The BLOGFlume—Breakdown

All about rocket coasters in this week's BLOGFlume

Written by Russell Meyer
Published: June 15, 2005 at 9:55 PM

Rockets Fizzle 6/15/05
Cedar Point 6/15/05
BBC 6/13/05

I could probably write a doctoral dissertation about all of the problems that have been associated with Intamin AG’s rocket coasters, and in light of recent news involving their product, I’m going to devote a large amount of my time today to examining the troubled coasters.

When Xcelerator first opened at Knott’s Berry Farm in 2002, the problems were numerous. There were problems with the prototype launch system, and it took quite some time to figure out just the right speed necessary to get the train over the top hat without rolling back or blasting over the top so fast that riders were literally flung out of their seats. There was also a big problem with the top hat tower supports. They were found to be inadequate to meet California engineering standards, and were subsequently bolstered with additional steel supports. After almost a year of tinkering, it looked like the problems were ironed out – and actually, Xcelerator has become a decently reliable coaster.

Coaster fans soon found out that Xcelerator was actually a prototype for a coaster that would eventually shatter the world height and speed record for roller coasters, as Cedar Point announced the construction of Top Thrill Dragster with a May 2003 debut. No one expected Dragster to debut without a hitch considering the variables and extreme forces involved. However, many never expected the monster coaster to have so many problems, and such significant downtime that a web page had to be set up on the Cedar Point website to let guests know if the coaster was running on any given day. Cedar Point also experienced a major malfunction with the launch system during the 2004 season. The cable that pulls the coaster train up to 120 MPH in 4 seconds frayed, and shot steel splinters into the path of the launching train, causing minor injuries to the riders. Top Thrill Dragster’s reliability has increased since its first season, but there’s still no guarantee that it’s going to be running when you walk into the park on any given day.

2004 brought a new twist to the rocket coaster design- literally- as Hersheypark launched Storm Runner, the first rocket coaster built with inversions. With a launch speed of 75 MPH, it was also the slowest of the three rocket-coasters at the time,. Despite a few minor initial problems, it has been operating rather reliably since it was built. As with the other two rocket coaster installations, it took some time to “tune” the launch, and there were some minor breakdowns in its first couple of months of operation, but it soon became as reliable as any other coaster in the park.

That brings us to this year. 2005 has brought us the debut of three new rocket coasters, including one that exceeds the height and speed of Top Thrill Dragster. Kanonen at Liseberg in Denmark and Rita:Queen of Speed at Alton Towers in England debuted in April of this year, and with launch speeds of 46 MPH and 61 MPH, respectively, the coasters experienced very few problems aside from some minor “tuning” required to ensure even and appropriate acceleration. However, the current “king” of roller coasters, Kingda Ka, located at Six Flags Great Adventure, has not been as fortunate. Despite no reported construction delays, the coaster ended up debuting almost a month later than expected, and its reliability has mirrored that of Dragster’s first season. Six Flags has also added an announcement portion to Six Flags Great Adventure’s website that updates guests as to the status of the coaster. As I reported over the weekend, Kingda Ka experienced a “major” malfunction that has caused it to be out of service for the foreseeable future. Six Flags has announced that the ride is expected to be down for “several weeks.” The primary problem seems to stem from a liner that covers the inside of the trough that the launch cable travels through. During a test run, the liner came loose, and the train did not accelerate correctly down the launch track. Since the train was not accelerating properly, the brake fins, which normally pop up in sequence as the train passes through each zone of fins, actually began to engage in the zone that the train was still traveling through, and began to slow the train. The engine, which is supposed to adjust the train speed throughout the launch process, attempted to compensate by dragging the train through the brakes, and ended up damaging a number of brake fins as a result as the train came to a halt at the end of the launch section. The reason that the liner came loose is not yet known, and the damage caused by accelerating the train through the brake fins will take some time to repair. Because of the incident on Kingda Ka, Cedar Point has temporarily closed Top Thrill Dragster until Intamin can ascertain the cause of the malfunction.

To top things off, Alton Tower’s Rita has created a bit of controversy of its own, as a rider has apparently been injured as a result of the 61 MPH launch. A 12 year old rider was treated for sprained wrists after riding the rocket coaster. A week after the incident, the young girl was still experiencing pain, and was found to have broken wrists. I’m not sure how riding a roller coaster can break your wrists unless you have osteogenesis imperfecta. One has to wonder what this rider would have broken riding any of the launching coasters in this country. While the injury has nothing to do with the design of the coaster, it does put another black mark on the rocket coaster’s record.

Around most coaster fan circles, Intamin AG is regarded as one of, if not the top ride manufacturer in the world. They not only build coasters, but they also design and construct drop towers, flume rides, and many other theme park attractions. However, despite how much fans love their rides, Intamin has not had the best track record when it comes to reliability and even safety, and those problems are not limited to rocket coasters. A number of their safety problems have come as a result of poor restraint design. Perilous Plunge, a “shoot the chutes” ride at Knott’s Berry Farm, had a very well publicized incident of a rider being ejected, and Superman: Ride of Steel at Six Flags New England had another incident of rider ejection. There have also been reliability and general design problems with a number of other coasters. Volcano: The Blast Coaster, at Paramount’s Kings Dominion, had problems achieving a fast enough launch speed to get a full train out of the top of the volcano, and actually ran with trains with half of the number of seats that it was originally designed during the first year of operation. Superman: Ride of Steel at Six Flags America and Six Flags Darien Lake had problems with the braking system that resulted in a number of collisions between trains. Superman: The Escape at Six Flags Magic Mountain held the height and speed record for quite a few years, but it requires so much power to run, and has had so many problems during operation, that it has been out of service more than it has run over its 8 year history.

A lot of critics, including myself, have pointed the finger at the parks for building these massive coasters that are so technologically advanced that you need a PhD to keep them running. However, taking a long look, I think the industry may have a systemic problem with the manufacturer in this case. While other coaster manufacturers have had some reliability problems, no one has had the sheer number or severity of problems that Intamin has experienced. Are they moving too fast? Intamin has built 74 roller coasters and a number of other types of rides over their history. While the number of coasters is not surprising, it’s the number of different types of coasters that is startling, and the different systems required for each coaster, in addition to the other theme park attractions that they have built. B&M has built 61 roller coasters in its history. While B&M has a number of different coaster types, the ride systems are very similar, and only one (Hulk) has a launch system. Intamin has two different types of launching coasters (hydraulic and LIMs), and even the LIMs coasters have slightly different launching protocols. Intamin also chooses to construct coasters that are cutting edge, with four coasters that exceed 90 MPH and 300 feet tall, while B&M stays pretty conservative with its tallest and fastest coaster at 80 MPH and 230 feet tall.

Is Intamin taking coaster design too far too fast?

The evidence would support that thesis, as seen by the number of coasters that take months to “break in” and operate reliably. Also, Intamin has built coasters that just don’t work properly when constructed (Flashback at Six Flags Magic Mountain) and many that take months to re-engineer on site (Volcano and Xcelerator). Intamin has also had more “recalls” than the Ford Explorer when it comes to restraints. There have been a number of redesigns of the mega-coaster restraints in response to incidents that has now resulted in a restraint that is more like a leg vice than a restraint (see all installations of Superman: Ride of Steel and Millennium Force). Intamin’s engineers seem to do more work after a coaster is constructed than before ground is broken. A number of their major problems have been limited to their record breaking coasters, which leads me to believe that maybe Intamin is stretching their limits too far to try to gain notoriety. While theme parks are in constant competition with each one looking for a way to top each other’s best attraction, Intamin cashes in by continuing to expand the envelope of what is possible. Coaster fans are always looking for a bigger and better thrill, and Intamin has been providing them for the past ten years with faster and bigger machines every year.

Those fans don’t want to hear this, but maybe we should take a step back and slow the pace a bit. It doesn’t do any coaster fan any good to travel thousands of miles to try to ride a coaster that is not working. If the reliability of a coaster is the same as getting heads or tails on a coin flip, that’s a serious problem that needs to be addressed by the manufacturer, and I’m beginning to think that the parks are just pawns in a game of coaster one-upsmanship. Intamin has two more rocket coasters scheduled to open over the next year (Superman: The Ride at Warner Brother’s Movie World in Australia and Stealth at Thorpe Park in England) which are going to both be “smaller” coasters with top speeds of 62 MPH and 80 MPH, respectively. However, there’s still that crazy rumor going around that a coaster topping the 500-foot barrier is on the way for Six Flags Magic Mountain. I understand the need to keep building bigger and faster, but what coaster manufacturers should be focusing on, Intamin in particular, is building a better coaster. Your average coaster fan is typically looking for numbers and stats, but a statistic that manufacturers should look at is reliability. Every time I ride Loch Ness Monster, I look at a board inside the station that displays the basic stats for the coaster (60 MPH, first coaster with interlocking loops, 3240 feet of track), but the one line that always gets me is the number of hours the coaster has operated and number guests the coaster has carried in its history. Intamin’s coasters may be bigger and faster, but many other coaster manufacturers have roller coasters that will run laps around Intamin coasters when it comes to operational hours and ridership.

Readers' Opinions

From Kevin Baxter on June 16, 2005 at 2:40 AM
Good report with excellent research, Russell.

Clearly, the problem here is that Intamin keeps coming up with new twists to the coaster world and wants to get them out there before perfecting them. Now check out their history with LIM launches. Superman: Ultimate Escape/Steel Venom and the Vertical Velocitys have all run fairly smoothly with LIM launches, which have basically been perfected. Even so, these similar rides still have problems opening on time on many days. Meanwhile, Premier Rides seems to have no problems with their LIM coasters and I have yet to hear of down days on any of their coasters, including the double-LIM-launching Speed and the triple-LIM-launching Revenge of the Mummys.

Something's wrong in Intamin, and they need to weed it out before everybody abandons them.

From RANDY TAYLOR on June 16, 2005 at 4:48 AM
Great column. All of the major parks and coaster builders need to take a serious look into the safety and reliability of their rides and attractions. The lives of the guests, the reputations of the parks and the coaster manufacturers and millions of dollars are at stake.
From Russell Meyer on June 16, 2005 at 6:16 AM
Premier hasn't had a perfect track record, but definitely nothing major. Perhaps their biggest problem coaster, Batman and Robin: The Chiller, is not really their fault. The coaster did run pretty well its first few years, and only over the past three or four has it been having intermittant problems, including the Batman side being shut down for an entire season.
From Arthur Cashin on June 16, 2005 at 6:41 AM
Russ, as always a great piece.

Two problems seem the major issues here, some basic engineering and restraints.

You are right, the forces involved in getting a 3-4 ton object to go up a 400+ foot hill with a launch speed of 120+ mph is pretty daunting. Then, having to repeat this about 45 times per hour adds to the stress. Maybe we have reached the limit of the technology for now, short of shooting people out of cannons.

The real estate that some of these rides take up is amazing as well. How many other rides that can handle more riders per hour could be placed in the same space? This would reduce wait times throughout the park. Also, what happend to a good design. Instead of faster and taller, how about just concentrating on making the best overall ride. The best example of this is the Great Nor'easter at Morey's Piers in Wildwood NJ. It is a great ride put in a place where you never would imagine they could fit a rollercoaster.

I think restraints are the biggest problem. How do you design a system that can hold both a 260 lb football player and a 98 lb teenager both safe and comfortable in the same seat? The more stresses and forces you put on the riders, the more complicated these become. I am sick of bad designs that keep banging your ears into the pads during the entire ride. This could increase rider satisfaction.

From Jayson Myers on June 16, 2005 at 9:40 AM
I think the best question is why do they continue to build these rides that only a small population of the "theme park population" will ride, but who are also the "loudest".

What parks bring the most guests? Disney, Universal and regionally Kings Island. Why? Because they build reliable rides for the FAMILY. I realize we don't need clones of every park, but it is amazing to me that Six Flags, Cedar Point and others don't learn this. Family rides = money! The next biggest, fastest ride = money till someone tops it.

Honestly, I don't ride really big rides. I think they are fun, but I don't like the consequences on my body. I feel they are unsafe and unwise to ride (but to each their own). But one thing they are not is money makers. And reliable.

From Christopher Combs on June 16, 2005 at 10:39 AM
I really like what the last guy said. It makes perfect sense. Parks like Disney and Universal are not looking to build the biggest and fastest. But an all around good ride that keeps bringing everyone back. But others are bringing in the money only until someone else comes around and beats that record. And after tou have a beaten ride, it just stands there as just another ride that cost a couple of good million dollars. Rollar coaster designers need to remember it is QUALITY not QUANITY. Because it almost seems with these record-breaking rides, is the bigger they are, the faster and harder they fall. Because someone is right behind them ready to take them down. We need to focus on new better quality rides that are fun and exciting. Not rides that are in repair more than working.
From Ben Mills on June 16, 2005 at 11:43 AM
Yes, excellent article, Russell. Really made me think.

And I hope to God the people at Intamin are reading this. I think it's fairly obvious now that they've got some problems, and they need to realise that people out there are noticing. Stuff needs to be fixed -- if there's an accident on one of the big Rocket coasters, there's gonna be some serious trouble.

From Adriel Tjokrosaputro on June 17, 2005 at 12:05 AM
Rocket coasters are a little not safe!Launching you 0-128 in 3.5 seconds are a CRAZY things that will make you really want to falling from the track!At least never ever bring the rocket.If you want to build a launch one,make sure it's not too fast-moving oand safe like Linear Gale,Rock n Roll and California Screamin'
From Kevin Baxter on June 17, 2005 at 2:00 AM
And it isn't just Intamin to blame. Six Flags and Cedar Fair have plenty of blame themselves. They are the ones obsessed with this faster/higher/moremoremore crap. They are obsessing over things that now seem to be physically impossible, at the very least on the rides themselves, and for what? For meaningless titles and a small minority of the theme park public! Well worth all the breakdowns and lost confidence, isn't it???
From Derek Potter on June 18, 2005 at 11:38 AM
Heres the thing though, going after the tallest and fastest is as old as the industry itself....all the way back to the beginning. Intamin designed some great rides for Cedar Point, so it was only natural to think that Top Thrill Dragster would be another masterpiece. While the ride is an absolutely amazing experience, it's a maintenance nightmare economically and mechanically. Intamin said it would work, and Cedar Point had no real reason to question that because of past experience. Well it turned out that the ride doesn't work as well as it should, and though Cedar Point was still hooked on the tallest fastest thing, it's the manufacturer who didn't deliver like it had in the past. I can't blame the amusement parks for wanting to continue a trend that has been going on for a century. Some people may think it's stupid, but millions line up every year for the new giant scream machines, no matter where it is.

I can blame Six Flags however, for failing to learn from Cedar Point's misfortune. They should have never built Kingda Ka. The rocket coaster technology is flawed to begin with, yet with all their other problems they have that can't be solved by building coasters, they decided to take a 30 million dollar gamble on a problematic design. Now it's back to haunt them, and I hate to say I told you so....

By all accounts I have. Top Thrill Dragster has reopened. CP closed the ride for inspection upon hearing about the Kingda Ka malfunction. I guess they wanted to make sure that the crippling breakdown that KK suffered wouldn't happen to Dragster. As for Kingda Ka, some reports say it could be closed until August. The parts are all custom fabrication and need to be manufactured. I would think that they would move a little faster than that though.

From Kevin Baxter on June 18, 2005 at 5:22 PM
That's cacadoody. As Russell clearly pointed out, the much-smaller precursor to Dragster is Knotts' Xcelerator, and it had problems galore before AND AFTER it opened. Of course, its problems weren't on the scale of Dragster's, but the ride had so much downtime that Cedar Fair would have been stupid not to question whether a much larger version was even viable. Especially considering there were support questions on Xcelerator and Dragster was going to be over twice as tall! Don't kiss CF's ass, they deserve some blame.
From Derek Potter on June 19, 2005 at 6:07 PM
There is no kissing of Cedar Fair's ass here. And what exactly are they to blame for in your eyes? Are they to blame for not building the kind of rides that you the almighty first and last word in theme/amusement parks and crappy Disney movies think that they should?? because that's what it sure sounds like to me.

All the rides that Intamin ever built for Cedar Point before Dragster were all hits for the park. Millennium Force has consistantly been ranked at the top of every coaster list ever since it opened, Wicked Twister was also a big hit, and none of the other rides Intamin built for them have ever had any real problems whatsoever, so why would Cedar Point not believe them if they said that they could make it work well?

You are right that Xcelerator had problems....and you are also right about this...they were nowhere near the spectrum of Dragster's problems. If Intamin said that they had improved the design since Xcelerator (a prototype ride by the way), and they had a history of building highly popular rides for your park, why would you not go through with the design. Their reputation for churning out the hits was impeccable before Top Thrill Dragster. It's not ass kissing there Kevin, just using a bit of common sense, which is a department that you seem to be lacking in here.

I'll be the first to admit that I get really disappointed when I see the "Dragster is closed for maintenance" sign, but when it opens, I'm one of the first in line for it because it's a great ride, regardless of it's extra downtime. Despite the fact that it doesn't work quite as much as it should, I appreciate Cedar Point putting in their efforts and extra resources to keep the ride open as much as humanly possible.

From Kevin Baxter on June 19, 2005 at 10:20 PM
This entire article is about Intamin promising things they can't deliver, at least within the timeframe they are expected to deliver them. Superman at SFMM didn't work for how long? Flashback at the same park has been a real winner since it opened. California Screamin' at DCA worked in fits and spurts for well over a year. I know V2 at SFMW had problems and it wasn't the first one of them built! Xcelerator had problems for more than a year, yet Cedar Fair ordered one twice as tall FOR THE FOLLOWING YEAR.

To say they had a good record for rides at their PARK is seriously lacking in the common sense you accuse me of. So if they built you a non-problematic coaster in 1979, one in 1985, one (that I am assuming wasn't problematic) in 2000 AND one in 2002, which was problematic in earlier incarnations, yet had problems with COASTER AFTER COASTER in the past few years, you'd just ignore those problems and go, "Okay! Build it right away!" Especially considering their last VERY PROBLEMATIC coaster was in another one of your parks! And what for? This wasn't something like Spider-Man or Tower of Terror. NO, this was for yet another "record" which would appeal to a minority of a minority. Well worth taking the chance!

Besides, the vast majority of Intamin's problems have happened in the past few years. Is that NOT a sign of something? Would you have jumped on Big Thunder after its first accident? How about after its second? Or third? Well, Intamin has had way more problems than that!

So pardon me if I get a little irritated when A CERTAIN PARK always gets excuses from A CERTAIN PERSON whenever anyone dares to question any decision they make. (Oh, and if CF could not have known there would be problems with TTD, they why are they tossing out hints with the number "500" attached? 'splain that one!)

From Derek Potter on June 20, 2005 at 10:32 PM
I'm the last person on earth (besides you) that thinks they should be building 500 feet, and the people you hear tossing it out there are the people on the fansites who will start any thread to try and make themselves relevant. Don't conveniently put any stock in that ridiculous rumor just to pad your argument.

However, if you want to talk about Intamin rides at Magic Mountain, than please remember just how horrific their maintenance department is. True that Flashback is not a very good ride, SBNO if im not mistaken (other Six Flags parks have their versions running), and Superman was SBNO not because of it's design, but because Six Flags chose not to fix it. Disney's maintenance and upkeep record has been spotty at best recently as well with Big Thunder Mountain, so it's kind of hard for me to place total blame on a design or a company when these parks have not shown that they always keep the ride in the best condition possible. In the rocket coaster's case, the design has proven to be flawed and in all cases..Hersheypark included, it's bugs have taken longer to be ironed out. Xcelerator was a prototype ride that Intamin promised they could improve upon. At that time in 2002, the reputation they had was good, so why would Cedar Fair say no? especially when their bread and butter has been building roller coasters. You can piss and moan and complain about them always going for records and such, but the bottom line is this. That's what they do, and it's what they've built their reputation on and made their money on, like it or not. They, and most other parks in the country, don't have 100 million to blow on rides like Spiderman, and Tower of Terror, and the kind of rides you obviously think that every park everywhere should be building. Isn't that what your whole pseudo-sarcastic rants (which by the way are getting kind of tired) on Cedar Point and others are really about anyway? So pardon me if I get miffed when you accuse me of ass kissing when in fact, I'm seeing the park for what it is, and not judging it on what I think it should be... unlike some other people.

From Kevin Baxter on June 21, 2005 at 2:20 AM
So we shouldn't judge a park on what it should be? So we can't belittle DCA because it could be more? We can't talk crap about AK or IOA because their attraction additions come at a glacial pace? We couldn't talk about how ugly Disneyland looked a few years back? That doesn't make any sense.

The fact is, Cedar Point could have EASILY waited for the problems with Xcelerator to disappear before ordering up TTD. But they didn't. And why not? Because they were more interested in claiming a friggin' record than in delivering a coaster they knew would work. They're talking now of dueling flying coasters... wouldn't that have sufficed? In fact, wouldn't it have been BETTER??? Look at what has been happening at Knotts: Xcelerator, Ghostrider, Silver Bullet. None of them breaking records but all of them becoming big hits. Cedar Point took a chance they didn't need to take and they paid a huge price for it. Yes, Six Flags is even dumber, but just because someone is dumber than you are doesn't make you smart.

From Dave Bower on June 21, 2005 at 8:29 AM
I am usually the first person to stand in line for the "ultimate" coaster. I was planning a trip from the UK to Japan a few years ago just to ride Fujiyama, the tallest coaster in the world at the time.

But I would rather ride a 200 foot coaster that is open than look at 400 foot coaster that is closed. A trip to Alton Towers was tainted last year because Spinball Whizzer was closed, my main reason for visiting.

If I had flown several thousand miles and diverted my holiday to visit a park I would want the ride to be running and not just an exhibition of quality steelwork.

We are reaching a stage where technology can't keep up with the desire for height and speed. The industry needs to focus more on innovation, introducing new elements and effects. X is a classic example of this, although not without it's problems. It is a totally unique concept that could be exploited in many different ways.

From a park owner's perspective, a record breaker may pull in the crowds but if the park website announces that the ride is closed, people will go elsewhere.

It is better to have a range of innovative attractions that are running than a record breaking steel sculpture.

From Robert Niles on June 21, 2005 at 9:45 AM
I'm not ready to heap too much scorn on Cedar Fair for TTD. Perhaps the company thought that the fixes on Xcelerator would scale to TTD. Anyway, the company deserved the criticism it got two summers ago, but now the thing runs and folks seem to like it.

At least, for a while. Rocket coasters get real old, real fast, for repeat visitors.

Intamin and Six Flags, however, deserve a heap of scorn for Kingda Ka. They knew what Cedar Point went through with Xcelerator and TTD, and should have been darned certain that the design would work before proceeding with another installation. But they blew it. And until they get it right, folks are entitled to flame away.

The big lesson? Let this be the last of the mega rocket coasters for a long while. Let's try some innovative track combinations, audio and visual effects and theming instead. Build something that will not only work at opening, but that will retain its appeal year after year.

From Kevin Baxter on June 21, 2005 at 5:14 PM
Like Cedar Point's competition is doing? Major talk about the Italian Job coaster for the past two years. And none of it about how it isn't working all the time. Then they are planning on whipping out the themed MTV coaster too. Two coasters that won't have the problems TTD has had, AND they can be ridden by a wider range of guests. Imagine that! Pleasing a large group instead of a tiny group, over and over and OVER again!

Also, I would like to know where this "poor maintenance" crap is coming from. Considering our nearest park is an SF park, I think I would have heard something about it. Yet, living in the capital of the state, the only thing I have heard about are stricter ride-safety laws than elsewhere. Laws that were brought about by lobbying from Universal and SIX FLAGS. Over lobbying brought by Disney, who, last time I checked, was the only theme park company in California with an at-fault coaster death.

From Stefan Schuck on June 24, 2005 at 10:03 PM
Intamin has problems with their rocket coasters. Its been proven, we all know it. This one sounds really quirky, like it could be a carless manufacturing error or something weird like that. I dont think that means we should like abolish rocket coasters. All coasters have problems. Im sure the first roller coaster ever created had its share of problems at the start. Everyone is all up tight about how they gotta get it running soon and everything, but frankly, i'd rather them take their time and fix the problem correctly, rather than rush thru it just to get it open. A lot of people i've talked to say that they won't go on KK because its unsafe. I would think that after they fix a problem of this magnitude... it would increase its safety level. One less thing wrong with it. The technology that they use is amazing to get the coaster to go that speed, and they still need tweaking. Right now, its major tweaking. All you out there who wanna get rid of the rocket coaster are basically saying that coaster enthusiasts' lives would be better off without a stunning 400+ft. 120+mph coaster? All you who have gone on TTD know, its just simply amazing stuff. I dont think getting rid of them is the answer, just getting them right. It takes time... just be patient.

Another thing... stop judging coasters by their down time. You can't call KK or TTD bad rides jsut because they are down alot. Look at the actual ride. You can't possibly tell me that on a working day, you'd rather go on Silver Bullet than KK or TTD. impossible. Give it a year. just wait for it to be fixed. Thats all we can do anyway... isn't it?

From Kevin Baxter on June 25, 2005 at 1:05 AM
Who was judging the rides? We were judging the parks that built the damn things.
From Dustin Kern on December 8, 2005 at 7:13 AM
We can't just blame the park or blame Intiman, but we can blame both. It takes a park to come up with an idea of what type of coaster that they want to build. It takes a company to say we can and we will build that. Building roller coasters is a very competitive market and it has to make you think, why is Intiman the only company that is willing to build such unreliable coasters?

It's obvious that every single rocket coaster will not open on time because they all need to be fine tuned. They can never predict 100% how a coaster is going to run on a computer. This is obvious with how poorly all of the rocket coasters have opened.

The parks have so much pressure from their guest and other competing parks to build bigger and better. Why don't you see any new theme parks opening? There really is no market for them because of all these big names. Even here in Virginia, many people travel just to go to a theme park like Cedar Point or Disney World. Even I have to drive 1 hr 30 minutes to the closest theme park, King's Dominion. These parks might not be close at all, but they still affect each other. Once the guest hear about something big and better somewhere else, they want something bigger and better here or they might take their business somewhere else.

As for restraints, that can be blamed on guests and the company building the coasters. Guests want a bigger thrill every year. The park wants to give it to them. The company is resposible for building that thrill. One way is to change the restraints from OTSR to lap restraints. This allows the rider to move around more and gives the idea that they aren't as restrianed. That gives you a bigger thrill.

The theme park industry has changed from providing family fun into getting as much money as they want. One park that shows this is Darien Lake, known now as Six Flags Over Darien Lake. I used to live 45 minutes away from Darien Lake before Six Flags took over. That park wasn't a part of any big company (I don't think) and they were very friendly. Yes the did keep up with coasters but they never tried to really out do Paramount's Canada's Wonderland. They had some good coasters and one bad one that they did take out. They had more rides for the younger generation but had many for the older generation. It was a real family park. Since Six Flags took over the park, they have removed some of the flat rides to put in bigger coasters. They took away from the family aspect of the park and turned it into a thrill park.

The industry has changed so much in the past 10 years to the dog eat dog world it is. The only way that this will ever change is if parks scale back from building bigger and bigger coasters and start really looking at what the people at the park want. Start taking polls at the park of people of all age groups and see what they want. They need to bring back the days of providing fun for the whole family, not just for the extreme thrill seekers.

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