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Coasters having expiration dates?


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One thing that also should be mentioned about Volcano is that it was not put in by Cedar Fair in the first place, but was yet another notch in the very long string of prototypes/first/only-of-its-kind rides put in over the Paramount/Viacom era at the various parks, including...

 

Flights of Fear

Stealth

Hypersonic

Son of Beast

Tomb Raider (KI)

Drop Zone (first gyro drop)

Delirium (first Giant Frisbee)

 

As you can tell, some of these projects turned out very well, others so/so, and a few horrendous. I'd put Volcano in the "so/so" category. When you look at it from that perspective, in context of the other arguably over-ambitious concepts that Paramount was going for at this time, it wasn't a terrible investment. Despite its downtime and increasingly burdensome maintenance bill It was a very popular, iconic, and unique attraction for years and years. And besides ~20 seasons out of this thing is at least a helluva better than just seven from Hypersonic (and that ride was no stranger to issues either!), 10 from Tomb Raider/Crypt (nor was this one), or "10" (parts of ten seasons) from SOB.

 

I think the biggest thing working against perhaps was simply how far ahead of its time it was as ride. In 1998, I believe the only other company to even make LIM coasters was Premier, and they were no stranger to their issues either - The Chiller, which ironically opened the same year as Volcano, but was an absolute mechanical nightmare throughout its relatively short lifespan before being removed as early as June 2007.

 

(And on a somewhat - related note, the first complete-circuit launched invert since Volcano opened this year!

 

You won't believe what its called. Ironically enough, with all the IOA discussions happening so much right now,

)

 

 

I don't know, I think that Volcano was a smashing success for KD. It was the most popular coaster at KD for about 17 out of its 20 year existence (maybe taking a backseat to Hypersonic for three of those years). It was always in more demand than i305, and no ride could ever steal its thunder. So I'd say that it got a proper return on investment and then some.

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I don't know, I think that Volcano was a smashing success for KD. It was the most popular coaster at KD for about 17 out of its 20 year existence (maybe taking a backseat to Hypersonic for three of those years). It was always in more demand than i305, and no ride could ever steal its thunder. So I'd say that it got a proper return on investment and then some.

 

It all depends on your definition of success. Something that does not work as intended (in this case far below maximum riders per hour, hours open per season)is not a smashing success.

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^There have been many reports (even on here I believe) that BGW was having to weld spots on Big Bad Wolf frequently at the end of it's life. You can only weld spots so many times before the steel has to be replaced all together.

 

Considering Vekoma has made suspended coasters of their own and Morgan has created replacement track to match the gauge used by Arrow for projects like Phantom's Revenge, there's nothing to say that an established manufacturer couldn't have created track replacements for stressed track segments. The industry has adapted over the years to have new manufacturers come in to re-track, provide new trains and rebuild braking systems for coasters. B&M provided new trains for Steel Dragon 2000, a Morgan coaster. Morgan turned Steel Phantom from a looping Arrow coaster into a custom airtime-filled Morgan coaster leveraging existing Arrow track (some more of which has been replaced by Morgan in the years since Phantom's Revenge opened). GCI and Gravity Group have both developed a supplemental business model where they adapt their trains (Millennium Flyers and Timberliners, respectively) to operate on existing wooden coasters.

 

I have no doubt that if Busch Gardens really wanted to keep Big Bad Wolf in operation, there were available options to do so. They had to have come to a decision where they said the cost outweighed the benefit to do so.

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"Expiration date" seems a little too definite, but nothing lasts forever. I think park management thinks about it a lot, and it explains some things. Also most big parks are mature, with limited usable space (not the same as owned), so ride replacement and upgrade becomes important. It's a good thing in that people have trouble comparing a big motley collection of rides with a smaller quality good lineup.

 

If you're looking at a major repair on a large item, you have to look at whether the rest justifies the repair, or what it would take to make that right also. I repaired a transmission because the repairs modified it enough it fixed the original problem and the car had a lot left in it. I haven't replaced any engines on cars that got a semi-normal lifespan already. There's also what other options there are.

 

In the case of Big Bad Wolf, I think it was losing popularity and especially draw. Therefore it may not have been worth it to spend, for example, half the cost of a (normal) new coaster. Verbolten may not be as good as they hoped, but it got more people in the park.

 

Volcano was never what it was intended to be. I saw the original artist's conception in the park after first announcement and it didn't look anything like what they got (it didn't look workable either; I don't think it's anywhere online, it was handpaint on canvas). The overall experience was poor due to capacity and it was starting to get worse looking and rougher. I think they were looking at refurb of all 3 components: coaster, launch system, mountain, probably in order to justify fixing the launch. I also think they already had a good idea of what they're going to do by the announcement last February. Consider if they did spend the price of a normal coaster on Volcano. Certainly many would be criticizing that decision in 5 years.

 

As to Dragons, the only person I know who rode it was unimpressed. I said inverteds are subjective and of course there's the loss of dueling. It's such a high level park I can see not wanting a flawed attraction. It probably was aged enough it was only marginally worth relocating (and maybe they didn't want to sell it to Six Flags). OTOH, even though it was meant to duel, it could have made 2 parks better.

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I actually had a question about Dueling dragons since they announced they would take it down for the wizarrding world expansion.

 

2. I was wondering if there ever would be a chance for them to sell and relocate them and if ever it would be possible to "seperate" them to and be sold as seperate coasters? But i imagine IOA and universal had money enough "to not bother".

 

1. Also i always known that Volcano was plagued with issues while there is a similar Coaster type in finland Särkänniemi

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I actually had a question about Dueling dragons since they announced they would take it down for the wizarrding world expansion.

 

2. I was wondering if there ever would be a chance for them to sell and relocate them and if ever it would be possible to "seperate" them to and be sold as seperate coasters? But i imagine IOA and universal had money enough "to not bother".

 

1. Also i always known that Volcano was plagued with issues while there is a similar Coaster type in finland Särkänniemi but that has a chain lift. is this proof that it was the launch that where the main issue?

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I was wondering if there ever would be a chance for them to sell and relocate them and if ever it would be possible to "seperate" them to and be sold as seperate coasters? But i imagine IOA and universal had money enough "to not bother".

 

It is safe to say that the decision was made to scrap these rides rather than sell them for a couple of reasons... One, Dueling Dragons was an incredibly marketable attraction on its own because of the unique dueling nature of the experience. Even as a secondhand installation, being able to market a major new set of dueling coasters would be a major asset for either park. Given that NBCUniversal/Comcast has more than enough money, the benefit of scrapping the ride and not giving any other park anywhere the chance to leverage the coaster's unique attributes makes sense. Two, they didn't need to money they would have gotten from selling the coaster to any other park.

 

That said, I think it would have been possible to see this coaster disassembled and rebuilt in either the Dubai or South Korea parks if they had gotten off of the ground... One of them did have a dueling coaster concept themed to King Kong.

Edited by jedimaster1227
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Tornado at that Finnish park shares nothing with Volcano except the train design. It doesn't have an overly-complicated dual-launch that was Volcano's major problem.

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I like to add more than "thanks everyone," but since I started this topic, I do want to chime in to say thanks everyone for the thoughtful responses. They confirm what I suspected about the notion of some hard expiration date or end of service life vs. a more natural cost-benefit analysis of maintaining a coaster over time. I'm loving the interesting examples and quirky circumstances around some of these rides.

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^Thank you for posing the question! It is definitely on a lot of our minds thanks to Dueling Dragons' early demise, but it is interesting to have an opportunity to break down some of the other coasters that have survived where others have been axed at the "end of their service life."

 

This question has definitely garnered some thoughtful conversation!

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One thing that hasn't been discussed is the new ride as a marketing technique and a chance to make your park fun, interesting, and relevant. If you're putting as much or nearly as much into maintaining older rides as you would be by constructing completely new rides, isn't it better to put the money into rides that you can market as new? And I think that not only do you get the attendance bump and sparked interest from a new ride, but you get people who want to get on the old rides before they're scrap metal if you announce them in time.

 

I think in general, you need to create a sense of urgency with people. If you keep the same rides around forever, and never build new sense, you give the ambivalent GP in your home market absolutely no reason to go more than once every five years. The rides they love will always be there when they want them, and there's nothing new that they haven't ridden 100 times already.

 

But people will always line up first thing for a newer ride that they haven't been on, and if they know that rides have real expiration dates they'll make sure to get on them when they can, as they might not be around again.

 

Its funny that the only time I've been to Kennywood is the last year of Steel Phantom, and the first year of Phantom's Revenge. That's a quirky example, and its not exactly a home park, but it does illustrate how changes and urgency can be good for attendance.

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Seriously though, is that not like the most coward move by park management ever? "Guys, we have to let this woman with no reason to have a say in our pre-existing park attractions dictate our decisions." I know, I know, dead horse and all, but I'll never get over how ridiculous that whole situation was.

 

I think the reality is that the park always wanted something more family friendly in that spot and then the "end of life" rumor was born that somehow grew into fact. Though going from 54" to 48" isn't that much better since the magic number for "family friendly" is in the 36"-42" range.

Edited by Jew
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It's cool to say that it's a 70 year old coaster but it's basically a bullsh*t, meaningless number when you're talking about a wood coaster.

 

I disagree. I see it the same as I would see a 70 year old person, even though they don't retain much from when they were younger I still respect the age. If they completely took a wooden coaster and rebuilt it it would be different, but since the wood is replaced organically over time the age is notable.

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Another interesting situation is how 2 of the three arrow megaloopers died a rather long time ago while Viper is still chugging along.

You forgot vortex.

 

 

 

There seems to be increasing comments on Millennium Force's bumpiness. I noticed it has a noticeable rattle to it, but it doesn't take away from the ride at this point. That said, I wonder if Cedar Point would replace the track instead of removing the coaster. It's not nearly to that point yet, but I'm talking about when it does get bad enough years down the road. Millennium Force is pretty iconic to Cedar Point, but I've also noticed that each year I visit there seems to be less and less of a line.

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It's cool to say that it's a 70 year old coaster but it's basically a bullsh*t, meaningless number when you're talking about a wood coaster.

 

I disagree. I see it the same as I would see a 70 year old person, even though they don't retain much from when they were younger I still respect the age. If they completely took a wooden coaster and rebuilt it it would be different, but since the wood is replaced organically over time the age is notable.

 

Yeah, I think that the scarcity is what gives it its value. There's nothing inherently better or more fun about it, but when almost every coaster is 30 years or younger, if somehow what if the few coasters from that era beat the odds and made it this long, that's something special and interesting. Its why people like collecting toys, coins, and memorabilia with defects or quirks -- they're just different, interesting, and rare.

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Another interesting situation is how 2 of the three arrow megaloopers died a rather long time ago while Viper is still chugging along.

You forgot vortex.

 

 

 

There seems to be increasing comments on Millennium Force's bumpiness. I noticed it has a noticeable rattle to it, but it doesn't take away from the ride at this point. That said, I wonder if Cedar Point would replace the track instead of removing the coaster. It's not nearly to that point yet, but I'm talking about when it does get bad enough years down the road. Millennium Force is pretty iconic to Cedar Point, but I've also noticed that each year I visit there seems to be less and less of a line.

 

I don't believe vortex was considered a megalooper. In a sense it is considering the similar elements, but the only true megaloopers were Shockwave, Scream Machine, and Viper the triple looping coasters.

 

On the other end of things while rides like Millennium force may develope a slight rattle as they age I don't believe it will ever be bad enough too make the ride disliked even by the gp. It is interesting to see how certain rides hold up and others don't, for example World's of fun only had Orient Express for about 23 years and at that point the ride seemed to be falling apart, breaking constantly and even having a train come off the track. Loch Ness Monster was built right in the same period and has lasted substantially longer

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There seems to be increasing comments on Millennium Force's bumpiness. I noticed it has a noticeable rattle to it, but it doesn't take away from the ride at this point. That said, I wonder if Cedar Point would replace the track instead of removing the coaster. It's not nearly to that point yet, but I'm talking about when it does get bad enough years down the road. Millennium Force is pretty iconic to Cedar Point, but I've also noticed that each year I visit there seems to be less and less of a line.

 

Probably because the park gets more and more high caliber rides and attendance never really goes up (and has been level around 3 million give or take, if I recall). Think about it… With rides like Maverick, Gatekeeper, Steel Vengeance, Valravn, etc… Those seeking the “top of the line” thrills now have many options. People are more dispersed.

 

I would say that is the reason, not that it’s less popular.

 

Also, the MF 'rattle' is not an 'age' issue at all. It's different season to season. I've had rides back in the mid-2000's that were far more rattly than just last year, for example. It varies each year I assume based on the level of maintenance done in the off-season. Maverick is the same exact way. Years ago it had such a bad rattle all season long I didn't even want to ride the thing. The next year, smoothest I ever experienced that ride.

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There seems to be increasing comments on Millennium Force's bumpiness. I noticed it has a noticeable rattle to it, but it doesn't take away from the ride at this point. That said, I wonder if Cedar Point would replace the track instead of removing the coaster. It's not nearly to that point yet, but I'm talking about when it does get bad enough years down the road. Millennium Force is pretty iconic to Cedar Point, but I've also noticed that each year I visit there seems to be less and less of a line.

 

Millennium Force immediately came to my mind when I saw this thread. Even with modern construction practices, all steel/metal has a fatigue life, right? So at some point in the future Cedar Point will have to decide whether to remove Millennium Force or replace the materials. It’s such an iconic coasters, so I can’t fathom that they would scrap it. But at the same time, I can’t imagine them dropping another $30 mil (or more?) to replace the track...

 

And Magnum? Eek. That seems even more controversial. I can’t see the park removing that coaster either...but some of its support beams are already being held together with zip ties.

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Millennium Force immediately came to my mind when I saw this thread. Even with modern construction practices, all steel/metal has a fatigue life, right? So at some point in the future Cedar Point will have to decide whether to remove Millennium Force or replace the materials. It’s such an iconic coasters, so I can’t fathom that they would scrap it. But at the same time, I can’t imagine them dropping another $30 mil (or more?) to replace the track...

 

And Magnum? Eek. That seems even more controversial. I can’t see the park removing that coaster either...but some of its support beams are already being held together with zip ties.

 

And at the same time, there are 40+ year old steel coasters that out there still chugging away that haven't had full track replacements (see: any permanent installation Schwarzkopf). Some of them probably have higher peak G-force numbers than MF too.

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Machines are typically designed with fatigue of materials in mind, it is called the "endurance strength".

 

Basically, engineers design structures or mechanical devices with the fatigue accounted for. Some figure is typically used based on the material, such as 10^6 cycles (1,000,000 cycles) for steel. Which basically means beyond that many cycles (load/unload occurrences), failure due to fatigue should not occur. However, this is just one aspect that can cause wear/tear. I’d assume that in any case, rides never have an issue with this. Steel is a very predictable material and can be easily over-engineered to never have an issue with this.

 

Then you have structural deformations, such as the foundations settling or shifting. So stress risers in various points of the structure can potentially pop up. Supports that should support “X” load may change slightly to support more/less. I’m not a civil engineer, so not sure how the foundations and such hold up over time with ground settling and stuff. I’d assume that they have a grasp on this and it’s not a source for serious issues over time.

 

You also have vibrations due to the ride vehicle, which depending on the magnitude and frequency of the vibrations over time, can cause damage. Back out fasteners, cracking at the welds, etc… These would then be repaired as needed.

 

Environmental is probably one of the bigger issues, especially in say, Florida. Coasters are made of carbon steel, which require the primer/paint to prevent corrosion. Over many years, this can cause the steel to weaken. Florida is not the most friendly environment for steel structures, but this is also why Florida parks are usually on their game to repaint and protect their coasters.

 

Then the weather of course. Thermal cycling can also stress the structure quite a bit, especially those seeing large temp swings.

 

Don’t forget the “human factor”. You have guys in a steel fabrication shop hand welding most of these track pieces or whatever else. I’d assume they are doing non-destructive testing to an extent, but do they do it 100% or spot check along the way? Just another factor to consider.

 

I’m sure there are more potential design considerations I am not thinking of, but at the end of the day you could have two identical rides built in different parts of the world and the same amount of ride cycles, but have completely different end results in terms of the upkeep on the structure and the amount of wear due to all the other factors at play.

 

So to assume a ride is worn out, or not, due to age alone is silly. Too many factors. Even at B&M, those designing the rides are not perfect and there could easily be “oops!” areas of the design that prematurely compromised the structure itself to bring on its demise.

 

Just remember these rides are designed, fabricated and assembled by humans. There will be mistakes made, corrections required and lessons learned for the next time. Dragons could have very well had some design or manufacture flaws that required it’s early demise. It’s way too complicated to assume one thing or another, IMO.

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More to the point: couldn't they have figured out anything else in regards to a "compromise" with Rowling?

The "compromise" was that Dueling Dragons wasn't removed in 2010 when Hogsmeade was built.

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Millennium Force immediately came to my mind when I saw this thread. Even with modern construction practices, all steel/metal has a fatigue life, right? So at some point in the future Cedar Point will have to decide whether to remove Millennium Force or replace the materials. It’s such an iconic coasters, so I can’t fathom that they would scrap it. But at the same time, I can’t imagine them dropping another $30 mil (or more?) to replace the track...

 

It's Cedar Point, the 'Flagship' of their amusement park fiefdom. Of course they will find $30 million or what ever it takes to refurb Millennium Force or replace it when the time comes. This isn't MiA or VF. They may even sell one of those two parks just so they can get the money to do that.

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Dragons could have very well had some design or manufacture flaws that required it’s early demise. It’s way too complicated to assume one thing or another, IMO.

 

Even if that were the case, Universal has already proven that they were willing to rebuild a signature steel coaster from scratch to maintain (if not pluss) the experience. There is nothing to say that they couldn't have done the same thing if they really wanted these coasters to live on... This situation is simple enough to pin it to the factors that are apparent--Universal and JK Rowling made the determination Dragons no longer had a place in The Wizarding World and the land was more valuable to be used for a different attraction. End of service life was an excuse to pull the plug despite the fact that they extended the service life of a comparable attraction in the same park without challenge less than two years earlier.

Edited by jedimaster1227
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