Faster coasters have reliability issues

Posted Tuesday, June 20, 2006 9:18 AM | Contributed by coasterguts

At 128 mph and a little more than 45 stories tall, the Kingda Ka roller coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure gives riders quite a thrill. That is, when it's working. As the amusement park this week unveiled another fast and furious roller coaster -- a wooden one called El Toro -- it also is trying to tackle a problem experts say is common with many high-performance roller coasters: reliability.

Read more from AP via The Baltimore Sun.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006 10:01 AM
Weird, I can't find the article in the Sun which we get, but there's an article about cutting costs at amusment parks. Maybe it was in Monday's edtion of the Business section which I can't find right now?
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Tuesday, June 20, 2006 11:48 AM
"They're not like normal roller coasters. They're different designs. They're prototypes."

They go to eleven!

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006 12:08 PM
After going to Great Adventure on Sunday, I can say the problems are very frustrating. El Toro was taking six to eight minutes between arrival and dispatch. Despite the fact that my group and I lined up at opening time, we still had a 3:15 wait.

Later in my visit, after receiving two Flash Passes because of a mistake by ride operators on El Toro, we decided to head over to the Flash Pass entrance to Kingda Ka. Before we even made it up the stairs to the boarding station, the ride ops announce that the ride is closing down. So, we turn back around and ask the worker for our tickets back. Despite the fact that we handed him the tickets literally less than 30 seconds ago, he says "No, sir, we can't give any tickets back."

The problems we had with ride reliability at Great Adventure over the weekend really ruined our visit.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006 12:26 PM
Faster coasters have reliability issues

My first thought? THIS is news??!?? ;)

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006 12:51 PM
How exactly can El Toro have reliability problems? It's a wooden coaster! Gravity doesn't break! Hasn't anyone in the industry figured out that Intamin's systems and controls contractor is HORRIBLE!? More disturbing than that, hasn't Intamin?
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Tuesday, June 20, 2006 1:01 PM
Impulse-ive,

Supposedly the main issue lies in the restraint system which is either pneumatic or hydraulic (don't personally remember which) as opposed to the standard ratcheted restraint system. Further, guests are asked not to pull their restraints down themselves, but of course most people do by habit. Every time this happens the restraints must be reset.

I don't understand why (a) guests are asked not to pull down the restraints in the first place or (b) ride ops can't physically lock the restraints in the open position until they're ready to come and push them down.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006 1:32 PM
If it's the same hydraulic lapbar found on the rest of their coasters, why the hell do you need a ride operator to push it down? Let the rider pull it down, ride op, pushes the handle and tugs it to make sure it's there.
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Tuesday, June 20, 2006 1:34 PM
I can't wait for tomorrow's Headline: "THE SKY IS BLUE!"
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Tuesday, June 20, 2006 2:43 PM
"Later in my visit, after receiving two Flash Passes because of a mistake by ride operators on El Toro, we decided to head over to the Flash Pass entrance to Kingda Ka. Before we even made it up the stairs to the boarding station, the ride ops announce that the ride is closing down. So, we turn back around and ask the worker for our tickets back. Despite the fact that we handed him the tickets literally less than 30 seconds ago, he says "No, sir, we can't give any tickets back." "

Did the worker know the ride had been shut down? Did he think you just got off the ride? Finally, did you get his name and report it to guest services? What did they say?!!

I don't understand why these workers can't or aren't allowed to use common sense!! Besides those issues concerning safety, which this was not, the employee should have understood the situation and been able to give your pass back.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006 2:57 PM

I can't wait for tomorrow's Headline: "THE SKY IS BLUE!"

But didn't you see the headline under that? It explains why ElToro is having issues...

"LAW OF GRAVITY IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL. US Supreme court votes 5-4 in favor of repeal"

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006 11:12 PM
according to park spokeswoman Kristin Siebeneicher.

"The ride's been running very reliably," Thats a Joke they have only been running 2 trains and 1 of the trains is no where to be found, and its already 3 months into the season. I'd say TTD has been running reliably at CM they had 5 running all day and its a much better ride IMO.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006 11:15 PM
Goliath and Voyage are running pretty well.

Yep.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006 3:02 AM
It's 2:45 am and I just got back from a day at Cedar Point. Oh, how I love Cedar Point!!! Although this was my first visit experiencing the potential frustration of Top Thrill Dragster (From reading posts, I guess I'm lucky to have visited on days TTD was running excellent -- except for today, I experienced the reliability issue firsthand). TTD was down when I got to the park at 10:00. I waited in line from 10:00 until 12:00 in hopes that they would get it up and running quickly. It appeared that they were going to launch a few times during that time frame, but it never happened. I rode Gemini and Magnum and came back to check things out. I waited around until 2:00 when they finally started to test launch a couple of trains and then opened TTD. I was in the second train to be launched after testing. The first train rolled back and the ride ops emptied the last three rows. The first train cleared and then it was my turn. No problems, I went over the top around 2:30 and it was just sheer ecstasy!! TTD ran really good for most of day. I rode once more around 8:15. A few launches afterward, something did happen. I'm not quite sure what because I didn't see it firsthand, but I can say that there were four mechanics, two working near the catchcar and two working near the end of the launch track. The pulley wheel, around which the return cable spins, at the starting position, was in a fully extended position, meaning it was pushed back to provide tension to the cable, but only does this during a launch. The first thing that popped into my mind was a cable snap, but I looked down near the hydraulic building and the two top cables and return cable looked fine. The only thing that I did notice is that the mechanics seemed to be filing something down inside the track in which the catchcar travels. Having been around TTD enough, I also noticed that on the catchcar return to the launch position there was a scrapping/grinding noise near the same place the mechanics were working. Now this is all pure speculation, because I'm certainly no expert, but it does pose this question of reliability. It is a shame, because TTD is one heck of a ride as I'm sure KK is also (haven't been there when that was working, so I haven't ridden it). Want my two sense, there has to be a way to minimize the friction imposed on the cables and catchcar during a launch, things just wear out when there's a lot of friction.
*** This post was edited by Bob Sekerak 6/21/2006 3:07:31 AM ***
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Wednesday, June 21, 2006 7:43 AM
All I can say is, I didn't create the headline, I just used the old cut and paste method. It was hard even coming up with a summary for the article.
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Wednesday, June 21, 2006 2:10 PM
How can TTD be *much* better than KK? I mean if you prefer it, that's one thing, but anyone can see that the differences aren't significant. I think these launch coasters have been a mistake. I won't even get in line unless I know the line is relatively short because you never know when they'll break down. Couldn't someone build a launch coaster that does more than just go up? How bout a nice 3 minute ride with a 110 mph launch?
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Wednesday, June 21, 2006 4:21 PM
^ A 3-minute ride that topped out at 110 mph would either be: 1) SO high in the air that the ride slowed down *precipitously*, or 2) SO long that it had enough trackage to last that long. In either case, COST is prohibitive...
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Wednesday, June 21, 2006 8:56 PM
Who said anything about TTD being *much* better than KK? Maybe you should learn how to read. I said I really enjoy TTD and have yet to experience KK.
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Friday, June 23, 2006 1:58 AM
kingda ka has been running reliably this season despite not having a train out of rehab. there was the one breakdown early on in the season that alsted for a few week, other than that it has been good. Between the chillers problems & El toro, getting the forth train out of rehab doesn't seem like a priority. KK can def. improve operations, but they are "getting by" so to speak. but then againt thats how SF(the park in general not just KK) has always seemd to be, just getting by.
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Thursday, July 6, 2006 11:03 AM
I just got back from a long weekend at Cedar Point and this was my first experience with the Dragster. My reaction? Undecided. The reliability issues are kind of a major deal. Out of the whole group I was traveling with, my wife and I are the only ones who successfully rode the thing (at closing time, July 3).

A lot of it had to do with the fact that we were traveling with a bunch of small kids, so riding any "big-kid rides" required a bit of kid-shuffling and babysitting, so there were really only small windows of opportunity to ride the thing and it seemed like every time anyone got in line, the thing shut down "indefinitely". Which is kind of a bummer.

Like I said, I did finally ride it and it IS indeed cool. I told people after getting off it, that it is certainly the "most intense 10 seconds or so" in the park, but probably not the "best ride" in the park. A cool experience, but I don't see myself waiting in multi-hour lines to do it again, especially with the frequent technical problems. I think I'd rather get in line for the Milennium Force.

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