Alright, I have also now ridden Wildfire, to which I have finally lost my RMC virginity and to be brutally honest and truthful here, I was underwhelmed with it. I realise I am going to be the only person on the planet who didn't think too much of this, so are expecting shots to be fired left, right and centre, especially given how much hype is surrounding RMC's at the moment everywhere you look online. But I was expecting to be monumentally blown away by this thing after so many fanatics and 'enthusiasts' claim this is one of the best coasters in the world and best models of coaster on the market; and I was desperately seeking and secretly hoping it was going to top Helix finally as my number 1 coaster. Sadly, it is far from that spot after over 15 rides on the thing and heck, it's not even a top 5 coaster to me. Why you might ask? The answer is simple - poor design.
The first design flaw is Wildfire through POVs online might show the thing being relentless from beginning to end and only slowing down a little bit when going through the 2nd inversion and towards the end of the layout, but my goodness, this proves looks can be really deceptive. There are two points on this coaster where it barely trawls through it's circuit to the point I thought it was going to stall at one point. These two moments are pace-killers on this coaster and that's a major fault with the design of it's layout through my eyes. It's Icon's first inversion kind of slow we are talking about here and to me, any coaster which has weak spots like this is a massive turn-off. Most coasters suffer moments like this whether it's Taron's trim brakes, Icon's weak 1st half, Nemesis' stall turn or Helix's launches for example, but the idea of going from 74mph to less than 10mph in the space of less than 10 seconds is quite extraordinary for a coaster model many claim to be amazingly quick and zippy, so it hinders the ride hugely in my view. So that's the first fault.
The second fault is you may also hear some reviews say Wildfire is a ride which as it 'warms up' gets faster during the day and therefore becomes more intense, and by golly, they were not wrong here. It is so inconsistent with speed. The difference between riding this thing in the morning as opposed to the late afternoon is like night and day. It's not a little difference, it's a huge difference. As mentioned above, the coaster barely makes it through the circuit if you ride this in the morning and it feels close to stalling, but give it a few more hours and the ride is much faster through every element and made it far more enjoyable. This is also noticeable with a full train with higher potential energy compared to an empty one. I understand almost every coaster in existence suffers this same fault of 'warming up' to some degree, but my word, I wasn't expecting a difference as large as this on Wildfire.
And lastly, the biggest fault I had with this coaster also falls under all other RMC's out there to be fair, and that's the restraint design. Whilst the seats are comfy enough to sit in, there are these horrible leg 'brackets' I like to call them which clamp down on your shins giving you almost no room at all to move or adjust your legs. This posed a major problem for me and caused a lot of discomfort when being flung everywhere, because I could feel these digging into my shins really badly through some elements. Plus, when I look at them on the trains, they look and feel like a needless thing to add, especially if you are in the back two seats of each of the six 4-seater carriages. The seats are deep enough to prevent this and the two directly in front are enough to stop you sticking your legs out, so to me, these are not necessary. As a workaround, something similar to the GCI wooden coasters with a small walled shield by your feet would work far better in my eyes, similar to what you see on Wicker Man, Balder and Wodan for example.
Now I understand not everyone will have this problem and it only really poses a problem for the more... 'bulky' guests to put it in PC terms, but I didn't enjoy having my shins pinned down by a force of over 4G and 12 airtime moments on this coaster one bit. It caused some major discomfort which reminded me of levels similar to Colossus' restraints in all honesty, and if every other RMC has this, including Steel Vengeance, then I frankly have very little interest in being clamped down like this again. Partly what makes Helix, Taron, Shambhala, Icon and Wodan my top coasters is these all offer some very comfortable seating which accommodates people of all shapes and sizes, but Wildfire felt very restrictive and is a massive thumbs down from me in this area.
But all this aside, there's no denying there are some fantastic elements to this coaster and I am very pleased to have finally ridden it! The interaction between the coaster and the natural hillside terrain of the zoo is unparalleled to anything else I have seen before and the setting of this ride is brilliant. The views alone from the top at the crow's nest turnaround alone are worth just getting on this ride in my view. The 81 degree drop is phenomenal, especially if you are on the back row with airtime on the same levels as Shambhala I'd say (though not as extreme as Helix), and the transition into the stalled zero-g roll was quite something. It was a very strange sensation, but a wicked one! The 3rd inversion is great also and flies through it very fast, and the titled airtime hill before plunging through a shed filled with smoke was very intense, especially as it 'warmed-up' later in the day. So by no means am I saying this is an awful coaster in anyway, it's just hindered by a few crucial design faults in my view.
After haven now ridden an RMC, I can see the appeal they have behind them as they do things no other coaster from B&M, Mack or Intamin can ever achieve, but they just aren't my cup of tea unfortunately. Wildfire was great fun no doubt and I can happily say I have finally ridden one of these coasters, but honestly, it is my opinion and belief to think that the obsession at the minute with RMC is down to pure hype; hype which reminds me of the days of Derren Brown's Ghost Train frankly - they are a bold idea with some excellent visions, but the execution is questionable in a few areas.
In a nutshell, to everyone out there who is pleading Thorpe Park to build one of these over the site of Loggers Leap, whilst you could be in for a great ride no doubt, just be careful what you wish for and try one for yourself outside of Steel Vengeance before making that judgement. I myself whilst I really enjoyed Wildfire believe RMC's as a whole are at the 'hype-bubble' stage currently and remain reserved about riding another one unless some fundamental design changes are made to their trains.
But again, I still enjoyed it and give it 7/10!