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Rides
The Ride Makers

From glow coasters to boomerangs, thrillseekers are never short of options thanks to the work of the ride makers. We talk to four of the companies who set the bar for the industry

By Alice Davis | Published in Attractions Management 2014 issue 4


Intamin

 

Sascha N. Czibulka
 
Sascha N. Czibulka Executive Vice President Intamin

What coasters are popular right now?
There’s strong demand for thrilling signature coasters, which have a high marketing value. There’s also demand for “thrilling” family coasters, such as our coaster Juvelen at Djurs Sommerland.

What makes Intamin different?
You’ll almost never hear from Intamin that something cannot be done.

What have been the biggest changes for ride makers in recent times?
Probably one of the biggest changes is that IP and brands are more and more the basis for new attractions. Then, the ride system itself often represents only a small portion of the overall investment for a new ride or attraction. The cost for the IP is defined before the creative design for the ride system begins and to stay within the budget, it’s the ride system where savings are expected to be made.

Do you have any concerns about the industry?
One of the biggest challenges is the various standards in different countries and regions. A worldwide harmonisation of standards (ISO) as well as of the rules for third party inspection bodies is vital.

To some extent there’s a safety concern with new park developments, mainly in the Mid- and Far East. These parks are getting high-end equipment, especially rides, which are designed at the edge of the possible and those rides require a professional operation and maintenance, which in some cases is just not there.

From our point of view, bigger threats for the entire industry – maybe excepting the very big players such as Disney and Universal – is a potential lack of innovation. Nowadays more and more parks are operated and owned by large corporations who are less willing to carry a portion of the prototype risk.

Basically, all the ride manufacturers are small companies and cannot afford to develop new attractions and ride systems on their own. Master agreements with huge penalties and/or unreasonable clauses are not supportive in this context. If we don’t see a change in the near future we may run into problems when it comes to innovation in the years to come.

Finally, an issue for ride makers is the growing problem of IP infringement.

In terms of engineering, design or manufacturing, what’s exciting?
There are three major developments in rollercoaster technology we can mention.

The first is the significant improvement in the efficiency of our linear motor technology in combination with power storage systems that result in considerably lower power connection requirements.

The second is Intamin’s newly developed single and double backbone track, which complies with the very latest EN standards, and also results in less columns and a very smooth ride, even though the layout features high g-forces and high speeds.

Third is implementing special effects to combine a coaster with a dark ride. With our most recent work done for a major park in the US, we’ve incorporated special effects on motion bases, which together with top-notch media creates a state-of-the-art rollercoaster dark ride experience.


 



Intamin’s launch coaster Nefekesen – or, Breathtaker – has opened at Vialand, Istanbul, Turkey. Trains are launched to 110kph in 3.5 seconds

Vekoma

 

Peter Van Bilsen & Charlotte Van Etten
 
Peter Van Bilsen & Charlotte Van Etten
Senior VP, Account Manager Marketing & Sales Vekoma

Tell us about your most recent thrill coaster.
We’ve just installed the Giant Inverted Boomerang (GIB) coaster in Sochi, Russia. The GIB is a cutting-edge ride, designed to draw rollercoaster connoisseurs from afar. True to the nature of Vekoma’s boomerang rides, it puts as much thrill into a park as possible within a compact space. It’s a cost-effective investment because it combines three rides into one: a freefall, a looping coaster and a forward-backward trip. Despite its impressive height and heavier gauge construction, the GIB is easy to install. An ingenious feature is the patented catcher system that picks the train up on the fly as it climbs up the second lift hill on the opposite tower.

What have been the most exciting breakthroughs at Vekoma lately?
Our achievements in Asia are very advanced, since we have offices and factories in China and Singapore with local teams of specialists to facilitate communication with customers in their time zones and various languages. The 24/7 service we offer in Asia is very much appreciated and local production is beneficial to the customer in terms of saving on transport, duties and taxes.

Where do you see trends going?
New ride experiences need to offer new elements and interactivity in combination with the right theming and branding – that’s the way to an ultimate “wow” ride experience.

Can you describe the market climate?
The industry is a niche market; however, it is booming. Every company has its specialism. Offering good quality and a safe product, a long-lasting design and good service is important for our customers in making the right choice.

What are you doing that other coaster makers aren’t?
Vekoma Rides manages all of its disciplines in-house, from its sales and marketing to the concept and creative design of the rides, through to engineering, production, installation, testing and commissioning and parts and service. Therefore, our company’s expertise and the service that we provide is a huge advantage for our customers, especially with regard to communication and coordination.

A 360-degree view of Vekoma quality includes the highest safety standards, durability and low maintenance costs, cutting-edge technology, creative solutions and customised designs, highly qualified staff, project management and full 24/7 after-sales service provision.

What have been the biggest changes for ride makers in recent times?
From an engineering point of view, safety and quality are continuously updated and implemented. From a creative point of view, more custom designs and interactivity are requested.

What’s on the horizon for Vekoma?
Like most ride manufacturers, we have a very good portfolio and there are continuously investments in new parks and expansions in existing parks.


 



Quantum Leap, an inverted boomerang coaster, at Sochi Park Adventureland

Maurer-SÖHNE

 

Wolfgang Brost
 
Wolfgang Brost Vice President Sales & Marketing Amusement Rides

Tell us about your most recent thrill coaster offering.
The first coaster equipped with our new X-Train will soon open in Ningbo, China. With X-Train, we’re aiming for a niche between classical coasters with lots of elements on a compact footprint and the big hypercoasters which typically have a lot of camelbacks, (which I find rather boring). Our train is developed according to the latest global standards, withstanding high g-forces and running through very tight radii. Our aim is to create coasters for customers who want a hypercoaster with heights of 50 metres-plus (164 feet) and high capacities.

What have been the major developments at Maurer lately?
The all-new X-Car Evolution, equipped with our Multimedia X-Seat. With these new products we’re not only fulfilling the latest standards but also future standards. We’ll see general improvements like king-pin-steering, spring-loaded side wheels and enhanced theming possibilities. Moreover, we’ll enable customers to use sound and light effects and interactivity on new rides.

Where do you see trends going?
We’re beyond the time when everybody tried to break records – the fastest, highest, most thrilling, most inversions. At some point riding these coasters becomes more like a test of courage than fun! I see a trend to more theming and storytelling, creating immersive, appealing attractions rather than pure coasters.

Our Saturn V project, which we made in collaboration with Raven Sun, is an example of this. We show that you don’t need Disney budgets to create a fully themed attraction. The space theming is one example of how this can be very affordable (and with low maintenance costs) even for family and mid-size parks.

Hersheypark will be opening this attraction, Laff Trakk, in 2015 and it’s the first project born out of this idea, with completely different theming.

Another trend is parks focusing on areas instead of single attractions. We’re seeing makeovers of areas using famous brand IPs and in some cases complete parks are branded. In response, Maurer has teamed up with One World Studios and Porsche and can offer a very interesting concept for a fully themed park area featuring the Porsche Iconic Ride.

How is the market climate?
The aftermath of the recession is finally behind us, and new investment’s coming into the market. The industry’s in a stronger position than ever. Speeding up with products and concepts is imperative, and staying ahead of the competition means being innovative and coming up with new ideas to fill niches in the market.

What are you doing that other coaster makers aren’t?
Our business division is totally focused on rollercoasters. We have all competencies and capabilities in-house from the first sketch for a new ride until its grand opening. We cover the whole process of innovating, engineering, manufacturing, erecting and commissioning the rides.

Do you have any concerns about the industry?
With the new standards released lately, my only concern is that there might be manufacturers in other parts of the world who do not follow these standards and harm the overall image of our industry.


 



The new 24-seat X-Train is the next generation of the X-Car

Mack Rides

 

Maximilian Roeser
 
Maximilian Roeser Marketing Manager Mack Rides

Tell us about your most recent thrill coaster.
Our most recent high-speed coaster is Helix at the Swedish theme park Liseberg in Gothenburg. With two launch segments, seven inversions and a total ride time of about two minutes this rollercoaster is one of the best in the world. Theme park enthusiasts are excited to ride this coaster. The setting for this rollercoaster is truly unique: a large hill in the centre of the park lifts Helix into the spotlight for the visitors. However, as nice as the view is from up there, it was difficult to erect the steel structure on the hillside.

In terms of engineering, design or manufacturing, what developments have you had lately?
Our latest developments include the suspended powered coaster, Arthur, at Europa-Park, as there’s a lot of technology included in the car. For the first time, we’ve created a vehicle that has light, sound, seat shakers, drive motors and an interactive control system on board. It’s the most complex ride vehicle we’ve ever created. Visitors love the feeling of flying over the village of the Minimoys.

What coaster experiences are popular?
Currently our rollercoasters are doing very well. The launch coaster has been sold multiple times all over the world, as well as our mega-coasters. Our free-spinning coasters are also in high demand. In the coming years we expect to see more of these rollercoasters for the whole family being built.

Can you describe the current market climate? Is business fast or slow?
Business is pretty fast as we see increased demand from new destinations and a high volume of requests from existing customers. Mack Rides is known for bringing new ideas to the market and we’re planning new rides and ride systems for 2015 and 2016. We’re a company whose strength is in being very innovative but never losing our tradition and heritage.

What are you doing that other coaster makers aren’t?
Mack Rides invests a lot in the quality of its products. When it comes to track engineering, vehicle design and new technologies we are very motivated and always push ourselves further. Of course, with the Mack family and Europa-Park we have a strong partnership where we can get ideas and feedback from each other. That’s definitely a huge advantage compared to other coaster makers.

What are challenges do you face?
We could see some changes in the near future. The way people spend their time at the weekend or on vacation could shift again. With technological changes, the competition between consumer electronics and high-end experiences will shift everything to a new level. As an example, 3D cinemas were a highlight of the 1980s, but now everybody can enjoy a 3D movie at home with the newest TV set. Keeping up with these developments and always being a step ahead is probably the most challenging. People get used to experiences, so we think the next big thing will be giving them a totally new adventure every time they go on a ride.

What’s next for Mack Rides?
Mack Rides is in a position of healthy growth. We have strong demand right now and for the coming years, but we’re aware that this demand can be subject to external influences such as economic fluctuations. We want to invest sustainably, not just for a high growth rate, but you’ll certainly see spectacular new ride ideas from us in the future.


 



The suspended Arthur ride is new to Europa-Park
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Jobs . News . Products . Magazine
Rides
The Ride Makers

From glow coasters to boomerangs, thrillseekers are never short of options thanks to the work of the ride makers. We talk to four of the companies who set the bar for the industry

By Alice Davis | Published in Attractions Management 2014 issue 4


Intamin

 

Sascha N. Czibulka
 
Sascha N. Czibulka Executive Vice President Intamin

What coasters are popular right now?
There’s strong demand for thrilling signature coasters, which have a high marketing value. There’s also demand for “thrilling” family coasters, such as our coaster Juvelen at Djurs Sommerland.

What makes Intamin different?
You’ll almost never hear from Intamin that something cannot be done.

What have been the biggest changes for ride makers in recent times?
Probably one of the biggest changes is that IP and brands are more and more the basis for new attractions. Then, the ride system itself often represents only a small portion of the overall investment for a new ride or attraction. The cost for the IP is defined before the creative design for the ride system begins and to stay within the budget, it’s the ride system where savings are expected to be made.

Do you have any concerns about the industry?
One of the biggest challenges is the various standards in different countries and regions. A worldwide harmonisation of standards (ISO) as well as of the rules for third party inspection bodies is vital.

To some extent there’s a safety concern with new park developments, mainly in the Mid- and Far East. These parks are getting high-end equipment, especially rides, which are designed at the edge of the possible and those rides require a professional operation and maintenance, which in some cases is just not there.

From our point of view, bigger threats for the entire industry – maybe excepting the very big players such as Disney and Universal – is a potential lack of innovation. Nowadays more and more parks are operated and owned by large corporations who are less willing to carry a portion of the prototype risk.

Basically, all the ride manufacturers are small companies and cannot afford to develop new attractions and ride systems on their own. Master agreements with huge penalties and/or unreasonable clauses are not supportive in this context. If we don’t see a change in the near future we may run into problems when it comes to innovation in the years to come.

Finally, an issue for ride makers is the growing problem of IP infringement.

In terms of engineering, design or manufacturing, what’s exciting?
There are three major developments in rollercoaster technology we can mention.

The first is the significant improvement in the efficiency of our linear motor technology in combination with power storage systems that result in considerably lower power connection requirements.

The second is Intamin’s newly developed single and double backbone track, which complies with the very latest EN standards, and also results in less columns and a very smooth ride, even though the layout features high g-forces and high speeds.

Third is implementing special effects to combine a coaster with a dark ride. With our most recent work done for a major park in the US, we’ve incorporated special effects on motion bases, which together with top-notch media creates a state-of-the-art rollercoaster dark ride experience.


 



Intamin’s launch coaster Nefekesen – or, Breathtaker – has opened at Vialand, Istanbul, Turkey. Trains are launched to 110kph in 3.5 seconds

Vekoma

 

Peter Van Bilsen & Charlotte Van Etten
 
Peter Van Bilsen & Charlotte Van Etten
Senior VP, Account Manager Marketing & Sales Vekoma

Tell us about your most recent thrill coaster.
We’ve just installed the Giant Inverted Boomerang (GIB) coaster in Sochi, Russia. The GIB is a cutting-edge ride, designed to draw rollercoaster connoisseurs from afar. True to the nature of Vekoma’s boomerang rides, it puts as much thrill into a park as possible within a compact space. It’s a cost-effective investment because it combines three rides into one: a freefall, a looping coaster and a forward-backward trip. Despite its impressive height and heavier gauge construction, the GIB is easy to install. An ingenious feature is the patented catcher system that picks the train up on the fly as it climbs up the second lift hill on the opposite tower.

What have been the most exciting breakthroughs at Vekoma lately?
Our achievements in Asia are very advanced, since we have offices and factories in China and Singapore with local teams of specialists to facilitate communication with customers in their time zones and various languages. The 24/7 service we offer in Asia is very much appreciated and local production is beneficial to the customer in terms of saving on transport, duties and taxes.

Where do you see trends going?
New ride experiences need to offer new elements and interactivity in combination with the right theming and branding – that’s the way to an ultimate “wow” ride experience.

Can you describe the market climate?
The industry is a niche market; however, it is booming. Every company has its specialism. Offering good quality and a safe product, a long-lasting design and good service is important for our customers in making the right choice.

What are you doing that other coaster makers aren’t?
Vekoma Rides manages all of its disciplines in-house, from its sales and marketing to the concept and creative design of the rides, through to engineering, production, installation, testing and commissioning and parts and service. Therefore, our company’s expertise and the service that we provide is a huge advantage for our customers, especially with regard to communication and coordination.

A 360-degree view of Vekoma quality includes the highest safety standards, durability and low maintenance costs, cutting-edge technology, creative solutions and customised designs, highly qualified staff, project management and full 24/7 after-sales service provision.

What have been the biggest changes for ride makers in recent times?
From an engineering point of view, safety and quality are continuously updated and implemented. From a creative point of view, more custom designs and interactivity are requested.

What’s on the horizon for Vekoma?
Like most ride manufacturers, we have a very good portfolio and there are continuously investments in new parks and expansions in existing parks.


 



Quantum Leap, an inverted boomerang coaster, at Sochi Park Adventureland

Maurer-SÖHNE

 

Wolfgang Brost
 
Wolfgang Brost Vice President Sales & Marketing Amusement Rides

Tell us about your most recent thrill coaster offering.
The first coaster equipped with our new X-Train will soon open in Ningbo, China. With X-Train, we’re aiming for a niche between classical coasters with lots of elements on a compact footprint and the big hypercoasters which typically have a lot of camelbacks, (which I find rather boring). Our train is developed according to the latest global standards, withstanding high g-forces and running through very tight radii. Our aim is to create coasters for customers who want a hypercoaster with heights of 50 metres-plus (164 feet) and high capacities.

What have been the major developments at Maurer lately?
The all-new X-Car Evolution, equipped with our Multimedia X-Seat. With these new products we’re not only fulfilling the latest standards but also future standards. We’ll see general improvements like king-pin-steering, spring-loaded side wheels and enhanced theming possibilities. Moreover, we’ll enable customers to use sound and light effects and interactivity on new rides.

Where do you see trends going?
We’re beyond the time when everybody tried to break records – the fastest, highest, most thrilling, most inversions. At some point riding these coasters becomes more like a test of courage than fun! I see a trend to more theming and storytelling, creating immersive, appealing attractions rather than pure coasters.

Our Saturn V project, which we made in collaboration with Raven Sun, is an example of this. We show that you don’t need Disney budgets to create a fully themed attraction. The space theming is one example of how this can be very affordable (and with low maintenance costs) even for family and mid-size parks.

Hersheypark will be opening this attraction, Laff Trakk, in 2015 and it’s the first project born out of this idea, with completely different theming.

Another trend is parks focusing on areas instead of single attractions. We’re seeing makeovers of areas using famous brand IPs and in some cases complete parks are branded. In response, Maurer has teamed up with One World Studios and Porsche and can offer a very interesting concept for a fully themed park area featuring the Porsche Iconic Ride.

How is the market climate?
The aftermath of the recession is finally behind us, and new investment’s coming into the market. The industry’s in a stronger position than ever. Speeding up with products and concepts is imperative, and staying ahead of the competition means being innovative and coming up with new ideas to fill niches in the market.

What are you doing that other coaster makers aren’t?
Our business division is totally focused on rollercoasters. We have all competencies and capabilities in-house from the first sketch for a new ride until its grand opening. We cover the whole process of innovating, engineering, manufacturing, erecting and commissioning the rides.

Do you have any concerns about the industry?
With the new standards released lately, my only concern is that there might be manufacturers in other parts of the world who do not follow these standards and harm the overall image of our industry.


 



The new 24-seat X-Train is the next generation of the X-Car

Mack Rides

 

Maximilian Roeser
 
Maximilian Roeser Marketing Manager Mack Rides

Tell us about your most recent thrill coaster.
Our most recent high-speed coaster is Helix at the Swedish theme park Liseberg in Gothenburg. With two launch segments, seven inversions and a total ride time of about two minutes this rollercoaster is one of the best in the world. Theme park enthusiasts are excited to ride this coaster. The setting for this rollercoaster is truly unique: a large hill in the centre of the park lifts Helix into the spotlight for the visitors. However, as nice as the view is from up there, it was difficult to erect the steel structure on the hillside.

In terms of engineering, design or manufacturing, what developments have you had lately?
Our latest developments include the suspended powered coaster, Arthur, at Europa-Park, as there’s a lot of technology included in the car. For the first time, we’ve created a vehicle that has light, sound, seat shakers, drive motors and an interactive control system on board. It’s the most complex ride vehicle we’ve ever created. Visitors love the feeling of flying over the village of the Minimoys.

What coaster experiences are popular?
Currently our rollercoasters are doing very well. The launch coaster has been sold multiple times all over the world, as well as our mega-coasters. Our free-spinning coasters are also in high demand. In the coming years we expect to see more of these rollercoasters for the whole family being built.

Can you describe the current market climate? Is business fast or slow?
Business is pretty fast as we see increased demand from new destinations and a high volume of requests from existing customers. Mack Rides is known for bringing new ideas to the market and we’re planning new rides and ride systems for 2015 and 2016. We’re a company whose strength is in being very innovative but never losing our tradition and heritage.

What are you doing that other coaster makers aren’t?
Mack Rides invests a lot in the quality of its products. When it comes to track engineering, vehicle design and new technologies we are very motivated and always push ourselves further. Of course, with the Mack family and Europa-Park we have a strong partnership where we can get ideas and feedback from each other. That’s definitely a huge advantage compared to other coaster makers.

What are challenges do you face?
We could see some changes in the near future. The way people spend their time at the weekend or on vacation could shift again. With technological changes, the competition between consumer electronics and high-end experiences will shift everything to a new level. As an example, 3D cinemas were a highlight of the 1980s, but now everybody can enjoy a 3D movie at home with the newest TV set. Keeping up with these developments and always being a step ahead is probably the most challenging. People get used to experiences, so we think the next big thing will be giving them a totally new adventure every time they go on a ride.

What’s next for Mack Rides?
Mack Rides is in a position of healthy growth. We have strong demand right now and for the coming years, but we’re aware that this demand can be subject to external influences such as economic fluctuations. We want to invest sustainably, not just for a high growth rate, but you’ll certainly see spectacular new ride ideas from us in the future.


 



The suspended Arthur ride is new to Europa-Park
 


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