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Coaster Types and Capacity


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Based on what I've seen, here's how I'd rate rides in terms of capacity:

 

Very Low: kiddie coasters

 

Low: family coasters with one train, shuttle coasters, woodies with one train, wild mice, spinners, anything operating with only one train, most coasters with single cars, and anything with an overly complex restraint system

 

Medium: B&Ms with two trains, shuttle coasters with two trains, most Intamin coasters, family coasters with two trains, Disney spinners, Disney mice, woodies with two trains, and Arrows with two trains

 

High: woodies with three trains, family coasters with three trains, B&Ms with three trains, mine trains, mega coasters, Arrows with three trains, coasters with dual loading stations, coasters with separate load and unload points, and major coasters with simple restraint systems

 

Very High: major coasters at Disney parks and multi-tracked coasters

 

As for what I consider the capacity for each of these categories...

 

Very Low: 400 riders per hour or less

Low: 400-700 riders per hour

Medium: 700-1200 riders per hour...this is the minimum capacity I feel a coaster should have at a major park

High: 1200-1800 riders per hour

Very High: over 1800 riders per hour

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Leviathan was running more efficiently than I've ever seen any coaster when I got on it a few weeks ago. It's a high capacity B&M to start with, and the staff was running dispatches more efficiently than I've seen out of most crews at Disney or Knoebels. They had someone starting a steady countdown from 10 the moment the last person from the previous ride left the station, and the train -left- the station on zero. It may have been a bit slower than actually ten seconds...but not by much, and the train left on time every single run.

 

Very impressive, CW.

 

THIS! CW has like 10 Ops in the station and the countdown thing works great. With just a simple lap bar dispatches are fast. Train crests the lifthill and the next train is out of the station. No stacking whatsoever. I wish I could say the same for some of the other rides.

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^10 ride operators is insane. Considering other parks can run 3-train B&Ms with minimal-to-non stacking on 4 ride ops I don't know why Leviathan needs those many. BTW, on any video I have seen of Leviathan there's a train stacked...

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^Yes. But not compared to say... 20 years ago. CP is still heads and tails above the Six Flags parks in terms of capacities, but has notably dropped over the years. But I wouldn't say that for some of the other parks Cedar Fair purchased.

 

With all the "check, clear, re-check" that Six Flags have now, capacities are pretty low. Add to that under staffing and the available ride ops having to deal with kids' parents who are too short to ride, etc., it has really slowed stuff down. And luckily for them, they happily capitalize off that by offering pay-to-cut.

 

Nothing like going to Holiday World where ride ops are on the ball, fast as lightning. Same with Dollywood - it's especially charming there as they were mostly seniors when I was there. Or Knoebel's - where one train in on the lift while the other is still coming into the station.

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I was watching a POV of it yesterday and I was wondering the same thing. Is it really able to run 4 trains? I thought it had the double station because of the relatively small layout. If it is indeed able to run on 4 trains, capacity must be huge! Like, over 2,000 pph...

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Everytime I go to ride the swarm, it eats up the queue line. This ride is a B&M wingrider to anybody who doesn't know what the swarm is. The longest I have seen the queue become is 1 hour and that's on a busy day. The short layout probably helps out abit.

 

The queue for Swarm has been well over 90 minutes on many, many occasions this season.

 

And for those saying "any Disney coaster" - no. Crush's Coaster and RC Racer are hardly lessons in throughput!

 

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I was watching a POV of it yesterday and I was wondering the same thing. Is it really able to run 4 trains? I thought it had the double station because of the relatively small layout. If it is indeed able to run on 4 trains, capacity must be huge! Like, over 2,000 pph...

Can anyone confirm that it runs four trains? It theoretically can run four because it has at least five block sections (station, lift, mid-course brake, main brake, transfer block, did I miss any?), but there isn't a lot of track between the mid-course and main brakes (about 25 seconds worth).

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Pretty much all B&Ms I've been on have had good capacity as long as they are running at least two trains. I think the four-across seating is the big thing that B&Ms have going for them, capacity-wise.

 

Despite being a shuttle coaster, the two Intamin Impulses I've ridden (Steel Venom and V2-SFGAm) usually have good capacity as long as the ride ops aren't goofing off, and this is probably because of the short ride cycle.

 

Unfortunately, a most of the wooden coasters I've ridden don't have a great capacity. Maybe it's just me, but even with two-train operations, if there's a decent line, I feel like I'm waiting longer than I should be for wooden coasters.

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It all depends on the amount of block sections and the number of trains the coaster has.

 

Let's take every B&M in existence for example (except Dive Coasters). Every B&M has 2 more block sections than the number of trains. For all 2-train B&Ms, there are 4 block sections: the station, the lift, the main brake, and the transfer. These could theoretically run 3 trains, but there would be constant stacking on the transfer and occasional stops on the lift hill, so 2 trains is more efficient. For the 3-train B&Ms, there are 5 blocks: the station, the lift, the MCBR, the main brake, and the transfer. They could run 4 trains technically, but for the same reasons listed above, 3 trains is more efficient. The slight exception to this 3-train fact is Banshee, Leviathan, Fury 325, and Tatsu, which run 3 trains without a MCBR. The reason this is possible is because the MCBR is essentially moved to the end of the ride, making 3 blocks before entering the station. Dual stations are a slight exception as well, but most 3-train B&Ms have the MCBR set up.

 

The reason B&Ms are so efficient is because there can be 3 trains (or 2 trains for the 2-train rides) evenly spaced about the ride at one time. For the 3-train B&Ms, one can be in the station, one can be just starting the layout, and the other can be finishing up and entering the brake run. This continuous cycle (thanks to the extra "unneeded" block) can allow 3 trains to run without stacking (assuming efficient ride operators). This applies for 2-train B&Ms as well. One can be in the station while the other is finishing up the ride and entering the brake run. It also helps that most B&Ms hold 28-36 riders per train. All in all, this equals AMAZING potential capacity.

 

Now let's look at most Intamins, specifically I305, mega coasters, and Millennium Force. These rides run the maximum amount of trains allowed for their respective block set up. Let's look at I305. There are only 3 blocks on this ride: the station, the lift, and the holding brake (the transfer is very simple and is not a block). This ride has a lower capacity as compared to a B&M because the trains are spaced a little more unevenly on the layout. For this set up, a train cannot exit the lift until the other is in the station. With really efficient ops, this can be done without stacking, but 95% of the time, the train stacks. This applies to their mega coasters as well, such as Goliath (Walibi), the 3 Six Flags mega coasters, and Expedition GeForce.

 

Millennium Force is the weird one, but still works in a similar way. There are 4 blocks on this ride: the station, the lift, the main holding brake, and the unload station. This ride can run 3 trains smoothly because the constant stacking that would normally occur was turned in to an unload station, preventing the capacity from suffering. The lift hill occasionally has to start slow because it is waiting for the 3rd train to enter the unload station, but for the majority of the time, 3 trains can be ran smoothly, especially with the great operators Cedar Point has.

 

I sort of went all out on this, but describing block sections on coasters is really interesting. I can't wait to design coasters one day.

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^I couldn't agree more. Intamins have the strangest block set up. I've worked El Toro which also only has 3 blocks for two trains to run on and with that set up, there is a very short window of time where you can dispatch a train and have no stacking occur. The optimal time was to dispatch as a train was pulling into the brake run. If we dispatched any earlier, the train would stop on the lift hill since the train behind it would have to fully pull into the station in order for the block to clear. B&M's have much more wiggle room to prevent stacking thanks to the extra block they typically possess. A train can be dispatched earlier without the risk of it stopping on the lift since the other train on the course does not have to fully pull into the station in order to clear the ride block. While El Toro has two brake sections, only the section right before the station counts as a block. On the other hand, a two train B&M has two blocks on it's brake run. However, B&M's usually have longer ride cycle times when compared to Intamin coasters because of their slower lift hills and longer/slower brake runs. Intamin coasters typically feature lightning fast cable lifts and shorter/faster brake runs where trains quickly roll through the brake run back to the station. B&M's like to creep through their brake runs.

 

It was mentioned earlier in the thread that four across seating is more efficient than two across seating and I would have to disagree. With just two people, checking a whole El Toro train can be done in literally 15 seconds or even less because you can smoothly hold your pace as you walk down the train checking rider's lapbars and seatbelts. However, when I would worked Bizarro the four across seating made it much harder to hold a pace as you checked restraints since you would have to walk out and in of the cars. Even if you really hustled, there would always be a brief pause between checking restraints every two seats.

 

Now theoretically, two train B&M coasters and two train Intamin coasters on average have the same capacity but what gives B&M the boost over Intamin are the restraints. Intamin coasters are much less accommodating for everyone making it harder to hit interval times if a rider happens to not fit. At El Toro, a train was usually not ready to dispatch after checking it. There would always be a few cars we would have to recheck if someone's lapbar was not down far enough. If a rider or two were unable to ride, our dispatch times could be pretty awful. On the other hand, B&Ms are usually ready to dispatch after checking the train.

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One thing is true, though. Although B&Ms usually have better capacity over intamins, during one train operations the intamins are faster due to the shorter ride cycles/fast lifts/shorter distance between brakes and station.

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I love the cable lift design of Intamin coasters. Trains at I:305 are on the lift for all of 16 seconds.

Most efficient coaster I would say is California Screamin. Yes I know that Space Mountain and the Matterhorn run more vehicles however Screamin's throughput is higher.

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I have a question about El Toro. I always see you guys run and check the restraints really quickly and then hear the person at the panel rattle off numbers (which I'm assuming are car numbers) that need to be re-checked. Does the panel tell you which bar is causing the problem or do you just pretty much need to check every single one (assuming it's not obvious) to see if it "verifies". If that's the case (and it seems to be) I wonder why Intamin wouldn't program it to show you specific seat numbers to make your jobs easier and load times faster. I know rides like Mystery Mine have lights on the back of every seat that do this which seems better than just giving you a car number.

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^I never operated El Toro but I'll chime in here since I operated Perilous Plunge @ KBF which had the same monitoring system that El Toro has. I do agree that it was annoying that the restraint monitoring system wouldn't tell you what row was not clear however the operators can tell which seat might be questionable just by looking at the size of the guest that's in the seat. Hate to say it like that but it's true.

Once the restraint system registers all seats are clear the operators will have to "acknowledge" this by pushing a button in order to dispatch the train.

Edited by DJeXeL
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I have a question about El Toro. I always see you guys run and check the restraints really quickly and then hear the person at the panel rattle off numbers (which I'm assuming are car numbers) that need to be re-checked. Does the panel tell you which bar is causing the problem or do you just pretty much need to check every single one (assuming it's not obvious) to see if it "verifies". If that's the case (and it seems to be) I wonder why Intamin wouldn't program it to show you specific seat numbers to make your jobs easier and load times faster. I know rides like Mystery Mine have lights on the back of every seat that do this which seems better than just giving you a car number.

 

The panel only tells us which car, it does not tell us which bar but I wish it did. But usually we can guess who's bar is up the most just by looking at each rider. I know at SFNE, Bizarro's panel tells the operator which car and row a lapbar is in that needs to be rechecked but its system is a few years newer than El Toro's. While Toro could use lights on the back of the seats for the attendants to use, I think simply staffing the ride with 4 people on the train would be of better use. With 4 people on the train, we have no problem hitting 1,200 riders an hour but with only 2 on the train, we usually average 900.

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I think the best capacity coasters behind B&M mega coasters are probably arrow loopers. The trains are so simple to load and check. Even back when GADV didn't have the best operations in the early 2000's, GASM had pretty decent operations thanks to the simple restraint system. When I went to Busch Gardens in early 2008, the Loch Ness Monster crew would dispatch a train as the train before crested the lift each and every time (And this was on the park's opening day of the season when operations are usually subpar).

 

On the other hand, I always find that wooden roller coasters (especially ones that run two trains) typically have a much lower capacity than that of their steel counterparts. Most wooden coasters run two trains with only 24 passengers per train while steel coasters usually average around 32 or sometimes 36 riders per train. Every GCI coaster for the most part has a theoretical capacity of 850 riders per hour while steel coasters are usually over 1,200. Wooden coasters also tend to have longer ride durations than similarly sized steel coasters further detracting from their potential capacity. Even the few woodies that have MCBRs and run three trains have less capacity than their steel counterparts because again, the amount of riders on average is still only 24 or sometimes 28 riders (Mean Streak). The Beast is the only woodie I can think of off the top of my head that runs three 36 passenger trains but the length of the first lift hill and total ride time detracts from the ride's potential capacity.

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^ And don't forget that in some woodies there is a relatively long time between the train in the station starting to leave and the one behind coming to a complete stop as the use of friction brakes rather than drive tires means it'll take longer to get the train moving and then getting it to stop in exactly the right place.

 

By the way, for those who know, I've noticed most steel coasters (especially modern ones) are very precise in the place where they stop in the station when using tires while I get the impressions that some older ones (and most woodies) must not hit the exact same spot every time as the brakes are less precise. Is this really the case? And is there a "greater tolerance" about the place in the station where these rides must stop?

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