Vekoma has in many ways been the coaster manufacturer of choice for the Walt Disney Company over the last 25 years, producing the ride systems for The Barnstormer, Big Grizzly Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster, and many more.
Photos from a Vekoma fan show a Vekoma test site with a strange coaster test track being erected. The following photos were posted by user MrRC:
But why do we think this could be related to the Epcot Guardians of the Galaxy ride? An interesting Disney patent form a few years back looks like it may tie-in to this very design, featuring a unique load system and track for a suspended, “flying” roller coaster:
A ride system for giving passengers a flying roller coaster experience. The ride system includes a train of vehicles, with each of the vehicles including seat assemblies that each has a seat and seat back for receiving a passenger. The vehicles are supported by the track to roll along a length of the track, and the ride path is adapted for gravity-based movement of the train of vehicles in at least portions of the ride path. The track includes a vertical segment, and the ride system includes a station including a platform assembly with horizontal platforms vertically spaced-apart to provide multi-level loading. The train is positioned on the vertical segment with each of the vehicles proximate to an end of one of the horizontal platforms. The seat backs are substantially parallel to a longitudinal axis of the track to provide vertical loading and, then, vertical launching from the station.
Does this patent and the Vekoma test track mean anything? That is the real question. Disney seems like a likely customer for an experimental ride system like this, especially considering Vekoma and Disney worked together on building a whole-new sort of vehicle for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train together.
The track in the patent and what is being built at the Vekoma test site are eerily similar. The Disney patent is for a sideways loading roller coaster and Vekoma is building what looks to be a sideways loading flying coaster track. It is an awfully big coincidence if not related.