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3 Types of Amusement Park Rides--Roll o' Plane, Dark Ride, Himalaya
"No way in h*@# am I going on that ride!"
I hear that a lot during the summer when I'm working what we call "majors". We have this one ride that is known as the "Roll o' Plane". All the little kids and the drunks think that this ride must be the funnest ride in the world. But all the older, sober people are very cautious about this ride. Teenagers will dare each other to go on this ride and someone will always scream "Oh my god!" as loud as they can while on it. But getting on it is the trick.
Eventually, someone will decide to go on the ride and I will make my move to load up the cars. That's when the one or two people turn into eleventy-million. First, I ask the people to pair up. "Okay! Hold on, you gotta listen to me. Who's riding with who? You two are together? Alright, that's good. And you? You're going by yourself? Okay. And what about you folks over there!? Are you riding?" I call to everyone who is standing near the fence to the ride. It's an important part of the loading procedure.
I take what would be the smallest load first. We were trained to load the ride this way, with the smallest group on first and working your way up. This is because of what the ride looks like, but we will go into this later. So, now that I have the first person(s) in the area and I collected their tickets, and tell them to empty their pockets. "Don't have anything in your pockets that you are not prepared to lose. Cell phones, wallets, sunglasses, tickets, lighters--anything can fall out your pockets."
I load the first car (the right side), park it at the top, load the right side of the second car, park it at the top, load up the left side of the first care, park it at the top, then load up the left side of the last car, swing the arm back and then start 'er up! During this whole loading process, which is necessary, I start to think of all those old rides that are still in operation, because those are the types of rides that I work with!
These are three of them.
Roll O' Plane--Please empty your pockets.
Once upon a time, a newbie ride operator put an eight year old on this ride, the Roll-O-Plane. The boy went on with an adult and he was very persistent about riding. The ride runs, the operator does what he normally does and is supposed to do: watch the riders. The ride stops and the boy would not let go of the bar. His knuckles were white. He was scared and it took about five minutes to coax him off the ride.
In fact, this ride was developed by an aero-space company called the Eyerly Aircraft Company. This company created three other rides: the Loop O' Plane, the Fly-O-Plane, and the Rock-O-Plane (which can be seen in the photo above. It's the blue and red ferris wheel in the background. What makes this ride unique is that you can pull back a bar in the car and you can go upside-down). The maximum occupancy of this ride is eight people.
The idea of the Roll-O-Plane is to move a person around without ever placing them upside-down. The ride starts off in a vertical, circular motion. At most, you are just staring at the ground. Then, after a few rotations, the arm starts to move up and the ride starts to go horizontal. The cars on the arms will pivot from side to side as the ride moves. The ride will go around and around, then move back to the vertical motion. There is another little twist for this ride, but I like to use that to make the ride a little more fun.
This is actually an updated version of the Loop-O-Plane. But there are not many of these rides still in operation or in very good condition. It's a shame too, because this ride has so much potential to make a day at an amusement park very fun.
How it works
An engine will be powered by electricity to start to move the cars in one direction. Once the ride has picked up enough momentum, a switch is hit to get another set of gears to connect to rise the arm into the air, while spinning the arms around. It is just a series of gears and straps that keep the ride moving.
The picture above is not the ride that I know as a Dark Ride. But it has the same title: Laffland. This is a scary ride in which you sit in a car and travel through a very dark house that will show you devils, skeletons, and other scary things. It's pitch black, except for the lights that become triggered for the tricks. And all you can hear are the breaking glass, chimes, screams, and other creepy sound-effects over the clinking and clanking of the metal car.
Essentially, a dark ride is just a ride that takes place in an enclosed area and lights up spots for what you need to look at. It doesn't have to be a scary ride and it doesn't have to be a pitch black ride. Think about it: many of the rides in Disney have you sitting in a car, driving you on a path to see various scenes with music and sound effects. Those are dark rides.
The dark ride that I work with is Laffland--a scary ride made by the Pretzel Amusement Ride Company. What makes this ride completely awesome is that, although it is super old, it still has those old-fashioned Pretzel cars. And when I say old, I mean about the 1950s. The Pretzel Ride Company began making these rides in the 1930s, and they became a hit (Tunnel of Love, anyone?). It wasn't until the 1970s to 1980s that the Pretzel Ride Company became no more.
Sure, the scary or peaceful dark rides of yester-year are not really for the hot-blooded, adrenaline junkies that go to amusement parks now-a-days. But youngsters don't realize the value of sitting in weighted cars made to stand the test of time and just allowing your imagination to play tricks on you as you wait in the dark for the next little scare.
How it works
The Pretzel cars are connected to a track. The track will be electrically charged and move the Pretzel car along at a slow pace. As the car moves over certain triggers, sound effects and lighting will occur. It is a pretty simple ride.
"Good Afternoon and welcome to the Super Himalaya. As we go around to make sure your lapbars are locked and secure . . .
There are a lot of different types of this kind of ride. Most people know it as the Musik Express. It is a fast-going, circular ride that moves you around while blaring Top 40 music. But there is a series called the Super Himalaya (Him-ah-lay-ah [You'd be surprised how many people pronounce it the "Hi-mal-ah-ya"]). What makes the Super Himalaya so super is the artwork and detail put into it.
The series came about from Reverchon Industries in Samois, France in the 1970s and came in two different models (round and grand). Even if you don't really believe that it's the 1970s, just take a look at the drawing style. But the drawing style, and the design, is what makes this ride amazing. Each Super Himalaya is unique in their decoration, but they all have the same 'winter wonderland' theme. They are all hand-painted by a woman named Madam Riva. In fact, she painted herself and her husband in different locations on every Super Himalaya that she worked on.
The photo above is a Reverchon series Super Himalaya. I don't need to be told--I know. The pillars that support the roof, the slopping front, the pink lettering, and the beautifully painted snowy background all tell me that it is. The one that I know personally, and go on at least once a year, is reminiscent of all those details, but not the same because they are all unique pieces of art. But there is trouble in paradise.
The ride is supposed to spin around, slowly gaining speed until the g-force is enough that you kill whoever is sitting closest to the outside of the car. The ride then slows down and goes backwards. But in 1999, a Super Himalaya located on the famous Coney island became responsible for the death of one woman while it was going backwards.
Soon after that accident, Sylvan Beach Amusement Park (thought of as the Coney Island of Upstate New York) acquired their very own Reverchon series Super Himalaya! From New Jersey! With an adjustment made to the machinery to keep it from going backwards more than a half mile per hour! I'm not saying that the ride that I have learned to operate killed someone and I'm not saying that ride accidents are very common. They are not. Millions go on rides each year and only a few are actually hurt enough to go to the hospital. Statistically, that is a pretty low risk. But it was decided to keep the ride from going backwards.
How the Ride Works
This ride is pretty much a track ride. An engine, powered by electricity and saltwater, will turn a gear to move the cars by arms. The cars will follow the track, being pushed or pulled along by the arm, which is powered by the engine. Direction depends on the movement of the fluid and how electrically charged it is. If it is flowing one way, it will move the engine to push the cars forward. To go backwards, the movement will be reversed.