SFEG Halfpipe now open! I rode it!

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Thursday, May 27, 2004 7:42 PM
This is a rough precursor to an article I plan to write for ACE news, with a few observations that may not make it to that article. I must confess that I did not have high expectations for this ride. I don't like spinning rides, and this looked kind of dubious at best. What did I ultimately think of Halfpipe? Keep reading...

I picked up Barry Maness, local ACE rep and one of my partners in crime, at about 10:30am, and we headed over to Six Flags Elitch Gardens for the "media party" which started at 11:00am. We registered at a tent they had set up in front of the main entrance. The park employees working the tent placed wristbands on us, and then we joined a group of people and were escorted over to the ride, which was cordoned off and guarded by park security. The cordoned off area was rather large and had a bunch of tables; Barry and I are wondering how long it will take before the expand the queue line for this ride. I also noticed that they planted some trees between Halfpipe and Boomerang, which was a very nice touch.

It turns out that though it was described as a "media party", there wasn't very much media present that we could see. I counted two television news crews, and one older gentleman with some high end Nikon camera equipment, and that's it. Most people I spoke to won tickets off of a local radio station contest. There were some athlete celebrities allegedly present for the opening as well (Breckenridge Ski Resort freeride team members and Go Fast Sport Athletes), but I don't know that I saw any.

The ride was running when we arrived, but since the sun was temporarily out on a partly cloudy day, I decided to start off by taking pictures, in case the skies went overcast later on. Then the clouds came back in for a little while, which meant it was time to ride. During this "party" the line was fairly short (every time I got in line, I was on the next load), and they gave everyone the opportunity to ride two ride cycles. As I waited in line I watched the ride in action, and observed that it did not rotate nearly as much as I had been worried it might. One of the "cars" was fully loaded, and barely rotated. The other had a few empty seats, and it rotated noticeably more often... maybe 1.5-2 rotations from one side to the other?

Then it was time for us to ride. Barry and I got on, and once the train was ready to be dispatched, a locking mechanism disengaged, and the cars started rotating. It felt as if they turned on a mechanism to spin the cars slowly, but as near as I can tell they just disengaged the "lock". While we were still slowly rotating, the train started accelerating. It wasn't blistering acceleration - it felt to me like the turbo kicking in on my car (Maleficent, my beloved Subaru Impreza WRX). Though I am sure this ride accelerated faster, it didn't feel much faster to me. It took two passes to built up the momentum to get to the top of each side (the train eventually comes within inches of the retaining spring), and the cars gently spun the whole time, occasionally changing direction. I ended up loving it; I giggled the whole time on each of my four rides today. It's not really a coaster, but I thought it was a lot of fun, whatever it is.

Then Barry and I went over to sample the free food from "Wahoo's Fish Taco". I had never heard of them, but I had some CHICKEN tacos (fish tacos didn't sound appealing to me) and chocolate chip cookies, and I thought they were quite good. Hopefully I will be able to ride Millennium Force next month at the ACE CoasterCon despite those two cookies... we shall see!

After quelling our hunger, Barry and I took turns taking pictures of each other riding. What can I say? I'm a coaster geek... The second two consecutive ride cycles I enjoyed were in an unbalanced car that spun much more than my first two rides. The spinning didn't bother me at all; I kept laughing throughout. What a fun little ride!

After we were done taking our riding pictures, I started to play with my "Digital Rebel 300D" camera settings, and discovered to my horror that all my pictures so far had been taken using ISO 1600, so they were MUCH noisier than they should have been! Note to self: check camera settings more often. C'est la vie...

As one o'clock (the official public opening time) approached, they started letting the line of people outside our area enter the queue. Tara, the public relations manager for Six Flags Elitch Gardens, got on the stage and pumped up the crowd ("You guys ready to ride?"). Then they played that dance song from the latest Six Flags commercials, and shot off fireworks to announce the opening... but the fireworks appeared to fizzle, at least from my vantage point. I saw the sparklers shoot up from the loading station, and I saw some rockets shoot up from behind the ride, but I did not see any of your traditional fireworks displays. Then it took the staff ten minute to clear the fireworks residue from the station, and THEN they started allowing the public to board.

Observation: capacity for this ride appears to be quite low. Sixteen people can ride at a time; the ride is about one minute long, and the crew was averaging about two minutes for their unload/load cycle. You do the math. If you plan to visit SFEG anytime soon, get there before they open, and go straight to this ride before the lines get ridiculously long.

I did capture the ride on video three times with my Canon PowerShot S1 IS (which has great video quality for a digital camera), but at 85MB each, I don't think I'll be posting them online anywhere. Sorry people. But the better pictures from today may be found on my pbase site. Enjoy!

--Kevin

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Kevin Knapp, Colorado Springs, kknappcyclone@aceonline.org
Remove "cyclone" from e-mail address to reply *** Edited 5/27/2004 11:54:23 PM UTC by Kevin Knapp***

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Thursday, May 27, 2004 7:52 PM
Looks like a neat ride. What is the capacity like?
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Thursday, May 27, 2004 7:56 PM
Well, based the times we measured today, it takes three minutes to cycle a ride (one minute to ride, two minutes to load/unload). Halfpipe can accomodate 16 riders at a time. If they stay with those dispatch times, I calculate the capacity to be 320 riders/hour... (20 ride cycles an hour multiplied by 16 riders).
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Thursday, May 27, 2004 8:01 PM
There are very good photos and a cool (long) video located here http://www.prnewswire.com/mnr/sixflags/12224/ and also there are some other photos on Elitch Gardens part of Six Flags website.
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Thursday, May 27, 2004 8:08 PM
The ride visually looks great. They should have had Tony Hawk on-hand for the grand opening.
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Thursday, May 27, 2004 8:16 PM
Awesome TR and pics Kevin!

I was not sure what to make of the Halfpipe when I first heard about it but I am glad to see you are doing one of the first reviews!

It DOES look like a very laugh-inducing ride. ;-) If it's that much fun hopefully we will see more of them.

Kentucky Kingdom perhaps? :-D

-Tina

*** Edited 5/28/2004 12:17:37 AM UTC by coasterqueenTRN***

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Thursday, May 27, 2004 9:22 PM
I haven't been to Kentucky Kingdom, but from I've heard about KK, it would probably be a good addition to that park as well. My only concern would be capacity... I wonder if they can modify the design so that the track slides, so one train can load while the other is operating, like Mr. Freeze?
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Thursday, May 27, 2004 9:31 PM
Dare I say that the motion of the ride doesn't look like anything that special compared to, say, a giant frisbee. Unless it feels really special, I'm not sure I'd buy one for my park.
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Thursday, May 27, 2004 9:40 PM
Agreed Jeff, I was thinking that same thing.

It is definately very unique though.

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Thursday, May 27, 2004 9:45 PM
I generally avoid spinning rides, so I've never been on a giant frisbee and am unable to compare the two...
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Thursday, May 27, 2004 10:36 PM
True, but couldn't it be easier to market a "skateboarding" type ride rather than a giant frisbee?

Who knows...but we'll always welcome new innovations!

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Friday, May 28, 2004 12:35 AM
Which brings Tony Hawk into the mix. :)
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Friday, May 28, 2004 7:10 AM
I've ridden the one in Finland. Whilst I don't usually enjoy spinning rides at all, it was both good fun and non-nausea inducing. Good ride for a small footprint although I guess capacity may be a negative issue.
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Friday, May 28, 2004 11:38 AM
Great TR, Kev...check your private messages!
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Friday, May 28, 2004 2:34 PM
Well now I am officially excited to get a ride on Halfpipe. From your report it appears to be what I expected. Nothing too stellar, but an all around giggle fest.

But the capacity issue scares me at a park like Elitch's. It would be bad enough at almost any park, but any larger park will easily pile up several hours worth of wait time. And I just don't think that this ride justifies that kind of wait. A giant frisbee has better capacity and after I've ridden Halfpipe I can compare the two. But the rides can't be that much different.

Of course I'll reserve my opinion until after I've ridden it. But again the problem will be capacity. It sounds like a ride that almost anyone can enjoy. That will make it popular with a large chunk of the patrons. The waits may get horrendous, and that's unfortunate. Still I'm happy a park like Elitch's got anything new this year. And at least it's unique in the state's, for now.

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Saturday, May 29, 2004 4:39 PM
Get to the park when it first open for the day and run like hell to Halfpipe!
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Saturday, May 29, 2004 9:26 PM
This would be a good ride for smaller parks. (cough cough Great Escape cough) Possibly even two of them "dueling' depending on how much power the ride uses.
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Monday, May 31, 2004 2:10 PM
I got to ride it on Thursday before the park opened (ha ha, first buzzer to ride it!) :) Kevin summed up the ride experience pretty well. It is not the most intense ride in the park by any means, but it is one of the most enjoyable ones. I was laughing the whole time. The ride experience is made infinitely better if you off-balance the weight on the car, for this allows for much more spinning and a much more disorienting experience. I found it to be more fun than the frisbee I had ridden, for if you can get the car to start spinning well, the spinning is much faster than on the frisbee. I do think that capacity will be an issue, but overall, I think that this was a great addition for our park. I have talked to many guests about their opinions of it, and the majority of them enjoyed the ride.
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