Tuesday, July 24, 2012

RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Release Date Website

A new website has popped up called RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 release date. While there isn’t really a whole lot of new information, they do list out a timeline of known events and information about the upcoming roller coaster simulation game. They also promise to be the first website to post any updates on the RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 release date as soon as it becomes available, although I don’t expect to hear anything until after RCT3D hits the market.

What is RCT3D you ask? It’s the next installment of the Roller Coaster Tycoon series. However, this latest game is only available on the Nintendo 3DS handheld system. After being delayed several times, RollerCoaster Tycoon 3D is still set for a release date of August 28th (which you can pre-order here).

I also encourage you to sign up for the RCT newsletter to be the first to know about a new giveaway contest I will be hosting coming up soon with some prizes geared toward theme park nerds.

If you haven’t noticed, I added a link above to a new page on this blog called Ride Layouts. Here I plan on including links to all my posts where I’ve displayed ride layouts, blueprints, and diagrams, especially those classic Disney attractions.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Writing a Roller Coaster Book

A reader recently emailed me asking about how I went about researching and writing my book, Coasters 101:An Engineering Guide to Roller Coaster Design. I decided to share my response with the rest of you here.  

I was indirectly working in the industry during some of the initial writing process. I worked for an engineering services company that did a few small jobs for some amusement industry clients. In my spare time I also did some computer modeling work for one of my friends in the industry. I’m also a member of the ASTM F24 committee on amusement ride safety which sets safety standards and regulations for the industry.

The genesis of my book actually sounds pretty similar to the plan other bloggers have followed. I have been writing articles for 
this blog for a couple years. I started by revising those articles and then put them into a logical order.

Many ride design firms are small so you it's not a problem setting up a phone or email interview. I’ve visited and interviewed a few ride manufacturers myself (which you can find on on this site). In my experience, the easiest and most open design firm to interview is the Gravity Group, based in Cincinnati, Ohio (they primarily design wooden roller coasters). I haven’t had much luck with European manufacturers. I did do an interview with a representative from Stengel Engineering but from the time I initially contacted them to final publication of the article it was well over six months!

I’m a big fan of the amusement industry so writing a book on it was a very enjoyable experience for me and totally worth the time involved. Please feel free to comment below and ask more specific questions. I'd love to help any others interested in publishing their own book or starting their own website!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Disney Memories: Magic Kingdom Skyway

Today, we look back on another classic attraction of Disney World's Magic Kingdom which is no longer with us. The Skyway was removed from the Magic Kingdom in 1999 after a maintenance worker was killed from falling off a gondola while working on the ride. One unique aspect of this particular ride was the fact that it wasn’t laid out in a straight line like the majority of other similar sky ride type transportation rides. Magic Kingdom’s Skyway had more of a L-shape with a bend in the middle.
Overview and Layout
The Disney Skyway was an aerial tramway providing a scenic overview of the park and stretched from Tomorrowland to Fantasyland in the center of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. Guests boarded at either end for a one-way trip to the opposite station, traveling in gondolas (cabins) suspended from a moving cable. Each cabin could accommodate up to four adult guests. For guests boarding at the Tension Station in Tomorrowland, the cabins traveled along the moving cable across the Grand Prix Raceway, came down at the Transfer Station and made a 116 degree left-hand turn, then climbed and crossed Fantasyland ending their journey at the Drive Station. The Skyway ride system consisted of 50 cabins, which traveled on 3600 feet of steel wire rope.
How it worked
Like all Disney theme park attractions, the ride was closely monitored and controlled by a Ride Control System (RCS). Emergency Stops were provided at each station, and the RCS could also stop the ride based on certain fault conditions. The Skyway actually was designed with an auxiliary backup diesel motor. This was only used to cycle out the ride if the main drive motor became inoperable. The motor powered a hydraulic pump which provided hydraulic pressure to one of two motors: one located at the gear box to be used if the main drive motor was inoperative, and a second one located upstairs at the bullwheel to be used if the gearbox was inoperative. The second motor turned a ring gear mounted on the bullwheel to drive the wheel directly when the gear box was disconnected from the torque tube connecting it to the bull wheel. The main motor drive shaft had a double action brake actuated by weights which clamped the shaft after the motor had stopped to dampen out reactive force from the stop and hold the shaft stationary. When the motor was started, a relay energized a coil which lifted the brake thus releasing it. Electrical power was supplied into the Skyway attraction from Reedy Creek Energy Services and the transformers were located inside the west end of the It's a Small World ride building.
End of an Era
The station in Tomorrowland was destroyed in 2009. Even after the ride closed the Skyway station in Fantasyland stood for many years, but has recently been dismantled as part of the New Fantasyland expansion project (which saw the closure of Snow White's Scary Adventures).