Ride Construction

Interview with Cedar Point Director of Maintenance & New Construction Ed Dangler

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From WKZO.com

Coaster buffs like myself will enjoy a full 30 minutes with Ed Dangler, Director of Maintenance and New Construction at Cedar Point. Topics include various coaster wheel assembly arrangements, launch and restraint systems, how coasters and maintained and repaired, the process through which Cedar Point decides what to build and how to build it and much more!

Interview Highlights

  • No wooden coaster in the near future for Cedar Point, maybe after two more years. 16:12
  • Part of the WindSeeker’s foundation will be on the beach [like suggested by the construction stakes earlier this season].  18:10
  • WindSeeker Challenges  18:15
    • Winter Weather
    • Water Table
  • Process of Adding a Ride  20:32
    • Executive Planning Board to decide ride based on the need to offer guests something new and excited.
    • Ride manufacturing is in charge of the design.
      • TUV overseeing WindSeeker Construction.
  • Dick Kinzel decides if they want to be the first at something, such as the tallest and fastest roller coasters. 25:35
  • Nostalgia is a delicate decision at Cedar Point.  A long and thought out process to remove a ride. 26:00
  • Guest input is important. Cedar Point is good friends with ACEers.  They read and encourage comments.  Social media gives them instant feedback.  28:00

Cedar Fair says patent dispute won’t halt development of new rides

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From the Sandusky Register

SANDUSKY

Cedar Fair officials say that when they bought four new WindSeeker rides, they were seeking riders, not a legal dispute.

But they say an argument over whether the ride violates a U.S. patent won’t slow deployment of the rides.

The amusement park chain announced Tuesday that it bought four WindSeeker rides, one each for its Cedar Point, Canada’s Wonderland, Kings Island and Knott’s Berry Farm amusement parks. The 301-foot-high ride spins riders high into the air.

The Funtime Group, an Australian company, says the WindSeeker is based on its own StarFlyer ride.

Brian Mirfin, the owner of the company, said he thought he had a deal brewing to sell StarFlyer rides to Cedar Fair after a delegation of Cedar Fair officials, including CEO Dick Kinzel, visited the Magical Midway in Orlando on Jan. 25, which has the only StarFlyer in the U.S.

Mirfin said that after the sale somehow fell through, he found out that Cedar Fair was buying a very similar new ride from Mondial.

“It’s almost like Mondial’s plagiarizing our idea,” said Mirfin. “It makes us very, very angry. …Now, not only do we not get the contract, now we’ve got to get into litigation.”

Mondial has not answered two e-mails asking for comment, but Stacy Frole, Cedar Fair’s director of investor relations, said Mondial’s U.S. patent attorney has told Cedar Fair that Funtime’s claim has no merit.

It is standard procedure that when Cedar Fair buys new rides, the contract has a provision that “would insulate us from intellectual property claims,” Frole said.

“We’re comfortable with our agreement with Mondial and we’re excited to build WindSeeker,” she said.

Robin Innes, a Cedar Point spokesman, said it’s normal for Cedar Point to talk to more than one ride vendor when considering a new ride.

It’s like buying a new car and going from dealership to dealership, he said.

“You look around and you see what fits best for you,” said Innes, who said Cedar Point is considering Funtime’s claim but has the legal brief from Mondial’s lawyer saying the claim has no merit.

Tony Handal, a Connecticut attorney specializing in patent law who represents Funtime, said Cedar Fair officials have told him they are considering the claim and have said they expect to get back to Handal within a few days.

Handal said he is “absolutely” confident his client has a legitimate patent claim.

Park World Online, apparently citing a Mondial press release, published an article on Feb. 2 this year about Mondial’s new ride.

“Designed following requests from clients who wanted a StarFlyer-style ride they could still operate within normal wind conditions, the WindSeeker is the result,” the article stated.

After the Sandusky Register published an article and blog posting quoting the Park World article, the wording of the article was changed. It now says the ride was developed “following requests from clients who wanted a tall swing ride they could still operate within normal wind conditions.”

Park World Online did not respond to an e-mail asking why it changed the wording.

For more coverage of “Ride Wars” click here.

New for 2011: WindSeeker

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Cedar Point has announced that it will introduce WindSeeker, a 30-story-tall swing ride to the Sandusky, Ohio, amusement park/resort for next summer. WindSeeker will tower above everything around its location on the beach, rising almost as high as the Millennium Force roller coaster’s giant first hill.

In the early 1900s, the Cedar Point Beach was a hub of activity as families played in the sand or frolicked in the lake. One of its most popular attractions was the Sea Swings that would dip riders into the cool waters of Lake Erie as it spun in a circular motion.

Now 100 years later, Cedar Point will add a 21st century version of that thrilling ride to the park for next summer.

The new WindSeeker will be a 301-foot-tall tower that will spin riders nearly 30 stories above the Lake Erie shoreline. Seated in two-person swings that will allow their feet to dangle, riders will slowly begin rotating in a circular motion as the swings ascend the tower. At the top, the swings will be reaching speeds between 25-30 mph, flaring out almost 45 degrees from the tower. WindSeeker will be able to accommodate 64 riders (32 swings) at one time.

“Spinning almost 300 feet above Lake Erie and the Cedar Point Beach will be a very exciting ride experience for our guests,” said John Hildebrandt, the vice president and general manager of Cedar Point. “Day or night, WindSeeker will provide riders with dramatic views of the park and the Cedar Point Peninsula. It will be an extremely popular addition to Cedar Point.”

WindSeeker will be positioned near the present location of the Ocean Motion swinging boat ride and will extend the park’s midway onto the Cedar Point Beach. At the end of the season, Ocean Motion, built in 1981, will be dismantled. It is currently available for sale.

In comparison to other Cedar Point rides, WindSeeker will climb nearly two stories higher than the cabin on the park’s Space Spiral observation ride and is only a few feet shorter than the first hill on Millennium Force. Another swing ride, the Wave Swinger that opened in Frontiertown in 1979, is 31 feet tall and has a top speed of approximately 9 mph.

The ride is manufactured by Mondial, a 23-year-old Dutch-based company. WindSeeker will cost approximately $5 million to build. Riders must be at least 48 inches tall and will be secured with individual over-the-head lap bars with interlocking seat belt.

Overall, Cedar Point will add more than $6 million in capital improvements to the park for 2011.

Height

301 feet

Manufacturer

Mondial

Ride Time

3 min., 0 sec.

Year Opened

2011

Height Requirement

48″

New Cedar Point ride’s patent being disputed

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From toledoBlade.com

SANDUSKY – Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky had intricate plans to use the social media site Facebook as the place next week to unveil its newest ride for 2011.

But now it appears that an Australian ride manufacturer has revealed it in a patent dispute over its version of a towering thrill ride it calls StarFlyer and a Dutch competitor’s version called Wind Seeker.

Funtime Group of Bundall, Australia, claims it thought it had a deal with Cedar Fair LP to build a 400-foot high StarFlyer ride to debut at Cedar Point in 2011, but now the Sandusky park plans to buy a Wind Seeker from Mondial World of Rides of Terband, the Netherlands.

Both rides feature a large tower that spins up to 50 riders from a center ring that rises high into the air. StarFlyer’s chairs are attached by chains, Wind Seeker’s by poles.

Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services Inc., of Cincinnati, said StarFlyer-type rides cost just more than $2 million each and do not require a large area like a roller coaster.

Funtime, which introduced StarFlyer in 2004 and has a U.S. patent on the design, has threatened legal action if Cedar Point builds a Wind Seeker.

“We’ve spoken with the folks at Cedar Fair and my belief is we’re going to work it out,” said Tony Handal, a lawyer for Cottingham Agencies, the U.S. patent holder on StarFlyer for Funtime Group. “We have a patent and it’s a remarkable ride, newer technology. I couldn’t imagine Cedar Fair wouldn’t respect our rights in this.”

Mr. Handal said Cottingham wants Cedar Fair either to buy a StarFlyer or pay a licensing fee for using technology it claims infringes on its patent.

The attorney said that, while the two ride makers attach their two-seat ride cars differently, Cottingham’s position is there’s “no significant difference” in the two rides.

Officials at Mondial could not be reached for comment.

Cedar Fair spokesman Stacy Frole said the company had no comment on the controversy or statements by Funtime.

“We haven’t announced the ride yet, so there’s nothing to comment about,” she said. The announcement on the ride is to be made Tuesday.

Mr. Handal said Cedar Fair went to Florida this year to view a StarFlyer at Magical Midway amusement park and contacted Funtime about one for Cedar Point. In July, Cedar Fair filed a trademark name application for a new ride called “Stratosoar.”

“[Cedar Fair] did contact us, but then they went with another company that doesn’t own the patent,” Mr. Handal said.

Jeff Putz, a Web site operator for PointBuzz, a Cedar Point fan site, said the patent controversy is now the hot topic among parkgoers.

“There had been a lot of rumors beforehand about what the ride was,” he said. “So far, people are talking more about the controversy than the ride.”

Contact Jon Chavez at:
jchavez@theblade.comor
419-724-6128.

Second Sunday with Richard Kinzel: Cedar Fair CEO says market will thaw

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From the Sandusky Register

SANDUSKY

As amusement park companies go, Cedar Fair is the industry’s juggernaut — it owns 11 amusement parks and six water parks throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Even in Sandusky, home of Cedar Point amusement park, news coverage in recent months has concentrated on Cedar Fair as it mulled an acquisition by New York private equity firm Apollo Global Management.

The deal fell through, leaving Cedar Fair to battle the recession and debt problems.

Which leaves everyone wondering: How is Cedar Point doing?

When Richard “Dick” Kinzel, 69, president, CEO and chairman of Cedar Fair sat down for a “Second Sunday” interview after months of requests, the Register concentrated questions on the local amusement park — Cedar Point, rated “the best amusement park in the world” for 12 years in a row by Amusement Today.

Q: How does Cedar Point fit in your mind in the Cedar Fair empire? Do you still see Cedar Point as the crown jewel, or realistically, is the attention shifting to those parks in the southern U.S., where you have a growing population?

A: No, Cedar Point is our crown jewel and always will be. This is our biggest entity. We have 1,400 hotel rooms. We have four hotels here. Two marinas. We have the largest amusement park in the world here — 17 roller coasters, over 70 rides.

Our top season was 1994. We did 3.6 million (annual visitors). Now we do about 3 million.

We can be a profitable company if we manage our expenses. If we can manage our expenses, and keep our hotels full and give the customer good value, this will always be our crown jewel.

No other park has what we have — Lake Erie, the beach, 1905, Knute Rockne, John Phillips Sousa, the history, the tradition. People have been coming here for years.

Our worst enemy that I worry about is ourselves. We have to keep the quality that people expect to be here.

Q: How disappointing is it to you that Shoot the Rapids opened late? Do you feel the availability of a new ride plays a lot in people’s decisions on coming out, or is it more of a minor blip?

A: It’s a major blip. It was a minor blip until we got to Memorial Day weekend. At that point, the weather’s a little chilly, and a flume ride didn’t have that much appeal. But certainly, once it got delayed and then it got delayed again, that was a major disappointment. As you know, we’ve had some problems with it, from electrical (since the ride launched June 26).

This is not new technology. We’ve had flumes at Cedar Point since 1964. The engineering was done wrong in Germany. We’re trying to correct it. And I got e-mail today from our manufacturer, Intamin, that the problem has been corrected. Hopefully it’s done now, and it’s going to be running correctly the rest of the summer.

Q: What problems have you had?

A: Some of the things we had to compromise with. We intended to have the height restriction at 42 inches. And we raised that to 46 inches. We intended to have more capacity. We had a 10-passenger boat. And because of the problems with the boat, we had to make that an eight-passenger boat. That cuts 20 percent of your capacity. And we’ve had electrical problems.

It certainly has not been because our maintenance department or our people have not worked 24-7 to get this thing in operation. Basically, it’s an engineering problem the manufacturer has had. They’ve assured us they’re going to get it worked out.

It’s very disappointing. You spend $11 million on something; you’re only open 140 days. It’s only been open nine days, and we’ve had a lot of down time.

Q: How has the rise in indoor water parks such as Kalahari and Great Wolf affected you? Is it an overall plus?

A: You know, I think it is. Certainly it hurt Castaway Bay. Because (Kalahari owner) Todd (Nelson) did a really good job with that. They’ve got everything you want in an indoor water park. We’re sort of more of a boutique facility. What we can offer is what they can’t offer — we have early entry into the park and coupons to get into the park and things like that.

They’ve certainly hurt us as far as our occupancy goes (at Castaway Bay). But on the other hand, if people come to stay in Kalahari, they’re certainly going to visit the best amusement park in the world. Along with going to the water park, they’ll still go to Cedar Point.

We welcome all competition in Sandusky. If we can get them into Sandusky, we feel pretty certain our entertainment package is such that they’ll come to Cedar Point.

Q: This is one of my few Cedar Fair questions: Where do you stand on the effort to refinance debt? Is that still on hold until the markets settle down?

A: It really is. Peter Crage and I, our chief financial officer, we hit the road three weeks ago. We were told by our bankers at that time, there was money. The bond markets had loosened up. The money was very reasonable. I’m not exaggerating. The minute we got in to start the road show, within 20 seconds, it was on a Thursday, they told us that the markets had crashed. At that (time), if you remember, Korea, and Israel, and the oil spill was hitting its peak. The markets just went berserk on us. What our advisers are telling us is just to wait, just be patient. We still have until 2012, so we still have time …. We can be patient and we will be patient, because every interest point is a lot of money.

Q: What is Cedar Point’s most successful ride ever? I don’t mean tallest or fastest or scariest — what’s the ride that was such a huge success that you guys said, “Boy, we’re sure glad we put that ride in.”

A: Probably the Magnum XL 200, in 1989, when we put the first 200-foot coaster in. The other one was in 1976, when we put the Corkscrew, the first coaster that did a helix and the 360.

The one that people really talk about is that first 200 foot. Nobody had really done that before …. The Magnum is the one that really made Cedar Point the coaster capital of the world.

When you go back to 1976 when we put the Corkscrew in, that changed the whole dynamics of the amusement park industry.

Q: How does Cedar Point decide what its next new ride is going to be?

A: We visit other parks. We see what’s new in the industry. We talk to other manufacturers. We try to get a feel for what people like, what they don’t like.

All the parks are different. Cedar Point, for example, we mix a family ride in for every other time or every third time. We go for a thrill ride probably two out of three rides. We put a thrill ride in, that really turns the turnstiles.

Q: So I guess the recession sort of slowed down that thrill-ride timetable. What can you tell us about next year’s thrill ride, and when is it likely to be announced?

A: Just backing up a little bit, the flume ride (Shoot the Rapids) was really due to be introduced last year, but the economy turned. Remember that in November of 2008 the banks crashed. We had a pretty good feeling it was going to be a bad year … so we put that off for a year.

It’s going to be a great ride. All thrill rides aren’t coasters. It’s going to be something that I think the teen market is really going to like.

We really plan on announcing that in the middle of August. That’s when we have our season passes for next year. Not especially Cedar Point, but in other parks, the season pass business is so big, we try to get a jump.

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