El Toro is the main attraction of a new Mexican-themed section, Plaza Del Carnaval. Some of the ride's track is located in Rolling Thunder's infield. It is the steepest lifted (as opposed to launched) roller coaster in the park.
Once the first car of the train is past the catch-car, the cable begins moving and the catch-car locks onto the first car. As soon as the entire train is on the lift, the cable accelerates to its full speed of 13.5 mph. At this speed, it takes about 15 seconds for the train to reach the top of the lift. The cable slows down slightly as the train crests the lift, but this is barely noticeable on the ride. The cable continues to pull the train until the entire train is over the top of the lift.
After cresting the top of the lift (in which some airtime could be felt before the lift was slowed down in 2007), the train briefly travels forward and makes a sharp 180 degree turn as it quickly picks up speed. It then drops 176 ft at a 76 degree angle. The train reaches 70 mph; however, according to some ride operators the ride runs faster than it should, around 75 mph. Some people say that it feels like the train is being dragged down the first drop. The drop is noted as one of the best drops on any coaster because of its pull and feeling of the world dropping-out from beneath the rider. The drop is experienced very differently in each row because of the length of the train. The front row hangs over the drop for quite a long time, the train only starting to really pick up speed when the front row is almost at the steepest part of the drop. In the back row, the train picks up speed upon reaching the end of the turn before the drop, resulting in strong ejector air that's sustained almost all the way down the drop.
As the train reaches the bottom of the drop it comes close to the track above it creating a headchopper-effect. It then speeds up and over a 112 ft hill where riders experience strong and extreme air-time. After going down the hill riders have their picture taken and then go up and crest a 100 ft hill, once again with strong ejector air. As it comes out of the hill more headchoppers are speedily passed as it the shoots up an 82 ft hill, giving less intense ejector airtime. The train speeds into a sharp 180 degree downward-banked turn and up another banked turn and then drops, this time riders experience floater airtime. The train goes through more headchoppers and a small 2nd hill that speeds past the station and the lakeside. The ride then makes another turn and up a smaller hill over Rolling Thunder. After coming down the drop, the ride snakes through twists and turns through Rolling Thunder's infield. After coming out of the twister section, the train slows down as it moves through small S turn hills and into the brake run.
El Toro has several similarities to Viper, the coaster that it replaced. The most obvious similarity is that El Toro uses Viper's station, the only part of Viper that was not torn down. The station previously held two Viper trains at once, with a loading platform in the front and an unloading platform in the rear. The ramp that was previously Viper's main exit is now used only for wheelchair access, as El Toro has a new exit on the other side of the station. During El Toro's construction, the station was gutted and an entirely new platform built. Like El Toro, Viper turned left out of the station before the lift hill and turned left at the top of the lift before the first drop. El Toro's entrance uses an iron arch that is very similar to the one used for Viper's entrance, but a good deal wider.
El Toro's on-ride camera is located at the bottom of the second drop. It takes a single, vertically oriented picture of each of the 6 cars. Riders intending to purchase their photo are advised to sit in the front row of any car. It sometimes flashes when a train is on the lift, Possibly to warm up the Camera Mechanism.
El Toro is most known for its constant speed which hardly slows down, its very steep first drop, the cable lift, smoothness, headchoppers, and its intense sensations of ejector airtime.
El Toro normally remains open in the rain (but not during a thunderstorm). However, intense or sustained rainfall can get the drive tires before the station wet enough that a train approaching the station will sometimes slip over them, causing the ride to shut itself down for safety reasons. While this situation is normally resolved in a matter of minutes, the guests on the train approaching the station will be stuck in the rain until the train in the station can be dispatched and their train advanced into the station.
El Toro has two trains, each seating 36 passengers (3 rows of 2 passengers per car, 6 cars per train), the second longest trains in the park. El Toro has a capacity of 1200 guests per hour. The trains are simply known as "Train A" (light brown) and "Train B" (dark brown), although they have been nicknamed "Jorge" (Pronounced Or-Hay) (Train A) and "Hector" (Train B) by the ride operators. The trains have padded "wings" at shoulder level to prevent riders from being thrown too far to the side in the final twister section. These wings were originally made of plastic, but were replaced by much stronger metal ones after several of them broke in the middle of El Toro's opening season. A pair of the original plastic wings can still be found on the test seat.
El Toro's restraints are very sensitive, which can sometimes result in a car (or sometimes the entire train) being unlocked and re-checked because one of the restraints was not down far enough to allow the train to be dispatched. Thus, this ride is not really meant for large physique or unique body structures such guest are provided with a test seat. When El Toro first opened, this resulted in very long dispatch intervals, sometimes up to 5 minutes. This situation has improved greatly over time; it is now common for each train to be dispatched less than half a minute after the other train finishes its circuit. When four ride attendants are available to check the trains, each train will usually be dispatched before the other train finishes its circuit. This is known as a "Roll" (When you send the first train out for dispatch before the other train returns) compared to a "Stack"(When both trains are waiting to be dispatched and advanced into the "Home" position).
El Toro's U-shaped lapbar restraints (a safer design than Intamin's usual T-shaped restraints) use a hydraulic locking system, which means they can be pushed down to any position, where they will stay. A ratchet-based restraint, in contrast, only locks at each notch and will often be too loose or uncomfortably tight. It also utilizes magnetic brakes—the brake fins are mounted to the underside of the train and the braking magnets are mounted to the track.
El Toro is unusual in that, because of space restrictions, it does not have a garage for its trains. Instead, it has a single open-air storage track, and the other train is stored in the station or brake run. When on the storage track, the train rests on its upstop wheels (the wheels that run under the track to keep it from flying off) rather than its main wheels. This allows for easier maintenance of the main wheels.
El Toro recently received a test seat, located in the entrance plaza, a welcome addition because of the restraint system's sensitivity to "guests of exceptional size", now referred to as "guests of unique body shapes." The test seat (which is actually two seats) is an exact replica of the front row of one of the cars. It has fully functional, hydraulic-locking restraints, identical to those on the trains. The seats of El Toro were not designed to support guests with waists greater than 36 inches, while with most other rides guests with waists 42 inches and up are put into a special seat which El Toro does not have.
In addition to the lapbar restraints, the test seat includes the seatbelts used on the ride. When fastened, they must be pulled tight enough so that the yellow line is visible. If they cannot be pulled this tight, the guest will not be able to ride.
The instruction sign above the test seat has a mistake on it. It says "The yellow stitch in the must be pulled through the buckle and be visible in order to ride", which should read "The yellow stitch in the seat belt must be pulled through the buckle and be visible in order to ride".
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