Sunday, December 5, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Just read the rumor over on Screamscape.com about Six Flags rebranding the food options in their parks (ie. Papa John's Pizza to a generic pizza place). At first glance, this doesn't make any sense to me. In this report from January 7th, 2010 they claim branding their food significantly increased their revenue:
Six Flags' ability to rapidly identify and effectively capitalize on sponsorship opportunities is a part of the significant growth in gross revenue per capita and gross profit per capita. For example, replacing unbranded pizza in 2006 with Papa John's, a newly-acquired national sponsor, increased gross revenue per capita spending on pizza by 93% and increased gross profit per capita on pizza by 87% by 2008. Similarly, replacing unbranded hamburgers with Johnny Rockets increased gross revenue per capita spending on hamburgers by 42% and increased gross profit per capita on hamburgers by 30% by 2008.
If branding their food resulted in increased gross revenue why would they suddenly un-brand it? Well, I think the key word here is REVENUE. Their revenue increased and they make no mention of what the PROFIT was. So, branding their food options may have increased revenue but profits could be down, we just don't know. Another key missing piece of information is the price of the food. The revenue may have gone up only because the price of a piece of pizza dramatically increased. If the price was higher for Papa John's brand, then you've got your per-cap growth right there. That's just an increase in spending however, it doesn't reflect an increase in profits if the cost of that product was also higher.
From what I've heard, for many of these name brand sites, the deals had Six Flags only getting
a percentage of the cost of the items... and not the full profit. Not sure, but I wonder if they were franchised out entirely with the staff being employees of Papa John's and not Six Flags.
This is much the same way that a lot of ride photo stands started out long ago, and I know Lo-Q works the same way with the flash passes. Lo-Q runs the stands, Lo-Q pays for the install in the park and still owns the devices and system. This is why Six Flags Flash Pass is so expensive, because Lo-Q takes most of the profits from the system as the operator, and just gives Six Flags a percentage off the top.
Same goes with all those crazy locker systems Six Flags put in. Six Flags didn't pay for them, they are leased out by an outside vendor, much like all the soda machines in the parks. That's why you don't see soda machines in Disney... they make more money by having their own stands with employees running them to sell plastic coke bottles all day. I'm guessing Six Flags can't staff enough employees to make this work out for them, so they went the automated machine route.
If it made better financial sense to outsource, even the big parks in Orlando would think about it, but they don't... because you always make more money in the end by owning everything you sell and cut out all the middle-men whenever possible.
Anyway, from what I'm told, all of these deals are under renegotiations and unless the terms are a lot better for Six Flags, they are leaving.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Lock Out Tag Out (LOTO) is a practice or procedure used to safeguard employees from unexpected startup of machinery, rides and attractions, or the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance. OSHA 1910.147 requires that only an authorized or qualified individual is to perform a Lock Out Tag Out operation. These rules require that all energy sources be turned off and either locked out or tagged out while service or maintenance work is being performed.
When performing maintenance on a piece of equipment or a machine, it must be locked out before performing work. The technician needs to de-energize the power source by setting a switch of some sort to the off position. Once the power source is de-energized, the technician will need to put a safety device on the switch, plug, valve, etc. The technician will need to place a pad lock and a tag (signed and dated by technician) on the safety device. Once the maintenance is performed, the technician will need to work in reverse order (removing lockout device and powering the equipment back on) and finishing the maintenance by testing the equipment.
The LOTO procedure should capture all valuable aspects that a maintenance person will need to know to perform the work including:
- Equipment being de-energized
- Location of equipment
- Total Lockout Points
- Description of equipment
- Required Equipment
- Potential Hazards
- Pre-Lockout procedures
- Lockout Hazards
- Lockout Procedure
- Additional Information
- Ride Access Control (RAC) is a term used when an authorized personnel performs certain tasks before powering down an attraction/equipment.
- Announce over the PA system that the ride will be shut down.
- Lock gates.
- Verify no personnel is in proximity of attraction.
- Depress the E-stop.
- Announce over the PA system that the ride will be shut down.
- RAC is also performed after attraction/equipment has been serviced, mentioned as "bringing the ride back to life."
Recently, there was an incident at Disneyland Paris where a worker was killed while working on the "it's a small world" attraction. This is a tragedy that should never happen if LOTO procedures are performed and followed correctly.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
I've modeled a number of roller coasters with different CAD programs. The hardest part of trying to recreate a ride in 3D or even creating an original yet realistic design is coming up with the dimensions. I have often wondered what the rail center to center distance is. I've searched high and low on the internet but it is not something that is easily found. Well, today I finally got some definitive data. The center to center rail distance on the Big Thunder Mountain roller coaster at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World is exactly 30 inches. Each rail has a diameter of 3 inches.
Monday, September 27, 2010
I'm hoping a Disney geek can help me out here, but I thought the Big Thunder Mountain Railway attractions at Disney World and Disneyland were identical, mirror images of each other. However, when I check the stats on rcdb.com the track lengths are different. What gives? What are the differences between the two Thunder Mountain attractions?
Monday, September 20, 2010
The Dare Devil Dive coaster was recently accounted as Six Flags Over Georgia addition for the 2011 season. The ride is a Gerstlauer Euro-fighter model featuring a 95 degree drop. The latest version of the Euro-fighters have featured cars which seat six riders (two in three rows). There are no trains; just single cars. The obvious reaction of the majority of the coaster enthusiast community was the ride will have horrible capacity resulting in huge lines and was a poor choice for Six Flags Over Georgia. This, of course, is the usual enthusiast bitching without anyone taking the time to look at the actual numbers. I guess I have to do everything.
Six Flags never provided the capacity but based on other similar models I think it is safe to assume a theoretical hourly ride capacity at 1000 people per hour. At a Disney park that would be awful. But this isn't a Disney park. Let's compare that to the other attractions at Six Flags. The total hourly capacity for all of the park's rides is 30,800. There are a total of 38 rides at the park. 30800/38=810. The average capacity per ride is 810 people per hour. Therefore, Dare Devil Dive will actually have a higher hourly capacity than most rides at the park. So enthusiasts, have no fear, the lines shouldn't be that long and you can get your new coaster credit. Then get back in line again.
(In case you were wondering, after the addition of Dare Devil Dive, the average capacity increases to 815 people per hour. All of these capacity numbers can be found on the internet or go to the park yourself and figure it out.)
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Mission: SPACE comprises four separate centrifuges, each with 10 capsules holding four riders, bringing the hourly capacity to 1,600 riders.. The attraction exposes riders to forces up to 2.5G, more than twice the force of gravity at the Earth's surface (effectively multiplying a rider's weight by 2.5). A few months after the ride's opening, motion sickness bags were added within easy reach of riders, and for good reason! But what does the ride actually look like? A multiple arm centrifuge is not the easiest contraption to visualize! I have created a quick CAD mock up of Mission: Space, minus the capsules that you actually sit in.
Starting in May of 2006, Disney began offering a less intense (or sickening) version of the ride where the centrifuge does not spin. This tamer experience is ironically known as the Green Team. The cabs themselves still pitch (+45, -55°) and pivot (±25° roll), providing some motion. The normal ride is still available and is called Orange Team. Here is another image of a similar style attraction built by ECT.
If you enjoy reading articles about how complicated theme park rides, like Mission: Space, work then consider checking out this book that goes into great detail about the most technologically advanced ride on the planet, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
There are several factors which affect the speed of a wooden roller coaster. Why is speed important? If the train is going too slow it may not make it around the track. Too fast, and the forces on the riders may be too great. The biggest factors which effect wooden coaster train speed:
- Temperature – The lower the temperature the slower the train.
- Wind – The direction and speed of the wind affects the speed of the train.
- Load – A loaded train (with weights or people) will go faster.
- Wheel Bearing Clearance – Correct assembly of the wheels reduces internal friction and heat.
- Wheel Bearing Lubrication – The amount and type of grease affects the speed of the train.
- Track Lubrication – If the tack is lubricated, the train will travel faster. Track lubrication also prevents excessive wear to the rails and the wheels.
Some of these factors cannot be controller, such as temperature and wind (unless built entirely indoors). Parks have complete control over the number of guests they allow on the train as well as when to use lubrication. Rain is also a natural lubrication. Most rides have set maximum and minimum values of the duration of the ride. There are also different types of greases to use depending on the time of year.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
You can get a good idea of the layout by checking out the Adventure Island section of the park map.
Good views on Bing maps too.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
It appears if you are a tall individual and sitting in row 4 the headrests from row 3 (last row of the first car)might be able to hit you in the knees. Apparently they've put a height restriction on row 3, 4, and 6. Has anyone been to the park recently and confirm this?
Monday, July 12, 2010
There are two methods of simulation within the DMU (digital mock up) Kinematics workbench.
Method 1: Hand Animation. I like to call this first method hand animation because I believe that to be what it is like, animating a CG character for a movie. You set the positions of your commands where you want them to be an when you want them to be there. Sometimes can be a challenge to get smooth transitions.
Method 2. Laws. The other method of simulation in Catia kinematics is to create a trace law. You do this by essentially drawing or sketching a graph with the x axis being time and the y or vertical axis being distance from the starting point. This method is much quicker but sometimes can be more time consuming if you're using trial and error to figure out your desired movements.
Now, in regards to the Cantilevered Roller Coaster system, method 1 allows you to set the distances from the starting point of the upper and lower chasis independent of each other.This enables you to be able to animate exactly how you want to but this may not necessarily be how the system will react and real life.
Method 2 , there are two different options. You can use the same graph for each chasis or you can create two separate (but similar) graphs. Creating two graphs with this system is tricky because they can only vary by so much at certain sections of track. It's doable but make take a lot of iteration. Using one graph is simple but again I am not sure the real world scenario would act this way.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
I am sending in my application today to join the ASTM Committee F24 on Amusement Rides and Devices. ASTM International (which stands for American Society for Testing and Materials) is one of the largest voluntary standards development organizations in the world- a trusted source for technical standards for materials, products, systems, and services. The F24 Committee was formed in 1978. F24 meets twice a year, usually in February and October, with approximately 100 members from around the world attending two or three days of technical meetings. The Committee, with current membership of approximately 500 members, currently has jurisdiction of 17 standards, published in the Annual Book of ASTM Standards, Volume 15.07. These standards have and continue to play a preeminent role in all aspects important to amusement rides and devices.
Membership fee is $70 per year. You get a free volume of one of their standards so I figure at the very least I am just buying another textbook, as well as putting it on my resume. At the most, I hope to meet many individuals involved in the amusement industry and maybe even help set some of the standards!
Monday, June 14, 2010
Saying hi to Will in the park was like an attraction all on its own. He was the Walt Disney of our time. Holiday World has the best public relations and customer service of any park I've ever been to, and that comes straight from the top.
I saw Will's mom, Pat, outside the front entrance on Saturday and Sunday morning and to hear that she was in the exact same place on Monday morning after all this, wow, just wow. There are a few videos of her online and they are different to watch. Very emotional.
I will greatly miss Will's passionate video explanations of how his rides worked. A fellow coaster enthusiast and engineer, he touched many lives. Today, I find myself asking, how can I be more like Will? How can I help as many people as he has? How can I make as many people smile as he did?
"If you hear thunder today don't worry, it's just heaven's new wooden roller coaster."
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Weather is what you would expect and is the only "uncontrollable." Operational down-time is anything related to operator errors, guest issues, bio clean up, etc and gets charged against the operations department. Finally, mechanical down-time is just that, anything resulting from a mechanical, electrical, or technical perspective causing a ride to go down and is charged against the maintenance department. Using this information, the park can keep track of trends and issues pertaining to a certain ride/attraction and use it as a pro-active tool to keep the ride up and operating (preventive maintenance). Sometimes it's as simple as retraining employees if a ride has a lot of operationals or it could mean closer examination of systems needs to be monitored by the maintenance department.
The Tower of Terror located at Disney's Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM) is probably my all time favorite Disney attraction. Here are some fun facts about the attraction from a mechanical engineering perspective that you may not have read before.
The library show doors are hydraulically controlled from their own hydraulic supply which is
electrically controlled from the control panel in the library area. The exit doors from the library are pneumatic and are electrically controlled by actuators. There are two sets of sliding wall doors.
Located throughout the boiler room queue are steam leak effects. The system utilizes air water atomization nozzles to simulate leaking steam to create a creepy atmosphere.
The two elevator machinery props are located at the load level between load queue A and B
and load queue C and D. They simulate a failing elevator drive motor.
The ride consists of six elevator lifts: four in the back and two main drop towers in the front. Cars from two of the back lifts feed into one of each of the front lifts via a hallway. The back four lifts are named A, B, C, D and the front two lifts are called E and F respectively. If one of the two main lifts is broken the ride's capacity is essentially cut in half (one of the reasons all the other versions of the Tower of Terror throughout the world have three lifts- if one goes down capacity is only cut by a third instead of half).
The ride vehicles are automated, wire guided and powered from battery banks. They crawl from one of the back lifts down a hallway to the other set of lifts. This is called the "fifth dimension." There are five charger stations to convert induced AC power to DC power in order to maintain a steady power supply for the ride vehicles.
The two sliding screen effects are located on the fifth dimension level and are controlled
The star field doors are located on the fifth floor. They consist of two doors on E-Lift and two doors on F-Lift where the guests look out on the fifth dimension.
The pneumatically controlled Sparker special effects are used on the Hollywood Tower sign on the outside of the tower building, which looks really cool at night.
The projection equipment includes video, fiber optics and film projectors.
The Horton doors are located in electric equipment room, to the right of the service elevator on the
second floor. They consist of three doors on E-side and three doors on F-side where the guests look out on the park.
The two eyeball effects are located on the fifth dimension level and are controlled pneumatically.
Props and special effects are used throughout the attraction. Most run on 110 V supply and are
powered by local outlets. Other effects include: Ghost figures, E=MC2, Clock, and breeze fans which create a ghostly effect located in the corridor scenes, show area, and elevators.
I've included a really great diagram of the layout of the Tower of Terror attraction. This is a great illustration of how the cars negotiate from the back to the front set of elevators and back again. Do you have a specific attraction in mind to learn more about? Comment below to request it. Stay tuned for more!
What Would Walt Do?
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Thursday, May 27, 2010
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
How does Top Thrill Dragster work? Basically, it's a giant fishing pole that pulls the train in super fast. Cedar Point contacted Intamin to manufacture the ride who chose to go with a hydraulic launch based on their speed, acceleration, and power requirements. There are 32 hydraulic motors, 16 on each side connected to an internal ring gear. The power from all of the motors is transferred to the giant cable drum by a planetary gear box. The cable connects to a sled that rides in a track within the coaster's launch track. It attached to the underside of the train and pulls it toward the 420 foot hill at 120 mph.
There are two sensors on top of the 420 foot hill. The distance between the two sensors is known so they can take that value and divide it by the time it takes the train to get from one to the other. This gives the computer the train's speed going over the top of the hill. The computer takes the average speed of the three previous trains in order to determine the power to give to the hydraulic motor. This presents a problem if the first three trains are filled with swimsuit models and the fourth train is carrying football players. The power is not going to be enough to get it over the hill. One thing I am not sure about is how they handle empty trains, or going from three empties to one full. I think maybe they can compare that average to historical data?
Why does Top Thrill Dragster break down so much? You have to remember that it's a very complicated piece of machinery. The ride is covered in sensors. Every single brake fin has two sensors to detect alignment. The cars have copper fins attached to the underside of their chassis and must line up exactly with the fins mounted to the tracks, if they were to be off there could be a huge accident, hence all of the alignment sensors. There are two huge brake runs, the fixed one after the hill and the pneumatically controlled brakes on the launch track. They come in rows of two. That's a lot of brake fins! If just one of those sensors fails or is faulty, the entire ride is shut down.
How to design a roller coaster.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Want to dig a little deeper? First, let us define "roll". That's a rotation around the track centerline along the train's longitudinal axis; that is, an axis running from the front to back of the train. The back seat in each car is raised about an inch, and the running board is cut away (and covered with a board). That gives the back axle, which is mounted on a longitudinal pivot, more room to swing.
A two-bench PTC car (as currently running on Raven and Legend) has a four-foot wheelbase and about 3'2" from back wheel to front wheel between cars. Between cars there is plenty of flexibility because the drawheads have practically unlimited roll on a short effective wheelbase. So the roll rate is limited by the longer distance, the wheelbase of the car. On a standard car, as on the Raven or on The Legend, the rear axle can swing about three degrees in either direction. That means the maximum allowable roll rate (without lifting any wheels) is three degrees per four running feet, or more usefully, about 16" of running length per degree. That means that in order to get up to a 90-degree bank from flat track, the train needs a minimum of 120 feet of track.
The track gauge for a wood coaster is roughly 43". The rated 3-degree swing means there is normally about 1.13 inches of clearance at the running board for the wheel. Add another inch at the running board and in fact it is probably more than that because the wheel is about 4" outboard of the seat...and the available space increases from 3.0 degrees to 5.6 degrees. That increases the allowable roll rate to 5.6 degrees per four running feet, or a mere 8.6" of running length per degree of roll. That reduces the length required for a 90 degree bank to just over 64 feet. If the Gravity Guys built the Voyage assuming that the train could roll 1.4 degrees per foot instead of 0.75 degrees per foot, they could have very easily built places on the ride where the car chassis would actually hit the track. Not good news.
The modification on the Voyage train increases its performance, therefore, the train would have no problem running on the other coasters. But because the other trains don't have that mod, they might have problems running on the Voyage. I believe Gwazi was the first coaster with PTC trains to get this modification, but though it's been standard on all of the rides the Gravity Group has built. I am certain that both Voyage and Ravine Flyer II have this mod, but I don't know if CCI ever used it.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
The ride was manufactured by Vekoma.
The mountain is 199 feet taller. If it were any taller a red beacon light would've had to been placed on top ruining the effect and theme.
The ride has 13 trains, 7 of which can be used at one time. Each train is only supposed to run continuously for a maximum of 5 hours. This is something I've often wondered about because most regional amusement park's coasters have only two trains and they run ten or more hours a day. Is this a Vekoma or Disney imposed rule?
The interesting thing about this ride for me as an engineer is the fact that it is actually three separate structures that never touch each other: the coaster, the mountain and the yeti. The coaster is a dynamic structure that vibrates and can yield a little bit without getting damaged. The coaster supports are colored black. There's that old saying for coasters "if it doesn't shake it's going to break." The mountain is a static structure. The fake rock work is constructed from plaster which would crack under vibrations. The mountain supports are red in color. The yeti structure is also dynamic.
The anti-roll back device uses magnetic fields so that it doesn't make the typical click-click-click sound while going up the lift hill.
This is another ride where I could draw you the entire layout of Expedition Everest even though I've never been on it (or even near it). The last time I was at Disney's Animal Kingdom was 2003. Everest opened in 2006.
Hello and welcome to Amusement Authority. I am a premier expert in roller coaster and amusement park knowledge. Some people are baseball fans, civil war buffs, or really into cars and can tell you any model just by looking at it. I am into roller coasters and have an uncanny ability to memorize everything about them. I can draw you the layout of every major coaster in the U.S. If you show me a picture of a small portion of the ride or maybe even just the train I can identify it. Most of this knowledge is completely useless but that is what this blog is for. A place for me to share this knowledge with you and like minded individuals. Also, if you are in the amusement industry and looking for consultation then you've come to the right place!