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Why did Universal decide to go with B&M to build the hulk?


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So I've wondered this for a very long time.

 

Keep in mind I have nothing against Universal for doing this at all! If anythimg, B&M did a very good job with it. And it's my favorite coaster next to Maverick.

 

But just, why did they go with B&M to build it if they can't do launch coasters? Why couldn't they have gone with another company like Intamin or Premier Rides that can do launches, rather than have the hastle of finding another company to do the launch? Wouldn't that have made things easier?

 

Does it have to do with the concept design or reliability?

 

I'm just curious.

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At the time, launched coasters were relatively new technology. The park opened in 1999, and the roller coasters had to be built and completed well before then so the extensive theming around the park could be completed. In fact, if you look at construction pictures of IOA, Hulk was one of the first things completed. I dont know an exact date, but the Hulk had to be built a good amount of time before 1999 rolled around.

 

Meanwhile, Premiere had just debuted Flight of Fear in 1996. And they had one layout, the spaghetti bowl. I dont think that by the time FoF opened, Universal had time to modify their extensive pre-existing concepts for what would become the most technologically-advanced park in the world. The zero-G roll into the cobra roll is an iconic structure that UC wanted to serve as the weenie of the lagoon. Im not sure Premier was well-known enough yet for Universal to depend on them to venture so far off from their go-to design.

 

Also, in the late 90's B&M were coaster kings, and IOA wanted the most sought-after (and most reliable) manufacturer to build the rides. I imagine going with them for Dueling Dragons also had something to do with their decision to contract them for Hulk.

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The Thunderbird announcement made me remember how great it was to see B&M launch a brand new standard looping coaster with TWO vertical loops. Having this and Kumba in one state just isn't fair! Two very awesome rides I wish were closer...

 

I agree that Hulk being chosen for design by the dynamic Swiss duo, was likely a package deal for their very best products pushed to their innovative limits. I was just as excited to see a dueling pair of inverted coasters. Two nice milestones for B&M a stones throw from one another.

image.jpg.e0b4e2241a969367bf0d30d4b17fc96e.jpg

1998 was a great time to be an enthusiast! As a B&M fan this was torture to wait for as Hulk was the first thing to pop up and really grab your attention!

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I think in the 90s, neither Intamin nor Premier proved their rides to be able to do what USO asked for or reliable enough. Correct me if I'm wrong, minus the Schwarzkopf projects that Intamin might be involved, Intamin only did Tower of Terror, Superman, Volcano and the Impluse coaster in Japan back then. For Premier, Mr.Freeze's delay, low capacity, reliability issues and their horrible OTSR's might be the factors that kept USO away. B&M made reliable, forceful, huge, exciting, thrilling coasters in the 90s and I don't think any of their projects had ever been delayed for modifications.

 

Not sure about the price tag of Hulk including how much money B&M used to develop their launch system, but I'm pretty sure Universal is one of those parks who put quality prior to budget. Otherwise they won't spend that much money on MCBR: The Ride 10 years later.

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B&M had a reputation for building popular, reliable coasters that last a long time without needing major offseason work. Islands of Adventure along with all of the other Central Florida parks operate year round, so the park needed signature coasters that could run for years without major track maintenance required (these parks refurbish one train at a time throughout the year so as to not impact the overall operation).

 

B&M was also willing to let Universal design their launch system in-house and install it in the hollow sections of the launch track that B&M produced. Some other ride manufacturers have had issues with arrangements like these, where the park modifies the ride beyond the delivered specifications of the manufacturer and accidents happen (i.e. Intamin and California Screamin').

 

I'd also imagine that cost played a major factor in determining which manufacturer would deliver the ride. Universal was already buying two custom inverted coasters from B&M for Dueling Dragons, so it was probable that there was some kind of benefit to buying a third coaster from the manufacturer.

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At the time, launched coasters were relatively new technology. The park opened in 1999, and the roller coasters had to be built and completed well before then so the extensive theming around the park could be completed. In fact, if you look at construction pictures of IOA, Hulk was one of the first things completed. I dont know an exact date, but the Hulk had to be built a good amount of time before 1999 rolled around.

 

Meanwhile, Premiere had just debuted Flight of Fear in 1996. And they had one layout, the spaghetti bowl. I dont think that by the time FoF opened, Universal had time to modify their extensive pre-existing concepts for what would become the most technologically-advanced park in the world. The zero-G roll into the cobra roll is an iconic structure that UC wanted to serve as the weenie of the lagoon. Im not sure Premier was well-known enough yet for Universal to depend on them to venture so far off from their go-to design.

 

Also, in the late 90's B&M were coaster kings, and IOA wanted the most sought-after (and most reliable) manufacturer to build the rides. I imagine going with them for Dueling Dragons also had something to do with their decision to contract them for Hulk.

 

Makes sense because there were plans for IOA way back in 1993 and I saw a Behind the scenes" on the designing of Hulk and some of that footage was from 1995 when they got on the test buggy to try to figure out the right accelerations for the launch, which that was 1 year before FOF debuted.

 

I do know that Montezooma's revenge at KBF launches with a flywheel and that thing was built in 1978 but by then Swarkpof (sorry of I spelled that wrong) had gone out of business.

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The Thunderbird announcement made me remember how great it was to see B&M launch a brand new standard looping coaster with TWO vertical loops. Having this and Kumba in one state just isn't fair! Two very awesome rides I wish were closer...

 

I agree that Hulk being chosen for design by the dynamic Swiss duo, was likely a package deal for their very best products pushed to their innovative limits. I was just as excited to see a dueling pair of inverted coasters. Two nice milestones for B&M a stones throw from one another.

 

 

Hey I was born in 1998. Is that picture real or animated? My vision isn't that great.

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I think in the 90s, neither Intamin nor Premier proved their rides to be able to do what USO asked for or reliable enough. Correct me if I'm wrong, minus the Schwarzkopf projects that Intamin might be involved, Intamin only did Tower of Terror, Superman, Volcano and the Impluse coaster in Japan back then. For Premier, Mr.Freeze's delay, low capacity, reliability issues and their horrible OTSR's might be the factors that kept USO away. B&M made reliable, forceful, huge, exciting, thrilling coasters in the 90s and I don't think any of their projects had ever been delayed for modifications.

 

Not sure about the price tag of Hulk including how much money B&M used to develop their launch system, but I'm pretty sure Universal is one of those parks who put quality prior to budget. Otherwise they won't spend that much money on MCBR: The Ride 10 years later.

 

Well, capacity can be an issue, considering how popular that park is, and how long the line is even with the 32 seater trains. But B&M didn't build the launch.

 

Also, I love how you called HRRR "MCBR, The ride", it's so true!

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But just, why did they go with B&M to build it if they can't do launch coasters? Why couldn't they have gone with another company like Intamin or Premier Rides that can do launches, rather than have the hassle of finding another company to do the launch? Wouldn't that have made things easier?

This may not be a widely known fact, but both Premier and Intamin buy their launch mechanics from Intrasys to this day. In fact, B&M's Thunderbird is being launched using Intrasys technology: http://www.intrasys-gmbh.com/

 

So like B&M, Intamin and Premier also had to find another company to do their launch systems.

 

Most people assume that when a park buys a ride from someone like Intamin, B&M, Premier, etc, that the company does EVERYTHING on the ride, which is not the case. To simplify things, the ride manufacturers design and produce the ride, but many components come from several different vendors. There could be as many as 100 different vendors involved with supplying parts to a ride or a ride project, and it's the responsibility of a company like Intamin, B&M, and Premier to manage that process and make it all come together.

 

Sometimes they work closely with the project managers at the park, sometimes they do it turn key. While a lot of companies DO manufacture their own track, trains, parts, etc, it's most certainly a misconception that ride companies do *everything* themselves, like designing or building launch systems.

 

I think the answer to the question (this is my assumption) is that at the time, B&M was a much smaller company, already had a great reputation and product line-up WITHOUT having to add an additional vendor and project management to do a launch into their plans, so if a park wanted to do a launched coaster with them, the park would have to contract with that vendor themselves. IMO, there isn't any reason why a B&M couldn't be launched all these years, but maybe it just was that no other park wanted to take on the additional work of having to project manage the launch system, and it wasn't until recently that became an option that B&M offered in order to expand their product line?

 

--Robb "I hope I've explained that somewhat correctly!" Alvey

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B&M had a reputation for building popular, reliable coasters that last a long time without needing major offseason work. Islands of Adventure along with all of the other Central Florida parks operate year round, so the park needed signature coasters that could run for years without major track maintenance required (these parks refurbish one train at a time throughout the year so as to not impact the overall operation).

 

B&M was also willing to let Universal design their launch system in-house and install it in the hollow sections of the launch track that B&M produced. Some other ride manufacturers have had issues with arrangements like these, where the park modifies the ride beyond the delivered specifications of the manufacturer and accidents happen (i.e. Intamin and California Screamin').

 

I'd also imagine that cost played a major factor in determining which manufacturer would deliver the ride. Universal was already buying two custom inverted coasters from B&M for Dueling Dragons, so it was probable that there was some kind of benefit to buying a third coaster from the manufacturer.

 

Sounds like it would've been easier to have at least more than one of the coasters in the park be made by the same company. B&M is quite popular in Florida, and they stay smooth for awhile too.

 

But what happened on California Screamin'?

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But just, why did they go with B&M to build it if they can't do launch coasters? Why couldn't they have gone with another company like Intamin or Premier Rides that can do launches, rather than have the hassle of finding another company to do the launch? Wouldn't that have made things easier?

This may not be a widely known fact, but both Premier and Intamin buy their launch mechanics from Intrasys to this day. In fact, B&M's Thunderbird is being launched using Intrasys technology: http://www.intrasys-gmbh.com/

 

So like B&M, Intamin and Premier also had to find another company to do their launch systems.

 

Most people assume that when a park buys a ride from someone like Intamin, B&M, Premier, etc, that the company does EVERYTHING on the ride, which is not the case. To simplify things, the ride manufacturers design and produce the ride, but many components come from several different vendors. There could be as many as 100 different vendors involved with supplying parts to a ride or a ride project, and it's the responsibility of a company like Intamin, B&M, and Premier to manage that process and make it all come together.

 

Sometimes they work closely with the project managers at the park, sometimes they do it turn key. While a lot of companies DO manufacture their own track, trains, parts, etc, it's most certainly a misconception that ride companies do *everything* themselves, like designing or building launch systems.

 

I think the answer to the question (this is my assumption) is that at the time, B&M was a much smaller company, already had a great reputation and product line-up WITHOUT having to add an additional vendor and project management to do a launch into their plans, so if a park wanted to do a launched coaster with them, the park would have to contract with that vendor themselves. IMO, there isn't any reason why a B&M couldn't be launched all these years, but maybe it just was that no other park wanted to take on the additional work of having to project manage the launch system, and it wasn't until recently that became an option that B&M offered in order to expand their product line?

 

--Robb "I hope I've explained that somewhat correctly!" Alvey

 

Well, that makes sense to me. Maybe B&M just wasn't advertising launches but would do them by request.

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I have a collection of 3 blueprints from IOA. 1 is original blueprints of the entire park, and the other 2 are of specifically Dueling Dragons and Hulk. Both Dragons and Hulk blueprints are stamped and dated. Dragons reads 'June 30th, 1997' (30/6/97) and Hulk reads 'August 30th, 1996' (30/8/96). I'd be happy to post pictures as visual reference for anybody interested

 

But since we're on the topic of Hulk, this means that the blueprint I have in possession was created/printed in the late summer of 1996, nearly 3 years before the park opened its gates. When you think back to the coaster companies in the mid 90's it's pretty easy to point out that B&M was on an exponential rise to the top. In the mid-90's, Intamin had yet to start producing its collection of mind-blowing coasters we all know and love today, Arrow's popularity was fizzling out and their technology simply wasn't advanced enough to produce the attraction Universal was looking for, and Premier was only JUST coming onto the horizon. B&M on the other hand was rocking the industry year after year in the early 90's with their unique and advanced coasters that pushed the boundaries for what coasters can do all while producing something that was highly reliable.

 

As such, it seemed like an obvious choice for Universal to select B&M as their client given their stellar struck record in such a short period of time. And from what I recall seeing in an article, interview, or video on Hulk, B&M didn't choose the tire launch, it was the Universal engineers who devised what type of launch to choose after going through a number of tests. I'm sure the business relationship between B&M and Universal during the process was very close to make sure that a reliable and safe product was produced in the end.

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^ Please post pics!

 

And also, think about it... in 1996 that is when Intamin was having issues with Superman: The Escape at Magic Mountain (using Intrasys' LSM technology) and I'm sure Hulk's designers looked at that early on and were scared to go with something that was A. still unproved, and B. having issues that delayed a ride opening an entire year.

 

At the time I'm sure B&M didn't want to devote additional resources to make a coaster launch as they already were swamped with work and they didn't want to be the fall guy when things didn't go right, so it was up to Universal Creative and engineering to figure out how to make the coaster go "really fast" up that hill.

 

Personally, while the technique they went with was a bit "analog" for the time, it works, still works, and works very well! I don't blame them for going a bit old-school if it got them the desired results!

 

--Robb

Edited by robbalvey
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It still amazes me to this day that it will be 16 years between launched B&M coasters (1999 to 2015)! I don't know if Thunderbird will start a trend or not, but I'm excited to see what happens. Hulk is an amazing coaster, in my opinion, and it surprises me that parks didn't see its success in the early 2000s and seek to replicate it somewhere along the line.

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I have a collection of 3 blueprints from IOA. 1 is original blueprints of the entire park, and the other 2 are of specifically Dueling Dragons and Hulk. Both Dragons and Hulk blueprints are stamped and dated. Dragons reads 'June 30th, 1997' (30/6/97) and Hulk reads 'August 30th, 1996' (30/8/96). I'd be happy to post pictures as visual reference for anybody interested

 

But since we're on the topic of Hulk, this means that the blueprint I have in possession was created/printed in the late summer of 1996, nearly 3 years before the park opened its gates. When you think back to the coaster companies in the mid 90's it's pretty easy to point out that B&M was on an exponential rise to the top. In the mid-90's, Intamin had yet to start producing its collection of mind-blowing coasters we all know and love today, Arrow's popularity was fizzling out and their technology simply wasn't advanced enough to produce the attraction Universal was looking for, and Premier was only JUST coming onto the horizon. B&M on the other hand was rocking the industry year after year in the early 90's with their unique and advanced coasters that pushed the boundaries for what coasters can do all while producing something that was highly reliable.

 

As such, it seemed like an obvious choice for Universal to select B&M as their client given their stellar struck record in such a short period of time. And from what I recall seeing in an article, interview, or video on Hulk, B&M didn't choose the tire launch, it was the Universal engineers who devised what type of launch to choose after going through a number of tests. I'm sure the business relationship between B&M and Universal during the process was very close to make sure that a reliable and safe product was produced in the end.

 

Is the blueprint on your page? I really wanna see it.

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^ Please post pics!

 

And also, think about it... in 1996 that is when Intamin was having issues with Superman: The Escape at Magic Mountain (using Intrasys' LSM technology) and I'm sure Hulk's designers looked at that early on and were scared to go with something that was A. still unproved, and B. having issues that delayed a ride opening an entire year.

 

At the time I'm sure B&M didn't want to devote additional resources to make a coaster launch as they already were swamped with work and they didn't want to be the fall guy when things didn't go right, so it was up to Universal Creative and engineering to figure out how to make the coaster go "really fast" up that hill.

 

Personally, while the technique they went with was a bit "analog" for the time, it works, still works, and works very well! I don't blame them for going a bit old-school if it got them the desired results!

 

--Robb

 

I think it's the only coaster to use that type of launch. And at a park like IOA, you really have high expectations!

 

I still wondered if B&M designed the piece of track the pitch wheels sit on of if that had to be done by another company as well.

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