Steel Vengeance dispatches... Wow!

Monday, June 21, 2021 7:53 AM

So, we were at CP, yesterday and for the first time since the early days of Mean Streak, I witnessed something I NEVER expected to see on SV... the train dropping from the lift and passing us WHILE we were on the bunny hills. It was so cool.

Those crew members were hustling faster than any I had witnessed at Universal, last week. Apparently, they were dispatching trains every 80 seconds during that time. Later, I timed around 105 seconds which is still better than I have seen in the past few years. They were busting their butts in that awful humidity. It's amazing what $20/hour can inspire.

Based on the number of trainees I saw, I think this is going to be one of the best years to visit CP since I don't know when.

Edit: 4 rides on SV in less than 40 minutes around noon, on a Sunday, without Fast Lane..

Last edited by Zoug68, Monday, June 21, 2021 8:13 AM
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Monday, June 21, 2021 1:48 PM
Jeff's avatar

"Hustle" at Universal is a pretty low bar. :)


Jeff - Advocate of Great Great Tunnels™ - Co-Publisher - PointBuzz - CoasterBuzz - Blog - Music

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Monday, June 21, 2021 1:57 PM
Paisley's avatar

been at the park only once so far and rode a limited amount because we were there with family and small kids but the crew on Magnum was kicking butt and taking names getting those trains out.

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Monday, June 21, 2021 5:23 PM

The difference between a team hustling on Magnum and a team hustling on Steel Vengeance is that if the Magnum team lets up, the ride punishes them for it. Steel Vengeance doesn't do that.

Now if we could inspire some of that energy in the Gemini crew...

--Dave Althoff, Jr.



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Monday, June 21, 2021 8:55 PM

And Blue Streak.

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Monday, June 21, 2021 9:00 PM
HeyIsntThatRob?'s avatar

RideMan said:

Now if we could inspire some of that energy in the Gemini crew...

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

It’s beyond ridiculous that Gemini runs the way it does today. Why not just go down to one train op on each side to save our necks on the final stop?

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Monday, June 21, 2021 9:26 PM

RideMan said:

The difference between a team hustling on Magnum and a team hustling on Steel Vengeance is that if the Magnum team lets up, the ride punishes them for it.

It used to, but it hasn't since the new control system in 2014ish. Now they just release the safeties by a dual button press - one in controls, the other at the dispatch enable position. No more running out under the lift. I am not sure if they have to record "set ups" on their DOR as downtime as we used to be required to. When I first worked there in 2001, we had to call in to park op AND wait for a call back from supervision to start things up again. Later on, we could just start things up ourselves, but still had to call it in and explain what happened.

I was monitoring the SV dispatches on the webcam a bit on Sunday after hearing reports of a 45 dispatch hour. Sure enough, most of them were about 80 seconds. Really good to see and not sure why it took so long to get to this.


-Matt

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Monday, June 21, 2021 10:08 PM
Cargo Shorts's avatar

Were there any changes in management?

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Tuesday, June 22, 2021 8:39 AM
HeyIsntThatRob?'s avatar

Didn't they remove the loose article zipper pouches?

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Tuesday, June 22, 2021 10:06 AM

And Blue Streak.

I was at the park on the 10th and 11th and Blue Streak was dispatching a train every 5 minutes. It was so painful to watch and wait in line for. I barely saw any of the coasters dispatching at their usual intervals. MF was 2 train op and the 2nd train would be fully unloaded and waiting before the 1st train dispatched. Lots of Magnum riders getting to experience the hard stop on the safeties.

Glad to hear operations and dispatch time seem to be improving. I did notice a ton of training going on which at the time was slowing down dispatches but sounds like its paying off.

It’s beyond ridiculous that Gemini runs the way it does today. Why not just go down to one train op on each side to save our necks on the final stop?

I feel like they could adjust the positioning of some of the brakes and make that final stop a lot more pleasant. But yeah, watching operations as they stand now with air gates, bins, etc, they'd never be able to run 3 trains without every other dispatch setting up on the mid-course brakes.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2021 10:13 AM

MDOmnis said:

It used to, but it hasn't since the new control system in 2014ish. Now they just release the safeties by a dual button press - one in controls, the other at the dispatch enable position. No more running out under the lift. I am not sure if they have to record "set ups" on their DOR as downtime as we used to be required to. When I first worked there in 2001, we had to call in to park op AND wait for a call back from supervision to start things up again. Later on, we could just start things up ourselves, but still had to call it in and explain what happened.

Something I've always been curious about.. why does a setup like that on Magnum require that level of operator intervention (hitting a switch under the lift/dual button presses from 2 positions) to release the safeties? I would have expected a control system updated in 2014 would have been smart enough to automatically advance the train out of the safeties once the holding block was clear, assuming the ride is running in its standard operating mode.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2021 12:13 PM

They don't have to run under the lift anymore, but they do still have the manually release the safeties after a setup.

I also don't know if Gemini is even blocked to run three trains on a side anymore. But to rememeber the old days of six train ops and to now see how lackluster the crew is and how often they stack, it's sad.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2021 6:43 PM

Gemini is the only coaster in the park with a *truly* "future-proof" control system which can never become so obsolete as to be impossible to fix. As such, it seems the park has avoided changing it until they can get the obsolete control systems on rides like Iron Dragon taken care of. For that reason, I think it is a safe bet that Gemini is still blocked for six trains, but the park is (understandably) unwilling to make the operational concessions necessary for six train operations. It would require a larger crew, a change back to either shared seat belts or no seat belts at all, fully visual lap bar checks, a return to the "everything rides with you" policy, and a reconfiguration of the exit gates. That's at a minimum. Gemini is 2:42, which is a bit shorter than Magnum, which means a shorter interval, probably closer to 55-60 seconds, although because the ride is designed to operate without stacking trains, the headway can be slightly shorter. I have actually watched a Gemini train enter the station before the departing train was all the way out (though it was past the last brake). I don't think any of today's operators would even believe how fast that thing moved.

As for why the Magnum doesn't automatically restart after a set-up...
Amusement rides are generally designed and built in accordance with control concepts associated with heavy machinery. Which makes sense, as that's what rides are. The only real difference is that with most machinery the safety standards are all about keeping personnel away from the big moving parts; with amusement rides we're putting the personnel *on* the big moving parts. Anyway, most standards have requirements to guard against unintended equipment movement. If the train has been stopped for a while, it makes sense not to allow an automatic restart unless you can be certain that the area is clear, the riders are prepared for the move, and there will be no unexpected surprises. As for why it takes two button pushes my understanding is that it has to do with who can see the train when is stopped on that brake.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.



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Saturday, June 26, 2021 11:51 PM

Apparently, these bursts in dispatches are "Power Hours."

Earlier tonight, they were running with two minute dispatches. Then the Power hours started and they were dispatching in less than 90 seconds. They actually were warning you at the metal detectors to be prepared to load quickly for this. I think it's awesome!

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Sunday, June 27, 2021 12:22 AM

Back in the day, which I mean the 1970's, they would have contests between all ride crews to see which ride could put through the most riders within a set time period. This was when there was only four coasters (Blue Streak CCMR, Wildcat and Jumbo Jet) Their through put was limited just due to each of the rides designs. Most of the time the top two rides as far as ridership in those days came down to the Frontier Lift and CP&LE RR. The latter would be running three trains, with them dispatching trains out of the Frontiertown in under three minute intervals. The Lift was always neck and neck with railroad , although there was occasional talk of the someone placing a large warehouse fan directly on the old school turnstiles that it had at the main midway lift station, causing them to spin regardless how many people walked through

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Sunday, June 27, 2021 4:59 PM

If they're capable of doing it in under 90 seconds during "power hour," why don't they do it all the time? That's the way it should be. When I worked there, every hour was power hour (although we didn't have such a term) from open until close. At Magnum, we also competed with Raptor for ridership numbers each day and throughout the season. We'd play games like seeing how many intervals we could hit in a row. We made it past 335 - the number of the ride. We referred to a fully packed train as a "photo shoot" train. The ride didn't count cycles per hour back then, but 45 per hour was the norm and I asked maintenance a few times why the lift was about 5 seconds slower than the manual specified because we wanted to get up to 48! :)


-Matt

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Sunday, June 27, 2021 7:50 PM

I would love to see the hourly/daily/weekly difference on a ride like Gemini or Mine Ride or Blue Streak from a random sample in the 80s or 90s and then from today. It has to be an astonishing difference.

I completely understand why they don't want to do three trains on Gemini anymore. Even without everything else that slows loading down, modern day safety requirements likely make it where an automatic set up on the far turnaround block brakes would be a less than desirable outcome.

As for the reason Magnum has to have the manual release for a set up (ensuring the area is clear), is it that much different than when Maverick stacks all the way back to the brake run after the final turn or really any other ride (Dominator at KD, Diamondback at KI) that has a final turn or short distance to travel from where the third train stacks to get to the next block zone?

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Sunday, June 27, 2021 10:25 PM

The numbers on rides like Magnum and Raptor are down probably 30% or so since the early 2000s. They formerly did somewhere between 1.9 and 2.1 million riders every season. Now they are under 1.5 million for sure. I'm sure the difference on the ones you mentioned are even more dramatic. Heck - a group of people from this site rode Gemini 100 times each on a day in June in 2001 (walking/running around every time). That would never be possible these days. If these rides don't ever have a line, then the numbers being down isn't really a big deal - more of a sign that other newer rides have soaked up or spread out a lot of the ridership demand. But Raptor still gets a healthy line most days and I've seen Gemini pouring out of the queue a lot in the past few years. Mine Ride and Blue Streak always seem to take longer than they should too although they don't seem to be quite as drastically bad as Gemini.

As for Magnum's manual release... I don't believe it has anything to do with the area being clear, etc. Most times a train stacks there, it's only for a moment similar to the other rides you mentioned. You can't release them (even with dual button press) if the next block is occupied. It won't let you. It's more to do with the hard stop that occurs when it happens - ie the ride really wasn't meant to have trains stopping there routinely and the park doesn't want it happening. I'm sure they could have automated the release of the safeties very easily if they wanted to. Magnum's new control system was actually done by the same company (Consign) that does most of B&M's control systems. I'm just happy they still run three trains and Magnum can almost always be counted on to have a short wait. If they go down to two trains on the ride, it could easily become like Gemini. :(


-Matt

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Sunday, June 27, 2021 10:38 PM

Every time Gemini hard stops after the helix and shakes the station I can't help but think it wasn't meant to do that either. Or at least on every single cycle.

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Monday, June 28, 2021 2:47 AM

Gemini was not meant to hard stop out of the helix. It’s supposed to trim through the approach brake and stop in the station.

I’ve clocked that ride at (theoretically, not accounting for empty seats) 3,400 PPH running six trains without *ever* stacking. With only two trains they have more than twice as much time to get the trains out (about 140 seconds now versus closer to 65 seconds “back in the day”) and they still can’t do it. I’m not sure where the problem really is, but if the Gemini crew moved with half the energy I saw over at Mine Ride tonight they’d have a fighting chance.

—Dave Althoff, Jr.



/X\ *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
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