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Coaster/park industry news articles


From CoasterForce
Staff member
Social Media Team
Whilst researching Clacton-on-Sea's rides, I found a section on the University of Sheffield's website called "National Fairground Archive".

There's loads of info on traditional fairground attractions on there, from waltzers to paratroopers to big wheels. There's also a section on fairground art. Mildly interesting imo.



Staff member
I've lost months of my life to that - I adore it lol

Sent from my ST25i using Tapatalk 2


Strata Poster
Figures for Japan’s theme and amusement park sales, activity and employment have been released by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-1 ... able-.html

I got carried away and made graphs, because everyone loves a good graph!





Giga Poster
Man who was banned from all Six Flags set to fight his ban:

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A 52-year-old Connecticut man banned from Six Flags theme parks nationwide was scheduled to begin fighting his lifetime exclusion before a jury Tuesday in San Antonio.

Jay Marc Harris, the self-described "Flume Dog," sued the theme park operator over the ban instituted in 2006. The San Antonio Express-News reports (http://bit.ly/19T8G0x ) the trial was scheduled to start in Bexar County court.

The ban came after Harris asked three women at Six Flags Fiesta Texas if he could take their children on the flume ride, according to court documents. The women complained to management, Harris was removed from the property and later banned after his record at other Six Flags locations came to light.

Security staff at the company's Atlanta park once found Harris chained to a tree. In another instance, Harris was found on the grounds of the Chicago location before it opened in the morning. He had apparently slept there overnight, according to court documents.

Harris, who is a Hasidic Jew, argues he was discriminated against based on gender and religion. He had spent more than a decade travelling to parks across the country to ride their flumes, log-styled water drops.

"It's a tragic story in my life," Harris wrote in a message to the Express-News, sent through Facebook.

"I'm the real defendant, although officially I'm a plaintiff," he said. Harris' attorney, Greg Canfield, told the newspaper that Harris continues to visit other water parks, but they don't compare.

Brad Bartlett, an attorney for Six Flags and Fiesta Texas, said, "At this point, I don't think there's any reasonable resolution to this matter."

"There's a lot of evidence that will be introduced at trial," he added. "It would be premature for me to comment on pending litigation."
Source: http://www.seattlepi.com/news/texas/art ... php#src=fb



Staff member
I think there's a warning in there for people "borrowing kids" for the plus 1's :lol:


Strata Poster
Mike said:
Man who was banned from all Six Flags set to fight his ban:

The ban came after Harris asked three women at Six Flags Fiesta Texas if he could take their children on the flume ride, according to court documents. The women complained to management, Harris was removed from the property and later banned after his record at other Six Flags locations came to light.

Security staff at the company's Atlanta park once found Harris chained to a tree. In another instance, Harris was found on the grounds of the Chicago location before it opened in the morning. He had apparently slept there overnight, according to court documents.

Harris, who is a Hasidic Jew, argues he was discriminated against based on gender and religion.

Is there some sort of requirement for "hasidic jews" to display seriously creepy behaviour at theme parks then??

I love it when people play the discrimination card!


Staff member
Eugh. Nasty tin like the stuff near the pier at Southport then :(


CF Legend
I was only there a few months back at my ex's house (literally around the corner). This is now two reasons not to go back to that hell hole.

Sent from my iPhone 5s using Tapatalk.


East Coast(er) General
Staff member
Here's a little something on wooden coasters and Gravity Group's take on inversions.
What a ride: Wooden roller coasters
With updated technology, wooden roller coasters are gaining fans, even in China.

Leland Teschler | Machine Design
Worried about the U. S. trade deficit with China? There is one U. S. product the Chinese can’t get enough of: wooden roller coasters. At least that is the impression one gets from The Gravity Group LLC, an engineering firm in Cincinnati specializing in the design of wooden roller coasters. “Wooden coasters are a fascination of the Chinese, perhaps because they don’t use timber for construction much in China,” says Gravity Group co-owner and P. E. Korey Kiepert. “Concrete and steel form the backbone of most construction in China, so the Chinese look at wooden coasters as being more thrilling than those made with steel.”

Visible on this view of the inverted section of the Hades 360 ride are the channels holding the wooden track. Engineers from the Gravity Group had to devise a special bolted connection between the wooden track and the channels for the inverted section. They also had to design for the possibility that the coaster train, or car, would go through the inversion slowly, though centrifugal force tends to reduce the downforce during normal operation.

Gravity Group did the engineering on China’s first wooden roller coaster, which opened in 2009. Constructed in Shanghai, the coaster is about 110-ft tall with a first drop of a little more than 100 ft. Two six-car trains travel over about 3,800 ft of twisted track and reach 56 mph. Another four wooden coasters are currently under construction at other Chinese theme parks. The style of rides range from ground-hugging terrain coasters to cutting-edge wooden coasters that go upside down.

Wooden roller coasters get their name from their use of running rails made of flattened steel strips that mount on laminated wooden tracks, though their support structure may be a steel lattice or truss as well as wood. The ride on a wooden coaster is much different than on steel roller coasters. It tends to be uneven and a bit more hair-raising than on steel versions because the wooden track moves perhaps as much as three-quarters of an inch as a train passes. This may give riders the idea that the whole affair is a bit rickety.

Of course, the supports and track systems are designed to give a bit with the force. The deflection of the track acts like a shock absorber and reduces the instantaneous force applied.

Nevertheless, it has been considered impractical for wooden coaster designs to incorporate super-extreme features such as inverted sections or highly banked turns. That was the thinking until 2005 when the Gravity Group created the first wooden coaster with a 90° banking turn. Last year, the firm refitted a wooden coaster called Hades 360 at the Mt. Olympus Theme Park in Wisconsin Dells, Wis., with a corkscrew that twists upside-down and a severe 110° overbanked turn.

The Hades 360 ride is the only wooden tracked inversion in existence. It originally opened in 2005 as one of the world’s largest wooden coasters, featuring 1,400 ft of underground tunnels and the steepest first drop on any wooden coaster.

Visible on this cutaway view of a coaster car, called the Timberliner line, is the steering mechanism devised by a sister company of the Gravity Group. A metal-wheel bogey mounts to the chassis via the main pivot axle. Two bogeys connect to each other by a tie rod to form the steering mechanism. The passenger compartment and restraints then mount to the chassis as well. Side wheels orient the bogey on the wooden track. In normal operation, wheels on one side of the car ride against the rail and the tie rod orients the wheels on the other side. Timberliners have double-side wheels to follow the curves in the track, unlike older designs which generally use one set of wheels. The double wheels promote smooth steering around the track because they spread side forces between both wheels, reducing force in the track.

Gravity Group co-owner and P. E. Chad Miller says designing supports for the inverted section was a particular challenge. “You typically build a lattice structure underneath the track. But you can’t build anything under the inverted track because that is where the car needs to be,” Miller explains. “We had to come up with supports that wouldn’t come out over the cars to such an extent that they hid everything because the park wanted an open feeling to the inversion.”

So Gravity Group engineers created a normal coaster structure with cantilevered ledgers. The ledgers, basically wooden beams, hold the wooden track. But ordinary wood track wouldn’t work on the severe angles involved in the inverted section. Typical wooden-coaster track has rails made from laminated pressure-treated pine. A thin strip of steel goes atop the completed rail to form a riding surface for the coaster wheels. Each wooden layer is a 2 × 10 or 2 × 12, but Gravity Group engineers found they couldn’t twist lumber this size severely enough to handle the necessary turns. “For inversion, we had track twists that were probably 50% more severe than anything we’d done before,” explains Miller. “Ordinary 2 × 12s wouldn’t twist enough (without breaking). So we used 2 × 12s that were planed down to an inch thick.”

To make the tracks strong enough, Gravity Group engineers fashioned them from 12 of the planed-down pieces rather than the eight 2 × 12s normally used. The pieces also get glued together, in addition to the nails normally used.

Modeling such a structure can be a little tricky. Miller says wood is notoriously hard to model, so Gravity engineers erred on the side of caution by treating the track as eight independent layers of wood with no beam action. Their design software includes a structural-analysis package from RISA Technologies, Foothill Ranch, Calif., as well as specialized routines they’ve written themselves. Miller says engineers there did simulations that included putting moving loads on the track model at 20 different spots to determine stress distributions.

There are more tests once the track is installed and the coaster cars are ready to go. “We do accelerometer tests to make sure what we see is what we expect,” says Miller. “There is always a chance the person cutting the wood in the field has deviated from the design specs.”


Older wooden coaster-car designs have employed fixed side wheels that hug the track around turns. But these wheels don’t steer and they have tended to bounce along track rails, creating a rough ride. In contrast, Timberliner cars use double-side wheels and each set of side wheels is on a metal bogey. Wheels on both sides of the car connect via a tie rod.

But the inverted coaster wouldn’t have been practical without technological advances in coaster cars. Trains of ordinary cars for wooden coasters can’t follow the severe twists of inverted tracks. Nor are their restraint systems designed for inversion. That changed in 2011 with the advent of coaster cars equipped with wheels that steer so they can better follow severe track turns. Steerable wheels have long been a staple of steel coasters, but cars made by a sister company of the Gravity Group were the first to incorporate steering for wooden tracks.

“On steel coasters, there isn’t much forgiveness between the wheels and the track. The wheels have had to steer to follow the track because they are spring-loaded against the track sides,” explains Miller. In contrast, wooden-coaster wheels have historically been on fixed axles. Builders leave a small gap between the wheels and side of the track so the train “floats” through turns without exactly following the curve of the track. The result has been more banging around as the train made turns, and the banging causes track wear because it eventually crushes the wood. “The introduction of steering eliminates some of that fudge factor and ride roughness,” Miller says. “Wood coaster design and installation is getting more precise so it was just time for wooden coasters to adopt steering.”

Those riding in these new trains may see accelerations hitting 3 gs on average as they zoom up a hill, compared to about 5 gs for a steel coaster. Gravity also tries to build “air time” into its rides so riders might experience a small amount of negative g, depending on the situation. “We think the air time is the fun part,” says Miller. “Though some of our competitors keep their rides to 0 g at most.”

Coaster trains and tracks have evolved over time, and so has the design process used to realize them. “Computers now let us know a lot more about each point in the ride. We can form banks with smooth-curve algorithms and we can use splines to transition from straight track to curves. It is a lot easier to do that when the computer handles the calculations,” Miller says. “We can also change the shape of the track and see how that changes the forces on riders in real time. It is a far cry from when I started in this business 16 years ago. We still do 90% of our work with AutoCAD and spreadsheets, but the availability of more computing power and some clever programming has made a big difference.”
Source: http://machinedesign.com/recreation/what-ride-wooden-roller-coasters


East Coast(er) General
Staff member
Here's an interesting article on the abandoned Spreepark in Berlin. I also posted this in the topic about the park being for sale on EBay. viewtopic.php?f=3&t=37478
Roller Coaster Ride: The Story of Berlin's Rotting Amusement Park
By Gesa Mayr


With its rusting rides and a Ferris wheel turning idly in the wind, a defunct East German amusement park in Berlin fascinates locals and tourists alike. Repeated attempts to reopen "Spreepark" have been thwarted by administrative chaos and incompetence.


The monster is still there, though it's been a long while since it swallowed people whole. Trees and bushes have grown over the old roller coaster with the open-mouthed tunnel, and the plants are doing what others have failed to do so far -- slowly getting rid of the old rides at Berlin's defunct Spreepark. It's an amusement park locked in a deep slumber. But according to Sabrina Witte as she knocks on the steel tracks: "The electrical system just needs to be redone."


In jeans, flip-flops and hot pink lipstick, Witte is guiding tourists from New York and German families who are nostalgic for socialist East Germany. On Saturdays, Witte leads tours around former East Berlin's only amusement park, telling people about her childhood there. She and her siblings used to pull the electric cars off their tracks and race them through the park after closing time, she says. They also turned up the speed on the white-water ride at night.


"They just need an investor," one visitor says. But that hasn't been possible. The property has lain fallow since 2001. It's a complicated story for which no one wants to take responsibility, and one which involves dreams that were lost somewhere in a tangle of city regulations, bad luck, mismanagement and misunderstandings.


It began with the Wittes, a family of carnival workers from West Germany that was tasked with turning a former East German fairground into an amusement park up to western standards after reunification in 1989. The head of the company is Sabrina's father, Norbert Witte. The leasing contract for the 30-hectare (74-acre) piece of property was under his wife Pia's name, however. The agreement with the city-state of Berlin states that the land may only be used as an amusement park until 2061.


A Checkered Past


Some in the Berlin press are skeptical of this arrangement, however, and allege that the city government didn't monitor the management selection closely enough. By the mid-1990s, things were going poorly at the Spreepark, and visitor numbers were down. In 2001, the company declared insolvency and the Wittes moved to Peru, taking a few rides with them. There, Norbert Witte suffered a number of heart attacks and got involved with drug smugglers. In 2003, he and his son were arrested for attempting to smuggle 167 kilos of cocaine to Germany inside a ride called "The Flying Carpet."


Witte was caught in Germany, his son in Peru. The father was sentenced to eight years in prison and released after serving four. His son remains in Peru, where he is serving a 20-year sentence for the same crime. Today, Norbert Witte lives in a caravan in the Spreepark.


On a Sunday in August, he is sitting in Café Mythos, a snack counter run by his daughter on the grounds. Holding a black coffee in one hand and a cigarillo in the other, he ignores comments by two girls and their parents about a papier mâché gorilla behind him and talks about what the Spreepark used to be like. 1993 was a good year, he says. According to him, the Spreepark had the biggest roller coaster in Europe, and there was a Wild West town with stunt shows and tons of new investment. He's a man who likes to talk in superlatives.


Bad Blood


But then things started going downhill quickly for the business. Witte feels that he has been hoodwinked by politicians. He claims that the city-state of Berlin retroactively declared the forested land around the amusement park part of a nature-conservation area, but city officials refuse to discuss the contractual relationships. "If we had known that, we wouldn't have ever invested here," Witte says. There was nothing about that in the contract, he continues, but the new decree didn't allow for the needed parking places, making it difficult to get to the Spreepark. "They deprived us of the foundation of the business," he says.


Witte is livid -- at the company that administers property owned by the city-state of Berlin for always opposing him, at the press for what he feels are false reports, at administrators for giving top city officials incorrect information and at the insolvency administrator for undervaluing a major part of the park rides. But what angers him more than anything is when he reads that the natural surroundings have "recovered a bit," saying: "I broke up the sea of concrete that was here myself, planted the greenery and captured frogs for the lakes."


That's Witte's version of the story. But, in the wake of the insolvency, the other side has also produced a long list of accusations. One says that Witte never realized his original concept but was always quick to pin the blame on others. It has also been said that he has been late with his rent payments, that he hasn't rehabilitated the "Eierhäuschen" ("Little Egg House"), a historically listed tourist locale on the grounds, and that hazardous waste has been found. But Witte rejects responsibility for almost all such accusations. On the contrary, he says that he has tried to revitalize the park -- but that, for some reason, his plans have always failed. Still, there is one thing he will admit to: "My wife and I didn't always see eye to eye on things," he says, referring to Pia, now his ex-wife.


Since 2001, the park has been abandoned to its fate. Over the years, dozens of people have popped up and expressed an interest in taking it over. But, at a certain point, the insolvency administrator turned it back over to the Wittes. For some years now, Sabrina Witte has been running the snack shop there in addition to offering guided tours. In early July, the city-state of Berlin allowed plans for a compulsory auction to fall through -- even though a Berlin-based concert organizer had offered almost €2.5 million ($3.3 million) for the lease. It would seem that city officials want to keep their hands on the property, most likely so that apartments can be built on the grounds.


Desirable Location


Berlin has a reputation for having difficult contractual conditions. "There is no way I will be participating in this auction," says Roland Mack, head of the country's successful Europapark amusement park. Despite the fact that the Spreepark is being sold at a bargain price, Mack says that "the conditions related to nature protection, visitors and parking spaces are a big problem."


But the Berlin Senate, the city-state's government, doesn't seem to be doing anything about it. It declined to comment not only on the Spreepark's future, but also on the series of investors that have lost interest in acquiring it and the current contractual situation. An inquiry about the Pirate Party's demands to reveal the details of the contract also went unanswered.


No one wants to take responsibility for the downfall of Spreepark -- the acres of fallow land at the heart of the Plänterwald Forest. The park ruins are situated in one of Berlin's most desirable locations.


Perhaps the new millenium marked a turning point of sorts. For some, the Spreepark is a cult attraction -- for others, it is nothing more than a tacky remnant of East Germany. Perhaps the chaotic bureaucracy that existed in 1990s Berlin after reunification is to blame. Or maybe the idea of an amusement park in the increasingly trendy German capital is now considered out-of-date. It remains to be seen whether the park will be sold at a mandatory auction.


The Spreepark remains a photogenic adventure playground that attracts urbanites willing to jump the fence. Some are just curious, while others come with the intention of bringing back a hip souvenir. Several years ago, Sabrina Witte was forced to retrieve one of the park's swan boats from the nearby state of Brandenburg after thieves made off with the boat for a nighttime ride on the Spree River.


Like her father, Sabrina Witte wants to save the park. "If I won the lottery, I would buy the whole thing immediately," she says.

Source: http://www.spiegel.de/international...d-defunct-berlin-amusement-park-a-922117.html