Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What is the rail to rail dimension on a roller coaster?

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

What makes Disney’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad unique?

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 the track lengths are different. What gives? What are the differences between the two Thunder Mountain attractions?

Monday, September 20, 2010

What is the capacity of Dare Devil Dive coaster and Six Flags Over Georgia?

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

What are the mechanics of Mission: Space at EPCOT?

Mission: Space is one of the central attractions of EPCOT at the Walt Disney World resort in Orlando, Florida. The intent of the ride is to give guests the sensation that they are going on an actual mission into outer space. Many guests are unaware of what the ride actually does or how it works. The attraction is essentially a multiple arm centrifuge. The illusion of acceleration is achieved by spinning and tilting capsules that you sit in during the four-minute mission to space. Fans blow air gently at riders to help avoid motion sickness and a display in front of each rider simulates the stars of space.

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.

 There are a total of four of these centrifuges.
 Ten arms on each one.

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.