Sylvester McBean's Photos Inside!

Saturday, February 19, 2005 2:20 AM
Hey everyone! Well, I was going through my old files the other day, and I happened to come across a folder full of photos of IOA's forgotten "Sylvester Monkey McBean's Very Unusual Driving Machines." These pictures give a behind the scenes look at the attraction and buildings. They were originally hosted on IOACentral's site, but have since disappeared. I thought I should make them once again available to all IOA fans so I threw 'em together on a webpage that is up for viewing. Click on over to to check them out.

I'm still fascinated by this forgotten treasure. It’s amazing how a majority of the ride seems to have been completed, yet it was left unfinished. Safety reasons, budget issues, whatever. I’m just so intrigued by the whole of Sylvester McBean and his lost Driving Machines. Some of my favorite pictures include the ones of the control room, control computer, and map of the track layout. Simply fascinating!

Well, head on over and check them out and let me know what you think. You might have already seen them on IOACentral, but if you haven’t, enjoy!


*As stated in the website, these pictures do not belong to me, and remain the property of *** Edited 2/19/2005 7:20:53 AM UTC by Christopher Levinsky***

Saturday, February 19, 2005 3:06 AM
So the ride is still running as a decorative display only, correct?
Saturday, February 19, 2005 3:17 AM
Yes, it is only being used as a decoration for the time being. Every so often, a display car can be scene circling the track, weaving in and out of buildings.


Saturday, February 19, 2005 9:43 AM
Nice pictures...

The first year IOA was open I snuck up the entrance to see the loading station (for some dorky reason). They have since blocked access...

It is a shame they never opened the ride. The land could use another attraction or two in my opinion.

Saturday, February 19, 2005 10:01 AM
Was anyone ever sued over that? There's a LOT of work done to that - some very intricate details, just like all of IoA, that sure didn't come cheap! Seems weird that they'd get a ride all the way to that far complete before realizing that there's a safety problem with it? Then again, I guess there have been a lot of rides that get built before some safety problem arises. Guess the regulations on "final design" of a ride isn't the same as other civil projects!
Saturday, February 19, 2005 10:27 AM
I agree that it seems inconceivable that the ride was not finished and put into service. That's just too expensive and enormous of a mistake to be for real. The explanation I keep hearing is some kind of safety reason, but I just can't believe that it's something that can't be overcome.
Saturday, February 19, 2005 10:58 AM
That is incrediable! The ride looks so amazing! I can not believe they would just let it sit. I agree with Jeff that the saftey problems could easily be over come. I can't Imagine to be at the park and see this incredialbe structure not being able to ride it. that is one expensive lawn oranmet.
Saturday, February 19, 2005 11:36 AM
Thank You so much for sharing the pictures :)

I've also always been very interested in the ride.

I have family that works for a company that was contracted to design and build much of the theming at IOA. I was told that because the ride relies on electicity there is a possible chance of riders being stranded or even worse, a fire in a car which would strand riders. This wouldn't have been too much of an issue if it wasn't for the fact that they used soft padded walkways in much of IOA so a cherry picker wouldn't even be able to pull under the tracks without destroying the walkways.

I was also told just last fall that the ride would never open.

edit: spelling mistake *** Edited 2/19/2005 4:37:23 PM UTC by RTneedsTLC***

Saturday, February 19, 2005 1:09 PM
I've been following the life of Sylvester McBean's since the beginning. I remember in March of 1999, I went to IOA for the first time during the soft opening when much of the park was still being built. Outside of the McBean entrance, a sign had been hung saying "Opening 2000." I believe it was also listen on the map as "Coming soon" or something to that effect. Then when I returned in summer of 2000, the sign now read "Opening 2001." By the next year, the sign had been removed all together. Briefly, I believe sometime in early 2004, a sign was posted stating "Sylvester McBean's Very Unusual Driving Machines" -- however, it quickly disappeared.

There have been so many rumors as to why the ride never opened. What we do know is this: When Universal was building IOA, they hired thousands of subcontractors to complete various projects around the park, including rides. The company that was commissioned to build Sylvester made a serious mistake--they overlooked the fact that no escape route was built into the ride to quickly evacuate riders in case of emergency. As RTneedsTLC pointed out, the fact that the ride was powered by electricity complicated the matter even more. If a fire were ever to start, how would you safely remove guests from the ride? A cherry picker is out of the question as the ground throughout Seuss Landing is made from Styrofoam and could never withstand such weight.

So a serious safety issue that was overlooked was the true downfall of McBean. To make matters worse, the company that was building McBean went bankrupt before ever being able to complete the ride. I do believe that at various points in time, Universal fully intended to complete the ride. It’s been reported that several times, testing has been done to ensure that the track and ride system is still functional. Universal has in storage, all 57 of the original cars that were to be used for the ride.

While the current state of McBean could never open as is, I do believe that if Universal wanted to, they could redesign the ride and get it up and running. What I truly believe is the limiting factor is money. Much of Universal’s budget last year went to building “The Mummy” ride. What’s still shocking to me is that apparently these parks are loosing millions a year, and that the budget is extremely tight. I’ve heard through the grapevine that McBean hasn’t been forgotten, it’s just not a top priority.

Could it ever open? Sure, but Universal doesn’t seem to want to invest the time, resources, or money right now into completing the project. For now, it remains an intricate and very expensive decoration.


Saturday, February 19, 2005 1:47 PM
Not being able to drive automobiles in Seuss Landing has been mentioned twice. How are facility crew and night-time employees supposed to get around? What route must they travel then?
Saturday, February 19, 2005 1:48 PM
I believe I found the problem: (last picture)

Theres no seats left for anyone else! ;)

Josh *** Edited 2/19/2005 6:48:59 PM UTC by J Bird***

Saturday, February 19, 2005 1:57 PM
The ground is most certainly not made of foam. Everything else might be, but the midway is concrete.

Aren't those helicopter rides (like the one at PKI) electrically driven? How is that really any different?

Saturday, February 19, 2005 2:32 PM
Hi, Everybody! Re: The "Machines" and safety issues for no evacuation...

Think about this. These vehicles only could carry a few people at a time. What about Disney monorails that traverse swamps, lakes and carry hundreds of people each. Was the safety issue raised by Universal, local or State authorities?

I agree there are legitimate concerns over the design and layout, but if outside influences stopped this from becoming reality, they should look at similar operations.

Saturday, February 19, 2005 3:17 PM
Well the Disney monorails do have built in fire-escapes to the roof, are multiple cars and are accessible from underneath for the fire department to get to them. But the main reason that comes to mind (I'm just thinking this is why but have know way of knowing) is that Disney considers these a transportation device instead of a ride which might carry different safetey guidelines. Maybe not the reason but just a thought.

How high is a ride like the helicopter at PKI? I'm not familiar with it but maybe it's closer to the ground?

I'm not really certain that the midway is made of styrofoam either but many parts of it do have a spongy feel.

Saturday, February 19, 2005 6:00 PM
Can't they add some sort of a walkway or make a car that can tow/push the cars to the station incase of a power outage..... and that ground is concrete... only the facades of the buildings are styrophome.... (their is concrete and steel in each building...)

Interesting photos... how far it was built... then left....

Saturday, February 19, 2005 6:10 PM
I don't think the problem lies in where the ride goes over main parts of Suess Landing, but rather the part over Sneetch Beach. Isn't that an ackward area with sand and stuff?
Saturday, February 19, 2005 7:00 PM
At some point in time, I do remember hearing talks of a "pusher/tower" type car being used to solve the evacuation issue. The theory was that at the switch-track, this special car could be placed on the track, then manually driven along the track to push the other cars back to the load station. While this would surely be a slow process, it would work nonetheless.

As far as the walkways not being able to withstand the weight, that remains to be known. But I think the real issue would be just the maneuvering of a cherry picker-type device. If the ride were ever to break down and an evacuation was required, the whole of Seuss Landing would need to be closed off to make way for the cherry picker. Instead of one ride being down, a whole island would be!

As Lord Gonchar mentioned, there are sections of the ride that travel over Sneetch Beach, making for an even more difficult escape. However, I think this is where the “pusher/tower” car concept would play a key part. The car would most likely be deployed to push the stranded cars back over main land, either to a cherry picker or even back to the load station. In theory, yes it would work. But in reality, an emergency evacuation situation would just be too complicated to pull off.

Probably the most reliable method would be to add walkways along the track as Figment mentioned. However, I’m guessing this ties back into the whole budget issue. It would surely come as an expense that Universal just doesn’t seem to want to take at the moment. Aside from that, I still would love to see Universal finally get this ride up and running! It’s been over 6 years since IOA opened, not even including the years that went into park plan and design!

A few other unknown elements of the ride: While the ride was still in its planning stage, the concept cars were partially powered by the rider. The rider would be able to speed up and lightly tap the car in front of them. This feature was later removed from the ride and left solely up to the computer to control. While much of the track lies outside, there are times when the track would travel inside into separate buildings designated just for the ride. I’m not just talking about when the track enters the Circus McGircus building, but actual indoor areas just for the ride. While the number of indoor show scenes escapes me, the parts inside were to be designated to telling the tale of the Sneetchs. Very cool indeed!

-Chris *** Edited 2/20/2005 12:03:01 AM UTC by Christopher Levinsky***

Saturday, February 19, 2005 7:10 PM
Seems silly that if nothing else, they don't make little Seuss creatures to ride and just let the entire thing run, but not as an attraction for PEOPLE.

That much money, you'd think they'd use it at LEAST as an eleborate decoration.

Saturday, February 19, 2005 7:34 PM
The fact that they are electrically driven should have no bearing. Buy a generator.

The Pitt Fall at Kennywood is electrically driven, we have four different ways to evacuate people if the power goes out while the cars are rising. Our ski lift is electric... we have three means of evacuation if there's a power loss... and this is Kennywood! With all that IOA $$ floating around, that can't be the main concern.

It just can't be that simple, can it?

Saturday, February 19, 2005 9:52 PM
Homey G - I've seen it running once or twice with Seuss characters in the vehicles, but I think the last time was over a year ago - not sure why they stopped that.

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