West Edmonton Mall closes Mindbender indoor roller-coaster

Click to play video: 'Iconic West Edmonton Mall Mindbender roller-coaster shuts down permanently'
Iconic West Edmonton Mall Mindbender roller-coaster shuts down permanently
It was once a feature attraction at one of the world’s most famous shopping centres but now, the Mindbender roller-coaster has shut down for good. Dan Grummett reports on an up and down legacy – Jan 30, 2023

The Mindbender, billed as the world’s largest indoor triple-loop roller-coaster, has been shut down for good, West Edmonton Mall’s Galaxyland confirmed Monday.

The roller-coaster has made its home inside the mall since 1985. Galaxyland said the area the ride was located in will be redeveloped.

The changes to the area started with the decommissioning and removal of the Mindbender, a statement from the mall explained.

The Mindbender roller coaster in West Edmonton Mall’s Galaxyland. Supplied: WEM

“The iconic Mindbender has been the park’s premier thrill ride since the grand opening in 1985,” said Lori Bethel, the mall’s vice-president of parks and attractions.

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“While the Mindbender will be missed, we are excited to announce that we are working on groundbreaking new plans for family thrills that will immerse our guests in an out-of-this-world experience.”

Matthew Dutczak, mall historian and creator of the Best Edmonton Mall YouTube channel, was shocked to hear about the coaster’s closure.

“I was floored, just absolutely shocked that I heard the Mindbender wasn’t coming back,” he said Monday. “I’ve heard the rumours… but I always discounted them. I was always the most vocal objector.

Dutczak pontificates that this part of West Edmonton Mall was a big part of many Edmontonians’ pasts and there’s a deep sense of nostalgia associated with the ride.

“Really good memories. I was there as a young child with my parents, growing up spending time there with my brother and our friends. And then over time, bringing my own children there.”

Click to play video: 'Local artist collecting West Edmonton Mall memories for special project'
Local artist collecting West Edmonton Mall memories for special project

He said that for a time, the Mindbender was the largest indoor roller-coaster, period.

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“When you think of the pinnacle attractions at West Edmonton Mall, there’s some of the bigger slides at the World Water Park, there is the big lake with the submarine rides and there was the Mindbender. Those were the big three.

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“We’re losing a big chunk of one of the most iconic parts of West Edmonton Mall — one of the biggest rides in one of the biggest attractions there is. It’s major,” Dutczak said.

Click to play video: 'Survivor of 1986 West Edmonton Mall roller-coaster crash wants tribute'
Survivor of 1986 West Edmonton Mall roller-coaster crash wants tribute

The ride became infamous in 1986, when, on June 14, three people died when the last car jumped the track.

The car was going about 100 km/h when it struck a pillar and hurled its four passengers to the concrete floor below.

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It shut down for more than a year. After safety modifications, it reopened as a main attraction at the mall.

A provincial inquiry eventually blamed the crash on a defunct West German company for design and manufacturing flaws. It found that four bolts had worked loose, allowing a wheel assembly to fall off the roller-coaster car.

Dutczak said when it reopened, it was a completely redesigned ride.

“The 16 cars were reduced to 12 and they had new wheel assemblies and the coasters actually ran a bit slower,” he said, stating that the new speed was closer to 90 km/h.

“Even in its most current state, it had more G force than all but one coaster in North America… It’s always been a very extreme coaster.”

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For the bravest riders, Dutczak said there was sometimes even the chance to ride Mindbender backwards.

“The Mindbender was brutal coaster. It doesn’t glide as smoothly as newer coasters. It was rough and tumble, it would knock you around. It wouldn’t apologize. You’d get back on for more. But if you went backwards, forget about it. That would turn the stomachs of the hardest ride enthusiasts.

“In my eyes, there’s no replacing the mindbender,” Dutczak said of the redevelopment plans.

However, he thinks there’s a lot of versatility and opportunity in the space.

“They could very well bring in a big coaster that’s out of this world… or they could bring in a coaster that’s maybe half the size, still have it pretty good and then bring in maybe three of four more attractions.”

He’s hoping for a roller-coaster and one that leans towards the extreme.

“They got rid of the Perilous Pendulum and the Solar Flare. The Space Shot is there but the Drop of Doom is gone. Havoc hasn’t been operating for a while.

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“The balance ratio of child-friendly rides to extreme rides is off kilter.”

— With a file from The Canadian Press

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