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Posts tagged “roller coasters

The science behind why roller coaster corkscrews are so beautiful

Ever wonder why the double corkscrew element on classic Arrow and Vekoma roller coasters are so pleasing to the eye? True, the entry and exit isn’t too pleasing to your neck, but there sure feels like there’s some artistry put in those curves.

Turns out, there’s a lot more math at work, too.

Whether it was done on purpose I can’t say, but the reason for their inherent beauty lies in the “Golden Spiral,” also known as the Fibonacci Sequence.

Feels like a drone shot, doesn’t it?

So what is it? Well, it’s a set of numbers discovered over 1,300 years ago by Italian mathematician, Leonardo de Pisa (aka Fibonacci). When plotted on a flat surface, it creates the “Golden Spiral” which occurs naturally in shells, flowers and apparently…roller coasters.

Check out this comparison of Cedar Point’s Corkscrew next to the Golden Spiral:

Screenshot from “The Legacy of Arrow Development,” used with permission.

Now, I’m no fan of math (it’s why I went into communications) but this is pretty darn cool!

What do you think? Is your mind blown, too? Let me know in the comments below or on my social media channels!


Should roller coaster influencers be criticized for not wearing masks?

The “mask wars” of the COVID-19 pandemic have finally made it to the amusement park fan community.

Recently, several prominent ride / park fans have been hit with online criticism recently for posting updates of them without masks from parks and facilities across the country.

Putting aside the fact that the Centers for Disease Control (or CDC) as of 8/26/20 says, “Travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19,” is the criticism over posting mask-less photos at parks warranted?

First, we should consider context. Someone could wear a mask all day inside a safely operating theme park, take it off for one moment and someone snaps a photo. From there, the internet (which is known for thoughtful, critical thinking) immediately piles on the update, saying, “How dare you not wear a mask!”

Context is key in terms of photos you see online, but is it sending the right message to fans?

That being said, let us also remember that large reach and “influence” on people’s behavior, comes with a heightened sense of awareness. We are no longer anonymous, general park guests.  

We certainly wouldn’t post a photo of us on a coaster with the restraints in an unsafe position – that would be irresponsible. Right now, the most responsible thing to do (if you’re outside your home) is to wear a mask and socially distance. As such, we should model that behavior to fans and to the general public.

Yes, this means we need to plan what we share even more carefully than before. And yes, it’s going to be more difficult to do. But these are inherently different times and much like the modified operations at the parks we enjoy, we too must adapt how we do things.

This may become the “new normal” when it comes to photos inside parks. No one likes it, but the alternative is far worse…

If someone’s not in a mask in a photo in a park – let’s opt to not use it or post it. Think of it like I do with empty seats in a photo…it just doesn’t look right.

The more we hammer home that none of this is normal, perhaps more people will take the pandemic and it’s effects more seriously. Only then will we be able to defeat this virus and return to a sense of normal. We owe it to the 190,000 of our fellow Americans who are no longer with us.

Look, 2020 has been one disaster after another, I get it. We are all still flying by the seat of our pants, trying to figure out what the path forward will be. Since there’s no way to stop snap judgments on the internet, let’s not give them the opportunity to make one.

TLDR: We’re probably gonna have to mask up…in every update. In every photo and video…until we beat this thing.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below or on my social media channels!


Kris Rowberry Returns to Great American Thrills

Kris Rowberry

Hey everyone! It’s been awhile since we last talked. Two and a half years, to be precise.

No, it wasn’t you – it was me. A necessary hiatus what with me taking a position in the Communications Department of a major theme park here in the south.

But as of this week, that restriction have been lifted, so you’ll be able to expect hearing from me on a semi-regular basis once again.

I’m so sorry.

You’ll also be seeing some changes to the site over the next few months, with some new features as well as a new look. I’ll be sure to keep you all up to speed as we transition back into regular programming.

It’s been a long two and a half years – we’ve got a lot to catch up on.

But, just to be safe, let’s not wait that long to talk to one another ever again – okay?

– KR

Kris Rowberry

Kris Rowberry is back at Great American Thrills!


85 year old rides roller coasters at Geauga Lake

The phrase “young at heart” is thrown around often in our society, but I’m pretty sure this video encapsulates it perfectly. (Plus, some bonus “Lost Parks” footage, too!)


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.

arrowbillboard_1958_2_gbooks

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


Five Things Amusement Park Fans Must Stop Doing in 2015

Call me “Grandpa” if you must, but there’s a ton of things that just drive me nuts with the whole amusement park and roller coaster “fan” community. So here’s my picks for the the top five things we’ve got to stop doing in 2015:

 

5.) “Coaster Battles” on Instagram:

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Collage by Instagram user: @Insta_Coaster

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Collage by Instagram user: @Screamsource

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I get it, you’re trying to drive engagement to your profile. But damn it’s annoying as all hell to see a “battle” of two or more rides that are usually “apples to oranges” in terms of comparisons-sake taking up my entire screen while I’m just trying to see some beautiful photos. Speaking of photos on social media…

 

4.) Stealing Each Others’ Photos / Videos:

Copyright 2

 

There’s a reason when you search for photos in Google there’s a small disclaimer at the bottom. It reads: “This image may be subject to copyright.” So what does that mean? In short, it means you need to get permission to use the photo or follow the rules for using it as defined by the author (Creative Commons 3.0 is a good example of this).

So while it’s so easy to right click a cool photo and drop it into your social media feed (Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr) you better do some research to ensure no one owns the rights to it first – or you could be sued, and sued for each time it was reproduced (i.e. “shared”.) You wouldn’t want someone stealing your term paper and calling it their own – so why would you steal someone’s art and not attribute it.*

*Fun fact: While attribution is good, it does not completely absolve you from copyright infringement lawsuits. The easiest solution? Just go out and capture your own photos / videos.

Oh, and if you DO get caught – just fess up to it and fix the situation. No one likes a sore copyright infringer.

 

3.) Flying Your Drone Over Parks / Construction Areas:

Seriously - as cool as you think it might be to fly over a park, the lawsuits over damage etc. don't make it worth it.

Seriously – as cool as you think it might be to fly over a park, the lawsuits over damage, etc. don’t make it worth it.

With UAV’s (commonly known as “drones” becoming more and more prevalent (as they become cheaper), the temptation is there to do some really nefarious things with them, such as flying over closed parks without permission to spy on construction progress, or worse, fly over the general public without asking first).

While these amazing devices have given us incredible perspectives on parks and rides recently – the world isn’t quite ready to see them flying overhead while families are trying to enjoy their day. Plus, most pilots are not up to par with the pilots they see on YouTube – at least, not yet.

They’re also a major insurance liability to the park and yourself (seen all those drone FAIL videos? Now imagine them over a crowded midway) not to mention the serious, Federal / FAA violations you could be racking up – so just leave the DJI Phantom II in the hangar for now – okay?

 

2.) “Selfie Sticks” on Rides:

Loose articles can ALWAYS come loose - keep the camera in your pocket and ENJOY THE RIDE!

Loose articles can ALWAYS come loose – keep the camera in your pocket and ENJOY THE RIDE!

These things are bad enough off-rides, do we really need to capture every waking moment of our lives on RIDES and then upload them? Plus, once that stick / camera / phone gets knocked loose and whacks some unsuspecting guest below – good luck explaining yourself to the judge & jury in the civil & criminal lawsuits that are sure to follow.

 

1.) Arrogance in Parks and Online:

Dislike-Social-Media3

Unless you’re the GM or other high-ranking manager of a park, you’re not allowed to walk around your local park or on the internet like you’re a God on the subject (myself included). Begging for perks, exclusive experiences etc., just because you belong to a certain “coaster club” is not only beyond arrogant – it’s counterproductive to the entire community.

All it takes is ONE PERSON to act like an enthusi-ass at a park or TOWARDS a park – and it will ruin the fun for the rest of us. Think of that next time you’re bad mouthing a park via social media or claiming to know everything to the “GP” the next time you’re out on the midway. Remember our passion is all about having fun – not making other people miserable in the process…

What are your thoughts? Got anything to add to this list? Leave me a comment below or on our social media pages:


New Amusement Park Rides Delayed Significantly This Summer

Remember when new rides and attractions opened with the start of the season at your local amusement or theme park? That’s certainly not the case this year.

A record number of attractions are still fighting to open up for the season, this as many parks pass the halfway point of their operational calendar.

And it’s not just one factor that’s throwing things off – it would appear the entire industry ran into a figurative “buzz saw” when it came to opening attractions on time this year. Here’s a list of attractions off the top of my head that have found themselves “behind the 8-ball” just this year:

Falcon’s Fury
Zumanjaro Drop of Doom
Diagon Alley
Verruckt
Break Point Plunge
Goliath
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
New England SkyScreamer

Now, I say “behind the 8-ball” for this reason: parks advertise their newest product to get people excited to come back next year. But if you (or your group) came early in the season, you more than likely missed out on the new attraction completely (at least, this year).

Even professional park travelers like myself plan for and anticipate delays for new rides – but even we’ve been taken aback at rides opening beyond the Fourth of July – especially in seasonal parks closed in the winter.

So what’s behind all these rides having what I consider to be major delays in opening? Are they too extreme or complex? Or is it sometime much simpler? Let’s take a closer look:

 

Weather:

Photo courtesy of Kings Island Facebook page.

Photo courtesy of Kings Island Facebook page.

This was the worst winter on record east of the Rocky Mountains. In many cases – construction couldn’t even start until the snow was moved and the ground thawed. Sadly, that didn’t happen until April in some places. (It was still icy in the Great Lakes in JUNE).

 

Fabrication:

There are only so many pieces that can be built by these companies, some of which employ less than 50 employees. If a company waited to buy a product until late in the season, they’ll be at the end of the line, so to speak to receive their new products.

 

Bureaucracy:

"Red tape" has done more to kill off parks than it has to make them safer!

“Red tape” has done more to kill off parks than it has to make them safer!

If you’ve ever played the game “RollerCoaster Tycoon” you know it’s quite easy to build new attractions. But if the game were to be truly accurate, players would have to spend more time in the local permits office than managing their park. The litany of paperwork and regulations ended up killing a famous water park here in California.

While most point to the Golden State as the epicenter of red tape (See Gold Striker’s struggles to finally open) the East Coast is now getting into the act.

After a brutal winter prevented construction for most of the off-season at Six Flags Great Adventure, Zumanjaro – a world record free fall in New Jersey, was finally ready to open for season pass previews after months of delays…

…only to be told by the State that their ride inspector would not be able to get out to the park to officially sign off on its operating permit. Whoops.

 

Design Flaws / Challenges:

Verruckt required a complete re-design after tests showed it wasn't performing as predicted.

Verruckt required a complete re-design after tests showed it wasn’t performing as predicted.

Whether it’s too complex in terms of computer and electrical systems – or just a bad design to begin with – sometimes rides don’t transfer perfectly from the computer and drafting board to the real world. All parks (except the old Action Park) have guests’ safety as their number one priority – and if it means opening a ride late to ensure it does not hurt, maim or kill people – it’s a delay that’s always worth taking.

So will all of the rides and attractions open by the end of THIS season? Only time (and a host of other factors) will tell. One can only hope that parks can get “back on schedule” next year and start debuting rides when the season begins (or shortly thereafter).

What do you think? Are there any other factors I might have missed? LEave me a comment either below or on my social media channels – I’d love to hear what you think!


Insane Coaster Wars debuts new season, but still needs some off-season rehab

After filming all last summer, Indigo Films‘ “Insane Coaster Wars” debuted it’s third season last night – and I can’t help but comment on their latest “effort.”

The premise of the show, is a decent one – have people vote on specific aspects of certain rides, then rank them against other coasters around the world. Seems straightforward, right?

Experiencing a film date in St. Louis last summer.

At issue with most coaster and park enthusiasts (who make up a large number of the viewing audience) however, is the continued downgrade in quality of the traditional summer “coaster show” over the past few years. “Insane Coaster Wars” is just the latest in a string of low budget, low quality productions from powerhouses like the Travel Channel and Discovery. Just look at some of the reactions from last night’s debut:

Snip2 Snip3 snip4

So what can this show do to make itself better in the eyes of it’s core audience? Read on:

 

1.) Stop hiring actors and talk to real “coaster enthusiasts”

Original screengrab by Dan Hower (who's also in the second row with Alyssa Schipani). Used with permission.

Original screengrab by Dan Hower (who’s also in the second row with Alyssa Schipani). Used with permission.

SPOILER ALERT: Television isn’t what it always appears. Multiple sources have confirmed to this website that the “coaster enthusiasts” featured in each segment are actually…wait for it…local actors found on Craigslist, hired for around $300 each.

Yup, Craigslist. Home to “Casual NSA Encounters” and apparently beautiful & young roller coaster junkies. Didn’t you wonder why those featured riders always seemed to speak really good english…in the middle of Taiwan and Costa Rica?

Those “friends from college” who “visit the park all the time” – it’s usually their first trip ever to these parks. Yet, the graphic in the lower third clearly says they’re “Coaster Enthusiasts.”

Last night’s episode featured two “coaster enthusiasts” who had never been to Kennywood – and in fact, had not been to a park, “in years.” True enthusiasts don’t take years off – they rarely take months off.

What’s even more ironic – if the production company wanted to save  up to $1200 per segment (and it’s obvious they do) simply stop hiring actors – just call on the local region of the American Coaster Enthusiasts – not to just fill the seats, but to TALK on camera. Not only are many of our members familiar with being interviewed – we’ll do it for FREE!

Some of the phrases that are used by these actors must also drive park managers nuts. Things like, “I felt like it was about to fly off the track,” or “I can’t believe I survived,” really make PR Managers have GREAT days. Simple rule to follow: Never mention death or dismemberment on TV when referring to amusement parks. You don’t say “bomb” at airports and on planes…

 

2.) Compare rides “Apples to Apples” 

Outlaw Run and La Avalancha? How are those two rides even remotely similar? (They do both loop, but they’re built completely different). The best way I can describe it – it’s like comparing apples to oranges. It’s as if the people in charge took suggestions from people who actually knew what they were talking about – then threw those papers up in the air, and randomly pulled out rides.

 

3.) Be wary of those who make money off parks

Robb Alvey – who was once the  “host” of the program –  has now been relegated to a “Creative Consultant” production credit off-screen (which is a major improvement in my humble opinion). That being said, his wife was featured on the premiere show as a coaster enthusiast, along with one of their friends. I’d call them non-actors, but both he and his wife have agents.

Now, doesn’t this scream nepotism to anyone else besides me? Then again, at least us true coaster enthusiasts know she actually is quite knowledgeable about the subject.  Too bad the producers edited her in a way that ensured she sounded just like any other clueless park guest.

Don’t even get me started on how his presence on the production team could directly influence his view count (and income) on his commercialized videos on YouTube…

 

4.) Allow park experts or bloggers to vote, not the general public

Let’s face it – most of these Craigslist actors (and indeed other park guests) don’t even know about the other rides they’re comparing, so how exactly can you compare them if you’ve never been on them…oh wait, isn’t that how the Mitch Hawker Poll runs? : )

 

Conclusion:

While the show did make some minor improvements and tweaks, it’s still the same copy / paste generic “coaster show” that’s polluted the airwaves for far too long. Yes, the POV is good, but it’s everything around it that just brings the show down.

If you’re looking to support a quality roller coaster / amusement park program, consider sharing our “Great American Thrills” concept with your favorite cable channel or production company. We promise the enthusiasts we feature – will actually know what they’re talking about:


Inaugural #CoasterChat TONIGHT on Twitter!

Join the creator and host of Great American Thrills®, along with the creator of CoasterAddict.com, for the first ever #CoasterChat tweetup!

Many of us love roller coasters and the amusement parks that build them. Similarly, many of us also tweet…all of the time. Now, we hope to merge the two together on a weekly basis, discussing the latest news and topics surrounding the amusement park industry. We look forward to hearing all of your great ideas and enthusiastic candor!

So, how can YOU participate? It’s easy! Just log into Twitter around 6:00pm TONIGHT, and search for / follow the #CoasterChat hashtag – it’s that easy to join in on the fun – see you there, coaster fans!

Logo by: CoasterAddict.com

Logo by: CoasterAddict.com


Week of Big Announcements!

This week, Great American Thrills® is proud to announce not one, but TWO major initiatives regarding the brand and television concept that are sure to rock your socks off!

Major Announcement #1 –Codename: Showbiz”

Some of you have heard rumblings that “Lost Parks” wasn’t the only project we were working on – and I’m happy today to confirm that this is absolutely true.

We will be premiering an entirely new travelogue / roller coaster / amusement park show concept in the next few weeks. And while we’ll need YOUR help to get it to as many eyeballs as you can – we’ll get into that once it arrives. Oh, did we mention this project is ALREADY trademarked, copyrighted AND registered with the Writer’s Guild of America – so don’t even think about stealing it.

 

Major Announcement #2 – “Project Neptune”

Over the past two years, I’ve seen this website go from a simple WordPress blog, to a significantly more complex “destination” on the web – and the web traffic proves. it. As a result – the site isn’t working as well as it should – and changes will have to be done far more than just cosmetic.

While the timeframe for “Neptune” is not set in stone, expect major changes to the website (in terms of design and interface) to begin showing up over the next few months.

So, why the name “Neptune?” Honestly – it sounded cool – so don’t read into it too much!

This February will be the 4th official year of work (on and off) on this project. It’s amazing to watch it all coming together – slowly, but surely – we’re inching closer to our goal of bringing Great American Thrills® to the masses. We’re so glad to have you along for the ride!


What are YOU thankful for this Thanksgiving?

There are many things us coaster and park fans should be thankful for this holiday season, so I’ve attempted to narrow it down to the top five:

5.) A stabilized, improving U.S. economy:

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The economy always dictates just how much “fun” we can have…

While the economy continues to trudge around, improving slowly – we’re starting to see parks re-invest in themselves once again, with larger, more ornate attractions. While it’s true – you can’t (and shouldn’t) add a coaster each and every year – it’s great to see parks and chains aren’t scared off to build by credit crunches, slumping attendance or instability in the market.

Speaking of re-investment…

4.) The remarkable turnaround of California’s Great America:

Carousel Columbia at California's Great America. Photo (c) copyright 2013 - Great American Thrills and Kris Rowberry

Still the tallest carousel in the world, Carousel Columbia makes for a stunning subject at night. Photo by Kris Rowberry, all rights reserved.

If you were to tell me five years ago that California’s Great America would still be open, let alone THRIVING in this new decade, I would have probably wagered a hefty sum against you. But, here we are in the ‘teens, and I couldn’t be happier to be wrong.

What once appeared to be a contentious relationship between Cedar Fair, the City of Santa Clara and the San Francisco 49ers (and subsequent de-investment in the park) finally improved. Even a minor spat over noise levels this past summer with neighbors couldn’t derail this parks’ epic climb back from it’s dark abyss of only a few years ago.

I have a confession to make: I have always had a soft spot for this park – my family took me there every summer for my Grandma’s company picnic. I unlocked my love of the thrill ride on a fateful launch of the Tidal Wave there in 1993 – to see a place I grew up in becoming healthy again; it should warm the soul of any long-time south bay resident.

For the first time in many years, the park has personnel in positions of power, who truly care about the direction of park and more importantly, what it means to the local community (and economy). From new paint and roofs, the return of themed park sound, upgraded shows and a truly stunning Haunt presentation – CGA has shown it’s fans and employees not only what it wants to be, but what it CAN be.

3.) The movement back to lap bars

Coaster Expert Kris Rowberry gets his thrill on

Getting my thrill on with the lap bar only “Superman: Ultimate Flight” at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, park fans saw an incredible amount of new inversions and combinations of ways to throw yourself upside down. However, it came at a caveat – riders had to be locked into restrictive OTSR (over the shoulder restraints).

But towards the latter end of the 1990’s, the industry began a switch – away from the sometimes painful “headbanging” OTSR restraints and into more advanced, sculpted lap bar restraints.

By immobilizing the entire leg – designers could now perform aerial stunts once thought unheard of without OTSR’s – and our heads and chests are still thanking designers for it!

2.) “@FakeThemePark” on Twitter

CaptureTweets

Let’s face it – we all need a good laugh every now and then. This Twitter account does it’s best to pretend to be a an actual park, but with situations that would make any good park spokesperson have a heart attack.

1.) Camaraderie amongst park fans:

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Hanging out with “The Coaster Guy” at California’s Great America – best time I’ve had at the park in AGES! Photo by: The Coaster Guy

Despite the efforts of an isolated few in the amusement park fan community – I’ve found that our common love of parks and rides (not affiliation to specific sites) is still what bonds us together…and that the bond is stronger than ever.

After more than a year of working on growing this brand, I’ve been blessed to meet so many new acquaintances that I now can call friends. And isn’t that the point of having a hobby…to meet others that also share in your interests, and to in turn enjoy that hobby with them?

That is the sign of a true enthusiast community – and the mark of a thriving one. So when you sit down and enjoy your turkey and gravy with friends and family – know we’ve got a ton to be thankful for this year and for the upcoming year as well!


Architect Envisioned Massive Coasters for Golden Gate, Bay Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge Roller Coaster

From the people who brought you the massive Hangar One at Moffett Field, The Empire State Building and Hoover Dam, comes arguably the grandest, most scenic (and most insane) roller coaster idea of ALL TIME!

Golden Gate Bridge Roller Coaster

The proposed “Bridge Coasters” would not only break current coaster records – they would obliterate them – 75 years before the records were even set! Photo from the California State Archive

The stats for this proposed duo of coasters are simply staggering. 1,000 feet tall – 750 foot drops – a 190 mph top speed. Even by today’s standards, these two coasters would have easily kept their records for height and speed.

By comparison, the Transamerica Pyramid – which was built in 1972 and is the tallest building in San Francisco – is 850 feet tall.

The tallest roller coaster in the world currently is Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure. It tops out at a measly 456 feet high. Formula Rossa in the UAE is the fastest in the world, at a yawn inducing 149 mph. Heck, even the “bunny hills” on these coasters were proposed to do 40 mph over them…at 1,000 feet in the air!

Photo copyright 2007, Kris Rowberry. All rights reserved

Double the height of Kingda Ka, and it still wouldn’t be as tall as the proposed “Golden Gate Thunderbolt” roller coaster!

Where do I line up?

The folks in the Depression sure thought bigger than we do today, and it’s understandable. It was a dark time for America – and people needed something – anything – in order to lift their spirits. What better way than to build something that was (and may never be) seen by human eyes?

I’m not exactly sure how they would have propelled the ride at such speeds, or how to get it up there to begin with – I know for a fact that Cal OSHA would laugh the proposal right out the door in today’s litigious world…not to mention it’s pretty clear the physics of a ride with that much wind resistance would never be able to complete its circuit!

Ironically, two identical roller coasters WERE built at each of the 1939 Expositions in New York and San Francisco. After the fair ended in New York, the ride was eventually moved…to Riverside Park in Massachusetts, eventually becoming Six Flags New England – where it still runs today as – you guessed it – “Thunderbolt,” the same name proposed for the rides on the bridges.

Thunderbolt at the 1939 SF Exposition

This exact coaster layout, which ran at both 1939 Expositions in New York and San Francisco still runs at Six Flags New England, as “Thunderbolt,” an ACE Coaster Classic. (Shot from SF Exposition)

Photo by Kris Rowberry, all rights reserved.

Thunderbolt at Six Flags New England. Photo by Kris Rowberry, all rights reserved.

And yes, you can expect this and many other amazing nuggets of coaster knowledge and “what if” history to appear in an upcoming episode of the “Lost Parks of Northern California” series!

Read the whole article, from KPIX-5 in San Francisco, here, or just copy and paste the link below:

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2013/11/22/designer-once-envisioned-massive-coasters-on-golden-gate-bay-bridges/


Featured on BBC News!

Yes, you read that correctly – I had the honor of being featured in a BBC News video released today about roller coaster technology and the  “plateau” some say we’ve reached. (I don’t think we have, by the way).

BBC Capture

You can view the whole video by clicking here.

Or, you can copy and paste this link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24553630

The backstory behind this interview is just as intriguing –

I had already planned to attend Six Flags Discovery Kingdom’s “Ghoulish Gathering” VIP event last Friday. When the tram dropped us off at the front entrance, I noticed a OMB (One Man Band) setup, with a man struggling to cope with the sound of the many rides in the area. In hindsight, I should have gone over to offer my assistance – but I digress…

When I asked the Public Relations person at the event about the cameraman, she immediately said, “Oh, he’s with the BBC…I should introduce you to him!”

Pinch me.

After we grabbed a bite to eat at the event, I got to talking with Richard, who quickly found out (and said), “I should interview you…”

You had to ask?

Careful to make sure I didn’t step on any known “land mines” when you do interviews like this, Richard slapped a lav mic on me, and into the sun he pointed me!

Now, it should be noted, that short of begging, I did my best to convince the segment producer to stay longer, so my Lost Parks Producer, American Coaster Enthusiasts Asst. Regional Rep AND all-around quality news source on all things coasters, Nicholas Laschkewitsch could arrive to be interviewed as well – but sadly, Richard had to leave before Nicholas could arrive. Thanks, BART Strike…

But, for now, it’s yet another milestone in my journey to be in the world of television. “Great American Thrills” has officially jumped the pond and gone international…WOW.


Are Inversions Overrated?

Inversions (or loops) on rides have been around almost as long as the roller coaster itself. But, have they lost their appeal and marketability recently?
First, a brief history lesson – inversions have been around for over a century. Sadly, not enough was known about physics and engineering back then to safely (and comfortably) take passengers through them.

The "Flip Flap Railway" punished riders with high, uneven g-forces.

The “Flip Flap Railway” punished riders with high, uneven g-forces.

Fast forward to 1975, and technology had evolved to the point that inversions were once again on the table, only this time – they were much more than just vertical loops; corkscrews (which are basically stretched out loops) made their debut at Knott’s Berry Farm with the aptly named “Corkscrew.” The ride still runs today at Silverwood Theme Park in Idaho.

Photo from the Orange County Archives.

Photo from the Orange County Archives.

Soon, many other elements, such as pretzel loops, barrel rolls and Immelmans were being performed on a regular basis. The stakes kept getting raised at parks, with more and more inversions going into rides.  Currently, the record stands at 14 inversions on one ride.
With so many coasters with inversions – why are so few of them represented in national top ten lists? There are several possibilities:
1.) People are genuinely freaked out by loops – 
There’s something about being tossed head over heels that hits at the psyche of the human brain. I would know – I refused to do anything that looped until 1993…
2.) Pre-1995 inversions had some rough transitions – 
Turns out, it was quite difficult to engineer track to specifications that were ideal for inversions AND for regular track. While most companies managed, you can still tell when the computer didn’t quite “get it right” when the roughness gets a bit out of control.
3.) The restraint system used on many looping rides can feel restrictive – 
Coaster enthusiasts and regular park guests love the freedom to move around. Who doesn’t want more legroom on a flight, right? Because most multi-loopers have what’s called an over the shoulder restraint (OTSR) or “horse collar” restraint, our bodies are restricted from any movement in the upper body.
Unfortunately, this leads to the ubiquitous “head banging” on many older looping rides with this style of restraint. Even older B&M coasters, lauded for their incredible levels of precision, can have headbanging moments with these types of restraints.
There is some credence to this theory – the Steel Phantom at Kennywood, which used to feature inversions when it debuted, was altered to remove them in favor of airtime hills and a simple, lap bar restraint system. The ride subsequently saw a resurgence in popularity.
What do you think? Are inversions over-rated or just misunderstood?

Featured in TIME Magazine!

It’s both an honor and humbling to see your work in print – but to see it in the prestigious TIME Magazine – well, that’s just awesome!

Not only was I quoted several times in the piece, but two of my photos (El Toro and Bizzaro) were featured as the top two images! (I’m a little excited if you can tell)

You can read the full article here: http://techland.time.com/2013/09/19/the-top-10-roller-coasters-in-the-u-s/

Looks like there’s a new roller coaster expert in town – and this one can photograph AND write well, too! Another great milestone on my journey…

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Video

Featured on “This Week in Photo” Podcast!

If you haven’t already, check me out on the “This Week in Photo” podcast! We’ll discuss photo composition, the impetus for me getting into photography…and of course, nausea.

Enjoy, everyone!

Learn more about Frederick’s work at: www.thisweekinphoto.com


Coaster “Bender” Trip – Vital Stats

Bizzaro at Six Flags New England. Photo (c) 2013, Great American Thrills and Kris Rowberry

9 – Number of days the trip lasted

5,968 – Total mileage flown

3 – Number of rental car models I rented

4 – Number of Six Flags parks visited

6 – Number of wooden coasters on the trip

3 – Number of coasters missed (2 closed, one required child accompaniment)

$493.93 – Estimated amount of money saved by upgrading to a GOLD Six Flags Season Pass

1 – Number of Cicadas encountered (On the motel door / eyehole in Spiringfield, MA…thankfully only molting).


Season Pass Podcast Interview

We had the pleasure of being interviewed at the Gold Striker media day by the great Doug Barnes of “The Season Pass” podcast. Check out the interview about halfway through at the link below:

Can’t wait to talk up “Lost Parks” some more in the future, Doug!

iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-season-pass-the-essential/id268430539

Direct Link:

http://traffic.libsyn.com/seasonpasspodcast/The_Season_Pass_235.mp3

Season-Pass-Podcast-Logo


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Photo of the Day: Boomerang at Six Flags St. Louis

Boomerang at Six Flags St. Louis. Photo (c) 2013 Kris Rowberry and Great American Thrills

Yesterday, Six Flags St. Louis unveiled their latest coaster in their collection and Great American Thrills was there on OPENING DAY to see what the venerable Vekoma design had in store for guests.

Amazingly, the ride is SMOOTH for a Vekoma – and the park is working diligently to improve the catch on the second hill to eliminate that traditional “thud” that’s so common on this model. The ride sits between the Tidal Wave flume, Sky Screamer and venerable Screamin’ Eagle wooden coaster at the top of the park.

Boomerang at Six Flags St. Louis. Photo (c) 2013 Kris Rowberry and Great American Thrills

Big thanks goes out to my friends at BorrowLenses for allowing me to capture such beautiful photos with their gear.

Interested in purchasing / using some of my photos? Check out my 500px: http://500px.com/GreatAmericanThrills

View my videos on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/GreatAmericanThrills

Follow me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GreatAmericanThrills

Tweet me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/krowberry

+1 me on Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/1/115502587437263155125/posts

Follow me on Instagram: http://instagram.com/krowberry


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Photo of the Day: Loose Articles under Mr. Freeze

Cell Phone carnage at Six Flags St. Louis. Photo (c) 2013 Great American Thrills and Kris Rowberry

This is the reason that parks don’t want you to have loose articles onboard roller coasters – because this is almost ALWAYS their fate!

Cell Phone carnage at Six Flags St. Louis. Photo (c) 2013 Great American Thrills and Kris Rowberry

Big thanks goes out to my friends at BorrowLenses for allowing me to capture such beautiful photos with their gear.

Interested in purchasing / using some of my photos? Check out my 500px: http://500px.com/GreatAmericanThrills

View my videos on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/GreatAmericanThrills

Follow me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GreatAmericanThrills

Tweet me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/krowberry

+1 me on Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/1/115502587437263155125/posts

Follow me on Instagram: http://instagram.com/krowberry


Man Allegedly Loses $2600 at Carnival Game

This "Rasta Banana" was worth so much to a man, that he blew his life savings trying to win it.

This “Rasta Banana” was worth so much to a man, that he blew his life savings trying to win it.

If there were a dumb guy Olympics, this dude just ran away with all the medals…

Henry Gribbohm claims that at a recent carnival he attended, he lost $2,600 playing a game called “Tubs of Fun.”

And you thought carnival barkers were good at stretching the truth.

In the game, contestants attempt to toss balls into a tub. Apparently, Gribbohm had been practicing the game at home for weeks before the fair – but when it was game time – the results weren’t so good.

Considering the game offers one of the largest prizes at the fair, it should have been fair warning that this wasn’t going to be a cake walk. Predictably, all of Gribbohm’s attempts failed.

But that didn’t stop him, no sir. According to Gribbohm, he kept trying to win back his money by going double or nothing, something that even a carnie wouldn’t dare try (Especially considering that’s gambling!) He also claimed that because he was causing such a large scene and drawing in people, the operator of the game, “…promised me a Xbox.”

Really?

“He dropped $300 in just a few minutes and said he went home to get $2,300 more and soon lost all of that as well,” according to a local TV station.

“It’s not possible that it wasn’t rigged,” he said. “For once in my life, I happened to become that sucker.”

Understatement of the century there. You think they just give these quality items away?

Apparently, Gribbohm went back the next day to complain and the man running the game gave him back $600 – which at least validated his claim that he did spend wayyy too much money on a giant banana.  Despite getting back $600 that he never should have, he still filed a report with the police.

Gribbohm said that he’s considering a lawsuit. I wonder if he realizes that he can’t win there, either.


Danke Shen, Deutchland! (Thank you, Germany!)

A big thanks to the folks over in Germany for watching the Lost Parks series in such high numbers! Check out the latest demographics on the YouTube channel!

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I knew working for a Zeppelin company would pay off at some point!

Sie sind ser schon!


Featured Post on BorrowLenses Blog

Hey everybody!

I was just featured on the BorrowLenses.com blog, giving away some of my Top Ten Amusement Park Photo Tips. (Hint – use a nice camera and have tons of patience!)

You can find the link to the blog post by clicking here:

Featured Story on BL Blog

Or using this hyperlink:

http://www.borrowlenses.com/blog/2013/04/top-ten-tips-for-amazing-amusement-park-photography/