CA Great America's Drop Tower

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 2:03 AM

Hey I had an "interesting" experience at CGA today. I went on Drop Tower (an Intamin giant drop ride) and the operator refused to dispatch the ride because I was "making it off balance" Has this ever happened to anyone before? In all my many trips to the ride and park it has NEVER happened before. This time side #6 was down (but you expect that one side is always down). I've been on it with 1 or 2 sides down, and even fully loaded, but this never happened. I Googled it and turned up nothing. Apparently I was throwing off the balance of the ride. I was on the south side of the tower (section 4), the same side as the downed cabin, so if anything they'd remove people from the opposite side as the downed cabin. But what really gets me mad and confused (besides the employee's attitude) was the fact that my friends loyally got off with me and the ride was able to go with our seats empty even though I was the only one holding the ride up, so the south side of the tower (sections 4-6) went with one cabin fully loaded with 4 and one with only 1 person (he wasn't in my group, he just happen to get a seat) while the north end of the tower (sections 1-3) went fully loaded. So why does one person (me) make a difference, but not 3 people? And why does the downed side not throw off the "balance"? Does anyone know anything about Intamin Giant Drop towers that might help? Some of the technical details are that it is 224 ft tall with a "dropping zone" of 207 ft, it opened in March of 1996 with the shorter model in Carowinds. At least one side is always down (all 6 sides open is EXTREMELY rare). I know there's a programing glitch that always leads to one side down, but why would the tower be "un-balanced"?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 9:00 AM

It sounds like the ride operator was just being a douche. I mean, if all your friends got off the ride too, how was the vehicle not unbalanced then like you said in your original post. I have seen where they put people of different sizes on different areas of the ride before and appear to "balance them", but they don't ever refuse to let them RIDE. Are you unusually small or large? Short? Tall? I'm trying to figure this out because I'm just as baffled as you. Ridiculous.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 12:30 PM

Well, I will say that *if* there was a balance issue, there could very well be an underlying mechanical or structural reason why +1 person would unbalance but -3 people wouldn't. Having very little knowledge of mechanics going on, I don't think any of us are qualified to say what would or would not unbalance the ride.

That said, I've never heard of this and I find it incredibly hard to believe that, in the decades of operation of the dozen of 2nd gen tower installations, if there was such an issue it wouldn't be more widely known and/or corrected by now.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 1:12 PM

ApolloAndy said:

That said, I've never heard of this and I find it incredibly hard to believe that, in the decades of operation of the dozen of 2nd gen tower installations, if there was such an issue it wouldn't be more widely known and/or corrected by now.

Then again, this IS Intamin we're talking about.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 1:34 PM

Yeah, but this tower has to be approaching 20 years old at this point. I can't believe this hasn't come up before if it is an actual issue.

(Edit: looked it up - 1996 installation)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 3:06 PM

And Great America is a Cedar Fair park, if I recall. I know they're normally pretty diligent with safety, so I would think they'd probably have taken care of this with the manufacturer. However, maybe this is some sort of redundant safety rule that doesn't necessarily HAVE to be reinforced but they do it anyway to be cautious.

Unless he meant Chicago Great America, in which case is a Six Flags park...I am guessing because of the "Drop Zone" name, he meant the Cali park. I have never been to either, so I have no idea which parks have what flat rides.

But in any case, my point is yes, I agree with you, Andy. I was basically just kidding with my irrelevant Intamin comment.

Last edited by bunky666, Wednesday, June 27, 2012 3:13 PM
Wednesday, June 27, 2012 3:41 PM

Coming from someone who operates rides that require thoughtful balancing almost every day, it sounds like this operator failed to use some critical thinkng if the ride really wasn't balanced. I really don't think he only wanted to pick you personally, because the last thing ride operators like to do while in the sun all day is cause a disturbance. Therefore, unless somehow the ride exceeded its maximum load which is highly unlikely, the best course of action would have been to kindly ask you to swap seats or something so that the ride could operate properly. As for the ride operating after you and your group left, that is slightly confusing. However, I have seen stranger things when loading/balancing a ride, so in this case the ride might have been ok.

What it all comes down to, is the fact that there must have been a better solution than simply, "Get off my ride because it isn't balanced."

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 3:50 PM

"Balanced" is sometimes a euphemism for "you're too fat too ride, but we don't want to say it because then we might get sued."

Not saying that this is the case in this particular situation, but Intamin drop towers come with weight sensors that tell you when a particular car is overweight. We used to tell people that the ride needed to be balanced and move people around to try to get the big person with the smallest ones so the overall car weight would be under the limit.

Saying that we needed to "balance the ride" generally was accepted by guests. Much moreso than telling people that they are so big that the ride cannot safely lift them.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 3:58 PM

LOL - Liberty Launch had a mis-fire with a group of us onboard during HWN. Removing a couple patrons made the weight limit, and we went off on the second launch, no problem.

Monday, July 23, 2012 12:32 AM

Thanks for your ideas everyone. This is an issue I will defiantly take up with the park management. They were supposed to get back to me on the issue but I haven't heard a thing in the weeks since the incident.

Monday, July 23, 2012 2:35 AM

rollergator said:

Removing a couple patrons made the weight limit...

a.k.a. 'dumping ballast'.

Monday, July 23, 2012 5:37 AM

Kylethecameraguy said:

This is an issue I will defiantly take up with the park management.

Well, if you're gonna complain, "defiantly" is DEFINITELY the way to go.

Monday, July 23, 2012 10:20 AM

But if he is defiant when he complains, they might just think he is a jerk. I am definitely always nice when I make a complaint. ;)

Last edited by LostKause, Monday, July 23, 2012 7:22 PM
Monday, July 23, 2012 10:47 AM

I'm defiantly nice myself.

Monday, July 23, 2012 12:25 PM

The weirdest "imbalanced load" issue I've come across was during the Rip Roarin' Rampage at the defunct Visionland. We were riding the uber-spinny Wave Swinger, and the ride came to a jerky stop shortly after the cycle started. Re-adjusting the load fixed the problem...and then we proceeeded to get the MOST powerful Wave Swinger ride ever...


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