Kennywood's new coaster named Sky Rocket

Posted Thursday, December 10, 2009 11:40 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Kennywood has announced that their new launched roller coaster, set to open this spring, will be called Sky Rocket.

Read more from AP via KDKA/Pittsburgh.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009 9:04 PM

First of all, ideame, I don't know how well you know me, but I hope you didn't take my comments personally. My point was that back when I took the capacity measurement, a certain urgency was required by the control system to prevent stranding a train on the lift. The new system means that requirement is gone, and capacity has taken a hit. There are lots of reasons for that, some of which are directly related to improvements in *worker* safety. Your insights are interesting and useful, but I want to assure you that you're not under attack, so defending yourself is not necessary. :)

Handicapped riders is one thing that has improved a lot on the Jack Rabbit. With the old system, if a rider could not leap into the train with everyone else, then the empty train would be switched off, the second train would be unloaded, the handicapped rider and party would be loaded at unload, the half-loaded train would be rolled down to load, loaded, and dispatched. Then that train would return and be unloaded, then rolled down to load. The second train would be transferred back on, and normal operations would resume. The new way is much better.

On a related note, the Beams #300/800 seat belt buckle is apparently the most durable product on the market (not that there is much of a choice). Pity it is such a craptastic design. I wonder, given the popularity of that unit in amusement ride applications, what it would take to get Beam's to come up with a more user-friendly version...perhaps something more like the buckles that AmSafe supposedly doesn't want to sell to the amusement industry*.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

*As suggested to me by a Reliable Source in the amusement industry

--DCAjr


    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
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Sunday, December 13, 2009 9:31 PM

I certainly wasn't offended by anything you said. The Jack Rabbit had come up, and working there all summer, I felt I could contribute.

I was under the impression that under the old system, two trains were not allowed in the station at the same time over concerns about them sliding through the unload brake and into the train on the load brake. I do know that whatever the reason, is was pressing enough for them to dispatch trains where guests were still getting in. Needless to say, the Jack Rabbit accumulated a lot of complaints back then.

No matter what, the restraints on the Jack Rabbit will always be an issue. Obviously a big part of its charm is the fact that so little is holding you in. The problem is that guests can fiddle with them. Teenagers (although not exclusively) like to unbuckle them. Very often, after we've tightened a belt, a guest will try to tighten it further and simply unclasp it. Parents never think their children are in tight enough, etc etc. You could solve the issue with lapbars, but does anyone really want that? And no matter how simple a restraint may be, there will be more than a couple people who cannot figure them out. That's only par for the course at an amusement park.

Actually RideMan, this may seem somewhat stalkerish, but I've seen a fair amount of you. I never cared for either amusement parks or roller coasters until working at one this summer. After school ended, I had some time to kill before Kennywood opened, and I spent a fair amount of time looking up stuff online about Kennywood and roller coasters and such. At one point or another, I came across your website. I've also been following this board for a couple months, I just never felt a need to post anything. Still don't for the most part. I prefer to stay in the background. Hence, you may never see me again after this conversation runs its course.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009 10:50 PM

Yeah, that's how the ride worked. There was an optical pair in the load station and another in one of the turnarounds, and if both sensed trains, the bell rang to indicate that it was time to go. I remember one time, luckily back when the fence along the midway was still chain link, an operator was dealing with a seat belt as the train was dispatched. He rode the running board out of the station, then just past the platform he jumped *into* the fence, which caught him and deposited him on the ground as the train went by. That was dangerous enough; with today's steel fence it could have been deadly.

* * *
I'm kind of hard to miss, I guess. So you have an idea what I'm about. I just wanted to make sure. And do stick around. You have a perspective that is often missing from these discussions, so please continue to participate as you see fit!

--Dave Althoff, Jr.


    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
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_/XXXXXXX\__/XXXXX\/XXXXXXXX\_/XXX\_/XXXXXXX\__/XXX\_/XXX\_/\_/XXXXXX

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Sunday, December 13, 2009 11:47 PM

Actually I can give you the modern equivalent of how dispatch works. There is a sensor at the back of the station, and then another shortly before the train leaves the mag brakes and hits the grab brakes (No idea what to call them, so I'll go with that). When a train coming into the station hits the back sensor, all the grab brakes, including the load ones, will close, even if we are holding down the "Load Brake Dispatch" button. As soon as the train gets partly through the mag brakes and hits the second sensor, any of the brakes that we want open will open again. In essence, what this means is that if a train is being dispatched when the other train comes into the station, the train that is leaving will suddenly jerk to a stop, only to be released almost as soon as it stops. The result is everyone snaps their head at the operator in a silent "Why?"

So while technically, dispatch is from the double dip on, we figured out through trial and error what the interval really was. If you wanted to get the train out without giving the guests whiplash, you had to begin dispatching the train, and then look up in time to see the other train come around the final turnaround. Anything less after that could go either way. We would actually give the train a push sometimes if it was close enough. A lot of times, the brakes would grab the very rear of the train, but by then we had enough speed to slip through.

Back in the beginning of the year, before we had it figured out, we used to have some fun by saying stuff like, "Not gonna make it," to each other over guests head. They always gave you these real worried looks, but they all came back fine. Once we figured it out though, we usually just held trains those extra couple seconds if we didn't think it would make it.

I know I had timed it, but I can't remember it anymore. I think it took about 7 seconds for a dispatching train to clear the load brakes. Blue train was maybe a half second longer than the other two for some reason.

Fortunately or unfortunately, we don't have any stories that are quite that exciting. Lots of stupid guests stories though. At least one person insisted to me that the train leaves the track, and refused to believe me when I told him/her that there were upstops. More or less, that kind of stuff. That's relatively light. Some of the stuff guests did just make you hate people. (hate may be too strong a word now, but I can assure you that at the time, it isn't.)

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Monday, December 14, 2009 1:24 PM
Carrie M.'s avatar

ideame said:


I do know that whatever the reason, is was pressing enough for them to dispatch trains where guests were still getting in. Needless to say, the Jack Rabbit accumulated a lot of complaints back then.

I've experienced that! :) I was also stopped on the lift once when I last visited the park and now I likely know why.

I always kind of wished Kennywood would paint some lines in the station so when people could load the platform early they knew what row they were standing by. There were many times when you'd be standing there and the train would come in and be lined up differently than how folks were standing and it usually caused some issues with people wanting whatever seat they thought was best.

It happened to me once when I was standing in line for the back (meaning no one was to the left of my friend and I) and the train came back and stopped forward a bit. The folks to our right tried to get into the back seat and we had to point out that unless they thought we were supposed to hang off the back, they were trying to get into our seats. Anyway, that kind of confusion generally led to the aforementioned situation of the train leaving before you had the hook completely latched.


"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

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Monday, December 14, 2009 2:34 PM
rollergator's avatar

Carrie is a back-seat rider on JR....I knew there was something I liked about her... ;)

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Monday, December 14, 2009 3:04 PM

One year there were yellow "X" marks on the platform. I suspect that they went away because they figured out that the train does not always stop in the same place.

On any blocked ride, there are two different dispatch points. The first is defined by the first block on the ride becoming clear. On most coasters, that means when the train clears the lift, although there are exceptions. The second is the point where it actually makes sense to dispatch the train, and that's the one that the crew eventually finds through trial and (mostly) error. Magnum XL-200 is a great example of this: technically, the train can dispatch from the station as soon as the lift is clear, but the crew waits until the train ahead crests the second hill. That extra time actually spreads the trains out so that they end up dispatching at a more or less even interval. Heck, to keep it "in the family", Phantom's Revenge is the same way: technically the train can go any time after the other train clears the lift, but to keep from having to stop and wait on the lift, they generally wait until the train ahead does the station fly-by. Any sooner, and the lift will end up stopping; any later and the returning train will have to wait on the approach brake.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.


    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
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Monday, December 14, 2009 5:24 PM
kpjb's avatar

Actually, since 2007 you can dispatch the Phantom as soon as it leaves the lift, and the train still won't stop at the top of the lift. The VFD will compensate for the position of the train that's on the course. I've done this many times, and it never fails to scare the ops crew.


Hi

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Monday, December 14, 2009 5:27 PM

Oh, that's right, I forgot about that. In the last sentences of my previous post, please substitute "slow" for "stop". :)

--Dave Althoff, Jr.


    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____
/XXXXX\ /XXX\ /XXXX\_ /X\ /XXXXX\ /X\ /X\ /XXXXX
_/XXXXXXX\__/XXXXX\/XXXXXXXX\_/XXX\_/XXXXXXX\__/XXX\_/XXX\_/\_/XXXXXX

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009 10:50 PM
DantheCoasterman's avatar

Hopman said:
I don't think anybody will get offened by it.

I don't know, it's a pretty sexy name...


-Daniel

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Thursday, December 17, 2009 2:27 PM

Yes, but will Sky Roxcket be an "afternoon delight?" ;)


Coaster Junkie from NH
I drive in & out of Boston, so I ride coasters to relax!

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009 8:36 AM

Ensign Smith said:
What's with all the throwback names lately? Shoot the Rapids, Sky Rocket.... Not that I'm complaining -- they're both fine names. It's just an interesting trend.

Uh, maybe because Kennywood is a *Throwback Park*

Chuck, not a fan of the 305 and xl200000 names

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009 10:57 AM
ahank's avatar

Here's the Sky Rocket website. I hope the ride isn't as rough and choppy as the animation shows! :)


-Aaron
Find me on: Twitter | Blog | YouTube

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009 6:15 PM
LostKause's avatar

A seriously twisted, pulse detonating, Supercharged, stratospheric new ride Experience! Feel the seismic surge of a launch that takes you from zero to 50 in under 3 seconds! Take a fulll-throttle, 95-ft. Vertical climb and say adios to gravity as you go over-the-top and plummet90-degrees due south! It’s an upside down, downside up, sky-flying adventure you won’t soon forget. Come feel the rush of a fully caffeinated, double-shot adrenaline espresso…on rails.

Seriously? That is sooooo ridiculous. The announcer even adds more over-dramatic language in the choppy video. I expect much anticippointment the day this caffeinated coaster opens to the public.

Last edited by LostKause, Wednesday, December 23, 2009 6:17 PM
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Thursday, December 24, 2009 2:13 PM
ahank's avatar

Exactly. And people are complaining about the TH13TEEN advertising being 'over-hyped' and 'cheesy'.


-Aaron
Find me on: Twitter | Blog | YouTube

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Thursday, December 24, 2009 2:40 PM
Raven-Phile's avatar

Yeah. Like, how can it be named sky rocket, when it contains no rockets and stuff?


R.I.P LeRoi Moore 9/7/61 - 8/19/2008
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Thursday, December 24, 2009 3:54 PM

Can we get the Mythbusters a few JATO units for the first train?

The myth could be "Is a Sky Rocket in flight REALLY an afternoon delight?"


Coaster Junkie from NH
I drive in & out of Boston, so I ride coasters to relax!

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Saturday, December 26, 2009 6:07 PM
DejaVuNitro's avatar

Yes! Promo video cracks me up. NoLimits with some stock footage tossed in for good measure.


I'm sheriff of this here rollercoaster.

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