CoasterMania 2001 - June 1, 2001 - 12:00pm
Robin Innes, Cedar Point.
ROBIN INNES: Good afternoon...and I can officially say 'afternoon' because it is a little after 12...How's your day going?
CoasterManiacs: (applause and general shouts of approval)
RI: Glad to hear it. Once again, I know we got a little wet this morning, and all of our gratitude from Cedar Point, thanks for coming out. It's a testament to your spirit and we certainly appreciate all your patronage and support coming out on a day like this proves it and again, many, many thanks for that. And for all the years of support you've always shown us.
RI: Unfortunately I have a little bad news for you. That's right, the little bad news is, in the first program today, Dick Kinzel popped in to welcome everybody to the program. Unfortunately Dick won't be with us for this program because he had a couple of other things to attend to, but he did want us to pass along his regards, and in return he said he wanted us to make one new announcement, you'll be the first...one of the first groups to hear it...is that last night we finalized the deal for Michigan's Adventure. (applause) So it is now a Cedar Fair park. Unfortunately, don't ask me any more questions because that's all I know (laughter) That's all I know right now but I did want to be one of the first to tell you that. Phase 2 now will be seeing how we will now transform that into the Cedar Fair, becoming a sister park, so a lot of questions about season passes, etc. I can't answer right now; stay tuned and we will be able to give you a lot more news as they develop. But, as I said, now Michigan's Adventure is now a Cedar Fair park, officially.
RI: And now I am pleased...earlier today we were sending out some e-mails trying to get some cooperation from the weather; I don't think the first couple were received, but the word I'm getting now is...I think I had Bryan send them and, well, enough said on that...anyway, I think...Don't even start, Mr. Edwards!...Anyway, I am optimistic that the rest of the day should go pretty good, we might have a little break in the plan later on but right now we're looking for good things to happen for the rest of the day, and ERT is looking VERY good for this evening. (applause). We're gonna do our best, we want to make this your best day of the summer.
RI: Some other new news I want to let you know about. First of all, two, officially we can tell you Millennium Mania 2 comes back. And it will be officially held Thursday and Friday September 6th and 7th and Thursday and Friday September 13th and 14th. So, definitely put those on your calendar. Also, something I want you to know about is, if you don't already subscribe to FunTimes, our Cedar Point newsletter, be sure to log on to the Cedar Point web site and sign up for it because later this summer could be as early as the end of this month, could be early next month, some exciting details, valuable information about Millennium Mania will be given to the people who read FunTimes. I reiterate, VALUABLE information will be given to those people. So, if you haven't done it yet, sign on to FunTimes, it will be worth your while for some very valuable information.
RI: Anyway, as today goes on, you've already started with Raptor and by the time the night ends we've got Raptor, we've got Millennium Force, we've got Magnum, three of the best steel coasters in the world. That's not a bad day!
RI: Now, and if you remember way back about a year ago, everybody, not only in the amusement park industry but in the world, everybody was talking about Millennium Force. And with good reason, our own little...shouldn't say little...310-feet-tall Giga-Coaster goes 93 miles per hour...changed the way we think about roller coasters. It's a wonderful asset, addition to the park. So what we have planned for today to start off this afternoon's program is, we made a program highlighting all the excitement of Millennium Force's first year. So what I'd like to ask you to do now is sit back and relax, we're going to show you "Millennium Force: The Movie". Watch closely you may see a few people you know on that, and after that we have a couple of special guests for you, and overall I think the people who saw the first program were pleased with it, I think you'll enjoy it, and of course, have a great day here at Cedar Point, and thanks again for coming. (applause)
(Millennium Force promo film)
Bryan Edwards, Cedar Point.
BRYAN EDWARDS: Hello, for those of you who I have not met before, my name is Bryan Edwards, and I am the public relations representative here at Cedar Point. I'd like to thank Robin for that introduction about the email joke; his humor makes Marty Moltz seem like Jerry Seinfeld, I'll tell you! And I deal with it every day. But anyway, I'm here to introduce a special guest, I am honored to introduce this person, Monty Jasper is our Vice President of Maintenance and New Construction here at Cedar Point. He started his career here at the park in 1995 and has overseen such projects as Mantis, which we rode this morning, even though it was a little wet we still had a great time over there; Power Tower, which is just a great ride, very scary, and obviously last year's "wow" ride, Millennium Force. Monty and his crew were here this morning very early working through the rain, the early hours, and the cold temperatures so that we could enjoy the Exclusive Ride Time this morning, so I think we all owe Monty and his staff a huge round of ap--(drowned out by applause)...So without further ado, I present you Monty Jasper.
Monty Jasper, V.P. Maintenance and New Construction, Cedar Point
MONTY JASPER: Thank you, good afternoon. Howre'yall today?
MJ: Great. Good. Bryan and Robin wanted me to talk today about the continuing story of Millennium Force, since you saw the video of its first year. It's really a great ride. Y'know, I had to say first of all that I've heard a couple people say something that I've felt really deep inside myself since I've ridden Millennium Force, and that's that it really jades you as to any other ride that you ride after that. Once you ride Millennium Force you go back and you ride other new rides, other new attractions, and it just doesn't stack up somehow or other. I still think it's the greatest ride in the world.
MJ: Thank you. Since we operated the season...as you know we had a very successful season with Millennium Force and everything ran very well for us...we went through our normal overhaul routine with the ride. Now what that means is that ...and most all of our coasters go through the same process...what that means is that all of the trains are totally disassembled, and I mean all the way down to their component nuts, bolts, and parts, the cushions, wheels, everything was all disassembled and it was inspected. Now we use a process called "non-destructive testing" to look at a lot of those metal components and make sure they don't have cracks, they're not fatigued, those kinds of things. We evaluated all those components, we work with the manufacturer, Intamin in this particular case to make sure that we don't have areas of concern or areas we thought weren't holding up as well. Some of the components, like the seats, for instance, were sent back to Germany for reworking. We had sheet metal parts on the ride that were re-worked, a lot of that was repainted, we looked at all the wheels, inspected to make sure they were all true, inspected all the bearings, and after you finish with the NDT testing you start reassembling...There's a lot of work in those trains. There really is. We started full time disassembly and inspection in December and finished about one month before the park opened up. So there is a lot of work in disassembling, inspecting, and reassembling those trains. The track itself was totally re-torqued. What that means is that we go through with a construction crew, cranes, the whole nine yards, and we re-go-through the torquing process for all the bolts on the ride and make sure that none of them have loosened up after the first season. Which is pretty common for steel structures and steel roller coasters to have to be re-torqued after one year of operation. We've found that once you do that you don't have any further problems with the ride and it's part of the 'seating in' process that most new rides have. So that process took us a while, and it's not a very difficult process, re-torquing on a roller coaster that is a normal height, but when you get to 300 feet, and you have the interesting weather conditions around here during the winter, it makes it a very difficult job. So that's something that took us about a month and a half to accomplish as well. Control system wise, cable system wise, the lift system was in good shape, we assembled everything and got it running about a month before the park opened, we did our test runs, and we were ready to run on opening day along with the rest of our rides in the park.
MJ: Now, I think one of the things you'll notice right now it's been rather cool and rainy, and the ride hasn't quite hit its stride yet, it's still running a bit slower than it was in the heat last summer, but I suspect that will take care of itself once we warm up here. That's pretty much what we've been through, that's common practice for all of the coasters in this park and the rest of our rides to varying degrees, we disassemble all the critical components and critical issues and look at them. And with that I'll answer questions, if there are any questions anybody has about Millennium Force I'd be happy to take a shot at it.
CoasterManiac: (Are you looking to put brakes on any point on the ride?)
MJ: Not at this point. There's no need to put brakes at any point on the ride. It was a very very (drowned out by applause)...Believe me, I wouldn't put brakes on a ride unless it really needed it. But this one is such a sweet experience, and like I said at first it is the greatest ride I've ever ridden and I hope a lot you agree with me, and we don't need to ruin that with some brakes, so...!
CM: How deep are the footings?
MJ: Um...Generally speaking, and I'll start out by telling you that the soil conditions here are basically sand. You have to go very deep to get to bedrock...60 feet. We're built on a sandbar here, if you can imagine that. So we have to go with what are called 'spread footings.' So the short answer to your question is that from 7-10 feet is all the depth that we have on any of the foundations on Millennium Force. If you can imagine taking a pencil and nailing a block of wood to the bottom of it, and standing it up on the desk, you can see that pencil would stand straight up with that block of wood underneath it supporting it. It would be very stable, it wouldn't tip over, or anything along those lines and that's essentially how Millennium Force is built. It has huge concrete foundations that are shaped like blocks underneath all the lift columns.
CM: I noticed you have a new set of sensors, proximity switches, at the end of the ride when you get through the first set of magnetic brakes. What is the purpose of those?
MJ: Speed sensing. We felt we needed a little more data on how the train was decellerating and we thought we could do a better job of controlling it through the braking if we had just a little more information about what speed the train was at, so we added a few more sensors in there. That's very perceptive of you!
CM: So that would send more juice to the magnets to give it...
MJ: It just gives the computer more information about what speed the train is at as it decellerates down through there and it gives it a little more choices to choose from as it opens and closes the moveable brakes before it goes into the station.
CM: Great job!
MJ: Thank you!
CM: How do the dynamics differ between a full train and an empty one?
MJ: I think that once you reach your speed at 92-93 MPH which is during the summer it doesn't matter whether the train is loaded or not, it basically runs at the same speed. I think now, during our operating days today, for instance and for the past month, quite a few days have been very cool and the difference in weight makes a difference in how fast the train runs around the track. And since the dynamics is a function of how much the velocity of the train is, obviously if the train is running slower, then you don't get quite as many forces as when the train is running at its full speed. Once it hits its stride in the middle of the summer, you really don't see any difference whether it's 36 or 20 people in the train, but that might make a big difference on, say, Opening Day.
CM: There are no inversions on the ride, I was curious as to the thought process that went into the decision to ...(garbled but you get the idea)
MJ: Well, the design criteria was basically we wanted something 300 feet tall, and we wanted to hit as close as we could to 100 MPH. After that we didn't have a third requirement for a loop or something along those lines, and we all realize that there are a lot of looping coasters in the world and loops have been done and done and done, and we thought we could probably hit what we were after with an open sided, very open car that had a lap restraint in it, and achieve what we were looking for which was the really high lift, the 300 feet, and the really high speed. Once you start going upside down and things like that then that sets a whole new set of criteria up about how you restrain people and what's the best thing to do and those kind of issues. So we wanted to avoid all that, and we really felt like it had already been done, so we just didn't do it. (massive applause)
CM: I actually have two questions...#1, who came up with the term, "giga-coaster", and #2, you say it goes 93 is fast...what's slow? (laughter)
MJ: The giga-coaster was brought up by the manufacturer, Intamin came up with that name. That was on their earliest plans, and we kind of adopted it and put it into our publications, but that was the first time we'd ever heard of that title. They kind of coined it to describe a coaster that went over 300 feet. As far as speeds go, I think you'll find that once you get to 300 feet and you nose that train over vertically towards the ground, physics has a major role to play in how fast that train goes down the first drop, and it pretty much does not vary where we measure it in the first drop whether it is cold or hot, and that has a lot to do with the fact that you've got all this potential energy stored in the train at 300 feet and it has to dissapate it as it goes down into that valley. Now, on cold days, you will see the train slow down on the rest of the course, and it will vary anywhere from 5-10 seconds depending on how slow...how cold it is. For instance, I think Sandor mentioned this morning that the train is running about 57-58 seconds from the lift to the brakes; we're probably running 63-64 today, and I've seen it run 68 on very cold days and the like. But that first speed in that first drop is pretty consistent.
CM: (something like) What was your first reaction when you found out it was going to be a 300-foot-tall coaster?
MJ: "You're nuts." Then I got to thinking about it and I decided that the height really is not a factor when it comes to whether it is a comfortable ride for the passengers. A lot of people are concerned with the fact that when you go to 300 feet there are a lot of forces on passengers. And I think you can eliminate them or lower them to acceptable levels if you have wide sweeping turns. Which is the secret, really, to Millennium Force is the big sweeping turns. There are no greater forces on Millennium Force than on any other coasters, in fact there are coasters in this park that have larger forces on them than Millennium Force does. It's the fact that you can go to 300 feet and get away with it that is exciting.
CM: (something about someone who wants to legally limit the height of coasters.)
MJ: Well, I think you have to have good designers when you go very high, and as I said before, the physics of it are, if you have very wide sweeping turns you can get away...you can go 750 feet if you want to--
MJ: --Yeah, but you have to run it all over the State of Ohio to do it, and then the passengers will have a nice smooth ride. You see what I am saying. But I think you have to put in other criteria other than height to limit, if that answers your question.
CM: On Millennium Force and other Intamin rides they have that innovative lap bar that's not only very comfortable but also does a very good job of holding you in place. I wonder if that was ever considered for use in place of the horsecollar on the looping coasters.
MJ: I think they have considered it in a lot of options. I think there are a lot of designers in the industry today who believe that you do need an over-the-shoulder restraint if you go upside down (scattered boos and other indications of disapproval), I think that is very commonplace and if you see a lot of looping coasters you do see over-the-shoulder restraints, but yes, it has been considered.
CM: What was the significance of Millennium Force's track shape?
MJ: You can go with a standardized track design throughout the ride if you want to. But Intamin realized, and rightly so, that you didn't need that much strength in every section of the ride. So when you have low stress areas like through the station, you can go with 2-pipe track and get away with it. If you need more force, you can go to the 3-pipe track, and if you have more force on the train than that you can go with the 4-pipe track. If you need more strength, is what I am trying to say. The advantage to doing that is that you cut down on a large amount of steel that the park has to buy and the manufacturer has to manufacture, and you really control costs by doing that and you really only put the strength where it's needed.
CM: What kind of criteria do you have on maximum G-loads on the passengers?
MJ: Well, you have to look at both the criteria for G-loads and the amount of time that the G-force is applied. On Millennium Force there really isn't a G-load that is higher than 4 to 4-1/2 Gs. I've seen coasters that went up to 6Gs, with very short application levels, and they can get away with that. I think that's pretty comforable, anyone who has ridden Millennium Force knows that's a comfortable ride.
CM: On that 4G's how long of a duration would that be?
MJ: Much less than a .1 second.
ROBIN INNES: On that point I think we have to let Monty go 'cause we have a couple things yet for this program, so I thank you Monty, thank you for your time.
Janice Witherow, Cedar Point
(Janice Witherow leads in a favorite-coaster-shout)
JANICE WITHEROW: At this time I'm here to introduce to you...that's right...your god...Sandor Kernacs, President of Intamin, that's right, the designers, the manufacturers behind the world's first Giga-Coaster, something that broke how many records? Ten world records. Here before you, let's give it up a big Cedar Point welcome to Sandor Kernacs, President of Intamin! (standing ovation)
Sandor Kernacs, President, Intamin
SANDOR KERNACS: Thank you very much, I appreciate it and am glad to be here, and I would like to say a few words about the Millennium Force coaster after a year it was opened. For us it was a great challenge to come to a park which had the most outstanding coaster selection, one great coaster after the other, and getting a job to try to build even a better one which would be different and better than they ever had before. We started out with a great concept from the park where they would like to have the ride, what would be the ride requirements, and we just had the minor job after that to make sure that we would be able to make it work. (laughter) And after we got this concept we basically looked at the park and looked at the great selection of the coasters, and we felt that we had to build on that what people like at Cedar Point, exciting, great, outstanding, unique coasters, but also we would have to build a coaster that people would ride it and say, "Well, that is a great coaster just like something like that just bigger." And we wanted to say, "Well, we have to build a coaster that people ride it and say, 'this will be a different coaster.'" And we looked at several options, and one of the options was the lift system.
SK: How to build a good lift for a ride:
SK: 300 foot, actually 312 foot above the ground is a very substantial height, and if we had gone the traditional way with a chain lift probably we should have built a lift with a 30-degree angle, and the maximum speed we could have achieved with the chain lift would have been approximately 50% of the speed what we have on the Millennium Force or even less, and we felt that building a coaster that people would be sitting on the chain on the lift for one to two minutes could be boring. (laughter) And then we looked at what options we have. First the option was to go steeper and go faster. And basically that is the way the concept of the elevator sysem was established. And we felt that we wanted to maintain one hand the experience of the ride that the lift would serve as a part of the ride where you build up the excitement and the expectations for the ride, but also felt that we would have to step beyond a little bit and try to make the lift as part of the ride. We believe that, looking back, with this 20-plus feet-per-second lift speed we still are able to maintain the function of the lift to build up the excitement and the expectations, and on the other hand with the speed we also felt we contributed in a way that it became a part of the ride.
SK: After the lift we looked at the high speed, around 93 miles per hour, how we can make sure that speed will be pretty constant under cold weather conditions, hot weather conditions, different load conditions, that's why we opted to go with 80 degrees which is getting close to actual free-fall where the speed is very constant (laughter). After the fall we also we were determined that we had to take advantage of the great site along the lake, along the pond, and also the high speed of the ride, and that basically dictated that we had to come up with the overbanked turns, up to 123 degrees at a height of 160 feet and other areas, and we felt that it would be very important for the ride to remain smooth and we stayed with the big sweeping turns to make sure that we build a ride that based on the speed and size will be exciting enough for the coaster enthusiast, on the other hand it would not be too frightening for those people who might be afraid of a too-intense ride. We also wanted to avoid the use of shoulder harnesses; we felt that using shoulder harnesses-- (massive applause)--would take away from the ride experience and also with the design of the trains we wanted to create a feeling that people are exposed, we didn't want to build a ride where you would have a train that people sit in a low position and they are surrounded with Fiberglas, we wanted to create a feeling of freedom at that height when you are falling and going up that you are really alone and (?free?). (Some laughter) I believe that speed of the ride is...average speed of the ride is very, very fast compared to any other ride. The ride length is 6,750 feet long and it takes about 57 seconds to get from the top of the lift to the brakes. I hope that everybody enjoyed it, and we were really gratified to have the possibility to build this ride, and looking back after a year, I believe that we, if we built this ride again, up to this point we haven't come up with any ideas how we could do it better. I don't know if anybody would have any questions I could answer, I would be glad to do that.
CM: How high would it have to be to hit 100 miles per hour? 300 feet gets you 93, how much higher would it have to be?
SK: Oh, probably...thirty feet.
CM: We can do that!! (laughter and applause!)
CM: How did you finally solve the problem of all the wheels overheating during the summer?
SK: Well, basically the wheel issue is a difficult issue with every coaster, because we build basically custom coasters, this coaster is taller, faster than any coaster we had built before, and also the wheels are behaving differently in different locations that means, let's say you have a coaster in New England with a certain type of wheel, it will work perfectly, and then you go to Florida and that wheel will be a disaster. Every new ride you have to go through a combination of the wheels. Requirements are that we are calculating an average friction for the train to go around because the gravity forces that drive the train around are always constant based on the height of the lift. In the beginning we started out with a uniform set of wheels which were softer wheels and basically we had a problem that the wheels had to be replaced frequently because they overheated. We basically solved the problem by using three different types of wheels which we put on the trains in combination which assured for us that on a cold morning the train would go around without any problem, on the other hand when we are running during the day with full load at 100 degrees temperature we would not overheat them.
CM: How did you come up with the elevator lift system; or how did you realize you could do it on a coaster?
SK: Well, basically we looked at the requirements and basically when we looked at the chain length that would have been required for a 300-foot-tall lift, that was tremendous. And we also concluded that the chain would have probably 25,000 moving parts, and it would have been basically a nightmare to maintain. Because if you want to inspect a chain properly, it takes probably a week because you have to go step by step. And not only expensive but also very difficult task to do it properly. The other issue was that chains are pretty reliable up to around 10-11-12 ft/sec., but beyond that the chains are getting very sensitive to any kind of metal-on-metal friction. That means the chain is usually sliding on a UHMW material, but if it's worn out and you hit the metal then you can lose the chain in having that contact for probably half a day. And we felt that using the chain would create problems, a huge amount of chain coming down for safety reasons would have been a complicated procedure. And then we looked at the applications of the wire rope in other industries, cable lift systems, and all the technical data verified that we can easily go twice or three times of the speed with a wire rope system than we could go with a chain. And the next step was to design a system that we used most of the standard components available in the elevator industry, designed the drives to it, and we felt that would be a safe design and would provide not only higher speed but greater reliability.
CM: How much does one of the trains weigh?
SK: The train? Around 28 tons.
CM: What possessed you to build the world's first giga-coaster?
SK: Well, we try to build whatever our customers want. Cedar Point has been always a leader in introducing new coasters. They introduced ten years ago the first 200 foot tall coaster and I believe they felt that to maintain their leading position as the roller coaster capital of the world, they should be the first to introduce the first giga-coaster. And basically it was their concept to build a coaster which would be higher than 300 feet.
CM: How come we only see on train running the circuit(...)?
SK: Well, the running time from the lift crown to the brakes is 57 seconds. And basically you can run, basically...well, let me go back a little bit. What we wanted to do when we built this coaster. First of all we had a capacity requirement of around 1600 persons per hour. To reach that capacity you can design a coaster very different ways. One of the traditional ways to design a roller coaster is to build a block brake system somewhere in the ride, when you have two trains on the track, then you can stop one of them and the other would go safely home to the station. But conceptually we did not like the block brake system. Because when we incorporate a block brake system somewhere on the roller coaster, at half of the length or two thirds of the length, you create the impression of two coasters. You have one ride until to the block brake, and then you have a second ride after that because both of them you have to go around. And we approached in a way that we would have to build a coaster which would not have block brakes, that is, we would go all the way at high speed. And then we calculated the capacity. We can, and it is possible to pull up the first train, one train on the lift, while another train is stopping, but before the second train is launched from the lift crown, the first train would have to be out of the brake zone. Would that answer your question?
CM: What other coasters have you built at other parks?
SK: What other coasters have we built? We built mega-coasters, launch coasters for all major customers, but that is the only giga-coaster we've built.
CM: (cannot hear the question)
SK: Okay...all roller coasters are built in a way that everything which is safety related is redundant or over-designed in a gross way. What could happen with a coaster: Most typically, you could have a delaminated wheel, you might have a let's say a broken wheel. But all the trains are equipped with sliding contact. That means if you would have an axle failure or a wheel failure or a lining failure, then we have a copper or brass material that will safely engage with the track and the train will slide back to a safe position. Wheel failures, lining failures, I'd say the most typical problem which would happen on a roller coaster is a power outage. This giga-coaster has a very unique system. Since the brakes we are using are failsafe magnetic brakes which do not require any energy, we designed the coaster in a way that if we have a power outage and the train is moving up the lift, we can turn on installed an emergency generator system which will drive the train to the top and send it around and the people would be able to get out of the train at the station. If we have some kind of catastrophic failure with, let's say a wire rope failure on the lift and we would not be able to send the train around, we have a funicular system for emergency evacuation on the side of the lift which is also powered by emergency generator, and people could be evacuated one by one. But I will say that this coaster is not only the fastest and the tallest, but I believe the safest coaster just based on the technology. Every year the technologies are getting better and every year when we go faster and taller we have to incorporate additional safety features. I would feel very comfortable riding this coaster.
CM: (The gentleman who built the Magnum refuses to ride coasters. How about you?)
SK: Well, I was the first person to ride it, and basically what I did was I rode it three times in the front in the row, three times in the back in the row, and three times in the center. (applause)
CM: (didn't speak up)
SK: Well, it depends on what you like. I would say that if you sit in the front car in the first row and you like the feeling of hanging down and looking at the size of the drop, then I think probably the best seat. If on the other hand you like the unexpected things, and you like the huge (??) and you like the negative-G experience, then I would say the last. But I would say the ride experience is different. I know a lot of people who are front-seat riders, others who are backseat riders.
ROBIN INNES: At this point I'm afraid we're going to have to let Sandor go. Mr. Kernacs, thank you very much for joining us today.
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