Would the real designer of "Wild One" please stand

Tuesday, September 10, 2002 10:05 PM
I'm referring to SFA's wooden coaster. This site lists Vernon Keenan, but rcdb has John Miller listed, adding that Herb Schmeck re-designed parts after a fire damaged some of it in the 20's.
It matters to me because I am making a trip next summer to the eastern seaboard from here in Oregon, and I'm targetting parks with Miller creations (he had a hand in all 3 woodies at Kennywood!). I got so smitten with Coaster Thrill Ride at the Puyallup Fair in Wa (at 55 ft high, I can't wait to see what he did with those around 100 ft or so), that I must try to hit the remaining, before they befall the fate of Coney Island's Thunderbolt:(
Anyway, with limited time, my choices for next year's parks must be good ones; who knows when, if ever, I'll return. With all due respect to SFA, I have taken a look at what's there, and decided there is not much there pulling me other than the Miller creation, assuming it is. If it is not, I'll substitute Lakemount/Knoebel's for that day. I know, neither of those have Miller's, but I would only miss Leap-the-Dips for a Miller. Alas, SF website does not point towards a designer, so I was wondering if anyone has a different resource as to whom should be credited. Thanks for the help:)

*** This post was edited by Robocoaster on 9/11/2002. ***

Tuesday, September 10, 2002 10:29 PM
John Miller was the one who designed the original ride in 1917. It had several fan turns, double ups and downs, it was actually quite intense for a Miller coaster. Then it was damaged by fire in the '30s and that's when Schmeck did work on it. Then i think PTC has done work on it and each time they loose more and more of the original ride.
Wednesday, September 11, 2002 3:40 AM
...I can't believe you used "smitten" in a sentence.

"The opposite of war isn't peace, its creation," Rent.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002 4:30 AM

If you are a woodie fanatic, I would recommend that you make Knobel's your first choice, though SFA has 2 fine woodies. Roar is underrated.

Also consider though that SROS alone is worth the trip to SFA.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002 5:14 AM
I wouldn't judge SFA's lineup just by looking at it. I thought the same thing as you, but after our trip there this year, we were highly surprised. We had been to PKD just two days prior and felt SFA's coasters (while fewer) were better. Even if Wild One wasn't a Miller, it's not one to miss. A really good woodie with a lot of air. Roar is also pretty good, not much air but intense laterals.
Wednesday, September 11, 2002 5:22 AM
SFA doesn't look that great on paper but if/when you get there you will be pleasantly surprised. I went down there this summer just to ride Wild One; I had enjoyed it as a kid at Paragon Park. Despite the changes Wild One still delivered as I had remembered, and Roar, S:ROS, Batwing and Joker's Jinx were nice "throw-ins". Even Two Face was better then I expected. The only coaster that lived down to my expectations was Mind Eraser.
Wednesday, September 11, 2002 6:00 AM
IIRC, you are correct in saying that Miller was the principal designer and Schmeck rebuilt the ride after a fire (for the 1932 season, perhaps?). In addiiton, John Allen rebuilt the ride after a fire at the beginning of the 1963 season. An excerpt from my Allen history is below.

"In April of that year [1963] Paragon Park’s Giant Coaster caught fire and Torrence Jenkins, Jr., said that the, “station, trains, double helix finale and part of the lift hill” were all lost.  The park wanted Allen to rebuild the coaster as it was but his estimate proved too high for the traditional park.  Instead he left out two bunny hops and the helix finale in order to create an angled approach into the brake run. Although nowhere near as exciting as Miller’s finish, Allen gave the park an affordable option to tearing down the coaster.  The park bought the trains from the Comet [Forest Park Highlands] because they were much cheaper than buying new ones from P.T.C.  For a few seasons the Giant Coaster’s trains ran with the name Comet emblazed across the front of the car."


Wednesday, September 11, 2002 6:13 AM

I don't know how you can say there isn't much pulling you over to SFA. Besides Wild One, Roar is excellent as well and extremely under rated IMO. If you like steel, how can you not be attracted by SROS, JJ and BW? These are great coasters. I must say, I've heard many bad things about the job done to Wild One over the years and was expecting a bummer of a ride. Was I surprised! This thing delivers one of the best rides in the park. I also though the park was doing a great job maintaining the coaster, unlike a certain woodie at a SF park nearby

Thanks for all of the information and for asking this question. I've wondered myself and never thought this many people would know the history of this ride :)

*** This post was edited by RTneedsTLC on 9/11/2002. ***

Wednesday, September 11, 2002 6:41 AM

Yes, SFA does an excellent job maintaining its woodies. If you're in the park and it starts to rain head straight to Roar. In the rain Roar becomes one of the wildest rides ever with huge ejector air in the back. As previously stated the only coaster that isn't excellent is Mind Eraser, and IMO it is less of a head banger than most SLC's.

That said, if you are a true woodie believer, you must make the pilgrimage to Knobels at least once.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002 6:58 AM

Adam, "two bunny hops" and "double helix finale" jumped out at me....that must've been an awesome ride. Still a great ride, and one of my nostalgic favorites. SFA does do a MUCH better-than-average job of maintaining their wood in comparison to other SF parks I've visited....:)

Wednesday, September 11, 2002 7:06 AM

Wow what an interesting history lesson that was,I always knew by reading up on the coasters history that there was a fire which in turn lead to some reprofiling of the coasters finale but nothing like that,involving a complete redesign of the station as well as loosing the helix area,not to mention having to redesign the lift as well.

As for your original question on just who built the original ride all my research does indeed point to John Miller as the original designer/builder and he certainly did a fine job with this creation,it was my first "high speed" coaster when I rode it in 89,I really miss the original layout though because AW and now SF management has done so much reprofiling to the coaster in the past few years.

I've got a question regarding the trains,I wonder if the Forest park highlands comet trains were originally shipped with the ride when it was relocated to Maryland for it's 1986 debut as Wild one? man I sure miss those old buzzbar trains.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002 7:41 AM

The Wild One used to have 3-car trains instead of 4 during at lease some of the time it was Wild World. During at least some of the time it was Adventure World, it had 4-car trains. I would rather have the buzzbar trains myself, since you can't be stapled and you don't have to worry about the bar coming down any further. The Wild One is still a good ride, though. Sure, they tamed it down during the AW-to-SFA transition, but it still runs well, and pretty smooth. Two main things that would make the ride better, IMO, are buzzbars and making a better bunny hop out of that little hill just before the helix finale (the one that runs parallel to the lift).

Also of note, don't forget that John Pierce (of SFFT Rattler "fame") was involved in some reprofiling of the Wild One while at its current location. Notice how the bottom of the first drop doesn't go all the way to the ground--take a look at it. Pierce may have been involved in this. I've read him called something like: John "pull up the drops" Pierce.



Wednesday, September 11, 2002 11:16 AM

Yeah I recall the first reprofiling job on Wild one's first drop being performed just prior to the 92 season,if I remember correctly the ride was closed for most if not all of the 91 season so that the reprofiling work could be performed.

I also do recall at least in a photo of Wild one in White knuckle ride the trains were indeed only 3 cars long,yet in 94 they were pushed up to being 4 cars per train,at least in the photo shown in Rollercoasters of America.

And despite being tamed in recent years Wild one still performs very well,the last ride I had on it back on august 29th was the best so far this season with some great speed & air on each & every hill,it's a coaster that has aged rather well if you ask me.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002 6:42 PM
Sold! I will keep this on my itenerary. Much thanks for all the info; I find this coaster's life fascinating.
As for SFA, I only meant that with so many choices for a limited trip, some had to go. It killed me to axe IB, HW, PKI, MA,Dorney, Hershey, and ,of course, Knoebel's. Lesourdsville was on at one point, and even with a Miller, I had to leave it off my list.
That park, along with Arnold's and Lagoon, will hopefully join the others mentioned when I return, somewhere down the road after sojourns to CA, as well as Fl.

*** This post was edited by Robocoaster on 9/11/2002. ***


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