Octotron opens at Belmont Park

Posted Thursday, January 27, 2011 10:39 PM | Contributed by Jeff

After a delay of several weeks due to bad weather and smoothing out kinks, the much-awaited Octotron thrill ride made its debut at Belmont Park.

Read more from SanDiego.com.

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Friday, January 28, 2011 12:32 PM

This is the ride they were hyping when I was there on New Year's. Of course they had it walled off...so there was nothing to see. They put it at the back where the tilt-a-whirl used to be.

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Saturday, January 29, 2011 1:08 AM

It was walled off, but that doesn't mean there was nothing to see. I was there right before New Year's and was able to peek over and around the fences to see the ride, and actually got to see the thing run. Not a full cycle, but I did get to see it go.

I need to get the pictures and video off of my camera to share...

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Saturday, January 29, 2011 11:36 AM

We rode the first installation, Brain Surge, at the Big Mall, and I thought it was just ok, besides making me a little sick. (note to self - never, ever again let your friend Jeff have control of the stick for the entire ride)

But here's my quarrel with rides like this. Chance Morgan has developed this ride, the Unicoaster, and promoted it as a way to "reinvent the roller coaster, but on a smaller footprint." I see an updated version of the classic Looper. (see Knoebel's) Which would be fine, but the entire thing seems over-produced and over-thought, with even smaller capacity. At first I thought the cars would be free swinging and the undulating tilt-a-whirl type platform would serve to eventually "toss" the cars into random somersaults. But no, the cars have individual controls that the rider uses to slowly flip the cars either frontwards or backwards. It's interactive! Fun you say? Not really. Loopers have better flips and provide a great rocking action once the pedal is released. These cars just kind of freeze in place if you go into neutral.

The sweep arms are huge, the distance between the cars is great, the hilly platform is for why, and each car requires it's own little motor. (a maintenance consideration - the day we rode one of the 8 cars was down) Overall it seems like a very expensive version of a ride that might've been done a little more simply. And at no time did I imagine I was on an inverted rollercoaster.

As for capacity? The big theme parks will take a pass with only 16 riders per spin and lengthy loading times. Should a portable model be produced the carnival operators might bite, but the ride will surely need one trailer transport to make it attractive and a bit more flash to make the ride stand out on the midway.

Quite a rant over a silly flat ride, I know, but sometimes I look at these big companies and wonder who's thinking. C/M could really use another big, prolific (I'm thinking YoYo, Zipper, Chaos, Flying Bobs prolific) ride to put them back on the map. I bet this aint it.

Last edited by RCMAC, Saturday, January 29, 2011 2:54 PM
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Saturday, January 29, 2011 12:38 PM

Well Chaos worked out pretty well. :)

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Saturday, January 29, 2011 1:55 PM

Yeah. I thought about that. But I decided to include it 'cause afterall it's a great ride (one of my all time faves) and they sure sold a ton of em. At first. Harder and harder to find one these days...

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Sunday, January 30, 2011 12:43 AM

Well, see, the trouble is, any time you see a Chaos, look around and nearby you should see a man in a blue or grey shirt who is either working on the Chaos, has just worked on the Chaos, or is about to work on the Chaos. I'm pretty sure that if you actually printed out the service bulletins on the Chaos, the total thickness of the stack of bulletins would probably exceed the thickness of the service manual. :)

I couldn't tell from the view I got of the Octotron how the tub rotation worked, as the lone passenger was not operating the rotation mechanism. I couldn't tell whether it was a driven rotation or just clutched. Remember that the Aviator originally had motorized wings (?!) but those motors quickly went away in favor of the mechanical system that all of the Aviators now have. I would not be surprised if the Unicoaster has had a similar re-think. When I saw it, it looked like they were still having problems with all the shoulder bars and foot rests checking in properly.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Sunday, January 30, 2011 1:04 AM

From my experience with a Chance Aviator at Dollywood, the rider-operated "wings" do almost nothing. People were moving the wings back and forth, trying desperately to move the ride vehicle to and fro, and their swing was still in the same position as everyone else's swing. Total fail, if you ask me, and nothing like a single-wing "flying tubs" style ride, like at Camden Park, Hersheypark, or Knoebels.

As for the Octotron, I have no interest in riding a ride such as this if the flip is moterized. The Knoebels clutch-operated ride is one of the most fun flat rides I have ever been on. A motorized flip would really fudge the experience, it seems.

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Sunday, January 30, 2011 1:34 AM

RideMan said:
Well, see, the trouble is, any time you see a Chaos, look around and nearby you should see a man in a blue or grey shirt who is either working on the Chaos, has just worked on the Chaos, or is about to work on the Chaos.

Hell, I once saw one in mid-air, right before the giant floating tweezers dropped him. Thankfully he merely dusted himself off, talked briefly into his radio, and headed for the ride exit.

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Sunday, January 30, 2011 9:06 AM

Aw, Mike, you took my joke! Only you told it better. ("I'm not going on Kaos1 - it doesn't look safe!")

It appears the rolling mechanism on the California ride is motor driven like the one in Minn. (My guess is the Belmont ride is the actual factory prototype- I'm not sure, but it appears to be exactly the same and it would've been available for a quick sale.) The Unicoaster is deceptive to those of us that have experienced a real Looper, it has that same large wagon wheel that travels alongside the tub - but in this case the wheel serves no purpose but to track the little hills and keep the car up off the floor. The motorized roll is slower than the rate at which the ride travels, if that makes any sense. The Unicoaster is speedier than the old Looper, and a clutch driven loop would roll the tub entirely too fast. Plus the motorized roll allows the rider's option to flip frontwards or backwards which is a nice feature, I suppose, but it just made me feel queasy.

I agree about the Aviator ride- what a disappointment considering all that ride could be. After a frustrating turn at Dollywood I once took time out of a very slow day at KD to see if I could master their Aviator, and I did ok. The rule for a good flight, as with all Flying Scooters, is don't fight it - if the plane wants to go up, point up - when it starts to go down, point down. I managed a fairly decent swing, certainly better than anyone else's. But after a half hour of strenuous exercise I walked over to KD's real Flying Scooter (thank god) and had a blast. I remember a vid when they were developing Aviator where they took an actual Flyer tub and put it on the new ride for a test. Now THAT would be a thrilling ride, wouldn't it? Imagine snapping those cables 50 feet in the air! Yikes!

I think a good control rudder (that worked well) would be an interesting concept for these Windseekers poppin' up all over the place.

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Sunday, January 30, 2011 11:16 AM

A rider-controlled rudder wouldn't be so bad on a Windseker, but on a chain-held Starflyer, it would be terrifying, in my opinion. I'm already scared to death with the normal flying scooter rides that only get 5 or 10 feet off of the ground.

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Sunday, January 30, 2011 1:32 PM

Well, see, the trouble is, any time you see a Chaos, look around and nearby you should see a man in a blue or grey shirt who is either working on the Chaos, has just worked on the Chaos, or is about to work on the Chaos.

Why is this? To a non-mechanical mind...this does not seem like a ride that is breaking any new ground. It looks like a standard Round-Up type mechanism with some built in Zipper-type cars. Where is the mechanical failure coming from? Is it the restraint/locking mechanism? Or are the motions of the system much more complex than the untrained eye can see? Or were they made on the cheap?


Last edited by Aamilj, Sunday, January 30, 2011 1:33 PM
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Sunday, January 30, 2011 1:39 PM

Rideman can probably give a very informative and detailed answer, but if I recall correctly, the locking restraint system is a big issue. The ride can't be ran unless all restraints are properly working.

I remember an issue with the ride's hydraulic lifting system malfunctioning, causing a few of the installations to fall from an upright position. I also recall hearing that their was a way to fix the ride's hydraulic problem, but it wasn't easy or was very expensive, or something. :)

Parks keep removing them, but I don't care. The Chance Chaos always made me very, very sick every time I rode one.

Last edited by LostKause, Sunday, January 30, 2011 1:40 PM
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Sunday, January 30, 2011 2:09 PM

The only reason I can think of to ride an Aviator is to get good pics from higher up. Ride-wise, it's an absolute snooze-fest.

There are still a few Chaos rides left at last check. I think SFFT still has theirs, and VF! did the last time I was there ('09 I tihnk).

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Sunday, January 30, 2011 3:28 PM

Aamilj said:
[...this does not seem like a ride that is breaking any new ground.

It broke the ground at Michigan's Adventure. Maybe a fence and body parts too, but I don't remember for sure. I just remember there were a lot of settled lawsuits.

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Monday, January 31, 2011 2:50 PM

The fact of the matter is that it appears that Chance hasn't designed and built a decent ride since Harold Chance sold the business to his son. There have been design and production issues for nearly twenty years now. The old iron rides that Chance Mfg. built (along with the Herschell line they acquired) were bulletproof and lasted forever. When the electronics started creeping into them things started going south.

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Monday, January 31, 2011 11:28 PM

I rode the Octotron. Here's what I was able to figure out.

The rider-controlled flipping action is controlled by a flight-stick style joystick in between the two seats. There is about a one second delay from pushing forward or pulling back on the stick to when the motorized forward or backward flip occurs. Let go of the stick and the motion stops almost immediately instead of completing the flip.

Despite looking smooth, the ride quality is actually a bit bumpy due to the wheels transmitting every small track imperfection to the seats. Were it not for the rider-controlled flipping action, this would be a slow Himalaya type ride, and it doesn't really ride like a roller-coaster.

Seats are comfortable enough but the ride actually has too many restraints. They have an OTSR, a backup seatbelt attached to the seat horn that locks into the bottom of the OTSR, and a third foot-bar that locks over the top of the feet.

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