Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Need help with new coaster book title

I need deciding on the title for my new book about roller coaster history. Please take this short, one question survey to help me out:



Thursday, April 23, 2015

Disney's Polynesian Village Resort Map 2015

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to stay at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort. Below are a few pictures and a resort map. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Most Unique Roller Coasters Ever Built

unique roller coastersTired of the same old, rickety wooden roller coasters? Crave more thrills than the typical vertical loops and camelback hills found at every local amusement park? Fortunately, roller coasters come in a mind-blowing profusion of styles, shapes, and sizes. From innovative track designs to unusual seating configurations, from ridiculous locations to bizarre theming, the experience never gets old.

In The 50 Most Unique Roller Coasters Ever Built you’ll explore a roller coaster… 

  • powered by people. 
  • inspired a popular computer game. 
  • uses a Ferris wheel as a lift. 
  • requires an on-board brakeman. 
  • where the louder you scream the faster you go. 
  • built on top of a skyscraper. 
  • known as the “dog fart” coaster (yes, you read that right!). 

The 50 Most Unique Roller Coasters Ever Built is a list comprised of unusual, rare, and hard to find scream machines. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Wonder Mountain’s Guardian Review

Knott’s Berry Farm recently announced the addition of a new dark ride, Voyage to the Iron Reef, and I couldn’t be more excited because last month I got to experience its predecessor, Wonder Mountain’s Guardian at Canada's Wonderland. I got to ride Guardian twice, once with the standard version and once with the zombie overlay - pretty cool how they can instantly change the media. The roller coaster portion is pretty weak, the vehicles don’t track well at all, lots of side to side vibration, but that's not the reason for riding, the game is. The shooting part is much better than your average Sally shooter. It’s like a video game in that if you kill all the bad guys in a scene it automatically generates more of them for you to shoot at. You load the vehicles sitting forwards or backwards. The frontwards side is way better because once you enter the dark portion the seats rotate to face either side of the track but on one side the screens are continuous (though there’s no shooting during the curved screens). The cars are propelled by drive tires down the straighaways and gravity in the curves.

Overall, I am really impressed by Guardian but I hope they improve upon it in future iterations. In one of the articles about Knott’s ride they said “The ride vehicles will rotate, change speed and even briefly pause as they move between video screens separated by three-dimensional themed sets.” The 3 dimensional sets part has me intrigued because Guardian has none, it's all screens. Two other improvements:
the clarity of the images and the ride length (though I think the limiting factor on the ride time is battery capacity for the guns).

Anyone else rode Guardian? What did you think?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

20 Terrifying Roller Coasters

The world’s coaster count is rapidly approaching three- thousand operating rides. Coaster enthusiasts strap themselves into these scream machines simply because they love being scared in a safe environment. What factors make a ride terrifying? Height, speed, inversions, backwards segments, unique track elements, darkness, and unexpected surprises all contribute to making your head spin and your knees tremble.

See 20 Terrifying Roller Coasters in my new presentations shared on Slideshare:

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Roller Coaster Video Game Comparison

It's a great time to be a fan of roller coaster video games. The RollerCoaster Tycoon series has been brought back to life with RCT4M and the upcoming RollerCoaster Tycoon World. But that's not all. ScreamRide is an upcoming new destruction type game for Xbox. Parkitect looks to be closely related to RCT1 and RCT2 with updated graphics. WaterPark Tycoon is now available. Oh yeah, and there's the awesome looking Theme Park Studio and NoLimits 2. How to keep all these games straight? And what is the best one for you?

Check out the Roller Coaster Game Guide, a page designed to show you the pros, cons, features, and costs of each game so you can decided which one fits your personality the best.

To learn more and see trailers and game play for each theme park simulator, go here:


Which coaster game are you most looking forward to?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Escape from Gringotts Layout and Ride Details

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts ride opened at Universal Studios Florida to massive praise, frequent breakdowns, and seven hour plus wait times. Not a lot of details have been released by Universal about this amazing attraction so I thought I would try to shed some light on a few things. So, ya know, spoiler alert.

Escape from Gringotts Ride Details

escape from gringotts cars

For Escape from Gringotts, Universal took their Men in Black/Cat in the Hat ride vehicle (RV) and stuck it on an Intamin manufactured roller coaster track. This means the vehicles are connected to a power source most of the way because the cars can spin 360 degrees (a controlled spin). It seems there is only one section of track towards the beginning of the ride where gravity is in control. The rest of the ride the RVs are pushed along by rubber kicker tires. Here's a clear picture taken during an evacuation of the coaster track with the pusher tires. Also notice how high up the people sit in comparison to the rails - tall enough to fit the hardware the spins the seats around.

There is a unique track element that takes you into the first drop: a teeter-totter like track that tilts down at a forty degree angle before releasing the trains into a dark tunnel. It works the same way as the Gravity Max tilt coaster only not as steep.

Escape from Gringotts uses a combination of physical sets plus projection screens. Edge blending and brighter projectors allows almost 360 degree screens where individual scenes can last as long as 40 seconds instead of just ten. 

Here's a CAD concept rendering followed by the real thing (notice the tires):

Pictured below is the Escape from Gringotts layout diagram:

escape from gringotts layout

You may want to watch this on mute but it's the best video I've seen that shows the motion of the RVs.

Escape from Gringotts FAQ

I'm seeing a lot of the same questions asked over and over on YouTube and other articles so here are the answers to those frequently asked questions:

Q: Does Escape from Gringotts go upside down?
A: No

Q: Is there a singles rider line?
A: Yes

Q: Is there an Express Pass line?
A: Not at this time (maybe in the future)

Q: How many drops are there? How big are the drops?
A: There is really only one major drop on the ride where gravity is in full control and it's only about 3 stories in height. Basically, the height you climb the stairs to get to the loading platform is the height of the biggest drop.

Q: Is Escape from Gringotts in 2D or 3D?
A: Riders wear 3D glasses.

Q: Are there any audio-anamtronics (AAs) during the ride?
A: During the ride, no, there are no AAs but there are several throughout the detailed queue.

Q: Is Harry Potter seen in the attraction?
A: Yes, but he is a CGI character.

Q: What is the height requirement?
A: 42 inches

Q: How many trains are there?
A: There are 9 trains (two cars per train, 12 passengers per car).

Q: How fast does Escape from Gringotts go?
A: Universal has not released any official ride details. My guess is between 20-30mph max. The forward motion combined with the spinning motion in tight quarters makes the ride feel faster than it actually is.

Final Thoughts

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is a new type of high-tech thrill ride combining roller coaster type elements with simulator and dark rides. If you have any questions to had to the FAQ please comment below!

Want to know the story behind the "other" Harry Potter ride? Check out Secrets of the Forbidden Journey to learn how robotic arms on track make you feel like you're flying with Harry Potter!