Gemini Love.... seatbelts?

Friday, November 30, 2007 2:39 AM
As noted, Gemini doesn't have a PLC. It's still parked by hand, as of closing day this season.

It does have gates, and the interesting thing is that for many years it had the old orange square tube queue rails in the station and if you looked closely at those, there were bits of gate hardware. Apparently, the ride was built with queue gates, but by the time the ride opened, they were gone. Then the old railings were yanked out, then a few years later they installed the current gates. Go figure.

Switching from 6 trains to 4 has resulted in a significant drop in capacity, and a big part of it is the design of the ride's blocking system. The block points are the station, the lift, the lower far-end turn, and the safety brake immediately uptrack of the station. Furthermore, the timing of the ride is such that there is no time to waste. When the first pair of trains rounds the curve above the station, it is time for the second pair to leave. If the second pair gets out on time, the third pair will trim on the block brake and roll straight into the station. This is important, because the third train MUST clear the block brake BEFORE the second pair reaches the mid-course block brake. If the third train pair sits on the block brake, because the second train pair is running late, it takes only a few seconds before the first pair reaches the mid-course brake and has to stop. This cascades the entire ride to a screeching halt, and operator intervention is required to start it all back up again. Consequently there is a pretty significant incentive to keep the trains rolling on-time with six trains.

With only four trains running, there is virtually no penalty to stopping a pair of trains on the back brake. If the first pair is sitting in the station, the second pair can stop on the block brake at the end of the ride and sit there indefinitely, as the only other trains waiting for that spot are sitting in the station. As a result, many times in the past couple of years I've ridden and had to wait outside the station for a pair of trains that had been sitting on the back brake when I left. Which means that instead of a 65 second interval with about a 50 second station dwell time (typical for six train operation), the station dwell time (let alone the dispatch interval!) is up in excess of 162 seconds! That's 2:42, which is the complete ride time!

This is what people don't seem to understand about ride capacity. Running Gemini with 6 trains, it can move about 3,400-3,600 PPH. Logically, then, you would expect that with four trains, capacity would drop to 2,200-2,400 PPH, with a dispatch interval of about 90 seconds, which is still better than a lot of rides out there. But in reality, that isn't what happens. Instead of going from a 65 second interval to a 90 second interval, the ride ends up going from a 65 second interval to a...let's say...180 second interval, for an hourly capacity of only 1,200 PPH. In other words, Gemini running four trains actually has a LOWER hourly capacity than Magnum running three (1,800 PPH)!

So the real question is, why doesn't Gemini operate on a 90 second interval, as one might expect? We've discussed that a bit over on Guide to the Point. The best answer seems to be not the gates or the belts, but the combination of gates, belts, bins, the new co-dispatch system, and the very strange way in which the lap bars and seat belts (which used to be checked visually) are physically checked these days.

I will also take a moment to note that while there really is not often any need for the ride to actually run six trains/3600 PPH, and it really would be adequate to run at 2,400 PPH without stacking, another issue with the ride is that on days when there is a big crowd but a small staff, or when one of the ride systems is out of commission, I'd think it would be better to run THREE trains on one side, so that it could move 1,800 PPH instead of 600-1,200 PPH.

Okay, did I miss anything? :)

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Friday, November 30, 2007 6:25 AM
Upstops? :)

Brandon | Facebook

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Friday, November 30, 2007 7:36 AM
"Okay, did I miss anything?

--Dave Althoff, Jr. "

Well, maybe a one thing on the PLC issue. Later Arrow rides with PLC control removed the restriction that someone had to go to the block point to release a train. The requirement became that they had to be able to see the guests in the train. So upgrading the ride could remove the huge penalty that currently comes when trains stack.

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Friday, November 30, 2007 1:41 PM
That, and relocating the brakes some years ago so that the train would roll out of the mid-course block brake without being pushed was also an improvement...

But one point is that there is some utility to having that penalty for messing up a dispatch. Okay, sure, you can make it less severe by installing a CCTV camera and a PA speaker up there. But as a matter of keeping the capacity up, that penalty kind of needs to be there.

As a point of comparison, look at the newer rides where stacking all of the trains doesn't even result in a ride stop. I have to wonder if the lack of any kind of performance penalty is part of the reason those newer rides almost never live up to their capacity estimates while the old Arrow rides always did.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Friday, November 30, 2007 2:12 PM
Pagoda Gift Shop's avatar Too bad they don't design rides with performance penalties like that, although it wasn't by design in this case. When it opened with no seatbelts, no air gates, and a policy of "let people bring whatever," I'll bet it was hard not to hit 65 second interval.

Speaking of design, if Gemini were built today, $5 says it would be 4 trains only. That is, if the layout were the same.

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Friday, November 30, 2007 3:36 PM
Ride of Steel's avatar 65 second interval is actually REALLY long. I know Raptor is 45 seconds and Iron Dragon is something like 30 seconds. As Rideman explained, Gemini "sets up" when running 3 trains but so does Magnum and Iron Dragon.

I'm surprised it was that hard to get the trains out that fast.

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Friday, November 30, 2007 3:58 PM

RideMan said:
As a point of comparison, look at the newer rides where stacking all of the trains doesn't even result in a ride stop. I have to wonder if the lack of any kind of performance penalty is part of the reason those newer rides almost never live up to their capacity estimates while the old Arrow rides always did.

Perhaps the ride attendants need to wear some type of collar that administers a mild electrical shock if they don't meet their dispatch times. :)

To be fair, I do think a lot of the dispatch delays are caused by the riders themselves. Patrons seem to get dumber and slower every year, and they carry an incredible amount of crap that needs to be stowed.

*** Edited 11/30/2007 9:02:17 PM UTC by Jeffrey Seifert***

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Friday, November 30, 2007 4:40 PM
Great explanation about the blocking on Gemini Dave. Reminds me of when I worked at DLP, where both Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain also have penalties for stacking the trains. Big Thunder Mountain when running 5 trains uses the double station and runs on a 45 seconds interval. If for whatever reasons if there ain't an empty station when the train flies over the 4th lift, it will stop on the brakes before the station and the ride does an automatic E-Stop. So, the ride needs to be resetted, which involved sending cast members to every block brake and lifts, even if there's no train there. I worked one night on it and it was rather interesting! One time, a guest was so slow, that we litterally had SECONDS left before the E-stop, so, since the ride is pushed by LIMs in the station, we gave the LIMs a hand by pushing the train out of the station. Luckily, it worked and the ride didn't go down.
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Friday, November 30, 2007 4:53 PM

Jeffrey Seifert said:
...a lot of the dispatch delays are caused by the riders themselves. Patrons seem to get dumber and slower every year, and they carry an incredible amount of crap that needs to be stowed.

I blame the park for that too. If you allow people to stow articles like they do, guests will just keep bringing more. "There are those cool bins on the ride, so everyone can have a backpack and squishy cooler and big stuffed animal and flip flops and and and...."

You can see the same effect on airlines. Did anyone fly in August last year right after the liquid scare when you couldn't carry on ANYTHING? How fast did the planes load and unload? Like lightning fast - it was amazing! People have too much junk and could care less about being efficient stowing it.

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Friday, November 30, 2007 8:04 PM
When I worked on the Blue Streak (back in St. Olaf... heheheh) we sometimes pushed trains out of the station to beat the 2nd train hittin the limit at the end of the brake run. If we didn't, the ride would set up. Management and maintenance would have to come out.

We did over 1300 an hour some days. Now, what it it, like 700-800?

I mean, I can understand them updating the rides' system and brakes, as much as it hurt. But to do the trains like that - unacceptable. To me that is, still not over it. Never will be.

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Friday, November 30, 2007 8:07 PM
Raven-Phile's avatar Your airline comparison is severely flawed. It's not even close to the same thing. People don't go to the airport for the day with an intention to ride airplanes and have fun. (if that was possible, I'd get a season pass) - Airlines have schedules to keep, and the passengers are paying good money to be brought to their destination safely and on time.

Sure, the safety element is the same, but a roller coaster is not a form of travel (though it could be, it's not in the same sense as flying), and has no deadlines. So, if the girl with the flip flops wants to stow them in the bin, it isn't keeping you from arriving at LAX on time.

Sure, I don't condone the whole 5 stuffed animals, 6 basketballs and a keg thing, but sometimes people just don't want to take their stuff on a ride, and it helps when there's a place to put it.


R.I.P LeRoi Moore 9/7/61 - 8/19/2008
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Friday, November 30, 2007 8:12 PM
I think more than take-ons like stuffed animals, park maps, etc. were once ok to take on. Sure people got hit by them, I did, but not a big deal.

It's since cell phones, beepers and cameras have become so commonplace. Those hurt. I can only imagine the injuries from such objects, I'm sure the park 'medicates' those incidences pretty quick.

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Friday, November 30, 2007 8:19 PM
Raven-Phile's avatar You know what sucks so bad about that now, too? I really hate bringing my cell phone in to the park with me, but honestly, the times I've left it in the car and tried to go without, were rather difficult.

I don't particularly like watches, so my cell phone is my time reference, if a couple people in the group want to sleep in and arrive later, or go ride a ride while I see a show or grab some food or whatever, it's nice to have contact with them to meet up again without setting a time and a place, so that helps with the relaxation of being on "vacation".

If the weather gets bad and we're hiding out under a roof somewhere, I can pull out my internet-enabled PDA cell phone and check the radar anytime, anywhere and see if the storms are going to stop, or whatever.

I know it's kind of contradictory to bring your life with you into a place where you go to escape every day life, but at the same time, it's being used to make your time more enjoyable and not really tying you to the outside world. Make sense?


R.I.P LeRoi Moore 9/7/61 - 8/19/2008
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Friday, November 30, 2007 8:22 PM
Sure it makes sense. And De-vo was right! I mean, we are so dependent on technology these days, it's kinda sick. I don't take my phone in the parks - 2 years ago I didn't even have a cell. I prefer going in with a few bucks, ID, and pass all in a zip lock bag. And a couple safety pins.
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Friday, November 30, 2007 8:36 PM
Raven-Phile's avatar Usually my cell stays in my pocket, and it's fine - but I'm paranoid, especially on Maverick because there's a ton of airtime and directional changes, that I usually hold my hand over my back pocket to keep my wallet in.

In that case, I'll usually just throw my cell and my hat or sunglasses or whatever in a bin. I've even seen ops take sunglasses from people and stow them for them.

I realize it adds a small amount of time, but in the grand scheme of things, I don't think an extra couple of seconds darting to the bin to drop stuff off, especially if everyone just hands their stuff to one person in the group.


R.I.P LeRoi Moore 9/7/61 - 8/19/2008
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Friday, November 30, 2007 8:40 PM

Raven-Phile said:
...I usually hold my hand over my back pocket to keep my wallet in.

dude, get your wallet out of your back pocket and put it in the front. You're asking to lose it.

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Friday, November 30, 2007 8:52 PM
Raven-Phile's avatar I can't, cause it's like the George Costanza wallet. I'm almost leaning to one side when I sit on it. :)

I've been thinking about changing to a front-pocket money/credit card clip, though.

I just wonder how that would work out for me.


R.I.P LeRoi Moore 9/7/61 - 8/19/2008
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Friday, November 30, 2007 9:05 PM
I have this hippie-looking woven flat pouch with a zipper, it's about 3x4 inches or less, and all I bring into the park is ID, passes/tickets, one credit card and a little folded-up cash and whatever other bare essentials will fit in there. That AND the phone fit in the front pocket. And I'm kinda fat too. Skinny to normal should make it even easier and more secure.
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Friday, November 30, 2007 11:44 PM

Ride of Steel said:
65 second interval is actually REALLY long. I know Raptor is 45 seconds and Iron Dragon is something like 30 seconds. As Rideman explained, Gemini "sets up" when running 3 trains but so does Magnum and Iron Dragon.

I'm surprised it was that hard to get the trains out that fast.


Ride of Steel, be careful with the language. It may be that you use different terminology on the ride than I do. I'm using language borrowed from mass transit here, where...

dispatch interval: The elapsed time between dispatches

dwell time: The time the train sits in the station for unloading and loading

headway: The time interval between trains

The numbers you're quoting sound like dwell times, and if you're running the ride, that's the number you care about. It's the amount of time you have from the time the train stops until it has to leave again, and on Iron Dragon that's something like 35 seconds...but the interval is slightly more than a minute. I actually measured Magnum this season, but I don't remember what it was (actually I was measuring the time it took to move the trains around). On Magnum, the interval is about 75 seconds, the dwell is about 35 seconds, and the station headway is about 20 seconds.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Saturday, December 1, 2007 12:02 AM
Ride of Steel's avatar Ok, sorry Rideman, sometimes I just think I take those manuals that CP gives us way to seriously though. They refer to it as the dispatch interval when we are trained.

But anyway, someone mentioned the guests. This past summer I was contracted to work Raptor. I was there for 2 weeks until the point I was begging to leave.

I was so frustrated with the damn ride because it was so hard to hit interval without literally yelling at the guests to get back in their seats. Or they'd sit in their seat with stuff in their hands and we'd have to let them out.

I was looking forward to how fast paced the ride was but they way CP management has it set up we are checking as little as 4 seats (not rows) so it's not very challenging.

Although we rarely stacked 3 trains, it took a lot of guest interaction to keep those trains moving.

At another point in the summer I worked Millennium and absolutely LOVED IT. Aside from large guests, I felt the interval relied entirely on me. I could just sprint up and down the side of the train and the guests could just sit and "let me do my thing"

I also enjoyed the ride because you get more seats to check, as they're only 4 people (2 on each side) rather than a 6 people at Raptor/Mantis.

In short, yes the loose articles are a nightmare and no matter what stance the park takes on them guests will be angry so it's a lose lose situation. The Millennium Force entrance has the highest concentration of pissed off guests on the peninsula haha :) *** Edited 12/1/2007 5:05:01 AM UTC by Ride of Steel***

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