The Zambezi Zinger is way different from the original — especially those awkward seats

·2 min read

Worlds of Fun announced that the “Zambezi Zinger” is returning as the amusement park celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2023.

The name and locations are the only things the new roller coaster will share with the old.

The original roller coaster had seats configured in a bobsled style, one rider behind the other, which long-time Worlds of Fun visitors will remember. The new coaster will, thankfully, feature side-by-side seating, avoiding some of the awkward encounters some folks, especially women, might recall.

One Kansas Citian posted on social media Thursday, “I awoke to the news that the Zambezi Zinger is coming back to Kansas City. Which is fine and all, but it will never be the same as riding it in 1989 and having to sit in between some boy’s legs... I just said what every middle aged woman who grew up in this city has already been thinking.”

Tony Carovillano, vice president and general manager for Worlds of Fun, told The Star on Thursday the seat change was made for safety reasons: They weren’t going to bring back that style of ride without seat belts or a restraint system.

He said the new coaster is a “reimagined” version of the old Zambezi Zinger.

“This style that we’re bringing out is going to be exhilarating, and it’s going to be awesome,” he said.

The old Zambezi Zinger
The old Zambezi Zinger

How are the seats changing?

Riding on the old Zambezi Zinger made for some awkward moments. No longer will you end up sitting pressed against someone’s lap.

You won’t have to worry about being the third wheel in someone else’s seat or having to hold on to the kid in front of you to make sure they didn’t fly away.

Worlds of Fun still uses that seat configuration for the tamer Viking Voyager, the log flume ride that goes back to the original Zambezi Zinger era. A 2021 “Saturday Night Live” skit covers everything you need to know about what it’s like to sit on that ride, thanks to Kansas City native and “SNL” cast member Heidi Gardner.

The Zinger was one of three coasters when Worlds of Fun opened in 1973. The new version will come with tons of other upgrades and will be made out of both steel and wood.

If you’re curious what the new roller coaster will look like when you ride it, Worlds of Fun posted a video showing you a first-person perspective.

Its reintroduction is part of a season-long celebration, which will include “50 Nights of Fire,” a stage show featuring Top 40 hits from 1973 to 2023, along with a finale filled with pyrotechnics.

“Our 50th Anniversary celebration will give our guests the opportunity to reflect on and share all their fond memories of the park, and we will help them do that in a variety of ways,” Carovillano said in a statement.