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Primeval Whirl is a "wild mouse" roller coaster with the added twist of a spinning car over the second half of the ride. It is themed as a countdown to the asteroid impact that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, making it similar in story to the Dinosaur ride that was once called Countdown to Extinction. Primeval Whirl is the main attraction at Chester & Hester's Dino-Rama themed area. It consists of two identical mirror-image tracks, only one of which operates during times of light attendance. Primeval Whirl is set up to be a FASTPASS attraction, but on slow days the machines are frequently disabled.
Primeval Whirl officially debuted at the Animal Kingdom on April 18, 2002, nearly four years after the park opened. The ride structure and vehicle were purchased directly from the French ride manufacturer Reverchon and installed on the site, with Walt Disney Imagineering providing the theming.
At the original park opening, this section of Dinoland U.S.A. was home to the 1998 Dinosaur Jubilee (later renamed the 2000 Dinosaur Jubilee, and then Chester & Hester's Dinosaur Jubilee), a static exhibit of actual fossils, casts, and reconstructed dinosaur skeletons.
In November 2007, a cast member working the load zone was struck by a ride vehicle and fell from the loading platform. She later died of injuries sustained in the fall. Disney was cited by OSHA for five worker safety violations and assessed a fine. During the OSHA investigation, Disney added floor sensors around the load area to disable the ride should a cast member enter the restricted access area.
Primeval Whirl is a fun ride for those without a delicate constitution. Like most wild mouse coasters, the primary thrill is not from speed (which tops out at 20 mph) but from the unbanked hairpin turns, which can generate almost 3 G of force. Add in the fact that the ride vehicles are wider than the track, obscuring the view of the track right in front of you, and you get a fear factor that enhances the thrill. The dips are tame by comparison. The spinning is effectively random, providing a different experience with each visit. Sometimes you will spin a lot and go through the dips backwards, other times you'll barely notice the turns.
The theming, indeed the entire attraction, is consistent with the Dino-Rama backstory; this is the kind of tacky ride you expect to find at a roadside tourist trap. In fact, if you're driving to Walt Disney World from North Carolina or parts north, you probably saw one at South of the Border, although it appears to be inoperable.
As with the rest of Dino-Rama, the key to enjoying this ride is to recognize that Disney is not joining the ranks of roadside amusement parks, but is including a little slice of American consumerism within their theme park.
You board a ride vehicle that can hold four people in two sets of two. Loading is reasonably fast, with the cars moving as you board.
Out of the loading area, you climb the hill (a traditional chain pull). Watch the displays as you go by, because it won't be easy to focus from here on out.
You negotiate five hairpin turns first before hitting the first dip. Another hairpin is followed by a bigger drop, and a turn where your vehicle finally begins to spin. Here is where it gets good.
You will go through five or six more hairpin turns and two more drops, but probably won't notice the details.
The entire ride from boarding to exit lasts about two and a half minutes.
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