A Roller Coaster For Wimps: You Walk Instead Of Ride

An art installation on the Rhine offers all of the expectation but none of the heart-pounding thrill of an amusement-park ride.

As a neurotic kid growing up in New York, I was at once fascinated and repulsed by the Cyclone, Coney Island’s legendary roller coaster. The structure looked like it was made of matchsticks, and while the climb up the wooden rails seemed exhilarating enough, the speedy drops skirted too close to death for my comfort. I would have been happy to go to the grave without having experienced a roller coaster, but that was before I laid eyes on Tiger & Turtle-Magic Mountain, a fabulous roller coaster set on a former industrial site in Duisburg Wanheim, Germany. What’s so special about it? You walk it.

The permanent installation, by Heike Mutter and Ulrich Genth, offers all the expectation—but none of the heart-thumping, nihilistic thrill—of a traditional roller coaster ride. Instead, visitors are invited to climb the narrow steps, make room for others to pass, and stop to enjoy the view of the Rhine. "The sculpture," the artists write, "subtly and ironically plays with the dialectic of promise and disappointment, mobility and standstill." At the risk of being puke-inducingly trite, that sounds awfully like the roller-coaster metaphor of life.

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  • Rach

    From the press Release about the loop:

    "The visitor can climb the art work by foot. Although the course describes a closed loop, it is impossible to accomplish it as the looping emerges to be a physical barrier. On top, at the highest point of the sculpture – 45 meters above ground – the visitor is rewarded with an extraordinary view over the landscape of the Western Ruhr."

  • The Artist

    From the link in the article, there is info about the loop.
    Using a translation page, here is what the designers have to say about it-
    >>> The curved staircase is the same one writes a signature in the landscape and refers back to the aura of classic roller coaster. On closer inspection, however, the audience will be disappointed disarming manner. On different climbs steeply climbing stairs, the user rollercoaster sculpture walk. Thus, the sculpture plays on subtle and ironic way with the dialectic of promise and disappointment, mobility and stasis. On the steep, only about one meter wide hallways leads to brief encounters between visitors. <<< 

  • Jye

    Clearly not a dead end, you either choose to turn around and go the other way, or hold on to the railing as you go upside down and hope you don't lose your grip.

  • Obiwan1999

    Looks like a fun thing to do, but it seems pretty clear that the steps end as the rails get steep on the upside down part. Seems to me that both approaches to the upside down part are dead ends -- you can't 'walk' on that part.

  • Lyonesse Nó Eglantine

    Cling on to the rails and hope you have enough upper body strength to not fall.

  • Wize Adz

    For those who might be interested in a similar (and more awesome) kind of walk-through / climb-through sculpture on this side of the Atlantic, I'd like to recommend The City Museum in St. Louis, MO.

  • daniel T[ease]:D

    Interesting. But if it gets people off their lazy butt's.! Then it's a great idea.