Term Paper help needed

Wednesday, April 9, 2003 7:55 PM
I am currently writing a term paper for my senior English class on Government regulation for coasters and coaster safety. I am in need of a Internet or published source which has information on the old and unsafe coasters like the Flip Flap, ect. If you know of any please post ASAP! I am explaining how rides were unsafe before but due to new technology and importance for safety, rides are now safe.

P.S. I will post it when I am finished as it has multiple references to CB's editorials on Ed Markey and Government regulations.

Thanks!
*** This post was edited by Etrain 4/9/2003 11:59:08 PM ***

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Wednesday, April 9, 2003 9:01 PM
I think you have a bad premise for a term paper. Did you know that many of the safety devices on coasters have been around for decades? Sure, there are advanced computers running newer coasters, but accidents still happen. All you have to do is to look at such accidents as the one that happened at S:ROS at SFNE.
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If you have a problem with clones, the solution is real simple—Stop traveling.
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Thursday, April 10, 2003 4:42 AM
Or Beast in 2001.

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Joe Barnett
Forum Moderator/Editorial Writer
www.pkiunlimited.com

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Thursday, April 10, 2003 5:17 AM
An excellent resource that should be required reading for all roller coaster / amusement park enthusiasts is Robert Cartmell's The Incredible Scream Machine. It covers the history of roller coasters, other gravity rides, and parks. Unfortunately, it is out of print but can be bought at Gunther Hall's website: http://www.guntherhall.com/

For more immediate needs, I would suggest using google.com using various key words.

Some background on the Flip-Flap:

The mid-to-late- 1800s was a time of experimentation for gravity rides. Creating a gravity-defying loop-the-loop coaster was the holy grail for these inventors. Mr. Lina Beecher created the first (?) looper in 1888 and installed it at Capt. Paul Boyton's Sea Lion Park in 1895. The train consisted of a single car with a two passenger capacity. The coaster was a failure because riders could not withstand the forces induced by a 25' circular loop. It closed before Luna Park replaced the park in 1903.

Edwin Prescott's Loop-the-Loop, installed at Coney Island in 1901, was much more successful. A larger, elliptical design greatly reduced neck strain. However, there were still safety risks in the design. Safety restraints were far from adequate and the train had no other wheels than those on top of the track - meaning only centrifugal acceleration kept the train on the tracks! Limited capacity (four riders with five minute intervals) kept LtL from being financially viable.

If memory serves, it was not until Arrow's corkscrew design in the 1970s that roller coaster inversions became safe and common design elements.

Here are a link examining the modern coaster loop-the-loop, the clothoid loop:

http://ffden-2.phys.uaf.edu/211_fall2002.web.dir/Shawna_Sastamoinen/Clothoid_Loop.htm

I hope some of this helps. Good luck on your paper!

- Rob
*** This post was edited by robfb 4/10/2003 9:18:41 AM ***

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Thursday, April 10, 2003 6:19 AM
One thing I have learned is not to only rely on the internet. Try to find some news paper clipings and use that as a source.

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"Do what you believe in and believe in what you do," Jeffrey E. McCants

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Thursday, April 10, 2003 6:29 AM
You should start with an anecdote. Do some research yourself. If you came in to class to present your paper with a bandage on your head and a great story about a shopping cart ride down a local hill and then go into detail about all the different coaster safety devices that you have saved you the pain and agony, I'd say A+++++!! ;)

And if you really didn't want to injure yourself, you could lie.

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"It's not a Too-mah!" - Arnold after riding Batman the Ride

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Thursday, April 10, 2003 6:51 AM

Etrain said:
I am currently writing a term paper for my senior English class on Government regulation for coasters and coaster safety. I am in need of a Internet or published source which has information on the old and unsafe coasters like the Flip Flap, ect. If you know of any please post ASAP! I am explaining how rides were unsafe before but due to new technology and importance for safety, rides are now safe.
(etc)

I think I fundamentally disagree with your premise, and I think you'll be hard pressed to find much information that supports your claim.

Your thesis presupposes that amusement rides used to be dangerous, but are not anymore. The truth is quite different. Amusement ride manufacturers and operators have emphasized patron safety since the dawn of the industry, because accidents are bad for business. No ride operator has ever awakened in the morning and said to himself, "I wonder how many customers I can injure today."

That's not to say that there have not been changes. And that's not to say that the changes have not improved rider safety. But the technological improvements in ride safety have been based on eliminating potential hazards, and removing opportunities for riders to get themselves hurt. Ride safety has improved, more or less in spite of regulatory action. But the fact that rides are more safe today than they once were does not necessarily mean that older rides are significantly more dangerous, or are inherently dangerous. They may be more succeptible to failure, but any ride that was actually dangerous wouldn't operate for long. After all, injuries are bad for business.

For a pretty good history of the roller coaster, I second the recommendation for Cartmell's book. Any other book you find that talks about the history of the roller coaster is more or less going to just summarize the content of The Incredible Scream Machine.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Thursday, April 10, 2003 7:03 AM
Yah, actually, the increase in safety has coincided with the increase in potential danger. The old rides may not have had the John Miller treatment, but those hills were pretty mild.

However, those ice slides were pretty dangerous...and the last time I went to a sno-park, I had to sign a waiver...right next to frozen blood in the snow!

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"It's not a Too-mah!" - Arnold after riding Batman the Ride

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Thursday, April 10, 2003 7:26 AM
There have been very few rides ever built that were truly unsafe. Even in the early days of rides most injuries were due to poor maintenance, poor operation, or rider misconduct. Most of the important safety devices such as anti-rollbacks and under friction designs were introduced in the teens or early 20's.

While there were a couple of exceptions, most of the early looping coasters failed not because they were dangerous but because they were uncomfortable and uneconomical to operate. It's hard to make money on a coaster that carries only two passengers and has a very long cycle time.

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Thursday, April 10, 2003 8:31 AM
Sounds like an upcharge attraction. :)

Now wait a minute, you might want to investigate safety improvements on third-rails. They were at one time, operated by individuals who would try to make the ride as 'exciting' as possible. Nowadays, Mack has a version that is computer controlled. Check it out. Interesting side-note in coaster history.

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"It's not a Too-mah!" - Arnold after riding Batman the Ride
*** This post was edited by janfrederick 4/10/2003 12:33:39 PM ***

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Thursday, April 10, 2003 10:45 AM
I just finished a paper on that same subject, email me if you want any information. I dont want to type a novel on here if you dont need it, Monfredr@uwec.edu

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If you haven't rode Raging Bull in the back row you haven't lived. The feeling on that first drop cannot be explained in words!

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Friday, April 11, 2003 11:13 AM
I had the idea because of Flip Flap breaking necks and the old Cyclone having a nurse in the station. I must admit I did not put much thought into it as I was planning on writing about Cedar Point but she said I has to prove a point. So I thought about it for a few minutes and thought about my current idea. As she is not an enthusiast and has no knowledge on the topic, I should have a fairly easy time convincing a layman. It all looks good on paper saying rides now have few injuries compared to snapped necks and enough injuries to have a nurse.
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Friday, April 11, 2003 11:36 AM
I think you need to keep in mind the perception of safety for the historical time period. Amusement parks of the early 20th century were places where one could be freed from constrictive societal standards of the day. This kind of environment would be considered unacceptable by today's standards.

For example, at Steeplechase Park in the 1930s there was a headlining attraction called the Steeplechase roller coaster. At its exit, guests had to negotiate a maze which led to a stage where gusts of air were used to blow up ladies skirts and a clown used an electric rod to shock men between their legs. Hardly a "safe" practice by today's standards.

Inadequate fire protection caused the destruction of the entire park of Dreamland at Coney Island in 1911. An electric short ignited tar at the Dante's Inferno attraction.

The strongest argument for amusement park safety is the economic incentive. Since these attractions are only for amusement (leisure), no one would be willing to pay if there is a significant risk of injury or death.

Conversely, we must also remember that communication was not nearly at the level that we enjoy today. Thus, many incidents could occur before word was spread far enough to deter customers from buying a ride (especially traveling carnivals). Safety systems can be costly and, as in any industry, unethical designers/operators may compromise this unseen benefit for higher profitability.

However, with the Internet and ubiquitous media, it is a major news story if a roller coaster has a problem, even when no one is hurt. Thus, regardless of government regulation, economic pressure continues to grow on amusement park operators to ensure safety is a critical component for attractions.

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Friday, April 11, 2003 12:10 PM
No matter what you argue, try not to write sentences like:

"I must admit I did not put much thought into it as I was planning on writing about Cedar Point but she said I has to prove a point."

I'm sure as an English teacher, she is looking not only for critical thinking skills, but writing skills as well. Be careful and have someone look it over for mistakes before submitting it.

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"It's not a Too-mah!" - Arnold after riding Batman the Ride
*** This post was edited by janfrederick 4/11/2003 4:10:30 PM ***

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Friday, April 11, 2003 12:48 PM
I meant I did not put much thought into the topic choice, not in the paper itself. Basically I want to just rant about how the gov has no reason to start regulating.

I do however believe coasters were unsafe back then. I don't see a nurse in the station of MF or see people suffering from broken necks after Raptor so something must have changed cause they are safer.
*** This post was edited by Etrain 4/11/2003 5:07:49 PM ***

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Friday, April 11, 2003 1:05 PM
Well....maybe not. Perhaps you could research the reasoning for the goverment stepping in. If it wasn't broke, why'd they think they needed to fix it?

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"It's not a Too-mah!" - Arnold after riding Batman the Ride

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Friday, April 11, 2003 7:41 PM
{sigh}. I think that after sixteen years, a pair of sentences on p. 86 of The Incredible Scream Machine has to rank as the Most Unfortunate Word Choice in Roller Coaster History. The sentences:



The ride had a flaw. It snapped passenger's necks.

Now, when we see a sentence like that, our natural reaction is to assume that "snapped" in this case is as you might break a twig over your knee. And yet, the ride operated for possibly as long as fourteen years. I have not put much research into this, but I am almost certain that this is not what Dr. Cartmell had in mind when he wrote the book. I suspect that if you were to investigate further you would find that the ride generated whiplash complaints, not broken necks. If the ride were breaking necks, they'd either fix it or shut it down.

(The last time a major coaster was caught breaking necks, the park did, in fact, modify the ride in such a way that it should solve the problem. And I'll leave it at that.)

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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