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Ultimate Rollercoaster > Discussion Forums > Roller Coasters, Parks & Attractions > What determines how coasters turn out to be....

What determines how coasters turn out to be....

Schrecken Schrecken Profile

8/15/13 at
2:04:00 AM

The recent post about Skyrush got me thinking about which factors determine what a coaster will be like once it has been designed and built, and how predictable (or not) the process is.
I realize that some of the answers may not be available or easily explainable to those with a perspective outside an engineering and mechanical design standpoint, such as the typical enthusiast.

But basically, this is what I have been wondering and pondering: When a park decides to have a coaster built, how much control/knowledge do they (and especially the designers/builders) have over how the final product will turn out? Obviously, no park wants to end up with a maintenance nightmare (there are many examples of those kinds of rides) and/or a ride that injures people (like Son of Beast), and clearly those problems aren't easy to predict and sometimes crop up after the ride has been open for a while.

It seems to me that in this age of technology and computer aided design and computer simulations, that very little about ride design would be unpredictable. But yet we have a coaster like Skyrush. I can't for the life of me imagine that HP intended for Skyrush to turn out the way it did (I don't mean the restraint issue - I'm referring to the insane airtime and mind-blowing forces), especially considering that all of their other coasters are very mild-mannered by comparison. Now if you take a mixed breed puppy home from the pound, it's difficult to tell what you will end up with when it grows up. But it seems to me that designers of a coaster should have a much better idea of how it will turn out when built. So, in the case of Skyrush, what went "wrong"? (well, it isn't wrong for me and those of us who adore it the way it is, but it would be wrong assuming it isn't the way that HP wanted it to be)
So, why is Skyrush the way it is, and shouldn't all the technology used to design rides have been able to predict the birth of a ferocious steel monster? Could it be a mistake, an oversight, poor planning, or, simply the lack of being able to 100% predict the way a coaster will ride and behave once it is built? I had thought that perhaps it may be because they worked hard to try and cram it into such a small space, but then again, other coasters have also been crammed into small spaces and have had to weave in and out of other coasters due to lack of space.

As I've mentioned, usually these unpredictable issues revolve around maintenance and reliability and things related to them, like extreme roughness and injury of riders. But you hardly ever have a park that sets out to build a ride that ends up being so fundamentally different in character from what they probably intended it to be.

Any thoughts?

Re: What determines how coasters turn out to be.... by jackrabbit jackrabbit Profile at 8/15/13 2:46:17 AM
Skyrush is an interesting example. When I watch the POV videos it does not appear to be any more forceful than Maverick or I305.

I think the park most likely expected something similar. Maybe they rode Maverick and I305, maybe they did not. Perhaps the park execs have more of a "Toomer," approach towards selection of rides and don't actively ride them. You say that most of HP's roller coasters are middle-of-the-road and I agree with you, the general impression of that entire park is very clean/middle class, but I'd also say Fahrenheit is a pretty bold statement. Are they starting to move in a more thrill-ride direction with Fahrenheit and SR?

I think HP looked at CP and KD and said to Intamin, "I want the speed and fast turns of Maverick and I305 in this small space," And proposing that it was 100 feet shorter than I305 they probably thought they were safe from some of the grey-out issues.

I think the perceived, "flop," of SR has everything to do with the new trains and restraint systems. The short layout prevented a lot of block segments so they had to go with wide trains. I think the ride suffers because of this.

Look at how gentle B&M's designs are when they widen the train. Their 4-across configurations are already super smooth. But look at their winged coasters and dive coasters. The wider the trains, the smoother and more gentle the transitions. SR looks like its trains were either an afterthought or a compromise. I think most guests would be willing to endure longer waits for a more comfortable train.

My first ride on SR was in the very back row on the right edge seat! Luckily I didn't get injured but I could certainly see the potential. I have a background in orthopedics and spine, and would not recommend anyone with a history of lumbar problems/surgery riding in these rows. I did however enjoy the ride a lot and will continue riding in the future. It's a heavy metal coaster for me, very thrilling.

Re: What determines how coasters turn out to be.... by Schrecken Schrecken Profile at 8/17/13 1:31:06 AM
I'd like to think that HP is trying to get into more thrilling rides, especially since they do have to compete against several other parks in the general area. But I do recall seeing a press release (unfortunately I can't link to it because I forgot to bookmark it, that, and it was on a defunct coaster forum) about HP wanting a coaster the whole family could ride or something to that effect. If that was the case, then they got far more than they bargained for.

Also agree that in its time, Fahrenheit was indeed pushing the envelope with its vertical lift, and would probably have been too scary for some kids and some adults.

I guess this case is a bit of a mystery (Skyrush), though I suppose it could also be an Intamin thing as well, since we all know that their coasters tend to be less predictable than those from most other manufacturers. But then again, they can build family-type rides - BGA seems to have gotten pretty much what they wanted with Cheetah Hunt (I haven't ridden it, but from what I have heard it seems to be family-oriented), but also the trains on that ride are their typical sit-down trains.

I think that if Skyrush had ordinary Intamin sit-down trains, it would still have similar extreme forces, as I have ridden the middle seats a lot and you don't get all of the hard to deal with stuff that you get in the wing seats (I've only ridden the front wing seats, and that's not too comfortable on my back, as I do have some back problems). So the killer negative g's seem to be a feature of the design of the track itself.

You may be right that a lot of what people perceive as bad or painful is a result of the train design (Many B&Ms I notice have a bit more jitter and perhaps slight head-banging if you sit on the outer seats, but it isn't a huge difference like it is on Skyrush, and it's never really painful) and perhaps also the seats themselves.

Re: What determines how coasters turn out to be.... by Cyclone_Phil Cyclone_Phil Profile at 8/17/13 2:28:52 AM
Cheetah hunt is 'tame' despite it being a launching* coaster, at least compared to the other big coasters there. It does feel like a waste with all that space used for just a launching coaster rather than a hyper coaster. But while it was fun, it does give the park a really good transition coaster b/w scorpion to the b&m's. i find cheetah still has insanely long lines upwards to an hour plus later in the day. As long as it is reliable, it is a good crowd attractor and draws at least a few more ppl off the other big coasters, which is fine by me.
my hope is that hershey doesn't try to keep neutering the ride by adding trims to the first drop like kd did with i305 in the first year. That would be a tragedy about how it becomes a shell of itself because it is too intense.

* This post was modified at 8/17/13 3:16:33 PM *

Re: What determines how coasters turn out to be.... by HamptonRoadsRider HamptonRoadsRider Profile at 8/17/13 3:18:38 AM
One things certain. I really need to ride skyrush!! So disappointed i missed it while at HP. Especially after hearing so much about its intensitt/pain/potential flop status. Curiousity is killing me.
Re: What determines how coasters turn out to be.... by GoYanks34 GoYanks34 Profile at 8/17/13 10:26:28 AM
Cyclone_Phil said:

Cheetah hunt is 'tame' despite it being a lunching coaster,

LMAO! I had NO idea BGT had a coaster you could eat lunch on - AWESOME!! I need to get back down there! :-P


Re: What determines how coasters turn out to be.... by Cyclone_Phil Cyclone_Phil Profile at 8/17/13 3:17:56 PM
Lol! Serves me right for not proofreading. But yeah you probably could eat your lunch on it because it is that smooth. :)
Re: What determines how coasters turn out to be.... by chitlins73 chitlins73 Profile at 8/17/13 4:14:47 PM
Yeah......that coaster was very disappointing to me. More of a family coaster than I expected.