CoasterBuzz Podcast #160 posted

Posted Monday, October 12, 2009 11:49 PM | Contributed by Jeff

Jeff, Pat, Carrie and Mike review this week's news in the amusement industry.

  • Once again we welcome Carrie to the show.
  • Blackstone buys Busch Entertainment. Hooray! Right? Anybody?
  • Disneyland's president bails in the middle of a massive re-do at California Adventure. Isn't that odd?
  • Morons get busted at in the Great Adventure parking lot selling fake hand stamps. This happens annually. Gonch found a better deal on the Internet than the scam stamp.
  • Libertyland carousel is going into storage, and the preservationists aren't happy about it. Want a carousel horse in your front window? Jeff likes the band organs. A discussion about brass rings ensues.
  • Jeff is moving to the death valley of roller coasters, the Pacific Northwest.
  • Phantom of the Coney Island, coming to a theatre near you! There's an arena Star Wars orchestra concert tour, Mike says.
  • Walt Disney World wins in the let the disabled folks use Segways lawsuit. And by the way, if you've never been on one, do give it a shot. Epcot has a cheap bastard way for you to try it out.
  • Six Flags gets its out for the New Orleans park. So what's next for the place?
  • Carrie does the Phoenix Phall Phunfest, and likes the fiery bird. Just look out for the covered bridge people.
  • Mike's kid is like a horror film.
  • CoasterBuzz Club is $25 per year. You can join or renew today. Enjoy CoasterBuzz with no ads.

Link: CoasterBuzz Podcast

Tuesday, October 13, 2009 6:11 PM
Soggy's avatar

Timberhawk is actually pretty good. Well, it's no airtime monster, nor is it comparable to CCI/GG coasters anything, but it's definately the standout coaster in Washington state. It's also in a nice, somewhat "woodsy" setting. Worth a credit, not worth crowing about, and better than nothing.

Having lived in Denver (another virtual dead zone for coasters) for about 3 years, I feel for you, Jeff.

Pass da' sizzrup, bro!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009 8:53 PM

Timberhawk is mild, but not horrid.

I don't really think the Northwest is a coaster wasteland, though. From Seattle, you've got Vancouver's Playland (with its incredible Coaster -- easily in my Top 10 Woodies) 3 hours to the north, the Puyallup Fair in the spring and fall, and Silverwood (with Tremors, which was by far my favorite wood coaster until Voyage opened) about 6 hours to the East.

Maybe not as convenient or as much variety as people in Ohio and PA are used to, but the quality is definitely there.

"You seem healthy. So much for voodoo."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009 9:52 PM
Jeff's avatar

It'll be interesting to see where we first see a roller coaster next year. When we go to visit grandparents at some point back east, we'll be between Dollywood and Carowinds. I have no idea when that might be, since it'll depend a lot on the baby and mommy's health.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

Wednesday, October 14, 2009 7:11 PM

Congrats Jeff. Seattle (At least I think that is were I saw you going on last weeks thread) was one of those cities that I was very impressed with a few years back on a business trip. Try to get to Mount Rainer and the temperate rain forest on the coast. These areas are beautiful.

I may be in a similiar situation as you though with parks. My comapny has a possible good oppurtunity for me in Phoenix that I may take if the package is god enough. sadly no (quality) parks around there either, however I love the heat and they just got a new Wet N Wild.

Enjoy the nature of the Pacific North West and get your passport to go to Vancouver every once an awhile. Enjoy....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009 7:41 PM
HeyIsntThatRob?'s avatar

On the subject of PPP, I knew that Phoenix carried a 42" height requirement, but is Knoebels' website correct on listing Twister with a 42" height requirement as well? How in the world is that possible? I can't imagine my son being able to ride both of those next year but it looks like a reality!

~Rob Willi

Thursday, October 15, 2009 2:46 PM

If memory serves me right, that is indeed correct. Several years ago, I took my daughter on both of those -- when she was four. (She loved them both, natch.)

My author website:

Friday, October 16, 2009 1:51 PM
ridemcoaster's avatar

You do know the Cav's will take the Championship this season since you are leaving the area right Jeff? :)

Friday, October 16, 2009 2:13 PM

HeyIsntThatRob? said:
On the subject of PPP, I knew that Phoenix carried a 42" height requirement, but is Knoebels' website correct on listing Twister with a 42" height requirement as well? How in the world is that possible? I can't imagine my son being able to ride both of those next year but it looks like a reality!

~Rob Willi

That is definitely the case. Both my daughter and my son had Phoenix and Twister as their second and third "big" coasters after Kennywood's Jack Rabbit. It is quite a site to watch a kid that little literally flying out of the seat on Phoenix, and laughing all the way.


You have disturbed the forbidden temple, now-you-will-pay!!!

Friday, October 16, 2009 2:21 PM

As someone who help restore several antique carousels, and who maintained and operated a 1890 Looff/Mangels machine for twenty-five years, I think I can shed some light on some of the questions asked.

As far as costs, the foremost maintenance expense is the upkeep of the figures. To do it right requires a woodworker with good cabinet making skills to repair the broken legs, ears, tails and the deep scratches and gouges that occur with heavy usage. Most carousel figures are made of basswood (other woods were used, poplar was a favored choice of Charles Looff for a while). It is easily to carve and relatively strong. Once the wood repairs are made then the services of a painter are needed. Traditionally someone that has sign painting skills who can pinstripe. A lot of parks have such people on staff already, so these expenses are worked into the maintenance budget of the ride.

In my case we were a stand alone operation and had to contract out these services. It's been five years now, but as I recall a simple touch up on a jumping horse would run between two and three hundred dollars. When major wood repairs were needed (usually broken legs) it would go up to somewhere around six hunderd dollars (or more depending upon the amount of work needed).

Mechanically, the old machines were way over built for their time. The newest of them, however, is now seventy-five years old and the gears , bearings and crankshafts have come to the end of their serviciable life. I had to have new cap and hub bearings, new pinion and sister gears, bull and crank gears and crank shafts made and installed in 2003. That was a two hundred and fifty thousand dollar bill. But, it will last another century.

Band organs are something that became a victom of the bean counters thirty to forty years ago. A properly restored band organ can go several seasons with only a minor tweeking each spring before major work needs to be done again. There are mumber of people who do this work. I worked part time for an organ builder who rebuild church and theater pipe organs. along with band organs. Usually band organ work is either billed by time and materials, or by the key (band organs have x number keys that are assigned to actuating the pipes, drums, bells or registar controls). A Wurlitzer Style 153, which is considered the quintensential American carousel organ has 54 keys. The last time I checked, there were several restorers that charged by the key were billing at $200/key. That's $10,800 for a complete overhaul, not counting the facade. Like I said that is good for a number of seasons , if properly handled. The bean counters say go by a PA system and CD player for $2000. It's not that there are not service people than can do the work, it's that it has gotten into management's head that the patrons either don't know the difference or don't care.

There was a time when Cedar Point had four working , well maintained band organs, up untill George Roose retired. That was about the time that the first shake up in management there happened, and the organ maintenance money dissapeared from the rides budget.

Friday, October 16, 2009 3:40 PM
Jeff's avatar

Thanks for the insight. That's pretty interesting stuff. The bigger mechanical issues I suspected wouldn't be a big deal to larger shops that may already have to custom make parts from time to time. The band organs by far are the thing I hate to see in decline the most. Even though they don't get the love and respect of the ride itself, I still think they're an essential component.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

Friday, October 16, 2009 9:08 PM

Indeed, there are four firms that specialize in carousel restoration and servicing. Three of them are in Ohio, the fouth one in CA. The latter one, Brass Ring Entertainment, has a subsidiary that makes all the mechanical components (Amusement Gear & Bearing). They have done enough machines that they have the specs on file to replace the metalwork on all the major builders from the golden age.

The thing with band organs is that you need a person on staff who is knowledgeble on how the instrument works and can do routine maintanence . That alone can stretch the time between rebuilds, and they have to care about their charge. I've seen a lot of organs that been have turned over to the sound dept's in various parks, and the techs don't want to be bothered with them. They let them die and put in the CD players, amps and speakers that they used to dealing with.The tell management that it's too far gone and to forget about repaiting them.

Monday, October 19, 2009 3:20 AM

Man, lots of stuff to comment on...

1) Pacific Northwest
I took a summer trip up there in 1999. Unfortunately, two of the parks I visited back then have since closed (Thrill-Ville USA and Fun Forest). My trip reports are on file but that was ten years ago. Some highlights, though--

ENCHANTED FOREST (Turner (Salem), OR): Very cool park, the coaster and flume are weird and wonderful, and I am still kicking myself for not riding the dark ride when I was there more recently. The dark ride is cool enough that Disney was interested in it.

THRILL-VILLE USA (Turner (Salem), OR): Now closed. Notable for the Ripper, the Schwarzkopf Jet Star that once operated at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

OAKS PARK (Portland, OR): Has a Pinfari ZL-42 "Looping Star" like the one that Beech Bend is supposedly getting rid of, also a Miler kiddie coaster. More notable at Oaks, besides the amazing roller skating rink, are perhaps the best bumper cars in North America. Yes, better than Knoebels, though not as good looking. (note: that was 10 years ago...)

FUN FOREST (Seattle, WA): I understand this place closed, but it was squeezed in between the Space Needle and the Experience Music Project. Notable here was the {insert manufacturer name here} Windstorm coaster. I think that particular Windstorm was credited to Zamperla.

WESTERN WASHINGTON FAIR (Puyallup, WA): Home of one of Walker LeRoy's Coasters, the one that is very difficult to ride because it only runs during the Spring Fair and during the Western Washington Fair. Looks like a cool ride, and it has a genuine Prior & Church train running on it.

ENCHANTED VILLAGE/WILD WAVES (Federal Way, WA): When I went there they had only the Corkscrew. Now they have the S&S wood coaster.

JANTZEN BEACH SUPER CENTER (Portland, OR): Just an antique carousel in a shopping mall. Jantzen Beach was a major amusement park but that was long ago...

PLAYLAND/PNE SITE (Vancouver, BC): Home of a beautiful "Coaster" designed by Carl Phare and built by Walker LeRoy. More important, it runs trains built by Walker LeRoy which are duplicates of the original Prior & Church trains from Puyallup. I was sure to visit this park in '99 because they were scheduled to be evicted from the grounds by the end of that season. Ten years later, they're still there...

RIVERSIDE PARK (Spokane, WA): This city park is where you find that carousel that Gonch mentioned on the podcast with a ring machine. When I rode, it was using plastic rings instead of the metal ones used at Knoebels, Santa Cruz, and the city park in Logansport, IN.

SILVERWOOD (Athol (Coeur D'Alene), ID): Timber Terror and Tremors. Coaster Alley. Need I say more? They also have (or at least "had") the original Corkscrew from Knott's Berry Farm, and they bought De[lay]ja Vu from Six Flags Great America. It's actually a pretty neat park, although I think they closed the airstrip when they built the waterpark.

2) Columbus Zoo carousel
The carousel at the Columbus Zoo originally ran at Olentangy Park, and was moved to the Zoo Amusement Park after Olentangy Park closed ca. 1948. By virtue of being at Gooding's Zoo Park, the ride became part of Wyandot Lake when that park opened in '84, then the Columbus Zoo repossessed it from Six Flags a few years ago and restored it. So it now operates at the Columbus Zoo, some distance from the rest of the rides, but still on the same property. Its previous home is still standing on the disused midway behind Jungle Jack's Landing.

3) Pennsylvania ride standards
I'm not sure that Pennsylvania's ride standards are any looser than anyone else's, it's just that the companies that operate in Pennsylvania are less paranoid. For the most part, for new rides they want compliance with current ASTM standards, and for any rides they want compliance with the manufacturer's specifications. Which leads to...

4) Seat belts at Knoebels
Knoebels got into some trouble with the Twister because they operated it for a few days with seat belts back when it had only one train. It does not have seat belts now, and their argument is that it does not have seat belts because the ride designer performed the required design analysis and determined that not only are the belts not needed, they are contraindicated by the design because the time required to deal with seat belts would present an increased risk of collision when operating two trains. Knoebels has a certain unusual benefit in this case because the ASTM standards defer to the design analysis and the manufacturer's specifications, and in this particular case, Knoebels *is* the manufacturer. So as long as the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and ASTM both defer to the manufacturer, Knoebels is going to continue to win the argument.

Whew! I think that's everything from this week...!

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____


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