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Have you ever seen a coaster exceed its theoretical throughput?

Matt N

CF Legend
Hi guys. On RCDB, coasters will be given a theoretical throughput figure that the manufacturer believes the ride can attain in ideal conditions. You’d think that in theory, this would be the maximum figure a coaster can attain. But my question to you today is; have you ever seen a ride defy the odds and exceed this figure?

Personally, I have seen and heard of coasters exceed their theoretical throughputs before.

A key example that sticks out to me is Wicker Man at Alton Towers. GCI claims that Wicker Man is capable of processing 952 riders per hour, which is a little under 40 trains per hour or a train roughly every 1m 30s. However, I have seen it exceed this figure on a number of Alton Towers visits; on my most recent visit, it was getting 1,015 riders per hour, or slightly over 42 trains per hour, over an average of 10 readings. And I have timed it as high as 1,050pph or higher in the past; on one visit, I saw it hit a consistent interval of about 1m 20s for about 7 straight dispatches, which would equate to 1,080 riders per hour or 45 trains per hour. That is a dispatch interval around 10 seconds faster than GCI say the ride is capable of.

This is rather confusing to me; surely whatever GCI claims the ride’s theoretical throughput to be is the very maximum the ride could attain?

But have you ever seen a coaster exceed its theoretical throughput? And why does this happen, I wonder?


Hyper Poster
I think you're giving too much weight to what manufacturers claim the theoretical throughput to be. It's random, some are the absolute max a coaster can possibly achieve and some take into account real conditions with guests like the Wicker Man example you've given.

I used to operate Atlantis at Legoland where the theoretical throughput stated in the ride manual was 1100. There's 8 subs, 7 of which seat 14 guests and one with a stairlift seating 13 which dispatch every 40 seconds. Assuming you don't time the ride out and every sub is filled to capacity (perfect conditions) that comes to over 1200. So in that case the theoretical throughput isn't the maximum the ride can achieve but adjusted for the faff created by guests being added to the equation. Elsewhere on RCDB I've seen the throughput given as something way higher than anything possible.

I don't understand this discussion and comparing actual throughput to a number that is arbitrary. A theoretical throughput is not a set benchmark consistent across all coasters.
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Strata Poster
As said, "theoretical throughput" is a bit of a hand wavey term. The numbers we as 'the public' have access to will vary from ride to ride, and can depend on manufacturer, the type of ride and the park. Even then, it varies. For example, I believe I've seen three different "theoretical throughputs" for the original Intamin 10 inversion model (ie Colossus and its exact clones).

The variety of theoretical throughputs out there include:
1. You dispatch the millisecond you can from a safety/engineering standpoint, and the ride has every seat filled.
2. You dispatch the millisecond you can from a safety/engineering standpoint, but take into account every seat realistically won't be filled
3. A value which comes from realistic, but ideal, operating conditions (ie some, but minimal, guest faff, and not every seat being filled every time)

From a purely semantics perspective, I'd always class option 1 as the "theoretical throughput" since, theoretically, that's the highest throughput a ride could achieve. Option 3 is more of a "target operational throughput", which can also be exceeded.

But have you ever seen a coaster exceed its theoretical throughput? And why does this happen, I wonder?
So to answer this a bit more directly: a "theoretical throughput" can be exceeded when the conditions under which the quoted theoretical throughput were calculated are improved upon. This is because a quoted theoretical throughput is not necessarily the absolute highest throughput a ride can achieve.