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Ian

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Moderately interesting article about the safety and regulation of theme park rides.

Amusement parks rarely face fines for ride accidents

Cedar Point officials and Ohio inspectors are completing a review of Shoot the Rapids, which closed in July after accident.
MCT Regional News
Mar 3, 2014

A Cedar Point amusement park visitor placed a frantic phone call to police — the woman feared riders, who were just thrown off the park’s water ride Shoot the Rapids, were injured.

She was right.

The ride’s log flume had come off the track, rolled the car back into the water and sent riders flying out of their seats, injuring seven.

Such occurrences are rare at Ohio’s major amusement parks. More than 6 million people visit Ohio attractions Cedar Point and Kings Island a year. Since 2010, Cedar Point reported seven accidents that resulted in a rider being admitted to a hospital, according to the state’s ride safety agency. Kings Island reported no such accidents during the same period.

“Your chances of being in a wreck or having a problem are greater driving down Interstate 75 than riding a roller coaster,” said Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services Inc., a Cincinnati-based industry consultant.

But when accidents or malfunctions do happen, it’s also rare for state inspectors to punish the roller coaster operator.

This newspaper analyzed the state’s investigation reports showing 10 accidents at four of Ohio’s major roller coaster and water amusement parks since 2010. Accident reports were reviewed for the state’s two biggest fixed-amusement park operations, Mason’s Kings Island and Sandusky’s Cedar Point, as well as two other popular, local destinations: The Beach Waterpark in Mason and Coney Island in Cincinnati.

Not once did the state issue violations or fines as a result of any of these accidents. Inspectors did, however, issue three separate violations against these parks for operational failures such as water quality during the three years analyzed.

Amusement park safety isn’t federally regulated and several states have no safety laws that regulate coaster safety. That Ohio has any program in place at all means that it has a more rigorous inspection process than many other states across the U.S.

Still, Ohio doesn’t require more common minor injuries, such as headaches or dizziness, to be reported or tracked like amusement park mecca California does.

Federal oversight would add an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy, said Speigel, a former manager of Kings Island and Coney Island.

“The industry as a whole is very self-policing,” he said. “If we’re not safe, people won’t come back.”

“Every square inch is looked at”

The Ohio Department of Agriculture Division of Amusement Ride Safety licenses nearly 4,000 attractions and rides — including inflatable bounce houses, go-kart tracks, rides at the state’s 94 agriculture fairs, and amusement parks every year. The office runs on a $1.175 million annual budget, which is self-sustained by licensing fees and fines, the state’s chief ride inspector, Mike Vartorella, said.

During this time of year, the office’s seven ride inspectors are spending hours examining the state’s 300 fixed-location amusement parks. Inspectors, for example, will spend five weeks examining each of Cedar Point’s 72 rides this year.

“(We aren’t) just going to walk up to this thing and say, ‘oh man, this looks good, let’s go,’” Vartorella said. “Every square inch is looked at, trust me.”

Throughout the year, Ohio inspectors conduct planned and random inspections.

And, when someone at the park is injured so badly that they’re admitted into a hospital, it’s the state investigator’s job to travel to the park, investigate and inspect the ride. The state, however, only has the authority to investigate accidents that involve an injured rider who either gets admitted or stays overnight at a hospital.

Sometimes that rule means the state won’t inspect the most serious amusement park mishaps— like what happened on Shoot the Rapids last summer. None of the riders injured in that accident were admitted to a hospital. The ride was immediately shutdown by Cedar Point, but the state never opened an accident investigation or issued a citation over the event.

Shoot the Rapids malfunctioned, as the chain pulling the ride came off the track and the ride was off the track too high to catch before sliding back down into the water, Vartorella said.

Cedar Point officials and Ohio inspectors are completing a review of Shoot the Rapids, Bryan Edwards, Cedar Point spokesman, said in an email. Plans are to reopen Shoot the Rapids this season, Edwards said. The ride has been closed since last July’s mishap.

“We go to great lengths to ensure the safety of everyone here at the park,” Edwards said. “Cedar Point experts conduct a comprehensive set of maintenance, safety and operations inspections every operating day…”

Kings Island was never cited, either, for problems involving the Son of Beast wooden coaster.

One woman — who reported feeling like her ‘brain was shaking’ on the ride — was found to have a broken blood vessel in her brain following her ride on the Son of Beast in 2009.

Years earlier, in 2006, the same ride was under fire after more than 20 people were injured.

A state investigator during a jury trial in 2009 testified the Son of Beast had ongoing issues. The investigator claimed the park used “Band-Aid style” fixes for structural problems with the ride. One of the injured riders was awarded $76,000 in compensation for pain and suffering damages.

Kings Island shuttered the ride and this year unveils a new ride in its place, Banshee. Ohio never ordered Son of Beast to permanently close.

“The main thing for that ride is that it just wasn’t fun and enjoyable for the average guest anymore,” Don Helbig, spokesman for Kings Island said.

In 2010 at Coney Island, a woman’s leg became lodged in between the deck and the ride Trabant. The rider said the incident caused significant bruising and she lost feeling in her leg as a result, according to a state-filed accident report. Coney Island agreed to a private, undisclosed settlement over that accident, but wasn’t cited by the state.

Trabant has closed and is being replaced by a new ride this year, park management said.

“In regards to the Trabant, we have a confidentiality clause attached to the settlement so unfortunately I can’t speak to the details of the incident,” Coney Island Amusement Park General Manager Mike Howard said by email. “Safety is of great importance to Coney and it has been throughout our nearly 130 year history.”

‘If we’re not safe…’

Parks are required to shut down rides automatically when a child breaks a bone or a rider dies of heart attack mid-air.

But park operators and state inspectors argue there’s enough incentive for parks to close problematic roller coasters, like Son of Beast, regardless of state regulation.

“We want people here… have a great day, the best day, not to be beat up or whatever the case may be in a ride,” said Tom Dillingham, manager of Kings Island’s rides mechanical and automotive maintenance.

Amusement parks have money invested in maintaining a good safety record, Speigel, the coaster industry consultant, said. Park operators want to grow attendance and minimize exposure to lawsuits. And park owners’ insurance rates are based on safety records, Speigel said.

“I can tell you this without hesitation. If there’s a problem or an issue on a ride, the park shuts it down,” Speigel said. “They’re not going to operate something that’s knowingly unsafe.”

Vartorella said his inspectors focus more on finding operational violations, caused by human error, at amusement parks or rides throughout the state. The office typically avoids issuing fines unless an inspector has found repeat violations. Violation fines range from $200 to $5,000.

“We do like small businesses here. The governor likes small businesses here,” Vartorella said. “We work with companies rather than to just sit there and ding them for doing bad things.”

Of the violations found in this newspaper’s analysis, the state issued two against Cedar Point, one for improper chlorine levels on the Choo Choo Lagoon last year, resulting in a $500 fine. Another $500 fine was issued in 2012 when a park attendant failed to strap a boy into his seat before the ride took off.

The Beach Waterpark was cited last summer when a lifeguard was missing from a section of the ride. The park wasn’t fined because the problem was corrected within minutes, according to the state report.

“An inspector can come any day we’re open at the park. I encourage them to come out. We want to maintain that relationship and maintain the safety of our guests,” said Ralph Vilardo Jr., general manager of The Beach.

Warning signs

Roller coaster industry insiders say they’re capable of regulating the safety of their own rides.

But they can’t regulate the riders.

Last year, a rider who suffered from chronic heart disease and hypertension died days after suffering a medical condition while riding Cedar Point’s GateKeeper, according to state records. The year before, one man died of a heart attack while riding the amusement park’s train ride.

Of the 10 accidents reported to the state at the four parks, roughly half appeared to be the result of a medical condition unrelated to the ride itself, according to state investigations.

“I think that some people may not know that they have a condition (and) some people find out that they have a condition here,” Dillingham said. “Luckily, not a lot, by any means.”

Pregnancy, high blood pressure, and back, neck or heart problems should disqualify visitors from even getting in the seat of some rides, especially high intensity ones, Dillingham said.

Following any accident, state inspectors check to ensure medical warning signs are posted at ride’s entrance.

Riders often walk right past those signs, however, said Dave Lipnicky, spokesman for American Coaster Enthusiasts, a nationwide group that promotes roller coaster preservation. He said he’s witnessed parents stick matchbooks in the shoes of children so they’ll meet the park’s height requirements on rides.

“A lot of people either flat-out ignore the warning signs or safety signs on rides,” Lipnicky said. “Or, a lot of times, they do pay attention and then purposely ignore.”

———

By Chelsey Levingston - Dayton Daily News, Ohio (MCT)

©2014 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)

Visit the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio) at www.daytondailynews.com
Source: http://www.norwalkreflector.com/article/4236536
 

ECG

East Coast(er) General
Administrator
Here's an interesting read on the history of Arrow.
A Historical Overview of Arrow Development
One of the interesting things about Arrow is how the company changed over the years. If you haven't heard of Arrow before, don't be surprised. Most of the time they were too busy to worry about advertising and the work they did for Walt was on contract. It wouldn't be until 5 years after Disneyland opened that Arrow would be partly owned by Disney.
You may have heard of Karl Bacon and Ed Morgan, the two founders who Robert Reynolds focused on in Roller Coasters, Flumes and Flying Saucers, but there is a lot more to the story. In addition to Karl and Ed were Angus (Andy) Anderson and William Hardiman. The early news stories make it clear that the four were co-founders in every respect, sharing the work, successes and failures thru the first 15 years. They even passed around their titles, acting as president, vice president and secretary on a rotating basis.
Their wives also played a role from the start, as this fall 1945 photo attests. In fact, if not for Phyllis Anderson's (fourth from the left below) faithful clipping and preservation of the photos, newspaper articles and brochures from those early days, a lot of this retelling might not have even been possible.



From 1945 to 1965 Anderson, Bacon, Hardiman and Morgan were in the lead. Walter Schultz came on full time as Arrows' accountant about 1956. He appears on the far left in a photo of Walt Disney inspecting one of Arrow's vintage cars. (Walt is on the far right.) Before that, Schultz had been the accountant at Dura Bond Bearing, who's owner gave Arrow $5000 worth of work to tide them over when Luscombe Aircraft went bankrupt in 1948. At that time, Arrow was building parts for an aircraft crop dusting kit. In 1957, Schultze was managing Arrow's ill fated Playtown Kiddieland project in Palo Alto.



Walt Disney was so committed to Arrow's success that he bought 1/3 of the company in 1960. The May 20th issue of Film Daily had an article entitled; Disney Buys Interest in Outdoor Amusement Firm. The purchase would come after over three years of relationship building between Walt's and Arrow's staff and owners. With such a huge role in the development of those early rides, Disney did not want Arrow's future to be in doubt. Interestingly, Arrow suffered from some of the same cost estimating issues that plagued Disney during their early years, with development costs often exceeding estimates and profit margins slim to none.
Bill Hardiman and Andy Anderson would leave Arrow to start their own construction business about 1965. That same year, Ron Toomer was hired to work on water flow issues on Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean and engineering for the Run-A-Way Mine Train at Six Flags Over Texas. Ron was the first degree'd engineer at Arrow, having graduated from the University of Nevada in 1961 with a BSME.



In 1971, Dick Nunis, then chairman of the Disney Park Operations Committee, informed Ed and Karl that with the opening of Central Fabrication Shops in Orlando, Disney would be bringing the ride development efforts in-house. The next year Karl and Ed would sell Arrow to Rio Grande Industries. In 1977, Arrow would open a 120,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Clearfield, Utah. By 1980, they were no longer operating in Mountain View and Ed and Karl were both in retirement.
In 1981 Huss Maschinenfabrik purchased Arrow from the Rio Grande, merging the two entities to form Arrow-Huss. The company would start having financial difficulties, partially due to investing heavily in the Darien Lake theme park and the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition.
On January 2, 1981, Dana Morgan (Ed's son) would file an application for a Certificate of Authority to operate in Utah for Arrow Huss, Inc., listing Klaus Huss, Urs Affolter and Robert Peers as Directors and himself as President. Dana estimated Arrow’s gross worldwide business transactions for '81 at $8 million and the value of the company at $5 million, however his revenue projection for operations in Utah for that year was zero.
Two years later, Dana would leave Arrow-Huss to start D.H. Morgan Manufacturing in Scotts Valley, CA, and begin building versions of several classic Arrow rides, including electric cars, an Omni-mover type system for Kings Island and refurbishing the Santa’s Village Carousel. His legacy in the amusement park business in California deserves it's own story.
By March of 1984, control of Arrow shifted entirely to Bernd Zwickau and Boyd Draeger. One year later Arrow-Huss, Inc. filed for bankruptcy.
The December 31, 1985 Utah restated certificate of incorporation would change the company name to Arrow Dynamics, Inc., with a valuation of $12 million and Norman Scott, Ronald Toomer, Otis Hughes, David Klomp and Ray Crandall as Directors. From 1986 forward, the company would operate as Arrow Dynamics.



As part of the bankruptcy agreement, Arrow Dynamics was limited to engineering. A sister company, Fabriweld, was formed and located right next door in the Freeport Center. Mostly composed of ex-Arrow employees, and incorporated on June 29th, 1987, Fabriweld made track for Arrow and Vekoma, which was acting as Arrow’s European distributor. Over the next ten years Arrow Dynamics would produce some of the fastest, largest and highest roller coasters in the world, but struggle financially on the big rides, mostly due to the high cost of R & D.
In 2000, Ron Toomer retired. On December 3rd, 2001 Arrow Dynamics would file for bankruptcy with $ 2.2 Million in debts. Their last project was the supporting tower for the 2002 Olympic Cauldron.



Arrow Dynamic's remaining assets were bought by S & S, who continued to offer support for legacy rides. As of 2014, S & S continues to develop amusement park rides and has a web site at engineeringexcitement.com.
1945 to 2001 isn't a bad run, by any measure. Thanks for visiting and helping us keep their memory alive. Please tell your friends about the blog and help spread the story.
Loads of Arrow stuff here: http://arrowdevelopment.blogspot.com/
 

ECG

East Coast(er) General
Administrator
Here's a good read about the history of the Herschends' involvement in the industry.
The Wild Ride Of The Herschends: When Amusement Parks Are The Family Business
Jack Herschend still doesn’t like to talk about it, almost a quarter of a century after the fact. He and his brother Pete were then mulling retirement and who might take over their Christian-tinged amusement parks when one possible successor suddenly dropped out of the picture: Jack’s son had just been fired from his job running one of the locations. Why? The Herschends have never told anyone, not even the person who now runs the company.
“It was so painful,” says Jack, who didn’t pull the trigger but supported the execution. Now 81, white-haired and soft-spoken, he tucks into a fried chicken lunch at Silver Dollar City, the theme park in Branson, Mo. that launched a private entertainment empire. He is polite even when later threatening to cut off all communication after being pressed about the details of his son’s dismissal. Across the white-cloth dinner table sits Pete, 79, who is bald and wears a two-day-old beard. Usually loquacious, he chooses not to engage in this discussion. Jack continues, “There’s risk to having family in leadership positions.”
It’s the smart family business that can make such tough decisions and separate ownership–that might well include spouses, sons and daughters–and leadership, which often requires an outsider’s hand. Most don’t or won’t. For every Thomas Watson Jr. (who fought with his father but, as a result, produced a great IBM) there’s a Fred Wang, who inherited his dad’s legendary computer company, Wang Laboratories, and nearly kicked it over a cliff. It’s one reason so many family businesses don’t make it past the second generation.
Not the Herschends. The family crisis was a turning point, and ever since that incident they’ve moved adroitly to protect a business they built from virtually nothing 50-plus years ago. It’s now worth $1 billion–and the two brothers and their families own it all. The largest privately held theme park company in America, Herschend Family Entertainment consists of 26 properties in ten states: amusements parks (including Dollywood, co-owned by Dolly Parton), water parks, aquariums, a safari, campgrounds, a showboat and, most recently, the storied Harlem Globetrotters. The company earns an estimated $150 million on revenue of $400 million.



They’ve gotten to that point with outside help–lots of it. “Family-held forever is very important to us,” says Jack. “But there’s a lot to be said for a CEO whose name isn’t Herschend.” Two years after Jack’s son was let go, the brothers brought in their first chief executive. They’re on their third, Joel Manby, but he’s a keeper: Since taking over in 2003, revenue has grown at a compounded annual rate of 7%–slow and steady, in keeping with the parks themselves.
The Herschend properties have a nostalgic feel–the light-in-the-head, lead-in-the-stomach mix of roller coasters, carnival games and high-calorie Southern food that feels as American as a summer baseball game. “Give ‘em ample portions and they’ll come back for more,” says Pete of the ribs, pulled pork, fried chicken, sweet buns and fudge. Religious they are: Many of the parks have places of prayer and T-shirts for sale with such messages as “Jesus: Sweet Savoir” (designed in the shape of a Reese’s logo) and “My Lifeguard Walks on Water.” Politically correct they are not: At various park festivals, you might see bare-chested African men performing tribal dances or poncho-clad Ecuadorans strumming guitars.
But that doesn’t mean it’s all cornpone. Dollywood’s $20 million Wild Eagle is a so-called wing roller coaster where the carriages hang off the edge of the track in an attempt to mimic a bird’s flight. “Truly the first of its kind in North America,” says Tim Baldwin, a writer for Amusement Today . The blue-steel coaster moves slowly out of the station, and riders immediately dangle from their seats over…nothing. By the time the ride makes its first climb, 21 stories high, you can see for miles over Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Then comes the terrifying plunge. And then the safe landing. An experience not unlike the saga of Herschend Entertainment itself.


Silver Dollar City is an 1880s Ozark-themed park in Branson, MO.

The unlikeliest billion-dollar entertainment business was 350 million years in the making. It took eons for inland seas to deposit limestone across the Ozarks and, over the millennia, allow for dozens of dramatic caverns, including Marvel Cave, the original tourist attraction of Branson, Mo. Shortly after World War II Hugo and Mary Herschend visited the cave, which reaches 505 feet below sea level, and walked away impressed. Hugo, an Electrolux district manager in Evanston, Ill., saw it as a pleasant way to pursue a working retirement and negotiated a 99-year lease from the elderly sisters who owned the place and gave tours. “If there wasn’t a cave down here,” says Pete, standing on a platform overlooking the grotto’s main chamber, “we probably would’ve made a living selling vacuums in Chicago.”
After Hugo suffered a fatal heart attack in 1955, Jack secured an early release from the Marines to help his mom run things. He brought along his wife and new baby. To help tourists climb out of the cave less laboriously, he borrowed $18,000 from the People’s Bank of Branson to clear new passages and install a cable car.
Not without mishap. While he lowered the car into the cavern, the used cable slipped, sending Jack hurtling to the depths of the cave. He crushed three vertebrae, broke his leg and took 57 stitches to mend the gash in his head. Though he was back at work a few weeks later, his bulky cast relegated him to operating the cement mixer. He still walks with a limp.
Up above, work began on an old Ozark village, modeled on the site’s long-gone Marmaros mining settlement. Soon there appeared a smithy, general store, ice cream parlor, doll shop and small log home. The Herschends opened Silver Dollar City in 1960 with country music and a reenactment of the Hatfields’ and McCoys’ feud, making change in silver dollars (which then had slightly less than a dollar’s worth of silver). The cave’s annual count of 80,000 visitors rose to 450,000 six years later. “We scratched our heads and said, ‘Okay, we must be in the amusement park business,’?” Jack recalls. Over the next two decades Branson emerged as a country music tourist mecca, and Silver Dollar City provided the local fun.
Brother Pete, who moved back to Branson in 1961, infused marketing flair. He invited the stars of the hit comedy Car 54, Where Are You? to manage opening-day crowds in 1963 and introduced a craft fair in the fall, typically a slow time. Shooting five episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies on location in 1967 sealed Silver Dollar City’s popularity: Attendance rose 16% the next year to 900,000 visitors.


Operated in partnership with Dolly Parton, Dollywood is a theme park in Pigeon Forge, TN.

The brothers got along well, in part because they had defined roles: Pete, whose TV tie-in masterstrokes had driven the growth, would stick with marketing; Jack, the disciplined former Marine, would be CEO. With attendance flat in the mid-70s, the brothers sought to grow through acquisition. They found a park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., cheap at $2 million but in disrepair. Renaming it Silver Dollar City Tennessee, they used their proven tricks to steadily lift attendance almost fourfold over the next ten years. Then the marketing magic: In 1985 they offered a cut to Dolly Parton, who was still at the top of the country charts and looking to expand her brand. “They are great Christian people and the best theme park operators in the industry,” says Parton of the Herschends. Proof positive: Attendance at the park, renamed Dollywood, immediately doubled. “It was best thing we’ve ever done,” says Jack.
By the early 1990s the brothers had added a showboat in nearby Table Rock Lake, as well as five water parks in Missouri, Texas and Oklahoma.
They were also ready to pack it in. But the firing of Jack’s son complicated matters. “It was a wake-up call,” says Jack. The logical move would have been to sell the company, divvy up the money and call it a day .
But the Herschends went in another direction: They would keep their company family-owned but bring in professional managers to run it. And they meant it. Neither of the brothers is on the board today. In fact, only one family member votes. Right now that’s Pete’s son Chris, who also owns and operates Ride the Ducks, the ubiquitous city tours given on amphibious boats.


A dining cruise on Branson, Missouri's Table Rock Lake.

Of course, such faith in outsiders requires picking the right ones. Herschend’s first outside CEO, Cary Summers, a retail executive with Bass Pro, did little in his seven years besides adding a tourism lease to operate attractions at Stone Mountain, the Mount Rushmore-esque frieze of Confederate generals outside Atlanta. Their next CEO, a former Disney executive named Mel Bilbo, added just one small park, a property called Celebration City–a nighttime version of nearby Silver Dollar City. Bought for an estimated $5 million, the brothers poured in $40 million in renovations. Bilbo was gone before it opened, and the park shuttered in 2008. “Quite simply, the board of directors and I did not agree with the way I wanted to take the company,” says Bilbo, who still serves Jack at his Mel’s Hard Luck Diner in Branson.

His successor, Joel Manby, was an unlikely winner. He’d joined the board in 1998 after serving as part of the startup team at GM’s Saturn, becoming CEO of Saab USA and leading the spectacular fall of Greenlight.com–the online auto retailer that had backing from Kleiner Perkins, partnered with Amazon and crashed in early 2001.

But he’d hit it off with the brothers. All three are regular churchgoers. Manby is “a God-fearing” employee, as they like to say. “I have never felt undermined or unsupported by the Herschends–and you can imagine how many different ways they could do that,” says Manby, 54. Since 2006, when the brothers retired from the board, they have let Manby run the show himself from Atlanta.

Herschend’s growth recipe has centered on acquisitions, with two important caveats: Hold off on any more large theme parks (a bad one could crush the company) and think smaller–but not too small like, say, batting cages and laser-tag ranges. Instead, Herschend bought aquariums in Newport, Ky. and Camden, N.J. and a bankrupt animal safari in Valdosta, Ga.


The Adventure Aquarium is in Camden, NJ, a neighbor of Philadelphia.

Manby hired Jane Cooper, onetime CEO of Paramount Parks, to examine potential targets, with Genesis Capital, a boutique Atlanta investment bank, as consigliere. “The management team before us handled the deals themselves,” he says. “When you do that, you miss things.”
Genesis came up with the idea of buying the Harlem Globetrotters, which the Herschends acquired last year for an estimated $75 million. “I probably got 30 phone calls asking, ‘What were you thinking?’?” Jack laughs. “They’re not in the basketball business,” explains Pete. “The Globetrotters are in the business of creating memories–and so are we.”
Half clowns, half hoopsters, the Globetrotters have an 88-year tradition. They’ve seen better days. While the Globetrotters play 450 games a year in front of 3 million fans in 30 countries, few can name a single player today, unlike decades ago, when George “Meadowlark” Lemon and Fred “Curly” Neal hammed it up on network TV. Manby is still studying the business and hasn’t tweaked the model yet.
He’s made plenty of other changes, though. Early on Manby met with the family to get a sense of what the company meant to them. He scheduled regular breakfasts with Pete’s son Chris. Out of that came a set of eight words–patient, kind, trusting, unselfish, truthful, forgiving, dedicated and humility–that defined the ideal employee. He asked all 13,000 employees to start living by them. Is it working? “There isn’t a magic formula,” says Manby.
But it’s been baked into annual performance reviews. Aside from having to achieve financial goals, everyone gets graded on living up to those values. Raises go to those scoring highest in both categories. Executives carry around business cards with the eight virtues and definitions printed on the reverse side and hand them out to park visitors. “You say it enough and people pick it up,” Manby explains.


Stone Mountain in Atlanta, Georgia.

With relatively low starting salaries but generous benefits–subsidized food, $15-a-visit doctors near the largest parks and profit sharing after 1,000 hours of up to 2.5% of annual salary–it’s easier for employees to buy into the Herschend line. Starting in 2005 Manby introduced what amounts to an in-house welfare program. Every month a team at each park reviews the cases of needy employees for possible handouts. The funds come from a communal kitty into which nearly 70% of the staff contributes. Over eight-plus years Share It Forward has disbursed $4.5 million.
The brothers, meanwhile, spend a lot less time in Silver Dollar City. They devote most of their hours to canoeing, fishing, tending to their tree farm or engaged in one of many Christian-focused charities. Pete’s hearing isn’t good these days; Jack has had several hip replacements. Climbing slowly up the stairs from the cavern, they stop to catch their breath. “I don’t know what this place looks like in 20 years,” says Pete, eyeing Manby, who has almost reached the top, where a long line of families waits for a tour. “I’m not worried. We’re in good hands."
 

nadroJ

Well-Known Member
Re: Historic rides article

Or Blackpool just happens to have the richest history of UK Amusements that is still standing today. It's an excellent example so makes sense to talk about it a lot.

Fab read, thanks for posting.
 

Hyde

I Lied About My Age!
Staff member
Moderator
Social Media Team
The LA Times released a Cedar Fair expose yesterday, interviewing Cedar Fair CEO Matt Ouimet, including some discussion for next year additions: http://www.latimes.com/travel/themepark ... story.html

Some snippets of note from the interview:

On Gate Coasters said:
The gate coasters -- Gatekeeper at Cedar Point and Fury 325 at Carowinds -- are known internally as “Deckerated” coasters, so named for Cedar Fair coaster designer Rob Decker, who hates the honorific, Ouimet said.

So can we expect a gate coaster at every Cedar Fair park?

“Now, if I could rewind history, would I do them at the front of every Cedar Fair park?” Ouimet said. “Probably. But it’s not going to happen.”

While several parks with beautiful promenade entrances like Canada’s Wonderland and Kings Island will never get gate coasters, Ouimet said a couple more Cedar Fair parks will eventually get “Deckerated.”
On Stand-Up Conversions said:
This summer, Ohio’s Cedar Point converted the 1996 Mantis stand-up coaster into a floorless coaster known as Rougarou. The relatively rare conversion raised the obvious question: Which Cedar Fair coaster is next?

“We have a couple more we could do and I suspect you’ll see that happen,” Ouimet said. “But unfortunately it’s not one of those things you can play out in 10 different places.”
On Relocations said:
With coasters, the what’s-old-is-new-again strategy takes many forms. Shipping off an old coaster to a new location is the theme park equivalent of the witness protection program for aging thrill rides -- complete with a new look, name and city for the relocated attraction. Rival Six Flags has turned coaster relocation into a regular practice.

Cedar Fair’s Dorney Park in Pennsylvania is home to a couple relocated rides: a 1998 Vekoma Invertigo shuttle coaster from California’s Great America and a 2000 Intamin Impulse launched shuttle coaster from Ohio’s Geauga Lake.

But Ouimet doesn’t see coaster relocations as a viable business model.

“If a ride is really popular, you don’t want to take it out,” Ouimet said. “And if it’s not, then it’s probably outlived its longevity anyway.”
On Wooden Coaster Conversions said:
One of the biggest challenges amusement parks face is maintaining aging wooden coasters. In recent years, Idaho-based Rocky Mountain Construction has solved the problem with wooden coaster renovations that turn existing rides into wood-steel hybrids with looping inversions.

“The revitalization or rejuvenation of wooden coasters is probably a card that gets played for the next 10 years,” Ouimet said. “We are obviously looking at our whole portfolio just to decide what we do with it.”

“The industry has developed some very good, solid players these days,” Ouimet said. “Rocky Mountain is a good example, GCI is a good example. We’ll probably work with all of them before we’re done.”
 

GuyWithAStick

Captain Basic
Staff member
Moderator
Social Media Team
So SFStL and SFGAm made a bet on the Cardinals-Cubs game the other day. If the Cardinals won, GAm would rename Raging Bull to Raging Cardinals, and they'd send the park a Deep Dish pizza and an old style beer. If the Cubs won(which they did), StL would rename American Thunder to Cubs Thunder, and they'd send Maull's BBQ sauce with pork steaks, and Toaster Ravioli. Thus, I proudly present the greatest coaster name ever, Cubs Thunder!

http://www.fox32chicago.com/sports/33539981-story

Go Cubbies!

Sent from my VS840 4G using Tapatalk
 

ECG

East Coast(er) General
Administrator
To be fair, the park is going to be renamed to Six Flags Great Mets and the coaster to GoMets for a total of six days over the next two weekends. No real need to change Goliath's name in your Top Ten, especially since you didn't change the park name as well. :wink:
 

Hyde

I Lied About My Age!
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Hah, funny. At least it's better than that cock roach eating dare SFMM tried doing a few years back.
 

GuyWithAStick

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Now if Toronto wins, I'm hoping La Ronde joins in on the fun against SFGAdv.

And this is the World Series, so I expect stakes at the level of full-season renames.

But tbh, Le Metster doesn't sound too bad.
 

ECG

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Just to confirm that Six Flags Great America, sorry... Six Flags Great Mets made good on their bet:









 

Hyde

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The NPR Broadcast Marketplace penned a neat article on Hunger Games declaring they will be doing various ride types, and discusses with industry experts what it takes to create a theme-attraction with appeal: http://www.marketplace.org/topics/busin ... er-coaster.

The final installment of "The Hunger Games" comes out later in November. But Katniss Everdeen fans take heart: the dystopian book trilogy turned movie empire will live on. In theme parks.

Lions Gate Entertainment confirmed Monday it is developing theme park rides and other attractions based on the "Hunger Games," "Step Up" and "Divergent" movie franchises, along with others in the studio’s portfolio.

If you’re familiar with the "Hunger Games," you know the stories are about children forced to fight each other to the death. How will that translate to a theme-park ride?

“I think it would be quite challenging,” said Phil Hettema, founder of The Hettema Group, a firm that designs themed attractions. He worked for Disney and Universal Studios for years.

“In bringing an intellectual property to life, you need to check the boxes of all of the things that people are most familiar with in that franchise,” he said.

Leave something out, and fans could be disappointed. Fortunately there are plenty of family-friendly themes in the "Hunger Games" stories, like loyalty and skill, Hettema said.

“The ‘killing of children’ box could remain unchecked,” he said.

Movie studios are clamoring to cash in on their intellectual property around the world. There is a Warner Bros. park in Spain with a "Superman" roller coaster. Twentieth Century Fox has a new one coming in Malaysia, with attractions based on movies like "Ice Age" and "Planet of the Apes." Lionsgate is partnering with theme parks in Dubai and near Atlanta, and an “immersive entertainment center” near Macau.

Parks themselves bring in billions of dollars in revenue worldwide, but there is a bigger payoff, said David Cobb with the design firm Thinkwell Group.

“Positive word of mouth, knowing that the brand lives on beyond the movies that you saw — there’s all sorts of reasons for brands to look at the real world as a place for these heretofore ephemeral brands to live,” Cobb said.

That is, if the attractions are done well, said Bob Rogers with BRC Imagination Arts.

“A lot of the studios — at least on their first pass — just think that by licensing their name and their logo and their characters, that causes an attraction,” he said. “Just because you have the characters doesn’t mean you have the ride.”
 

ECG

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Here's a pretty good read on coaster101.com.
Why are roller coasters removed?
by Nick · February 25, 2016
Roller coasters are multi-million dollar investments that amusement parks spend countless dollars and time in designing, building, and maintaining. But lately it seems like we’ve seen more roller coasters and classic thrill rides closed and dismantled than ever before. Why are roller coasters torn down? What goes into a decision to remove a multi-million dollar investment, especially if it is a fan favorite?

Thousands of hours go into planning, designing and engineering the perfect coaster, but it doesn’t always go as planned or turn out as expected. This is especially true for coasters constructed in the days prior to advanced computer aided design. Design tolerances, the permissible limits in variation of dimensions and physical properties of manufactured parts, were larger than the tight engineering tolerances we can hold today. But try as they might, the engineers cannot account for every single variable. Sometimes there are freak accidents, scenarios no one ever thought of. Or sometimes a ride is just plain boring and doesn’t strike a chord with the general public. Other times mother nature intervenes and usually not in a good way.

Regardless of the reason why, an amusement park ride may be closed but not dismantled right away. This status is called SBNO – Standing But Not Operating. Once a roller coaster is torn down, it is referred to as “defunct” meaning no longer existing. Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons why an amusement park might make the difficult decision to change the status of your favorite thrill ride from “operating” to “defunct.”


Kings Island Son of Beast coaster torn down removed

Maintenance/End of Life Cycle
Just like any other material product, roller coasters have a shelf-life. Even if a ride is well-designed and well liked, sometimes the material just reaches the end of its endurance limits. When this happens, the track or components either have to be scrapped or replaced entirely.If almost every component needs to be replaced, the park may make the decision to demolish the existing ride, sell the material for scrap, and then build a brand new coaster in its place. In Universal Orlando’s case, this is what they’re doing except the brand new coaster has the exact same layout as the one that was scrapped. The Incredible Hulk at Island of Adventure is undergoing a complete replacement of all the steel including the track and support columns making it essentially a brand new ride. Enthusiasts are already arguing over whether it should count as a new coaster credit or not.


Incredible Hulk track removed

Replacing a steel coaster structure is much more evident than a wood coaster. There’s a saying in the industry: “you never stop building a wood coaster.” Even though a classic wood coaster may have opened in 1950, how much of the structure is actually original? Sections of the ride may be replaced over time without you ever actually noticing it.

Total Park Operating Cost/Budget
Contrary to what some amusement park goers think, theme parks cannot keep adding and adding roller coasters until they have fifty of them in the park – at least not without also increasing the attendance year after year, no easy feat. Only so many coasters can operate at once without dramatically increasing ticket prices to offset the increased operational costs. A theme park can only have as many coasters as the operational budget allows. As Dick Kinzel states in his autobiography, amusement parks “break everything out by cost per rider.” Rides with the highest cost per rider operating cost may be first on the chopping block.

Accident/Injury
Accidents often lead to ride closures because either A.) the coaster is not safe enough to operate and should be fixed or removed. Or B.) maybe it was a freak accident and the ride is safe but the damage has been done: the ride and the operator’s reputation has been hurt, maybe to the point where the public feels like the ride or even the entire theme park is unsafe and will no longer visit. It will be interesting to see if The Smiler at Alton Towers reopens this summer after being SBNO since early last year as a result of the horrific vehicle collision.


Alton Towers Smiler coasters removed closed

Real Estate/In the way of progress
“They don’t have enough room to expand! How can they build another coaster? They’re running out of space!” are cries often read on theme park forums about a number of parks. Usually, this complaint is baseless. Occasionally, though it is a legit problem. What’s the easiest way to free up a lot of space in a theme park? Demolish an aging roller coaster. The land that the old coaster is sitting on becomes too valuable as a growing park runs out of room to expand. Gotta make room for progress. This past year, Carowinds removed Thunder Road so as not to impede on their water park expansion for 2016.

Low or Declining Ridership/Unpopular
Another argument towards keeping or removing a roller coaster besides if it is adding/subtracting to the bottom line is how is it affecting the guest experience? Are guests coming to the park to specifically ride that ride? How disappointed will they be if they find out the coaster is broke down and closed for the day? Is the ride talked about in a positive or negative way? Is it hurting or enhancing the park’s overall reputation?

One way amusement parks will try to combat declining ridership is by modifying or adding to the attraction such as new theming or new train design. Another method of improving an unpopular ride is about to explode this year: virtual reality headsets. A few Six Flags and Cedar Fair parks will probably be testing it this summer before rolling it out to the entire chain.

Natural Disasters
Occasionally, the decision to destroy a roller coaster may be taken completely out of the owner’s hands, as in the case with natural disasters like fire, floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes. Hurricane Katrina resulted in the entire Six Flags New Orleans amusement park being permanently closed in August of 2005 (though it is being used to make movies, like Jurassic World).



Conclusion
Of course, the reason to remove a major coaster does not have to be mutually exclusive to a single one of the reasons but is more likely to be some combination of the above that all contribute to the owner pulling the plug. Or there could be another reason entirely. For example, the famous Cyclone Racer at the Pike in Long Beach, California was destroyed in 1968 because the City of Long Beach was attempting to improve its image and the coaster did not fit this new agenda. Regardless of the reason, us enthusiasts can only hope that the driving reason to remove a roller coaster is to build an even better one in its place.
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