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The Most Celebrated Amusement Park Insider Experiences

It’s good to know people. But it’s even better to know there’s all sorts of things inside our favorite amusement and theme parks that can make your day that much more special, IF you know them! Here now is my top six most celebrated amusement and theme park “insider” experiences as parks open up for full time operation this week:

6.) Dole Whip:

Once reserved for trips to Disney Parks, this sweet treat has been popping up at more and more regional parks every year.

The Dole Whip is heaven in a plastic cup. Don’t believe me? Try it and tell me otherwise…

Once only reserved for visitors to Disney’s Tiki Rooms, this Polynesian frozen treat is slowly making its way out from the mouse and into regional parks, to the delight of pineapple fans everywhere. If you haven’t experienced one yet – hunt it down or request it be brought to your park.

5.) The Rollback:

We ain’t talking about WalMart here…an exclusive experience to Intamin cable-launched coasters, this delightful event occurs when the launch isn’t quite strong enough to get you over the first hill, resulting in screams of euphoria from enthusiasts – and shrieks of horror from the general public.

In reality, it’s all perfectly safe and for the lucky riders, it’s like getting 1.5 rides for the wait of just one!

4.) The Round-Trip Skyway Ride:

These clowns took too many round trips...

These guests took too many round trips…

Because nothing’s better than watching all those people in line scratch their head over why you’re not getting out of your sky bucket. But, with so many of these rides being removed in recent years, plus the increase in overall park attendance (which means longer lines for rides) this experience has become far more difficult to cross off your list.

3.) The Track Walk / Evacuation:

While a rare event, a lift walk is one of the coolest things you can experience.

While a rare event, a lift walk is one of the coolest things you can experience.

A very rare event that you don’t necessarily want to root for experiencing for yourself. Why? Because it most certainly means the ride will be down for at LEAST the rest of the operating day.

But the experiencing of walking a coaster lift is most certainly a memorable one.

2.) The Last Ride of the Night:

Something about no one standing behind you in line that's really special...

Something about no one standing behind you in line that’s really special…

There is something oddly cathartic about knowing you’re the last person to experience all that fun. Well, at least until the mechanics come in tomorrow morning to start checking on things. this fun. But, until then…

And the number one most celebrated amusement park insider experience?

1.) Exclusive Ride Time (ERT):

ERT is the best benefit to being a member of ACE!

ERT is the best benefit to being a member of ACE!

The only thing better than the last ride of the night, is having the ride all to yourself or the group you’re at the park with!

Just think about it – no line and fast operations. It doesn’t get any better than that. Heck, it’s one of the biggest reasons I joined ACE!

Did I miss an experience? Do you have one to add to the list? Tell me about it on my social media channels or leave a comment below!


The Arrow Dynamics Pipeline Coaster – This Week’s Throwback Thursday

Today’s Throwback Thursday is a rare gem!

Arrow Pipeline Coaster

Presenting the Arrow pipeline concept – a roller coaster that stood for many years in Arrow’s Clearfield, UT plant. However, it never made it into a park (although Intamin would make a similar design in Asia several years later).

This video shows the process of testing and some rare POV of the ride as well – anyone want to get in line to be the first riders? Don’t forget to check out our documentary project on Arrow Development by following American Coaster Enthusiasts on Facebook!


Roller Coaster Malfunctions Prompting Media Frenzies

Over the past few weeks, as seasonal parks begin to thaw out from winter and re-open for the season, we’ve seen a significant uptick in news coverage of what we in the amusement park industry know as “evacs” – taking people off a ride either via the lift or block brake.

NBC Capture

But what I’ve noticed lately is the media making a far bigger deal out of these events than necessary. It really came to my attention when one of my co-workers in the newsroom (who knows I’m a big park and ride fan) asked me, “What’s up with all these ride breakdowns lately?”

FULL DISCLAIMER: I am a credentialed member of the media. I broadcast the news on a daily basis. My job is to inform and educate the public via the airwaves. In a strange way, I could be seen as part of the problem based solely on my position.

On the other hand, I can be a harbinger for truth and education.

Let’s take that previous example of a coaster stalled on the lift. Why then does a person who’s car has broken down on the side of the interstate not make news? (Outside a traffic report). Think about it – here’s a ride vehicle, who has stopped suddenly – and is now on a median designed specifically for breakdowns.

Hulk Capture

How is that different from a coaster that stops on the lift or brake run – where there is a platform (or two) that allows guests to safely disembark?

I am missing something?

So today, I am challenging my fellow media personnel to better educate themselves so as NOT to sensationalize the unsensational. Because a coaster that has a simple malfunction shouldn’t be click bait – when we have so many other stories worthy of telling, instead.


Five Ways to Have a Bad Day at an Amusement Park

1.) Forget to check about special events on park website:

Nothing will ruin your day faster at a park to find it overrun with cheerleaders for a regional competition or packed for a concert in their ampitheatre.

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2.) Wear sandals:

They might seem like a good choice for hot weather, but their lack of support and ability to fly away on certain rides will leave you more miserable than you think.

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3.) Dress incorrectly for the weather:

You can always bring a jacket to warm up, but you can’t take your pants off to cool down (it’s generally frowned upon). If the weather calls for rain, it’s probably best to re-schedule your trip to the park.

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4.) Bring your iPad or tablet computer:

No one wants to be a Padhole. But, you’re risking damaging that $500 device every time you bring that dumb thing to a crowded place. Plus, it blocks our views during the show. Just bring a small point and shoot camera – it has better resolution, anyway.

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5.) Visit on Memorial Day Weekend, 4th of July or Labor Day Weekend:

Traditionally the three worst times to visit any park. Although, actual Memorial Day and Labor Day tend to be less crowded than the weekends preceding them.

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Got any suggestions to add to this list? Tell us on social media, or comment below!


Arrow Development documentary coming from Great American Thrills and American Coaster Enthusiasts

GOING HEAD OVER HEELS FOR SOUTH BAY HISTORY

Former ride manufacturer to be featured in new documentary from local filmmakers


MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA – Great American Thrills® and Totally Twisted Media are proud to announce a historic partnership with American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) Worldwide, Inc. to produce a documentary on the former Bay Area amusement park ride manufacturer, Arrow Development. The film is expected to premiere at the IAAPA industry trade show in Florida this November.

Several of the most prominent and respected names in the amusement industry have already signed on to participate in the documentary. These include: Cedar Point, Irvine Ondrey Engineering, Silverwood Theme Park, S&S Sansei and Six Flags Magic Mountain, among others.

The documentary is being produced by the all-volunteer team behind the award-winning “Lost Parks of Northern California” series, with filming beginning shortly. Nicholas Laschkewitsch and Kris Rowberry are leading the project:

“Everyone knows Silicon Valley is famous for technological innovations,” said Rowberry. “But very few people are aware that the valley that gave us Google and iPhones also spawned the world’s first log ride and tubular steel roller coaster, along with countless other ride innovations.”

Joining Rowberry as Executive Producer on the project is Nicholas Laschkewitsch, Video Promotions Coordinator for American Coaster Enthusiasts.

“Arrow Development and its mechanical marvels have always mesmerized me and held a special place in my heart,” said Laschkewitsch. “The sheer opportunity to be able to tell the story of Arrow to the masses is a dream come true.”

Fans can keep up with the latest happenings on the project by following American Coaster Enthusiasts on Facebook and Twitter or by using the #RideWithACE hashtag. To join ACE, visit: www.ACEonline.org

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How You Can Be a Part of the Arrow Development Documentary

Many people have expressed interest in either helping out or participating in some way with our newly announced documentary on Arrow Development. So, here’s three quick ways you can be a part of history:

1.) Join ACE:

As a recognized 501(c)3 non-profit organization, the members of the American Coaster Enthusiasts are all about the preservation and enjoyment of amusement parks and roller coasters. By joining, you’ll help preserve our incredible amusement heritage, while becoming part of one of the largest and most respected roller coaster organizations in the world. Learn more at: www.aceonline.org

 

2.) Contribute photos or videos of Arrow rides, both past and present:

Do you have some “vintage footage” of older Arrow rides? Maybe a photo of you and your family next to a defunct Arrow coaster? Feel free to send them to: socialmedia@greatamericanthrills.net and we’ll do our best to get them in the documentary – with proper attribution, of course.

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3.) Join us for a shoot!

We’ll be announcing exact dates and locations for shoots across the United States and Canada – so who knows – we just might be at your home park this summer! 529207_572552719484421_2065013057_n


Bolliger and Mabillard the Cadillac of Roller Coasters

There are many different coaster manufacturers, some build small rides, others build massive ones. But none have the mystique and prestige of Bolliger & Mabillard. Their factory in Ohio is shrouded in secrecy – it’s practically the “Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory” of the coaster world:

B&M Logo

Even their logo is simple – just like how they design their rides, with simplicity in mind.

So, why are their rides always so much more expensive than others? And why all the prestige? Three words: quality, reliability and safety.

1.) Quality –

A B&M coaster is unmistakable, even from a distance. Their trademark “roar” grabs your attention – and their boxy track looks beefier than other manufacturers – because quite simply, it is!

By hugging the outside of the rails, B&M was able to tighten the tolerances of their wheels, making their rides incredibly smooth. Photo © Kris Rowberry

By hugging the outside of the rails, B&M was able to tighten the tolerances of their wheels, making their rides incredibly smooth. Photo © Kris Rowberry

It is said that the tolerance, or distance between the rails and the wheels is never more than the thickness of a sheet of paper. Most other manufacturers have noticeable gaps in their wheels, or which spin after the ride stops. Not a B&M. That’s why they’re so much smoother than other steel coasters – they’re simply built better…now that’s Swiss precision!

 

2.) Reliability –

When a B&M coaster stops operating – never get out of line. 99% of the time, it’s a simple computer error that needs to be cleared. Even if it’s a minor mechanical issue – it doesn’t take long to fix. That’s because unlike other manufacturers who are overly reliant on electrical and hydraulic restraint systems – B&M continues to use the tried and true ratchet system – a system that is highly reliable and easy to repair. That’s why these stations are traditionally louder than others – it’s metal on metal contact.

 

3.) Safety –

B&M has always prided itself on efficiency – the four across seating model moved twice as many people as comparable coasters – but they did it with without sacrificing safety, in fact – they increased it.

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Before B&M – no coaster had the ability to sit four people across a single row. This design innovation effectively doubled the capacity of other rides, while shortening the train. This decrease in forces allowed for tighter twists in the track. Photo © Kris Rowberry

This commitment to “getting it right the first time” has earned it’s most important asset: a flawless safety record.

You read right. B&M has never had a catastrophic failure or death on any of their coasters…EVER. (There have been three incidents involving people being hit by trains, but these were a result of guests trespassing on the infield, not a result of the ride or it’s manufacture.

B&M’s were one of the first to feature a redundant seat belt to backup their restraints – all without sacrificing the efficiency of the dispatches.

It is that sterling record that makes parks who choose B&M some of the safest in the world – and which commands such a higher price. Quite simply, you get what you pay for. This rings true not only in real life, but in the amusement world as well. A B&M coaster is like a new appliance – you can get the cheap-o model and save on the front end – or get the high-end model, and have it save you throughout it’s life.

A B&M is one of the best investments a park can make – so the next time track appears outside the factory in Ohio, cross your fingers it’s being delivered to your favorite park.