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Antinos' 2020 Thread (Silverwood and remaining sights - whole report complete!)

Antinos

Slut for Spinners
Another year, another thread. This one is certainly going to be shorter than my previous year-long trip report threads, and honestly, it's possible that it's ultimately exclusive to this impromptu trip out west as the culture war in America continues to rage and coronavirus runs rampant. Hopefully it's under control sooner rather than later such that we can get some Fall coasting in or possibly take another weekend jaunt out to a less inhabited part of the country for some creds, but only time will tell.

So how'd this trip come about? By the end of May, we had to cancel three of the four US Lives (and we're honestly doubtful about the fourth) but we also saw the news that both Lagoon and Silverwood were getting ready to open back up. As luck would have it, airfare was actually decent (with some finagling), so we decided to do it. And since we were in the area, we used some contacts to set up some tours of S&S Worldwide and RMC! Sounds like a good time!

To be honest, I was pretty apprehensive about traveling during a pandemic that's hitting the US as hard as it is, but after getting on the road to meet @Snoo in Columbus and entering Columbus' empty airport, my anxieties melted away. This flight was the longest duration I had worn a mask thus far and I honestly nearly forgot about it. Traveling was nowhere near as stressful or worrisome as I had thought.

Our flight departed CMH at around 7:30pm on June 25th en route to Denver, where we'd have an overnight layover. At 10:15am the next morning, we were on our way to Salt Lake City, Utah to meet @tomahawk and @LooperOne! They picked us up from the airport and we headed north to S&S' headquarters!




It's hard to miss S&S' building - you simply have to look for the roller coasters right next to it. S&S moved into a brand new building about two years ago, which houses their office space, all of their machining and fabrication, and their warehouse. Because the building is so new, everything seems spotless and the offices have a modern, but not necessarily open feel to them (side note: we were all jealous of their workstations - ample desk space with boom mounted duel screen computers). The company employs nearly 100 people, which is much more than we thought, but based on where the company has been and where it is headed, it makes a lot of sense and feels like the right size.


















After touring their facility, it's clear that S&S is continuing to gain momentum. Their rides follow a clear manufacturing process. Each ride starts with individual parts getting fabricated. Although S&S has machining capabilities under their roof, most of their work is outsourced to other machining shops local to the valley.




If any components need to be welded, they'll head into the welding shop where the hardcore fabrication takes place. This particular shop has over a dozen cranes and can house multiple projects and track sections at once.




Numerous sub-assemblies are then stored in a little nook between welding and sandblasting where they await a quality check. If the parts pass, they head into the sandblasting chamber for paint prep.




S&S' paint booth is large enough to house two sections of track inside to aid throughput and has the capability of spraying two different projects side by side. Painted components are then stored off to the side where they await additional assembly.






Eventually, all the parts come together in a zone that's essentially a final trim and chassis assembly area. Ride vehicles will have their chassis built up and married with any trim pieces (padding, shields, seatbelts, etc) intended for the ride, which are stored and assembled a few feet away. Ride vehicles, track, and other components then go through one more round of quality control before they're kitted and shipped.














The company also has plenty of warehouse space throughout the shop, although most of what's stored in the main room is for active projects. As expected, S&S also provides a lot of service parts for their own rides, but also still provides quite a lot of service parts for old Arrow rides, which is surely an anchorhold in their business.

It's clear that S&S has made a serious effort to improve their company internally. Although their manufacturing process is relatively straight forward, by no means did it haphazardly appear. The company has made strides in improving their inventory systems and work flow to the point where it's clearly paying dividends with regard to the quality and performance of their latest rides. Give them another five or ten years and they'll be at the top.


Alright, time to get on to what y'all want to know about: Axis. Even as a small prototype, the ride was phenomenal. It had a powerful launch, accelerating riders to 40 mph in under two seconds. The flip at the top of the first incline really set the tone for what the ride is all about. If it weren't for all of the content out about the ride already, it would have been a complete surprise. The rest of the ride was quite a rush too. The whole concept was graceful and floaty, like one would expect on a flying coaster, but it was still relatively intense, unlike a wing coaster. We were all about it.








Since it was a prototype, the entire operating process was fairly manual. The catch car needed to be winched back and if we wanted to switch seats, catwalks needed to be manually placed in position and someone had to climb through the train and hook up an air hose to the lock. We also needed to sit down at the same time or else our seats would rotate to an awkward position. Luckily, our collective weight was perfect and we parked within inches of the starting position every time. Surely the full blown model will have extra mechanisms that will automate or alleviate these nuances.








Following our rides on Axis, the employees were able to give us more information about the ride and it became clear how flexible this platform is. They mentioned that this ride system can utilize a lift, a compressed air launch, or LSM launch, and the ride can have a station oriented in nearly any position (think the hidden aspects of Forbidden Journey's station). With the way the track and seats rotate independently from each other, designers can have a field day with possible layouts. As we drove away, we thought about how cool it'd be to see something like a trench run themed ride at Disney, or a proper Top Gun themed ride. And with the prototype being as thrilling as it was, something similar would be perfect for small parks and family entertainment centers, yet I can only imagine what these rides would be like with a 70 mph launch and heights nearing 200 feet. They really have a good thing going here.




Have any of these sold yet? Well, it doesn't sound like any have yet. The company got the prototype completely set up about a week before IAAPA last year and by the time they got back, it was winter in Utah. Throw in coronavirus and S&S hasn't really had much of an opportunity to bring customers out to ride it yet. Despite that, every time a group of goons like us come to visit, they get a lot more exposure on social media, so I'm sure it's only a matter of time before these sell like hot cakes.





So there you have it! Axis was truly awesome and S&S is a fantastic company. I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking about how grateful we are to get a view at how they bring their rides to fruition.





At this point, I'd typically post a roadmap of my season plans, but as I mentioned above, who knows if I'm doing anything else this year. All I know for sure is that I'm writing about Lagoon tomorrow!
 

davidm

Well-Known Member
What was that other track outside at S&S ; out past the axis track? Looked steeplechase-y? Any info on that.

(Cool work by the way!)
 

Howie

Active Member
Yeah, a good read, that. Proper 'excluse'. ?
Can't wait to see one of those Axis coasters crop up somewhere... hopefully not somewhere too far away and obscure.
As for the RMC factory, don't suppose you clocked any T-Rex track lying around did you? ?
 

Antinos

Slut for Spinners
What was that other track outside at S&S ; out past the axis track? Looked steeplechase-y? Any info on that.

(Cool work by the way!)
The steeplechase looking thing is that prototype that we've seen numerous videos of a couple years ago but based on what we could see during out visit, it looks like they're about to dismantle it. We probably should have asked some questions about it but we wereso focused on Axis and forgot.

Yeah, a good read, that. Proper 'excluse'. ?
Can't wait to see one of those Axis coasters crop up somewhere... hopefully not somewhere too far away and obscure.
As for the RMC factory, don't suppose you clocked any T-Rex track lying around did you? ?
I'll elaborate more on this once I get to that portion of the report, but RMC basically confirmed that T-Rex has been put on ice for the time being, although for different reasons than people think. We all know that T-Rex is supposed to be the grand daddy of coasters, and although it sounds like there has been some interest thus far, the company wants to implement lessons learned from Raptor before green lighting a T-Rex project.
 

davidm

Well-Known Member
^ yeah, just didn't think I'd seen any videos of the steeplechase in action (plenty of renders and videos of the trains at IAAPA and so on, just not it moving for real). I can find a pic of people riding it on facebook (when S&S opened that facility) but that's about it.

Oh well, if there's no steeplechase-scoop ; carry on, as you were......
 

JoshC.

Active Member
Nice report - thanks for sharing!

The 'bare bones'-ness of the Axis prototype amazes me. It tickles me watching the video whilst it just coasts to a stop because there's no brakes. I get it exists just to give potential buyers the sensation of the ride (and the increased 'ride time' helps with that), and they'll have wanted to use as little materials as possible. Still amuses me though.

It'll be interesting to see how a loading procedure works when one of them go to a park too - sounds like a big faff at the moment!
 

Antinos

Slut for Spinners
Nice report - thanks for sharing!

The 'bare bones'-ness of the Axis prototype amazes me. It tickles me watching the video whilst it just coasts to a stop because there's no brakes. I get it exists just to give potential buyers the sensation of the ride (and the increased 'ride time' helps with that), and they'll have wanted to use as little materials as possible. Still amuses me though.

It'll be interesting to see how a loading procedure works when one of them go to a park too - sounds like a big faff at the moment!
It is pretty funny to see a ride operate so manually. It really makes you appreciate the extra bits that you hardly ever think about to either automate a bunch of processes or facilitate loading/unloading. The ride structure itself may be relatively simple to design, but the real work is spent on the trains and extra quality of life hardware/software.


Also, for those who missed my post in the S&S Concept thread, here's some extra media, including CF's Facebook post, Larson Loopers' POV set, our onride livestream where we share a lot of info about the ride, and our livestream following our tour of the facility (starts out a bit slow but picks up around 5:00 minutes).




 

Antinos

Slut for Spinners
One quick aside I'd like to make before diving into the review of Lagoon is a note regarding how beautiful this part of the country is. My family and I have gone out west for skiing numerous times (I've driven past Lagoon and both Denver parks multiple times), but I haven't been to the Rocky Mountains in over a decade. I certainly needed the reminder of how picturesque this part of the country is, which was clear in the first photo I posted as well as the background of all the photos and videos outside at S&S, and will continue to be evident throughout the rest of this trip.

So, up and at 'em on Saturday morning such that we could visit Lagoon Amusement Park. Discounting @tomahawk's and @LooperOne's brief visit two days prior, this was a new park for all of us. Additionally, it was the single largest single park cred haul remaining for me in North America (that's now a tie between Valleyfair and Wild Adventures - I've been everywhere else this side of the Atlantic with more creds). A new park always makes for an exciting day, and today was no different!




I should also mention that @tomahawk nearly broke his foot a week before we left for this trip. Luckily, his injuries weren't worse than what they were and he could still ride most everything with us. This resulted in us taking advantage of exit passes at both parks, even though we really didn't need it on most rides. We DID take advantage of Lagoon's policy where they let us go around for a second ride without getting up.




Terroride - We received multiple recommendations to ride this first thing and it happened to be the first ride we came across (Lagoon is shaped kind of like a really stubby T with the entrance at the bottom of the stem and the rides surrounding the top, and Terroride is located on the right side of the junction). Although the ride was short, it ran through multiple scenes that were pretty darn spicy for this part of the country (Utahns, and specifically Mormons, are quite proper and do not use vulgarity whatsoever). Not a bad way to start the day.

Roller Coaster - Although Roller Coaster is 100 years old, the only original portion of the ride is probably the station. The ride recently received Millennium Flyers and although the layout doesn't really call for trains that specialize in their articulation, they did add some vintage feel to this landmark. The ride itself was pretty much what you would expect at face value. Roller Coaster isn't intense by any stretch - the airtime is floater at best, and the new trains track well enough where the ride is comfortable save for a couple slightly shaky spots. I'll give it a few bonus points for its awesome station building though.














Colossus the Fire Dragon - Every time I ride a Schwarzkopf, I am blown away by how these rides have withstood the test of time and still deliver excellent rides despite their age. Colossus is no different: I thought it was the second best ride at the park. It is a near clone of Laser/Testtrecke, with the only difference being a slight difference in profiling on the last helix. The ride exhibits those familiar shunts as the train dives into the swooping first drop and on the transitions into both helices. The entire ride, including both loops and the helices, is ultra-intense and cause sustained gray-outs, but Colossus is still incredibly smooth. I last rode Laser when I was just getting into coasters, and after a few laps on Colossus, I'm wondering if Laser was as good as this.












Wicked - Wicked was a ride that seemed to get a lot of praise when it first opened but was forgotten after its first couple years of operation. The first half of the ride is pretty good! It starts out with a horizontal AND vertical launch (which provides a really cool sensation) to the top of a very skinny tophat which provides some decent airtime as the coach crests the top. After a quick bunny hop, Wicked enters a fairly forceful overbanked turn and then transitions into an oddly shaped 0-g roll. At this point, the ride loses a lot of steam, and the second half is spent meandering through a few turns. The last turn exhibits a fairly significant shuffle which further nosedives the experience. Despite the bum second half, Wicked is still a fun and unique ride.














Spider - Typically I don't care for these Maurer spinners as they don't usually provide much spinning. Luckily, Spider bucks the trend and is the best of these that I've been on thus far. Much of this might have been due to how we loaded our coach. The big guys sat on one side and the small guys on the other, and this weight distribution resulted in a lap where we spun nearly the entire ride. I certainly won't complain about that.






Puff the Little Dragon - I mean, I guess if we can get on the kiddie coaster with no wait to get the +1, we might as well.




Bombora - Lagoon has a number of rides that you just don't realize exist unless you take a close look at RCDB, this one included. Bombora was an interesting family ride with a smooth layout and fairly comfortable trains. The seats also had speakers that played Beach Boys songs during the ride, which was a bit of a surprise. For us seasoned goons, the ride exists, but it's good for the families.




Cannibal - The park's phenomenal flagship. This thrilling ride starts at the base of the ride's 208 foot tall elevator lift, which is a similar design to Intamin's water coasters. Riders catch a brief view of the Great Salt Lake before Cannibal attempts to throw you off the top of the tower as the coach dives down the 116 degree beyond vertical drop. The first inversion feels enormous - more so than Valravn's or Gatekeeper's. The immelmann is so large that the track has time and space to dive nearly vertical before returning riders to a right side up riding position. Although the dive loop doesn't feel quite as big, the exit transitions into a quick step-down maneuver which provides good airtime. After a speedy overbanked turn, Cannibal enters the mid course brakes for a breather after a relentless first half. Unfortunately, the "Lagoon roll" is a significant detriment to the ride due to the duration of hangtime and the awkward sideways directional change half way through the maneuver. Luckily, the ride claws back with a diving turn into a final helix. If Colossus isn't enough to make you like this park, Cannibal will surely do the job. Additionally, the ride runs six coaches that seat twelve. The park does a phenomenal job at dispatching the ride so even if a line exists, it moves quickly.
















Biergarten - We briefly discussed how Lagoon was reopening their Biergarten on The Drunk Riders podcast around IAAPA time this past fall, but little did we know that we'd actually be dining here this summer. This eatery had a pleasant atmosphere and was pretty well insulated from the rest of the park. The food was pretty good for a reasonable price, and the place was a nice way to simply cool off and relax for a bit.








Wild Mouse - My notes say "emphasis on wild." I recall the only brakes that grabbed were the ones that functioned as block brakes, and they bit HARD. The rest of the trims remained open and thus I slammed into @Snoo or he slammed into me around every turn.






Bat - This was the only inconsistently operated ride we saw at the park. We walked by earlier in the day and found what would have been our longest wait because they were loading every other row and required someone with an exit pass to have another person wait in the main line before riding. Luckily, there was a shift change later and we found no line, a full train, and no need to wait in line with an exit pass. These family suspended coasters basically just exist, although this hang and bang didn't bang nearly as much as others that I've ridden, so at least there's that.




Flying Aces - If a non-Cedar Fair park has flying scooters, we need to ride them. Flying Aces were the fastest flying scooters we've ever ridden - so fast that snapping was honestly effortless. Unfortunately, the ride operator was not keen on our snapping despite no signage stating otherwise, and although we received multiple warnings while the ride was moving, it was difficult to disrupt the rhythm and stop snapping. Still fun though!




The Rocket - A fairly standard, but good drop tower. We sat facing Primordial so we got a pretty good view at its current state, which is nowhere remotely close to opening.




Overall Thoughts - Lagoon is a solid little park with a great lineup of coasters and other rides. Much of the coasters do cater more towards kids and families, but by no means is that a bad thing. In fact, the coaster selection was prime for operating almost every ride with multiple trains or coaches. Despite the light crowds, Lagoon cycled six trains on Cannibal, five on Wicked, multiple coaches on Spider, two on Colossus, and even two on Bombora. This particular aspect seems like standard operating procedure for them, which is great because they probably keep the lines fairly short on crowded days. The park does seem to suffer a bit from an identity crisis - one corner seems like a carnival with a bunch of semi-transportable rides, another section feels vintage, another part feels like a fairground, and yet another part (the newest area around Cannibal) feels like a proper, modern section that feels like part of a big name park - but this did not detract from our day at all. Lagoon also feels like a RCT park that came to life. The midways are all geometric with gardens and fountains in the middle, frequent crossovers, and a skyride running right down the middle of the main drag (I'm fairly certain that most rides could be recreated in the game too). Despite this quirk, the park really was well landscaped and had plenty of trees to provide shade. Also, every ride seemed vibrant as if each had received a fresh coat of paint during the extended offseason. Overall, our experience at Lagoon was pleasant although I don't think I'll be racing back to the park to ride Jet Star (closed for social distancing) and Primordial. Luckily, if they do build something grand in the future that would warrant another trip, Salt Lake City is a relatively easy and cheap flight from Detroit.














The park did an alright job with operating in a pandemic. I don't know if the park was only at 15% capacity like they claim, but crowds were very light and there was plenty of space to distance out on the midways. Although it seemed like only half of the guests were wearing masks, everyone did a pretty good job at social distancing in queues. Finally, the park policy stated that they'd occasionally sanitize trains, although we were never in a station when they did so. By no means was the park ignoring coronavirus, but they could have done quite a bit more (I'll shed more light on this when I write about Silverwood).




One last thing...these bathroom markers might be the greatest thing I've ever seen at an amusement park. The toilet spins and the seat lid raises and lowers. It's a literal **** post.






I'll break it off at this point right here when we left the park and do a dedicated post highlighting all that we saw on the road between Salt Lake City and Coeur d'Alene. Even though it mostly isn't ride related and will instead be quite nature heavy (but will still include at LEAST a mention of rides), it's worth a dedicated post.
 

Antinos

Slut for Spinners
Let's add more pictures and make page 1 even longer!

After we left Lagoon, we headed north since we had a hotel in Idaho Falls, which would cut three hours out of the drive between Salt lake City and Coeur d'Alene. Although we were technically in the Rocky Mountains, the drive was surprisingly flat. We were fairly close to Yellowstone National Park though, where the landscape changes abruptly and frequently, so I shouldn't be quite so surprised. We got to Idaho Falls with plenty of time to go see the waterfalls downtown, which were actually quite nice, and also grab a steak dinner in a place right next to the hotel.

















Originally, we planned on running just up the road on Sunday morning to stop by Yellowstone Bear World because they have a Visa spinner, but it started to rain and since those rides don't do well when the tire drives are wet, we decided to skip the now unlikely +1. On the road, we continued north and then west to Coeur d'Alene. The total drive time from Idaho Falls was seven hours, but luckily the drive got more and more mountainous, and because of that, the long drive hardly felt like it was that long.










If you look closely in the middle of this photo, you'll see a giant tower thing on the hill. This is the Anaconda Smelting Stack. Apparently it's the largest surviving masonry tower in the world, standing 585 feet tall. Even though we were miles away, it still looked absolutely enormous off in the distance.






After arriving in Coeur d'Alene, checking into the hotel, and dropping off our stuff, we headed to CDA's waterfront briefly before heading over to Spokane, Washington for a brief stop in downtown to check out their own waterfalls. These ones were much more grand than the ones in Idaho Falls so it was definitely worth the trip over there. Before we left, we did hear about a gondola that takes guests over the lower falls and under one of the surprisingly enormous bridges in the city. Unfortunately they were closed, but they still had the gondolas parked out over the falls, which looked pretty cool.
















All in all, it was a fairly long day and we saw quite a lot as we covered 700 miles of roadway (with 85mph speed limits, which are fantastic by the way), but it was all good! I often forget about nature as I go about my daily life so it's always great to get the reminder of how impressive the wilderness is. I need to do a better job at connecting with nature, especially on these coaster trips. I hope the photos do some justice!


Up next is the RMC tour, but I'll be away from my computer again for the weekend so y'all will have to wait! :p
 

LiveForTheLaunch

Well-Known Member
I really enjoyed reading this! It's so weird seeing the S&S facility because some of the pictures look like the old machine shop I worked in, and then I remember that coaster pieces are actually manufactured in machine shops which is quite weird if that makes any sense :p I wonder how many thou of grace they get when making those parts?! I heard aircraft and roller coaster parts have the tightest tolerances out there, which makes sense. So glad you guys had such a great time on a prototype, which makes me excited for when we see this in the coaster world for real!

I always forget Lagoon is such a substantial park. I imagine it being a little fair or something with a few creds, which is obviously not the case. I'd love to go but that won't happen for a solid couple of years at least. Cannibal looks like a ****ing monster and that spider is horrendous and frightening.
 

Antinos

Slut for Spinners
Monday (6/29) was our earliest morning of the trip, although we moved one more time zone west the previous day and our bodies weren't really adjusted yet, so waking up early was no issue. After a quick bite to eat in the hotel lobby, we arrived at the headquarters of Rocky Mountain Construction in no time flat.




Upon arrival, we met our tour guide; Jake, who happens to be the COO (he has quite an admirable job). We started off in the main building out of four total, which was comprised of administration offices and their machine shop. Ten years ago, this was RMC's only building and the company produced New Texas Giant in its entirety out of this shop. Today, the shop houses numerous CNC mills, lathes, and other shop tools. They typically produce components for their rolling stock in here. Also, it's worth noting that it was interesting to hear the differences between RMC compared to S&S, particularly how RMC likes to keep as much of their machining in house as possible. They stated that the only time they would outsource machining work is if they are overcapacitized with projects.






After our tour of the machine shop, we went across the street to the paint shop (another notable difference - while S&S brought everything under one roof, RMC specializes each building to a particular task or two). Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to photograph in here because they were spraying some track, but it was the coolest building to see. One end of the building had numerous sandblasted track pieces awaiting paint and the other end of the building housed freshly painted track pieces awaiting kitting and shipment. In the middle, a piece of track was undergoing painting in their open paint booth. This booth looked sort of like the one we saw at S&S a few days prior, except one wall and much of the roof was removed, and the remaining wall was entirely grated with ventilation systems. All in all, the inside of this building as a whole was quite a sight to see.

The next building we toured was their main fabrication building, and despite the pandemic, it was without a doubt the most active. Numerous different processes take place in this shop before the track pieces are sent to paint. First, strips of steel plate that form the track pieces are cut on plasma gantries that line the east wall of the building. The building houses two gantries, but four tables - this allows crews to reset one table while plate on a second table is undergoing cutting operations. Although plasma torches tend to yield relatively garbage tolerances, the crew seems to have these tools dialed in pretty well to the point where they are satisfied with the results. Additionally, the company isn't experimenting with different steel alloys or other materials, and thus they don't have to adjust various parameters (water level in the table, gas mix rates coming out of the nozzle, etc). They also noted that plasma is cheap compared to investment heavy water jet machines or laser gantries, both of which require much more downtime and maintenance to keep them in proper working order.






Once the strips are cut, the crews then lay out jack stands on a 3D coordinate system: they position X and Y on the floor and then adjust the height of the stand to capture Z (according to Jake, "it's middle school graphing"). The stands have a gimballed end effector which serves two purposes, it allows the welders to set the pitch and banking of the track at that particular coordinate and also provides a friendly clamping surface. From here, the steel strips are welded together to form each track section. RMC has a special tool that helps with welding both sides of a joint at the same time, which minimizes any heat induced warping effects caused by weld draw. Once fabrication is complete, each section receives some additional processing on a custom mill-like machine that faces each end of the track to create a perfectly flat surface. This step creates a good zero point of reference for tolerancing as well as a clean interface between two track pieces. The final activity that takes place under this roof is to fit check each interfacing component to ensure a good fit. When these pieces pass this step, they are sent to paint.




RMC's Raptor prototype had been scrapped about one week prior to our visit. It sounds like they put some mileage on it, as they did a lot of ongoing product development on it in addition to the initial development that took place for Wonder Woman and Railblazer (Also, because they're located next to an airport, they needed to gain FAA approval to build the prototype as it breached the height ceiling, and their waiver had recently expired). From what we were told, they are essentially on generation two for the Raptor product already. Although Jersey Devil's trains look nearly identical to its predecessors', basically everything underneath the fiberglass has been redesigned to the point where the chassis more closely resemble the gen 2 hybrid "swing axle" trains introduced in 2018.

Now, I mentioned T-Rex last week following my S&S write up stating that I'd elaborate on it. Jake played his cards pretty close to the chest in general throughout the tour so we honestly don't have any top secret, exclusive information (aside from the destination clearly etched in the Raptor track). But he did allude to there being interest in the product even though RMC isn't quite ready to build one. One aspect about this is the shear amount of lessons learned from Raptor. If they already learned so much from two stock models to more or less redesign the product, it'd be worth to delay production of a scaled up product and implement those lessons learned in T-Rex. The other reason, and arguably the more important reason, is that T-Rex track is huge and will require extra fabrication capabilities that the company simply doesn't have yet. Currently, RMC uses thin enough and long enough strips of plate that fabricators can hand-position each strip - bending, forming, and clamping all by hand - regardless of whether it's I-box, topper, or Raptor track. Since T-Rex will be such a huge gauge, fabricators won't be able to lift, bend, and form sections without machine assistance. RMC is absolutely positive that they'll be building these absolute monsters of coasters eventually, but in the meantime it'll require more development on both the product design side and the manufacturing side.



After our tour of the fabrication shop, we went to the fourth and final building, which is located next door to the first building. This last building serves as a design office as well as a workshop for train assembly and other odd tasks. Although there were some Raptor chassis awaiting assembly, the ongoing work that day was an unusual and interesting task: encasing magnets to be used in an upcoming Raptor's braking system in epoxy. It makes sense that the magnets would be encased for durability and weathering purposes, but I would have assumed that they would have been procured like that already. But no, here are the guys who recently got back from the Jersey Devil job site and are filling a series of hoses that run through a jig with epoxy, telling us to be careful about how close we stand so our phones don't get wiped. I wouldn't have expected to see this, but I guess that's part of the fun of working for a dynamic company like RMC.








At this point, this was the end of our tour, so we headed up to Silverwood...but I'll write about that another time. Instead, here are some more RMC facts and some personal points that don't really fit anywhere else in the report:

  • Fred Grubb was in the office that day, but he was "in a meeting."
  • We tried to be conscious about topics that might be sore talking points, and thus we did not ask any questions related to Steel Vengeance, Lightning Rod, Iron Gwazi's liens, or anything like that.
  • We also did not ask about any other rumored/unannounced rides (KK, SFStL, SFMM Raptors), and we forgot to ask about whether the China Raptor and South Dakota Raptor were still happening.
  • They had to push back a significant amount of work due to the pandemic (A LOT of money, clearly multiple projects)
  • They essentially confirmed the SFGAm rumor circulating about a supposed conversion that ultimately didn't happen, but did result in Goliath
  • RMC ideally likes around 18 months to design, fabricate, and build a ride, but that rarely happens because the amusement industry never works that way. Their quickest development was Goliath - the park essentially announced the ride when it was literally a napkin sketch (honestly, this was the craziest thing we learned on the tour)
  • A single piece of Raptor track weighs between two and three thousand pounds
  • They understandably love working on free spins since it's a very stable business. They average producing around two every year.
  • Although SFGAdv recently announced that Jersey Devil will open in 2021, RMC still does not have any timeline for when they will actually finish Jersey Devil or Iron Gwazi.

And if I missed anything, I'm sure @tomahawk or @Snoo will add to that list.
 

Antinos

Slut for Spinners
We certainly planned a jam-packed day for our last full day of the trip. Following the RMC tour, we headed 15 minutes north to Silverwood Theme Park for a few hour before driving across Washington state to Seattle, where we would be spending the night and from where we would be flying out the next day. So let's dive right in.

Silverwood is...interesting. The parking lot, which is on the opposite side of a major highway, is a giant faff, filled with fences that funnel every vehicle into a very particular traffic pattern, and the entrance to the lot is on the far side, away from the park entrance. The park built a rather nice tunnel under the highway to allow guests to safely walk to the entrance, which reminded me of something along the lines of a boujee Kennywood. Mind you, we've been walking for ten minutes thus far, and we finally entered the park, and we had to keep walking through a whole lot of park before we finally got to our first ride.






Corkscrew - This was the OG Corkscrew that was built at Knott's Berry Farm and relocated in the 90s. The ride is almost exactly what you'd expect - a standard double corkscrew model that has been cloned many times over. Silverwood is admittedly doing a good job at maintaining this second hand ride built in the 70s (it's not even close to falling apart or looking like it's nearly 50 years old), but it's mostly lipstick on a pig. Being the first of its kind, the wonky transitions and trackwork are felt throughout the ride. I've certainly been on worse, but I've also been on plenty that were better.










Tremors - Surprisingly, I've known about Silverwood and Tremors for almost as long as I've been an enthusiast, and Tremors was, for all intents and purposes, in that grouping of coasters where I was looking forward to riding someday. Tremors is a textbook CCI woodie, and a damn good one at that. The first two thirds of the ride are fast paced and intense like one would expect from a woodie like this one, and I even commented that it felt similar to Excalibur at Funtown Splashtown or Tonerre De Zeus at Parc Asterix. The ride features a masterfully designed sequence of tunnels and airtime hills that interact with the main midway and surrounding scenery. The first drop plummets into the first of four tunnels and exits through (not under, over, or next to...THROUGH) the ride's gift shop, over an awesome bunny hop, and immediately into a second tunnel. Tremors then enters a large, winding, undulating helix (one of two parts of the ride where RMC installed prototype topper track) that is filled with airtime and lateral Gs. The train washboarded a bit in the big helix immediately before and after the section with topper track, but this seemed to be the only 'rough' spot on the ride. The rest of the ride traverses a few hills, another topper'd turnaround, and then two more tunnels and a bunny hill that mirror the first pair before the final turn into the brakes. What a solid, well designed ride.




















Timber Terror - Another CCI woodie that calls Silverwood home, and is unfortunately overshadowed by Tremors. Timber Terror differs with its (extremely) traditional out and back layout with a helix finale. The ride features surprisingly strong airtime for a woodie like this and maintains a relatively smooth ride and a good pace. Timber Terror reminded me quite a bit of Shivering Timbers, except in a smaller, but better package. I don't think I'm alone with how pleased I was with this ride (both woodies, for that matter).












Aftershock - although it is a boomerang, I actually like the giant inverted variety of boomerang. Although Aftershock isn't exactly smooth, it isn't rough either, and I honestly think these rides' size and revised layouts improve the transitions and rider comfort. Giant inverted boomerangs do tend to provide a terrifying ride in ways that a normal boomerang can't even come close to doing, and this ride is no different. Aftershock is the second GIB I've ridden, although the other was Goliath at SFNE with the new trains whereas this one utilized the original rolling stock. I don't recall much of a difference between the two, although Goliath might have been a touch smoother. Regardless, Aftershock still provides a fairly fun, thrilling, and certainly unique experience.














Crazy Coaster - Corkscrew isn't the only original ride of its kind at the park. Crazy Coaster happens to be the first (by serial number - not actually sure what happened to the IAAPA model) SBF Visa spinner. I think we all know what these rides are like. We managed to weight our car nicely and got a few good spins during our half dozen or so laps.




Chuck Wagon - Jake from RMC recommended that we eat here, but what we didn't realize is that it was all you can eat BBQ! For park food, it was pretty good and cost $14. We were all satisfied with it!




Overall thoughts - I typically shower praises first, but this time I'm going to start with some critiques, even though they're largely outside of the park's control. It is not cheap to get to this part of the country from Detroit. Round trip tickets to Spokane average around $500, which is incredibly steep for a weekend trip to an amusement park the caliber of Silverwood. Additionally, the park seems to be missing a true flagship from its lineup - something that makes enthusiasts say "I NEED to go up to Idaho and ride that soon," because nothing in the current lineup is truly drawing enthusiasts to return. But at the same time, it's silly to say that the park should get a monster coaster because that really wouldn't fit either. Something like a hyper-GTX, stock Intamin multi-inversion coaster, or a substantial swing launch coaster (like Fury or Star Trek) would work very well at Silverwood (or a stock Raptor, but that's the obvious suggestion). Additionally, both woodies have always ran one train and the rides do not have transfer tracks or storage sheds that'd allow for any future proofing. This may be fine during normal operations, but with pandemic measures in place, the lines began to stretch close to 45 minutes around mid day. It would have been nice to see an extra train on each woodie to make the lines move even just a bit quicker.









I'll be the first to admit that these negative points are quite particular, but luckily there is plenty of praise to throw at Silverwood. This is easily one of the cleanest, most beautiful, and most scenic amusement parks I've visited yet, and I cannot stress that enough. The park is phenomenally landscaped and there is ample shade throughout the property. On rides, you get an incredible, albeit brief view of the surrounding valley in which the part is located as you climb the lifts. Almost every angle of the park is picturesque too, whether the sightlines have the mountains in the background or a gap in the trees creates a great frame surrounding one of the rides. Aesthetically, Silverwood is nearly on the same level as Dollywood or Silver Dollar City. The park's vibe was actually similar to Holiday World's, although with theming similar to the two previously mentioned parks instead of holidays. Another point worth mentioning is that the park management's efforts to care and maintain the park is extremely visible. The next nearest major amusement parks are Lagoon, Valleyfair, and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. This leaves Silverwood in a coaster desert with some pretty huge shoes to fill, but luckily the park wears them well. Silverwood's marketing department is top notch and has a huge reach. Their market stretches all the way out to Seattle and Portland, and in the other direction, we saw billboards as far as Missoula, Montana. I've received multiple communications from the park both before and after our visit which provided information and requested feedback. Finally, the most important point to make about their marketing department is that the director joined Coasterforce's live stream and even found us in the park, thanked us for visiting and promoting the park, and asked what the park can do to improve. This is certainly something that you won't see at Cedar Point or Kings Island.









But with all that being said, will I go back? Honestly, I can't see myself visiting this part of the country, let alone Silverwood, for quite some time. It's simply too expensive or time consuming to travel to this part of the country, especially for just a weekend. If Silverwood was located in the midwest, even as far away as eastern Pennsylvania, Western Kentucky, Iowa, or Tennessee, I could see myself making a trip at least once every few years. Unfortunately, the park's biggest, if only drawback is its location relative to where much of CF's US based members live.




With regard to coronavirus, the park did a better job in this space than Lagoon. Every employee was wearing a mask (although some weren't necessarily wearing them correctly), and almost every employee was wearing gloves. Although it contributed to significantly longer waits, trains were wiped down after every cycle, and although families and individual groups of people could sit together, the park did a decent job at spacing out separate groups with an empty row in between. Despite all these measures being taken, the current situation and the response of the locals made it feel like we were in a completely different part of the world. Northern Idaho has hardly felt the pandemic, and the county where the park is located has only seen one coronavirus related death thus far (Jake from RMC joked that people move to this area to social distance regardless of health crises). Because of this, hardly anybody else in general (whether in downtown CDA or at the hotel or a restaurant) were wearing masks and life seemed mostly normal. Despite this, it was good to see the park take such proactive precautions.




We departed Silverwood a bit early since we had a five hour drive to Seattle ahead of us. Eastern Washington turned out to host the ugliest scenery on the trip (it's actually one of the ugliest parts of the country I've visited), but luckily, we passed by quickly as the freeway turned and we suddenly arrived at the Columbia River. Completely awestruck at its sheer vastness, we stopped at a scenic turnout to take it all in.










The scenery continued to improve as we headed west, approaching the Cascade mountains and peaked again (no pun intended) as we drove through the Snoqualmie Pass.








After eating some pizza at the hotel, we called it a night. @LooperOne had a 6:00am flight so we didn't really get to bid him farewell before he left, but @Snoo and I were able to give @tomahawk a big ol' hug before he left for the airport. Finally, it was time to head back home, but the sights didn't end quite yet. We got an incredible view of Mt. Rainier, Washington's tallest mountain (volcano), as we breached the clouds on takeoff. Our flight then proceeded to parallel the drive from the day before, giving us a different perspective on all that we saw.










Traveling east sucks, especially around the distance we had to fly, since the flights are scheduled so early and you lose a significant amount of your day due to the time change. Our flight landed in Columbus at 9:30pm (departed Seattle at 1:30pm) and I was on the road back to Detroit a half hour later. Shortly after 1:00am, I was home and the trip had officially concluded.

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Despite the significant amount of time spent in the car and the shear magnitude of miles covered, I'm glad we did this trip. In total, the trip was a +15 for me with two new amusement park visits, and the tours at S&S and RMC were icing on the cake!



Like I mentioned in the first post, I'm not sure what the rest of this year has in store for me, coaster-wise. I might run down to Camden Park later this summer and also try to grab Cedar Valley's Wild Frontier Park if it ever reopens this summer. Technically, the CF Live in Florida is still on the table, but we'll have to see if America has gotten its **** together with pandemic response by then. We'll see! In the meantime, I'll probably pop in every few days and post some of our archived live streams and @LooperOne's park walk throughs and other content from this trip. Hopefully it'll provide something other than the monotony of "all these parks are still closed."
 

LiveForTheLaunch

Well-Known Member
Yah it certainly seems like SUCH a trek to get out there which is the obvious reason why I haven't gone yet. I think next time I do a California or west coast trip I'll probably throw those parks in, but like heck am I paying for flights just to go there. I'm surprised you've compared Silverwood to the likes of Dollywood and Silver Dollar City, since I haven't heard much about it (likely because it still has limited visitors from CoasterForce). If I had to guess, I'd have said it'd be similar to something like Magic Springs and Crystal Falls, so I'm glad I'm wrong.

Also the pilot in me is so stoked about the view of the mountain above the clouds. Something I've yet to experience!
 

witchfinder

Member
I find it funny that you guys are complaining about how much hassle it is to get to Silverwood when I visited from the UK last year! ? That was as part of a trip to Western Canada though so we took the approach of dropping down into the US rather than driving hundreds of miles from several States away.

Agree on most of your points about Silverwood's operations. 45 mins wait for the woodies was about what I suffered last year when there was no pandemic so it doesn't get much better than that. I hope you suggested getting more trains when you spoke to the director :)

Did you miss the other cred, Tiny Toot? Or just too ashamed to write about it? ;) Also I can't believe you thought Goliath at SFNE and Aftershock were pretty much the same. Aftershock is fairly comfortable and enjoyable whereas Goliath is easily in the bottom 5 thrill coasters I've ever ridden!

Looks like a great trip anyway. As you said, that part of the world is gorgeous.
 

Antinos

Slut for Spinners
I find it funny that you guys are complaining about how much hassle it is to get to Silverwood when I visited from the UK last year! ? That was as part of a trip to Western Canada though so we took the approach of dropping down into the US rather than driving hundreds of miles from several States away.

Agree on most of your points about Silverwood's operations. 45 mins wait for the woodies was about what I suffered last year when there was no pandemic so it doesn't get much better than that. I hope you suggested getting more trains when you spoke to the director :)

Did you miss the other cred, Tiny Toot? Or just too ashamed to write about it? ;) Also I can't believe you thought Goliath at SFNE and Aftershock were pretty much the same. Aftershock is fairly comfortable and enjoyable whereas Goliath is easily in the bottom 5 thrill coasters I've ever ridden!

Looks like a great trip anyway. As you said, that part of the world is gorgeous.
Now that you mention it, that is likely the better way to do it since it's a significantly shorter drive. Unfortunately, flights up to Edmonton are still fairly expensive (although not quite as bad as Spokane), and in the current state of the world, the US northern border has been closed since mid-March. Ironically, @tomahawk, @Snoo, and I occasionally check flights in case they're cheap enough for us to do a weekend up to Edmonton and go ride Mindbender.


Anyway...more content! @LooperOne has posted his video walkthroughs of both Lagoon and Silverwood and feature some offride shots of many of the coasters as well. They turned out great!




I just checked Cedar Valley's Fun Park's Facebook page and saw that they announced that they will not be opening for the 2020 season so that park is certainly off the table until next year. Camden Park maybe?
 
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