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Today Friday Jul 23

A Classic Wooden Roller Coaster with a Bite!

February 01, 2021

Dun dun. Dun dun. Dun dun dun dun dun dun. That’s the classic shark movie music. You know the one. You have to know the one because we can’t say the name of it without having to pay Steven Spielberg A LOT of money. But what we can say is our Great White has been creating a shark frenzy for the last 25 years, preying on innocent guests since 1996.

The ride begins with an exhilarating 25-foot drop into a dark tunnel. Uhh, we’re gonna need a bigger drop. Yeah? Well, you get a bigger drop, one that plummets you 105 feet at speeds faster than 50 MPH. Let’s see an animatronic shark do that!

This winter our Great White is getting quite the upgrade with approximately 240 feet of track being replaced. Why you ask? In short, to allow for a smoother ride for our guests. Yes, we know the allure of a wooden coaster is that rickety experience you get, especially on those tight twists and turns. But rest assure, the essence of your wooden coaster ride will still be there to awaken all your senses. You will still smell the wood, hear the sounds of the chain lift, and feel the roar as the trains race around the tracks. 

Our maintenance team is always on the move during the winter months. They began tackling this project back in October and plan on being wrapped up by March. The 240 feet of track being replaced is in the final dip of the track before heading into the trim brake station. “This section was original construction from 1996 and while it was strong enough, it was tired and was not providing a smooth ride,” said Mike, Granigan, Director of Construction. “The new track will provide a much smoother ride in this area.”

Retracking is a common practice when it comes to wooden roller coasters because of the way the steel wheels of the trains run along the tracks.  The wood track is protected with steel strips that are custom bent to match the profile of the track and it’s that steel-on-steel contact that causes the vibration riders feel when riding a wooden coaster. Over time, that vibration can cause some wear and tear, making for a bumpier ride.  

Photo depicting the steel strips lay on top of the wooden tracks.

In addition to the track upgrade, the Great White is also getting a brand-new control system.  “We are changing the control system to update the components and logic up to current ASTM standards,” said Bill Fisher, Senior Maintenance Manager. “The new system will provide even better control and will also make it easier for our maintenance team to troubleshoot issues that may arise.”

But if you thought you could just swap one control panel in for another – well, you are certainly mistaken. The whole process takes about 6 months to complete because of the necessary paperwork, approvals, and installation. The new control system is being retrofitted by Irvine Ondrey Engineering, an experienced leader in creating control systems within the amusement industry and has commissioned some of the most popular roller coasters in the world.

But the work isn’t ending there. A new access elevator is being installed for this summer and we just can’t wait for even more guests to enjoy some “Jaws”dropping fun.  

Nothing screams Americana like a good ole wooden roller coaster ride and the good news is that our Great White will not force a beach a closure this summer. So, if you’re feeling ravenous for adventure then dive aboard this stealthy white and hold on tight!