament delivers, there has been speculation about even wilder applications for the Robocoaster concept. The robotic arms could be incorporated into a dark ride and simulate a flying vehicle, for example. Or, instead of the stationary arms that are planted in the ground for Knight's Tournament, ride designers have talked about mounting robotic arms on roller coaster trains. That could take thrill rides to a whole new level.

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