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Ride Operators: What has been your favorite ride(s) to work?


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For me it was Kilimanjaro Safaris at DAK.

 

This was several years ago when it still had the poaching storyline. Even though the storyline wasn't very strong, the mere presence of a storyline added an extra layer of immersion from which we as Cast Members could pull from to vary our performance as we played our part in the guest experience. From wishing waiting guests an amazing "two week safari" to our dialogue with the "reserve warden", each individual part of the story were tools for us to use in our goal of bringing the fantasy of an African safari to life!

 

Even without the storyline, it is an incredible place to work. I felt like the luckiest guy in the world at that job. My favorite memory has to be on a slow morning where we had to have certain trucks pass the station without loading guests and I had to take my vehicle on an empty round. Morning is when the animals are most active and this was one of the most beautiful days I saw at the attraction. I was at a point where I could see no vehicles in front of or behind me and the scene was so peaceful. The scene got even more beautiful when I saw a baby giraffe emerge from an isolated bank of low-lying fog. This moment still gives me chills and it is how I know that the magic of Disney is real for the guests, but it is just as real (if not more!) for the Cast Members.

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For me it was Kilimanjaro Safaris at DAK.

 

This was several years ago when it still had the poaching storyline. Even though the storyline wasn't very strong, the mere presence of a storyline added an extra layer of immersion from which we as Cast Members could pull from to vary our performance as we played our part in the guest experience. From wishing waiting guests an amazing "two week safari" to our dialogue with the "reserve warden", each individual part of the story were tools for us to use in our goal of bringing the fantasy of an African safari to life!

 

Even without the storyline, it is an incredible place to work. I felt like the luckiest guy in the world at that job. My favorite memory has to be on a slow morning where we had to have certain trucks pass the station without loading guests and I had to take my vehicle on an empty round. Morning is when the animals are most active and this was one of the most beautiful days I saw at the attraction. I was at a point where I could see no vehicles in front of or behind me and the scene was so peaceful. The scene got even more beautiful when I saw a baby giraffe emerge from an isolated bank of low-lying fog. This moment still gives me chills and it is how I know that the magic of Disney is real for the guests, but it is just as real (if not more!) for the Cast Members.

Wow! that sounds like an amazing experience. I bet it was awesome getting to go on a relaxing drive by yourself and take in the beautiful wildlife. Thanks for sharing!

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Absolute favorite would be a Chance CP Huntington miniature train because who doesn't want to drive the train? The long ride cycle combined with the ride being completely in control of the operator makes the day go by fast and gives a rewarding feeling. Families are usually pretty happy to ride the train too which makes the day even more fun.

 

Other favorites are an Eyerly Spider, Paratrooper, and Scrambler all with the old-school controls (none of those with modern controls retrofits). Operator involvement with the ride is a big plus. An honorable mention goes to Ferris Wheels because balancing keeps my mind busy. One thing I missed by one year that I always wanted to do was operate a wooden coaster with the old-school brake levers.

 

I like working coasters too when at controls or in positions with safety spiels, but larger parks for obvious reasons have really simplified the duties of most positions on coasters which can lead to a very repetitive simple task that makes an hour seem like an eternity.

Edited by ajfelice
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I have worked too many fun rides to choose a favorite, but here are two "top runners":

 

1. Monorail at Geauga Lake (I think it was called Bellaire Express at the time). This ride was nice because when you're at the driver seat, you just push the "go" button and sit there through the entire ride (while ensuring safety of riders, of course!). Everything else is automatic. The ride was about ten minutes long, so it was plenty of time to rest your feet. Toward the end, there was some track that was re-profiled by Six Flags to accommodate the wave pool that they built. They seriously just made the track have sharp "kinks" on that section, rather than a smooth curve, so the ride slowed down to a crawl on that part due to potential for derailing if operating at full speed.

 

2. X-Flight at Geauga Lake. It was cool to operate a flying coaster because it is a unique style with slightly different procedures than a traditional coaster. Sitting at the control booth was fun because each station had a separate panel, so it was like operating two coasters at the same time, including announcing the arrival and departure spiels (this was shortly before Cedar Fair started using wireless mics for announcements). It was very difficult to multitask at first, but once you got the hang of it, it was a fun skill to perform!

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Other favorites are an Eyerly Spider, Paratrooper, and Scrambler all with the old-school controls (none of those with modern controls retrofits). Operator involvement with the ride is a big plus. An honorable mention goes to Ferris Wheels because balancing keeps my mind busy. One thing I missed by one year that I always wanted to do was operate a wooden coaster with the old-school brake levers.

 

I like working coasters too when at controls or in positons with safety spiels, but larger parks for obvious reasons have really simplified the duties of most positions on coasters which can lead to a very repetitve simple task that makes an hour seem like anew eternity.

 

I see we have similar opinions. Except our Paratrooper stays up during loading, so it's a balance ride too. A so Chance Skydiver's are insanely fun to operate. the controls are pretty unique compared to many rides.

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I have worked on a couple different rides/area's in amusement parks.

 

The Worst

Parking at EPCOT - Getting yelled at on a daily basis for parking being too expensive, dealing with the taxi drivers not wanting to pay, having people pay $10.00 (at the time) in all change, having to work in a small booth all by yourself for the entire shift.

 

DOT (Days of Thunder at Kings Island - No one listened, when a car would spin out, having to straighten them out was extremely hard to push the go-karts around, they would often get stuck at the bottom of the 1st turn, which is on a hill, so you would have to push the car up the hill to turn it around. The go-karts were not light at all.

 

The 'Ok'

Entrance at EPCOT - Job was easy, you were typically the first person the guests seen when entering the park, got to interact with people from all around the world. If you closed you got to see the fireworks every night. Working in World Showcase, right around dinner time the smells from the different countries were amazing.

 

ScareActor in Urgent Scare at Kings Island - Job was really exciting going through dry runs, getting fitted for costume, and getting your make up done. But, by the end of the night, you had no voice, body was sore all over and you realized just how annoying teenagers really are after dealing with them throughout the night.

 

The Good

Skyflyer at Kings Island - Got to be in the sun all day long, working on an awesome ride that never had any down time. Our crew was fantastic and got along really well, which made for an excellent summer. If you got bored doing one thing, the ride had four different positions which kept you doing something new throughout your shift.

 

I know these aren't all rides, but bring a different aspect of area's from the amusement park. Working at Disney World, if you worked in parking and/or front entrance, those area's were actually considered working in rides. Interviewing for Disney World, when I chose rides I thought something cool like Space Mountain or Everest, I didn't think front entrance and parking is where I would land at.

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Number one would have to be this guy:

 

 

It was extremely fun and entertaining to mess with people on this ride. (That includes employees at parties.) I even got to be on TV because of it. There was never a dull moment at this ride. The only thing that really sucked about it was that it was part of a rotation with three kiddy flats during the Summer.

 

Next would have to be my current position, tram operator.

 

 

I moved to this position full time last Winter and have little regrets doing so. This job presents many unique challenges and you never know what can happen when you come in for the day.

 

Honorable mention goes to Cliffhanger because I've always wanted to operate a roller coaster, but dang was it loud.

 

At it's last home.

 

One story from this ride that is very ironic. The first year I worked it we had an issue. (No surprise for a 20 year old coaster, the rain use to set-up the block system. Usually with the train on the lift hill and I had to climb it.) We hit 1 to 2 which is the dispatch button essentially, the speech played then the train will go. Well not today. We try again, nothing. This is nothing unusual and we call maintenance. They cannot figure it out either from the panel. Even after going to the control room nothing happens and we end up shutting down the ride. Well come to find out the the lift computer has decided to call it a day. Even funnier the guy that figures this out says that the computer was originally designed for an elevator! So fast forward a month later they get the computer replaced with the correct one. The crew that day? Me and the other guy who were working it when it broke down. Needless to say I was ready for something else to happen that day...

 

I keep meaning to post pictures of the park and post a day in the life of a tram op. Hopefully I'll get that done soon and I'll throw in some other pictures.

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Sidewinder at Elitch Gardens was my favorite because it's the most enjoyable coaster at the park and also meant working on the far side. Communicating with either side was a unique aspect of dispatches, and the attendant position was easy too. Both op panels offered great views of the park with the mountains in the background. Next best was Tower of Doom since it was fun to operate and test ride.

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This one right here. The hourly target is 30 trains or 1,080 people and with just two people checking the train, you have to HAUL. It's a super fun challenge. And with the ride essentially surrounding the station, the sound of the other train on track pushes you faster so you don't stack.

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¡Olé!

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I spent a day (got a chance to work at the park in rides) running the Eyerly Spider at what was then Wyandot Lake. Very hard on the hands and back.

 

I also ran a Hampton Umbrella ride at a carnival... lots of standing. I also got to help tear down a loop o plane and Eli wheel.... fun adventures, but I'd rather be riding.

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Diamondback. Pretty easy to operate, there were a variety of positions around the ride, and the walk back into the woods to do lockouts was a unique experience. Not to mention times when it woulf break down and you get to scale the 232 drop or tall MCBR. We would also have capacity contests with our sister park's hyper, Behemoth.

 

I worked on Invertigo, Drop Zone, Delirium, and Top Gun for a couple days but none gave me much of an impression.

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I worked west side attractions for five years at Disneyland resort and it was by far the most fun years of my life. I got to meet so many celebrities including John Voigt, Famke Jansen, Hugh Hefner, Kate Moss, Kobe Bryant, Randy Johnson, Lawrence Fishburne, the list goes on. Because all three of my attractions were near and dear to my heart, I'll share a little story from each.

 

Disneyland Railroad: I was a conductor on the railroad as my first entry level attraction upon being hired in Anaheim , traveling out from New England. As conductor we were responsible for signaling the fireman and engineer to stop, go, reverse, we would also deboard the train and throw switches when it was time for the trains to go to bed behind It's A Small World. True story: Upon park closing the monorail crew and the train crew have a friendly "race" getting back to their maintenance bays, the monorail always wins. Another fun fact: People forget their babies on the train ALL the time. In my five years on the railroad I have seen at least fifteen or so babies:young children left behind, really scary but with the help of security parents are found quickly. We have a special Railroad car on the back of the Excursion 3 train called the Lilly Belle named after Walt's Wife. Conductors give tours to VIPs and some lucky guests. I was lucky enough to give a tour around the park with Sean Astin, really cool guy! I didn't even know it was him until he mentioned we had the same first name with the same spelling.

 

Indiana Jones Adventure: The most fun ride to work at. I would beg to be at the dispatch console as long as I could. I won an award for "temple priest" which is like employee of the year at Indy. It is a trophy consisting of a replica spike trap with a skeleton and golden hat being pierced by the spikes. I was very efficient and kept the lines down and was very much into acting out the role and getting guests into the story of the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. Indy is still my all time favorite dark ride and I was typically the one volunteering for show checks and never get tired of riding. I got to meet the legendary Tony Baxter who designed Indy and Thunder, also got to meet John Lasseter during the research phase for RSR at Cali adventure. I just love everything about this ride.

 

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: my third learned attraction and the one that actually requires the most skill in the park to run, along with Matterhorn and Space Mountain. All theee coasters have a cascade system that can make the ride e stop if you don't move fast enough. On busy days, we would run five trains and I made it my mission to keep the line down for my guests with quick and safe dispatches and if a train was ready from the maintenance bay I added her as soon as possible. My favorite part of working Thunder is walking the entire track length at the end of every night to recover guest items. It was great reconnecting people with their lost stuff and I always volunteered to walk the track because who doesn't love that?

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Waiting for the first miners of the morning

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Fastpass plz....

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I had a blast working Supreme Scream at Knotts. The ride rarely goes down, has lots of different positions, and you get to sit in air conditioning when you're on controls/dispatch.

 

Grouping during 3 tower operation was one of my favorite positions. You had to think quickly in order to keep up, but it wasn't crazy enough to actually be stressful. It also helped that fastlane merged at the grouping area, so you were never in a position of telling guests that someone else would be taking their spot.

 

It's also just fun to work at a ride lots of people are scared of. I enjoyed convincing people to face their fears.

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Been at Banshee for the last 3 years. In 2015 I was trained at 18 different rides, 10 of which were coasters.

 

Surprisingly, I loved working at Invertigo when I got the chance. Congo is fun. Sling Shot was great. Surprisingly, Firehawk was fun.

 

Absolutely love working at my girl, Banshee. We broke records in 2014. 53 trains in one hour. 2 million riders in it's first season. First coaster since Vortex to hit 2 million in the debut season. We beat Vortex record, though.

 

In 2016, I was "Drive" trained at Flying Ace.

 

Lift climbs just because include Firehawk, Vortex, Flying Ace, Banshee.

 

Lift climbs because I had to, Banshee, Bat. Completely dead after those climbs...lol Legs like Jell-O for several days after climbing Banshee to speak to a train of guests.

 

Hope to be at Mystic next season, but will be happy to return to Banshee.

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I have even been, (as Kathy Griffin(sp?) would say) Twatted.

 

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For me, it was X2 at SFMM. It was only a short period of time I worked there but it was literally the best summer of my life. I had a really great crew. We had amazing dispatch times considering it takes several minutes typically to dispatch. We really hustled though and got trains out as quickly as we could. It kills me when I go now and never see anyone even trying to make a decent dispatch time.

On busy days when I would come back from break, I would always find two people at the back of the line and quietly escort them to the front. I'd just tell them, "I want you to enjoy the rest of your day. This is 3 hours you'll have back to spend on other attractions in the park."

People loved this. I was recognized every time they updated the recognition board for employees. Just made me feel really good. To this day it has been my favorite job and that coaster holds a special place for me.

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I've never lived close enough to a park to merit working there, but I just wanted to say that I'm loving this thread. It is so cool to read about all your experiences and so clearly see your passion for you individual rides. It also makes me appreciate a crew that cares about running a ride well so much. Thanks guys! Keep the stories coming, these are great.

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I have a love/hate relationship with Huss Suspended Top Spins. Assuming they run similar, this probably also extends to regular Top Spins. It was my first ride grouping, alongside a Caterpillar and Bumper Cars. I could see that thing faulting from a mile away, and it was hard to describe the gut feeling to new trainees when you just KNOW it's going to fault.

 

Two experiences stand out to me at this ride:

Throwing rubber ducks into the pool beneath the ride. Every couple of weeks a new one would show up in the control booth. I don't know if maintenance hated or liked it.

 

A raccoon that had chewed through the nearby coaster's mic cable (effectively shutting the ride down), also decided to come wander by my ride. Because the platforms lower while the ride is in motion, this raccoon could have walked onto the platform full of guests stuff with ease. Oh boy, do you stop the ride? Let it go and hope the intrepid raccoon doesn't get closer? Thankfully, it wandered away and got caught later.

 

My other faves to operate include Screamin' Swings (which is also my fave flat, ngl) and any kind of train ride. I used to love operating my park's Drop Tower, when you had to spiel to guests in the loading bull pens. But cutting a position now has the controls position spieling over the PA. They also now use those glowstick/hand lights at night to signal to the control booth which I think is hilarious.

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I have a love/hate relationship with Huss Suspended Top Spins. Assuming they run similar, this probably also extends to regular Top Spins.

 

I don't have direct experience, but close experience from a close friend.

 

At least with their regular top spin the most frustrating part of the job is telling people "sorry, come back later" when the ride is down which happens pretty often but it's an old ride so what do you expect. With the regular topspins and their double restraint system (which is sort of necessary) the annoying thing is having to reopen and close the restraints if somebody doesn't have basic senses and notice them coming down, leading to their hands getting stuck or then them wanting to take some loose items even though before the restraints come down the operators always call out "if you have loose items nows your chance to bring them down". This is especially frustrating because the button is on the gondola on its own panel, has to be held down and it takes forever for all the restraints to come down or go up since they do so at different speeds.

 

However I've heard compared to other flatrides at the park the topspin is the most fun to run especially when they get to run special programs (since the control panel has multiple programs set) or half manual, and playing with the guests through the mic is fun as well.

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It's been 19 years since I left SFOT, but I had a few that I really liked:

 

Fireman/Engineer on the train - It was the one ride that was pretty exclusive as far as who had the opportunity to work there, but it was a blast learning a true skill and getting to operate equipment that was pushing 100 years old at the time.

 

Texas Chute Out stand up baskets - The stand up baskets went away in lieu of all chairs after my first couple of years at the park. The ride had a horrible reputation for being hot and for the constant activity, but I loved it. I was able to talk to guest the entire time and you didn't have to fiddle with the seatbelts that made the chairs such a pain.

 

Runaway Mine Train operating with 4 trains - The ride is only run with 3 trains max these days and, back then, we only ran 4 trains on the busiest Saturdays. I loved it because you had to load and dispatch quickly to keep the trains from backing up to the lifts and the day would fly by.

 

My least favorites: any ride in Looney Toons Land.

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Worked Wild Thing at VF this past season and had a lot of fun doing it. It's a very fast-paced ride to work at due to the crowds we get (didn't get long lines that often due to high capacity, but we almost always had a constant flow of people coming). Usually we'd have to really hustle while checking restraints to prevent stacking. Favorite position to be in was definitely controls since it's neat to be the guy pushing the buttons that make the "magic" happen, and spieling is fun as well. Got to walk all the way to the top of the lift at night once, which was both terrifying and exhausting.

Edited by VF15
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In addition to my affinity for old-school manual rides when it comes to fun rides to operate, a "modern" ride I like to operate is our 2013 Bertazzon Music Express. What the ride lacks in manual controls, it gains significantly with the ability to fully interact with guests and monitor the ride. The controls have a "speedometer" where the needle indicates the current RPM of the ride and there is a Cycle Time counter. This provides a great foundation for provoking guests to interact with screams and cheers to "go faster" or "go backwards." It doesn't hurt that we elect to run the most intense cycle possible too.

 

Another favorite ride to operate is a Hopkins Log Flume. Starting with turning the ride on, from a few buttons the trough fills with an awesome rush of water in a couple minutes. With water levels at their proper depth, starting the conveyors and simultaneously trying to clear error codes from the boats being stacked in certain places is a great adrenaline rush for some dumb reason. Once the boats are moving without error messages, regulating the speed of the station conveyor to properly space the boats is just very satisfying for mild OCD types. With the ride running with guests, the variable weights of loaded boats requires the controls operator to constantly space the boats by regulating the speed of the station conveyor. Again, trying to keep just the right spacing is one of those strangely satisfying things that keeps the mind busy for hours. Easily one of my favorite places to get called to for a bathroom break or needing to assist with the meal break shift.

 

Rides that are less desirable share one or both of these common traits; short ride cycles and/or frequent guest complaints. Short ride cycles or short tasks on a multi-position ride, for me, make a day drag as I feel like I have done a ton of work only to realize 45 minutes have passed when I was hoping for 2 or 3 hours. For example, my first ride I was trained on was a Miler kiddie coaster with a 50 second ride cycle. I intensely questioned if operations was for me after a few days on that feeling like a month. Guest complaints are never fun to deal with either. The last thing I want to do is disappoint a guest because their child is not tall enough, they can't bring some article on the ride, or they want to do something they can't. Examples include operating Dodgems with frequent height complaints among a slew of other ride rules, or the Merry-Go-Round and trying to make parents stand next to their small child or prevent two people from riding one horse. It is important to keep safety standards, and I pride myself on being as tactful and courteous as possible, but a day on the Dodgem of getting yelled at every five minutes can be quite draining.Therefore, rides with short cycles or frequent guest complaints are typically not those I prefer to operate.

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Worked at VF for 3 seasons. I learned so many rides this past season alone.

 

The most fun I've had at a ride was way back at Excalibur. There's no music in the station and as there's only one train on the tracks you have a lot of empty air to fill. Cue Corn Feast, and we had a packed station (which is rare in and of itself). It's like an open invitation to have fun on the mic. I got the whole station to sing happy birthday to my exit loader (he was thrilled /s) even though it wasn't his birthday, at one point. Never got the chance to work the ride again, lol.

 

Power Tower (S&S Drop Towers) is quite fun to work at too. Spieling from a loading position used to be my favorite part (especially my ride night version) but controls was always relaxed. It's got AC, all three controls spots are seated with nice chairs (they've got backs so you can recline between cycles) and you basically always had someone to chat with. Also a pretty great place to chill as a Supervisor and still get stuff done.

 

I loved operating all three rides from my original grouping: the 1925 PTC Carousel, The Wave (blanking on the manuf. name) and the Huss Enterprise (RIP in pieces). Carousel was shaded and it was easy to zone out to a degree while still keeping an eye on everyone. The Wave was best after 8pm because only crazy people ride it at that time of night, and after a 14+ hour shift you're going crazy yourself. The combination made for some great guest interaction. Enterprise is/was quite a physical ride to load because of the latches and how much you walk around repeatedly, but time went by pretty quickly. I quite enjoyed working it during the first rotation of the morning because it wouldn't be too hot out yet, lines were short and at least during my first season it meant you got first break. Controls was also great after getting a bit of experience watching for phones; by the end of this season I caught a phone a full rotation before the person who was actually in controls saw it.

 

Worst ride: Looping Starship. So much walking back and forth on steeply sloped platforms. I pulled both my hamstrings working it; not multiple parts in one leg, no I mean both my legs had pulled hamstrings. Made me walk like I had a stick up my a** for two days until I caved and got it looked at a doctor who was mildly impressed. Still not sure quite how it happened in relation to the cycle but it's a funny story in hindsight.

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