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Why so many ride-attendants?


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In my travels to the US I've noticed that on most coasters there're 2-4 attendants plus one operator who must be screwed to his chair. In Germany we've mostly one operator/attendant - and the one we have is mostly WAY faster. I always wonder what the US attendants are always murking around the ride...

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@BarryH

 

Agreed: I've noticed if there's no one at the entry-turnstile telling poeple to move they often don't - a chance for me to skip by...

 

P.S.: Olympia Looping has 3 attendants when running 4 trains - launching every 30 seconds...

Edited by simon8899
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There's universal standards (ASTM) that have to be met. It more or less boils down to the fact people in America are dumb and need more supervision.

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I'm guessing German ride ops don't check every single restraint to ensure it's locked... That's a huge chunk of time right there. Then again, how many obese people do you have trying to fit into rides they won't fit in over in Germany?

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Disney is pretty good at getting dispatches out quickly. Universal is pretty good too!

 

But one thing that hinders the US is all the idiots, thats why we have so many safety procedures, so people can't sue.

 

And of course we need to do a VISUAL SCAN!!!

Edited by The SETGO Guys
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It's probably because of these two reasons, to sum this up:

 

1. Americans often feel that they are not responsible for their own safety, which is more for a park to deal with

 

2. The amusement industry is probably more regulated here, and while there is not necessarily a restriction on how many ops are needed, the restraint requirements and the procedures for checking them call for extra staff in order to keep decent dispatch times.

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I know from working at Knott's, you would generally need between two and (up to) 7 people per coaster. Zoom used only two, a dispatcher and a secondary. Pony had a dispatcher, secondary, and unload, Bullet had a minimum of a dispatcher and 4 checking, 6 on a busy night. Part of the reason for such a ride as Zoom is we had to keep our hand over the e-stop the whole time, just in case. And for all the coasters, you needed a dispatcher in the booth at all times, for the same reason. And then you always had at least one other operator on dock as a secondary, again, so the ride can be e-stopped or dispatched via two people. All kinds of stuff.

 

Looking at Knott's, it seems it's a combo safety thing and efficiency thing. Before you start blasting me, I'm not saying the crews were fast, but with all the requirements to send a train out, the set-up was ideal for maximum efficiency. This could be seen on a busy Haunt night when the crews understood they actually needed to *dare I say it* work their asses off.

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I remember when I was a kid at Kings Dominion they would sometimes dispatch and a guy would check the buzzbars standing in one spot while the train rolled by. Then they got rid of the buzz bars, added huge head rests, seat dividers, and seatbelts.

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I'm guessing German ride ops don't check every single restraint to ensure it's locked... That's a huge chunk of time right there

 

At most parks they do, they're just quick. The only time I remember not being checked was the mine train at Europa, the dispatches were screamingly fast (and still safe, obviously).

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I was at Liseberg this weekend, and they had five people working on Balder. The ride were operating near max capacity, and they were really working to keep the line moving as fast as possible. And they only checked the seat belt, not the lap bar. Compare this to El Toro a few years ago when they only had two people checking the whole train. Took forever.

 

And Lisebergsbanan was as fast as ever. Four train operation, and each train spent a minimal time in the station. This coaster never fails to impress me!

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I was at Liseberg this weekend, and they had five people working on Balder. The ride were operating near max capacity, and they were really working to keep the line moving as fast as possible. And they only checked the seat belt, not the lap bar. Compare this to El Toro a few years ago when they only had two people checking the whole train. Took forever.

 

You can also add that much of the time they were able to dispatch the train early enough so that the next train would just roll directly into the station without stopping.

 

The restraint checking was definately very different from El Toro a few years ago. On ET they were pushing down the lapbar on each rider to make sure that there was as little space as possible. On Balder they just seemed to know that as long as the seatbelt is on and the lapbar is down its perfectly safe. It really made it fun as I had 1-2 inches of space between me and the lapbar on every single ride.

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I think it's because German ride-ops are much more enthusiastic about their jobs, and really give it their all, so they don't really need all that many. Granted, while places like Knoebels can be pretty efficient too, most American ride op's seem to consist of lazy, unenthusiastic teens and twenty-somethings, who give off the impression that almost anything is beneath them, including working at a park, so they need more op's to try and keep up with the crowds over here.

 

They're not ALL like that, but I have been to certain parks where I've seen that kind of attitude from the employees. CP was a nice exception back in the day, but I haven' been back since 2002, and have no clue what it's like now.

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As far as ride safety goes, the Europeans, Germans in particular, have way more stringent standards on their construction and standards of safety. Really. I remember hearing that Moser had never built a TUV compliant ride in their history several years back and I believe that's still the case. S&S's Thrust Air coaster is a good example of another TUV non-compliant ride that had to have a German work crew do work on. It definitely isn't that. What it is relevant is, as others have theorized, the litigious nature of US courts and the general belief being that companies should take maximum precaution to prevent injury or face litigation. While that's fine and dandy when discussing things like Tylenol manufacturing or the distribution of burger meat, that standard is also unfortunately applied to forcefully preventing, as best possible, the escape of a person's body from a amusement ride vehicle when they choose to try and escape it rather than merely attempt to prevent the expulsion of a incapacitated person.

 

Above, in short: Lawyers and the system sucks, and for Europe being a supposedly more confining and socialistic place than the US, they allow a lot more personal freedom when it seems to count as a result of their law system sucking less.

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It more or less boils down to the fact people in America are dumb and need more supervision.

This.

 

End of discussion.

 

To be fair I've encountered just as high a percentage of stupid people at amusement parks all over Europe.

Edited by larrygator
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If German ride ops are just consistently fast and efficient, I'm wondering how well they're getting paid. In the US, theme parks generally can't attract quality employees at the rates they pay, and it's hard to be enthusiastic when you're getting paid next-to-minimum wage to check lap bars for 16-hour days (no overtime) in unbearable summer weather. I know I've been there.

 

Speaking of unbearable summer weather, how warm does do German summers get? Because I'm sure many US parks have much hotter summers which only makes it that much more challenging to remain quick and enthusiastic, especially when working double-shift days.

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There's not a lot of enthusiasm from the ops over in Germany or much of Europe. They just don't check anything, expect you to do your restraint yourself, and press the button that makes the ride go. If you want enthusiasm, it comes from the guys on the fair circuit as they yell stuff before the mess with the manual controls and cause you to spin or flip at a high rate of speed for an exhaustively long period of time.

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On this topic, I have an interesting story. I was next in the X2 line, having just waited an hour. Dispatches were about 4-5 minutes to a train, and two ride ops were checking restraints on each side.

 

At the front of the line, I heard the two ops arguing over who had just run through the restraints the fastest! (Seriously. They were RACING each other, and it still took them 5 minutes almost every time!)

 

Anyway, I am not sure why American parks force down lap bars, while European ones do not. Just a quick look to see if the restraint is mostly down should be fine.

 

Even on American B&M flyers, ankle restraints are rarely thoroughly checked. The ride ops just look to see if they are locked down far enough. Why aren't other restraint systems like this!? It must have something to do with the ankle restraint being in syncornicity with the OTSR.

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It more or less boils down to the fact people in America are dumb and need more supervision.

This.

 

End of discussion.

 

With a brother-in-law who is a personal injury attorney, I can support this ideology.. Some of the lawsuits I hear about make me want to slap the people who file them.. You'd be amazed.

 

CA Screamin' the other day: 3+ people in the control booth, one person at the control stand, one person directing the fastpass line, one person on each side of the train lowering restraints (not checking them.. they actually lower them for the riders).

 

When you stand in the station and watch how they operate the ride, it really makes sense (in my opinion), that it has to do with liability - they seem to be eliminating any chance for a potential lawsuit.

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  • 2 weeks later...

True. On Superman Tower of Power at SFoT I know of at least one specific incident that resulted in a major change of protocol. That protocol now involves your restraint being checked no less than three times by at least 2 different people. Sure it's overboard, but theme park guests are idiots and are incapable of ensuring their own safety.

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