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Valleyfair (VF) Discussion Thread

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A rider interviewed for AP stated they heard scraping and metal grinding before they turned around and saw the derailed car, but it's not clear if the failure occurred before the brake run or in the brake run and sheered the wheel assembly off.


These chassis have run without fail for over ten years now, so whether it's a design aging/fatigue problem vs. some other series of compounding events failure analysis engineers will need to determine. I wouldn't be so quick to condemn all Morgan rides at this point; their coasters have had excellent safety records. There are plenty of coasters out there that lose and seize wheels, we just don't always hear about them unless they cause injury. Can you imagine if people were on Kingda Ka, that most perfect of Intamin creations, when it grinded to a sudden halt on the launch? Lots of bad injuries. There are a lot of big, powerful rides that have been built over the past 10-15 years that will start to see effects of stress, fatigue, and aging. You just hope maintenance procedures are good enough to catch these problems or the realistic service life of these ride systems is understood.

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According to both newspapers (Star Tribube and Pioneer Press), everyone taken to hospital was released by 8:30 PM.


Drove by VF en route to/from work today, took some ground-level pics. Will post later after re-size. In a hurry right now.



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Along with that, now I cant go ride Wild Thing, which I'm sure will be just as awesome as MAMBA.


I'm afraid you will be very disappointed. They killed Wild Thing about three years ago.


I'm very thankful that everyone is alright and that the worst injury was a mild concussion. Also, I'm glad that this happened on the final brake run, when the train was slowing down (as if it wasn't slow enough already ).


When I first heard about this yesterday, I was in total shock, mostly because Wild Thing was my first "big" coaster, but also because I was on Mamba all day on Saturday.


There really isn't reason to keep any of their other coasters (including Quicksilver Express) closed for more than a day or two, so don't get worried about that.


Also, remember that this is a one-in-a-million occurance, and the chances of it happening twice in a short period of time are even worse. I will certainly be riding every Morgan I can get my hands on, including Wild Thing.


All I can say is that I hope it's open for Coaster Craze and Pres Con.

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I think the best that they can do in regard to the other coasters is shut them down now. Examine the problem and find the cause for the accident on Wild Thing. Inspect the trains of the other Morgan rides to make sure that this could not happen on any of their other rides. It'll be easy for Steel Force because that is already closed because they are waiting for a chain lift replacement.


It is an xtremely rare occurance for this to happen, but when there are two problems in a similar regard to eachother from the same manufacturer, then you may want to pay attention a little bit. You have Steel Dragon 2000 with its wheel flying off and bringing the train to a halt. And then you have this, which is a lot worse sounding than SD2000 (an entire car spliting from the train and partially derailing at the same time!).


I am shocked at how lucky the riders are. I mean if you even think about what might have actually happened if this happened earlier in the ride, final destination 3 would have become a reality (the derailing part of the train, not the other unrealistic chaos).

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Keep in mind the Steel Dragon incident is a little bit different, since the wheels are on the outside of the track, whereas every other Morgan has the wheels on the inside.


From the pictures, I would thing an entire assembly broke off of Wild Thing, thus allowing the back of the car to detach during some of the transitions. Who knows, maybe part of the track was off somehow, leading to the assembly being ripped off to begin with. As the train came into the brakes, the airtime, directional changes, and sudden stop could have caused the now "3" legged beast to lose control of its entire backside.


As far as I know, Steel Dragon only lost a wheel or 2, not the entire assembly. (as if "only" when referring to an accident was a good thing!)

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These pictures taken at 7:30 AM and 1:30 PM today, as I was driving by. Scott County Sheriff and Shakopee PD were keeping traffic moving on 101 (including a 5 Eyewitness News car), so I couldn't come to a complete stop.


If anyone wants to A) examine high-res originals or B) hotlink anywhere else, let me know.




The car in question, and inspectors on the cherry picker.


Closer look at the car in question


Better conditions in the afternoon. The train as it came to a stop.


Valleyfair was buried in a fogbank this morning, so it made my photos crappy.

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First, I would like to say that I'm glad that no one was seriously injured or killed!


Second, GREAT photo's to all that posted them on this thread!


Third, although the investigation is underway and information may take a couple of weeks to gather, I could provide my guess(es) on possible issues. This would be just speculation based on that I do not have a clear shot up close of the axle (ariel view) or the pics of the underbody of derailed train.


When I worked for BGE/BGT maintenance the rigourous standards and inspections these coasters go through (especially past/present ride operators can attest to that) is amazing. End of season downtime on these coasters is a pain in the 'butt' to say the least and we spend virtually the entire winter months tearing down the train(s) and inspect/replace parts, bearings, c-clips..etc, and put the entire train(s) back together. Axle/wheel carrier x-rays can take at least 2-4 weeks and if cracks are found another 2 weeks to get replacement parts and re-install them.


With aging of the ride, each (end of season) inspection actually can get more expensive as each year passses, because the ride mfg. manuals (maintenance operation) suggest many parts replacement after so many hours/years and so on. As another post was read here, metal fatigue becomes a major issue around years 5-7 on many of the axles, wheel carrier systems and its bogey (in general). Most mfg suggest replacing those parts and/or have them x-rayed after season 2 (and beyond) or after 500 hrs of usage. Case in point- Orient Express (WOF) and Demon (PGA) both Arrow coasters/chassis. Bogey/wheel stop failure-fatigue.


**I can guess 3 items it may have been. The fatigue in the bogey system failed and uplift wheel or guide wheel (carrier unit) failed and the safety unit on the axle engaged to stop the train and it derailed as a result. A loose nut on the wheel assembly could also played a role (and disengage off the carrier).


** A common issue (that not normally announced to public) is that the brake-blade could have mis-aligned along the break run. Even if the unit was within specification(s), a simple knife-blade mis-alignment could actually derail an entire axle (case in point- Nessie in 94 and Python in 92 or 91, OE @ WOF 89). I need to look at the last brake run pics again and see if the blade assy. of the brake run itself has any damage. That could be a good sign this may have happened. Arrow/Morgan use similar parts in these areas and if the crew doesn't inspect the knife-blade aligment periodically, they become warped. **Case in point, those interviewed on the video described the noises as the train came into the brake run.


** My final theory is the body bolts fatigue. Why? Because sometimes the fatigue of the body bolts (and shifting of the load- ie- people/train) can cause the axle more strain and possible wheel failure (road or guide wheel). I seen a factory test on similar chassis and they just sheared right in half. As a general rule, most parks replace car body-bolts every season. Assuming this case the bolts were not replaced could have a suspect-issue.

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Kumba9, I'd like to thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.


It seems like the decoupled car came to rest in the first 25-30 feet of the brake run. I agree that the stoppage of that car was most likely a result of being misaligned with the brake shoes. This seems to mean that there was likely a failure before that point to cause the misalignment, as the front 5 cars made it through that point.


Does anybody know what Minnesota's procedures are for an incident like this?


(I guess I should go check out that Rides911 site, huh?)

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I worked at valleyfair for 3 years and saw alot of F"ed up stuff. I never knew that the wild was unsafe. I know that they look at them everymornig and sometime in the Day. BUT DAM.. I wish I still worked there. HAHAHA. I for see a rise in the ticket prices to cover all of the happy People that got lawsuits.


Yeah... Go minnesota for our sweet park. Atleast we still have 10000+ lakes.

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One additional comment I would like to add to the previous post I made.


If anyone has some pics of the actual Axle/wheel carrier assembly on ANY Morgan coasters, please post them here. I know that when Steve Okamoto left Arrow to go to Morgan, he made some modifications on the Morgan trains (versus Arrow bogey's). One particular point is that the back-up cable (safety) system is no longer in place on Morgan trains. I could be wrong, but would need some photo's to varify. This is only assumption based on why the last car was so far "away" from the rest of the train and how the derailed axle assembly is in the "middle" of the last car of the (complete) train and the last car on the (end) of track.

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For those people that say that The Wild Thing is unsafe, and same with the park, don't even go there. The park has been in operation for 30 years, and this is the worst issue they've had (Valleyfair! has had a great record of safety), is this incident. It was just a rare occasion.


Anyways, this whole thing was around the school today. Non stop talk about it. Lol. All the crap people make up. I heard one story in which somebody could have thrown a pop can on the track. Lol!

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I'm glad the rear car came off the track at the end of the ride on the brake-run and not down the 1st drop or at the turn-around.


Still scary stuff when a coaster accident happens. hope everyone recovers ok and not 2 many mental scar's


When is "Steel Dragon" suppose to reopen..?

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A summary of the other Morgan coaster status:


Steel Force is down awaiting a new lift chain.


Mamba reopened after an inspection.


Steel Dragon is still closed after the last accident (2003).


Phantom's Revenge is still running with Arrow trains.


Quicksilver Express is a comparatively small mine train, max height 38 feet, max speed 32 mph. The trains are significantly different that the Morgan Hyper trains. Operating status not confirmed since the accident.


Santa Monica West Coaster is a comparatively small coaster, but runs a train very similar to those found on Wild Thing. Operating status not confirmed since the accident.


Steel Eel: Smaller than Wild Thing, but runs similar trains. Operating status not confirmed since the accident.


Superman el Ultimo Escape: The most recent coaster built by Morgan, has similar stats as Wild Thing. Trains appear to have a different design than Wild Thing. Operating status not confirmed since the accident.


If anyone knows for sure what's up with the other Morgan coasters...


Please share!


PS: SteelPeppe, please keep me updated if you hear anything about SD2K!


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I never knew that the wild was unsafe.


If you honestly think that Wild Thing is unsafe, you need to take a long walk off a short dock.

Honestly, one accident and everyone thinks the ride isn't safe.

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From this mornings local paper:




Wild Thing's brakes to be scrutinized

Valleyfair, the ride's manufacturer and outside engineers will try to find the cause of Sunday's accident that injured 15 riders. It is expected to take days.

Pam Louwagie and Chao Xiong, Star Tribune


Giant brake pads were slowing Valleyfair's Wild Thing roller coaster when the last of its six cars broke away and lurched to a tilt, sending 15 riders to the emergency room.

Those brakes under the Shakopee amusement park's signature ride will be under scrutiny as the owner, the manufacturer and outside engineers try to figure out the cause of Sunday afternoon's accident.


At the time of the accident, the ride "was well into the brakes, so probably that's going to be significant once we can get under there and see it," said Tip Harrison, director of Valleyfair's physical plant. Though he wouldn't speculate on what the investigation might reveal, Harrison doubted such an accident would have happened anywhere else during the ride.


Valleyfair officials inspected parts of the ride Monday but did not physically touch anything. They were waiting for ride manufacturer officials to fly in from California.


No government agency will investigate. Some states inspect amusement park rides, but Minnesota leaves that responsibility to the park owners and their insurance companies.


The investigation is expected to take days, Harrison said. In the meantime, riders and witnesses were reliving their experience on Monday.


Andrea Olecki, 14, of Eden Prairie was waiting in line to board the ride when she saw one of the roller coaster cars suddenly detach from the others.


Olecki said she saw what looked like a latch that connected them fly into the air.


"Everybody was just trying to run out of the line, get out of the way of the Wild Thing," said Olecki, who rode the roller coaster about nine times that day and experienced no problems. "I was scared."


Sitting with his brother in the last car of the Wild Thing on Sunday, Jay Kephart, 9, of Milaca, Minn., felt a big jerk, hit his bottom teeth on the lap bar and tipped sideways, he said. He wiggled out of the restraints, stood up and saw wheels on the track.


"Holy dang. It ripped itself apart real bad," he remembers thinking.


His brother Mitch Kephart, 13, sat in the ride unconscious with a bloody nose. By the time park officials released the lap bars, he was awake. Neither suffered serious injuries, their mother said.


Harrison said the rear wheels on the second-to-last car came off the track and broke away from the car. But he didn't know whether the derailment happened before or after the cars separated.


Valleyfair would not release its safety record because its insurance company won't let it, Harrison said, but national amusement officials tout the safety of rides in general.



I did not post the whole article. The rest is about Chance Morgan and Steel Dragon. Here is the link for the whole story



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I think people are being way too quick on conclusions here on both sides. Do I think Wild Thing is unsafe? NOt really, this is just the second accident over hundreds of thousands of circuits of Morgan hypers. I simply think WT is just not a very good coaster, like most Morgans.


I do think, however, that folks are letting the park and Cedar Fair off the hook too quickly. Sure, the ride was safe until this accident, but the true judgement of any safety program is what is done AFTER an accident. This is where Disney failed time and time again, with cleaning up crime scenes and hiding evidence.


CF is not doing well either. Sure, they have left the ride untouched until Morgan arrives. That's great. But, I'm astounded that Mamba is running. I'd also be astounded if Steel Eel is running, or the other non-CF Morgans. So far, no one knows the failure that occured. People are acting like Mamba's 2 hour inspection on Monday cleared it for operation. I'd hope to hell Wild Thing was inspected for a lot more than 2 hours during the off-season, and that didn't stop this catastrophic failure. Ultimately, the odds of Mamba failing in the same way are probably slim, but unless VF already figured out exactly what happened, which I doubt, opening a near clone ride is absolutely beyond idiotic. WoF has Patriot as thier marquee ride now, shutting down Mamba wouldn't be a huge deal, and would the be safe thing to do.


Rastus O'Ginga

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