I operate 14 rides at Canobie of each thrill level. Is there interest in asking me questions about what we do and what we're doing?
Most of operating coasters is procedure and less about what physically makes it actually move, so every park will differ massively in how "difficult" the exact same model, or even clone, is for the team to run. The hardest part of working any ride is having a team in sync that can prevent and assist guest related problems - almost all issues are guests being a problem and not the ride being difficult or having errors, etc. as procedure will cover what to do in any situation thrown up by the ride hardware, where as a guest will always find a way to do something no one has ever encountered before and have to deal with. Smaller rides are in theory harder to operate because some have manual elements to them - for example, some powered coasters have speed dial and the train doesn't automatically come to a stop but must be parked in an accurate place, else the restraints won't unlock, or some coasters have station blocks and the operator must move the cars individually along in the station. Most coasters, and even many flat rides, have multiple dispatch points manned by multiple individuals in different locations to reduce the risk of sending a ride when there are potential hazards, and I believe B&Ms have the most. I would personally say that the larger and more complicated a ride is, the easier and better it is to work with because then you have a larger team to full back on when unusual situations crop up and more going on to keep you engaged through what is - when all is going to plan - a very repetitive job. Most operators barely have to touch any of the buttons on their sometimes elaborate control pannels and won't even know what half of them do. All control panels kinda look the same and have some kind of error display screen. It's always pretty low tech looking.Uhm... I have a question for ride ops.
When it comes to ride/coaster manufacturers, are they any particular ones that are 'better' to operate than others? When I say 'better' I mean, for example, are the B&M's easier, smoother and cooler to operate than, say, the boomerangs and the SLC's? We know that B&M put a lot of effort into rider comfort, do they do the same for the guy sitting in the booth pushing buttons all day?
I have this (probably wrong) image of B&M control booths being all space-agey and Starship Enterprise like - touch screen panels, 3D displays and a captain's armchair, while crappy Vekomas have a bloke sitting on a bar stool, operating a tin box with a big, green 'Go' button and a big, red 'Stop' button on the top.
Just how misinformed am I?
I've personally never operated, I've always preferred the idea of running around on the ground dealing with guests than being sat down pressing buttons repetitively. I also worked with a small park. So whilst I'm familiar with how a lot of stuff works and the quirks of different types of rides, I don't have a first hand preference. I could talk all day about my preferences with dealing with spatial design of station platforms or loading procedures, but I wouldn't want to give specific examples on here anyway. But for what it's worth, smaller, older rides are often harder to work with. That's down to a multitude of factors from boredom, to guest perception about not needing to be careful, to outdated hardware. I've had more issues working with antique cars than I have with medium to large roller coasters.^Interesting information Joey!
But I have the same question as Howie: which ride manufacturer is the easiest/smoothest to operate? I know that the biggest factor behind a good capacity is staff/routines. But there must be some difference between rides as well. And what rides do you prefer (topic creator and other ride operators) to operate?
That's so odd. Having worked with a different variety of wild mouse that wasn't very automatic at all and required quite a lot of operator involvement, but no more than 2 platform staff with barely anything to do. And I've seen the same kind be operated AND attended by the same 1 member of staff elsewhere, something that at my park would have broken fundamental rules, which goes to show how procedure matters In complicating things.Whereas Dark Knight only has about 3(4 if we're overstaffed) team members are able to dispatch trains in 20 seconds. Although saying this, the ride is very automatic. The operator really just waits until something comes up that needs a reset, the restraint checker checks 4 restraints at a time(go figure), and the grouper just counts to 4, and has next to no part in dispatching trains. So even though Superman has the larger team, it takes longer to dispatch due to the more complex tasks each team member must do. And guess what? Dark Knight actually gets more riders than Superman because of it(can't disclose actual numbers, just trust me).
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@The Undead Creature.The likelihood of finding someone with a broad range of experience across the big names like B&M, Intamin, Vekoma etc. I would imagine is pretty slim?
Aw I miss him! I think he came from at least one other park before that too and had experience on the ground operating.
A good time can prevent those things from becoming a problem, I'd argue. Well, most of the time. No ones perfect 100% of the time which is why I like rides with bigger teams in general, so everyone looks out for one another. I would, for example, always check a larger persons restraint before I start the full checks, so if they are too big I can get rid of them before I start and thus not have to stop and start over. I would keep an eye out for bags as people load so I could direct them to out them away the second I suspected they weren't going to. I would motion for guests to pull their own restraints into place. I kept an eye on kids especially, making sure they aren't going to the wrong seats or pushing through at the wrong time. I would help those less able with bags so they could spend all the loading time sitting down, etc. It depends on the ride but there is always something you can do during loading to speed things up, which is part of why I hated the idea of operating, I liked being on the ground making a difference to operations.Usually my team is limited by guest speed, not team speed. We can dispatch an empty train in probably 30 seconds or less, but that isn't going to happen with people who need to secure articles, pick seats, etc.
I never stapled anyone and always trained colleagues that stapling was never ok, even if the guest asked for it I would tell guests to pull the restraint to where thy want it then I will check it. Restraints should touch guests gently.Do you deliberately staple in guests you don't like the look of.
Very interesting. Certain rides more than certain parks I would think. I had no issue with the majority of the rides at Dollywood but the ops on Lightning Rod attempted to staple me most of the time, with one of the ops saying "Ya'll don't want no gap on this ride sweetie!" errrr... Yeah, I do thanks gorgeous.Some parks clearly specifically train staff to staple or other bizarre practices with checks, which just goes to show how deep the misunderstanding runs. Checking restraints is more about checking that guests are in them correctly, with their limbs in the correct place, with loose articles (if allowed at all) in a safe place, etc. than it is about making sure restraints are locked. People seem to be of the opinion that restraints either need to be stapled tight or don't need checking at all because the computer won't allow dispatch if unlocked, both points of view are just wrong.
I think with new rides parks tend to be more cautious, I had this same experience on Monster at Adventureland in Iowa... The attendant specifically warned that she was going to press down hard because it needs to be very tight, she wasn't exaggerating how tight she crushed me. She was clearly trained to do it this way.Very interesting. Certain rides more than certain parks I would think. I had no issue with the majority of the rides at Dollywood but the ops on Lightning Rod attempted to staple me most of the time, with one of the ops saying "Ya'll don't want no gap on this ride sweetie!" errrr... Yeah, I do thanks gorgeous.
I'm yet to encounter a park where I've been stapled on most if not every ride, so there may be some which train staff to staple, but the more experienced ops may check them properly.
So true. I always look to see where it looks like someone's gonna put that bag, does it look like they're about to get in and reach for the restraint or do they have no idea/never been on this kind of ride and I need to gesture and prompt "Reach up and pull down, guys, bags, glasses, hats, on the other side of the car!", do they look confused about what to do or do they know right where they're going, etc. Reading people's body language is key as well as providing body language for them to read (gesturing across the car if guests have bags, using your body to funnel them into the right areas, gesturing how to use the restraint), and ideally you should be alert of these cues for the next group, not just the current one.Being alert and paying attention, predicting guest behaviour, is s big part of operation speed