3 Things Theme Park Fans Should Be Thankful For, But Often Aren’t

Editorials Editorials and Rants Issue 3 Theme Park Geekly

If you’ve spent any time in message boards, you know that the Web isn’t usually the place that people shout their gratefulness and gratitude from the virtual rooftops.

They’re most often a haven for haters; jam-packed with more complaining, whining, and snarky comments than you can imagine. With Thanksgiving 2011 almost here, I wanted to take the chance to go against the grain and list a few things that we theme park geeks should be thankful for, but often are not.

Amusement Parks Have Survived the Recession (So Far)
Freestyle Music ParkWe’re often so busy debating what new ride a park should build rather than just be glad that the park is operating. Aside from a few notable regional exceptions in my neck of the woods (Freestyle Music Park & Ghost Town in the Sky), the vast majority of amusement parks are surviving, if not thriving. I’m basing this on the lack of news reporting closures, and the news of many parks adding new rides and attractions. We’ve even had a few new parks open last year and this year. And, there are more on the horizon. Our industry could have been hit a lot harder.

That New Family Ride That Was Just Announced
I get it. I’m a fan of adrenaline pumping, white knuckle thrill rides, but when parks decide to add a family ride or kiddie ride, it’s not the end of the World. I don’t claim to be an amusement industry expert, but it would appear that families (more specifically the money that they spend) keep the proverbial lights on. Dare I say that we can thank attractions like Bucaneer Battle, Little Dipper, and blah for the awesome looking X-Flight that’s coming to Six Flags Great America. It may not be quite that simple, but amusement parks need that family revenue to stay afloat. So let’s be thankful when we hear that a certain park is building a Windseeker clone, expanding their children’s section, or adding a Ferris wheel. Get the point? I covered this further in: Reactions to Holiday World’s Mammoth & the Minivan Effect.

That Thrill Junkies & Coaster Enthusiasts Don’t Design Roller Coasters
Sure, some designers are likely also coaster fans, but they have their riders safety in mind. Unlike the fans that moaned and complained about the infamous Intimidator 305 trim brake issue. At one point last year I wanted to crush my laptop with my bare hands after reading yet another comment about how perfect the ride was before trims and how ruined it was since they were added. I had ridden the ride, thought it was great and was blown away by its intensity. So, it definitely wasn’t neutered by any means. And, Kings Dominion had received complaints from riders about the intensity of the first turn which caused them to slow it down. How dare they!

This may sound crazy, but blacking out is not a goal for the new coasters being designed today. It’s an undesirable side effect. From the 2011 reviews it sounds like this might have been worked out. The ride’s been returned to its 90+ mph state and that first turn that was turning the lights out, was re-profiled last off-season to decrease the super powerful g-forces. Thank God today’s ride designers and parks have enough sense to not try and push the limit too far. That kind of lust for an ultra-intense ride could produce a catastrophe that would hurt the industry for years.

This Thanksgiving don’t forget to give thanks. If you live in the U.S., be thankful that you’re within reach of the largest and what many believe to be the best collection of theme parks and attractions in the universe. Also try to see things from other perspectives every now and then. It’ll make you a more well-rounded and open minded theme park fan and person.

Photo Credit: – Featured Photo on homepage courtesy of CoasterGallery.com

Founder of CoasterCritic.com. My favorite coasters are B&M hypers and gigas. I'm also a huge fan of terrain roller coasters.

4 Comments

  1. This year was amazing of how many announcement there are, and that’s what I’m thankful for. The last time this many announcements was back when there was announcements for the 2001 rides/coasters.

    Reply
  2. I’ve been watching Skyrush go up at Hersheypark and wondering whether it’s going to have people blacking out on that first turn just like I305. The speed is going to be a bit lower, but the turn looks pretty tight. I’m sure I’ll get the chance eventually, but I still haven’t decided whether I’ll actually want to ride that thing…

    Reply
  3. …Though something that may make this less of a problem on Skyrush is just that that wicked turn isn’t going to last as long; it’s a much smaller arc of a circle.

    Reply
  4. …Hmm, now I’m curious enough to do some math.

    There are diagrams of the Skyrush layout where people have drawn it on Google Maps photos of the park. Just eyeballing that first curve, it looks like it has a radius of curvature about the same as the diameter of the Founder’s Circle carousel. That’s about 80 feet, if I’m reading Google’s scale marker correctly.

    Now, neglecting friction (which you really can’t, so this is a slightly high estimate), the acceleration from rounding a curve immediately after a coaster drop is 2gh/r. where h is the height of the drop, r is the radius of curvature, and g is a G. So if the drop is 200 feet and the radius of curvature is 80 feet, that gives us… exactly 5 positive Gs, head to feet.

    That’s a little more than most coasters usually pack; most of them keep it under 5. On the other hand, as I said, this is only going around a quarter-circle or more, not most of the circle like the first turn on I305. So it might not be that bad.

    Reply

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