ProwlerTim Baldwin
First Drop, August 1, 2009

For many years, Worlds of Fun struggled to raise its coaster count. When the Arrow Corkscrew was removed, Timber Wolf claimed its spot. Mamba only appeared after the disappearance of Zambezi Zinger. Even Spinning Dragons helped fill the gap left by the departed Orient Express. For a period of time, the park seemed stuck with a coaster line-up of just three or four significant coasters, while other parks were in the double digits.

Thankfully, the new millennium has smiled brightly on the Kansas City park. While a Boomerang is no big thing in this industry, it still was a looper in a park that needed another one, not to mention the fact that such a model wasn't really close by. Spinning Dragons arrived as one of the earlier Gerstlauer spinners in the U.S. The park really struck gold with Patriot. While shorter than some B&M inverters, the quality of the layout was spot on. The ride offered more of a sense of flight rather than one inversion connected to another.

Enter 2009. With a fourth new coaster within ten years, the park has finally seen significant growth, allowing it to hold its own with the major players. Prowler now brings the coaster count to seven. And quite frankly, it couldn't have been done better. This new ride was the right ride in the right park.

Looking at the ride statistically, it is the second shortest of the park's adult coasters in terms of height. But don't let a "mere" 25.9m (85ft) deceive you. The ride accomplishes everything it is engineered to do.

Fans of Great Coasters International, Inc. (GCII) have become accustomed to their familiar hallmarks. However, Prowler pounces to its own rhythm and doesn't really much resemble the firm's other handiwork. GCII is well known for its super twisters, and layouts typically consist of numerous crossovers, tangled trackage, and station fly-bys. Prowler, however, stands as an out-and-back. Well, as out-and-back as GCII gets. Rides of that genre tend to have a lot of straight track, but very little exists here as the first drop curves to the ground and then cuts through the lift, out of the view of the public. The outward run then darts and dashes in such a way that the rider is continuously thrown off balance with bursts of airtime. This stretch of track characterizes feline agility with natural grace.

It is the return run that will really capture fans' attention, however. The orchestration of manoeuvres is marvellously done here. The pouncing continues in dance-like fashion until the train twists into the brake run. Riders are breathless and rightly so. It's no wonder they return to the loading station screaming and howling. It's all great fun - unquestionably.

Riders might find themselves occasionally surprised by the continuous directional changes. At certain moments, different pieces of track are in view and the trains unpredictably leap in a direction that may not have been expected. It's one of the ride's many endearing qualities.

A note to photographers: the ride is frustratingly hidden from view. Outside of the lift and first drop and some very sparse views from the exit ramp, good photos of the ride are difficult to take. Passengers on the park's train might catch a glimpse of Prowler's lair as that journey parallels the coaster briefly, but that's about it. It's also rewarding to see the woodsy area that Zambezi Zinger once graced being utilized again, even if the placement of the ride isn't exactly in the previous Schwarzkopf's spot. As the trees continue to grow in over the years, it will just add to the mystique and mystery of the ride.

Prowler's debut gives Worlds of Fun the extra signature attraction it needed to build the park as a destination for coaster fans, as well as local thrill-seekers. Cedar Fair made a great decision with this $8m purchase, and compared to the price tag on many coaster installations nowadays, it might just be the best value for the money of any new ride in 2009.

Reproduced with permission.
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