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Remember the Zambezi Zinger? It's coming back for the 50th anniversary of Worlds of Fun

A rendering of the new Zambezi Zinger features passengers zooming through tight turns on steel and wood rollercoaster tracks.
Worlds of Fun
The new Zambezi Zinger will be almost 20 feet taller than the original ride, which was removed in 1997, and will have side-by-side seating instead of bobsled-style cars.

The new-and-improved ride will feature speeds up to 45 mph, a free-fall after a signature spiral ascent, and tight turns whipping in and out of the trees.

Nostalgic Kansas Citians will have something to celebrate next year — the return of Worlds of Fun’s legendary roller coaster, the Zambezi Zinger. The amusement park is celebrating its 50th anniversary by bringing back the fan favorite ride.

People who grew up in the Kansas City area anytime between 1973 and 1997 are almost certainly familiar with the Zambezi Zinger.

When the park opened in 1973, the Zinger was one of the park’s most popular rides. Riders sat in bobsled-style cars and climbed high before free-falling through tight curves that dipped in and out of the tree cover. The ride closed in 1997 when it was sold to a broker and moved to the Montaña Rusa in Parque Nacional Del Café in Montenegro, Colombia.

OLD ZAMBEZI
The first version of the Zinger featured bobsled style cars, making for 'too close for comfort' experience.

The reimagined Zambezi Zinger will feature both a modern design — made from galvanized steel and wood — and a connection to the ride’s original design.

According to the Worlds of Fun website, the new coaster will be 2,428 feet long and 74 feet tall — 17 feet higher than the original. The two-minute ride will take passengers around banked turns, up a spiral ascent and drop them through the trees, reaching speeds of 45 mph.

Instead of bobsled cars, riders will now sit in side-by-side seating.

Kansas City roller coaster fans, like Twitter user Audra Spiven, immediately shared their excitement on social media.

The Zambezi Zinger’s reappearance is one of several new events for the 2023 season. The season will kick off with “50 Nights of Fire,” featuring performances of the Top 40 hits from 1973 to 2023 and a pyrotechnics show.

Worlds of Fun opened on May 26, 1973. Along with business partner Jack Stedham, Kansas City Chiefs founder and NFL forefather Lamar Hunt had the vision of building a theme park as a gift to the city.

The park’s theme was modeled after the novel, "Around the World in 80 Days." The continents of the park include Americana, Europa, Africa, Scandinavia and Orient.

For more information on the history of the park and how to purchase tickets for this season, visit their website.

Rachel Schnelle is an intern for KCUR 89.3. She is an alum of the Missouri School of Journalism.
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