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Morey's Gift Bag: An upgraded Sea Serpent!

December 10, 2019

This post is part of a series on the five big gifts the elves at Morey’s Piers are busy building for our next season of guests, from new bike racks to comfier roller coaster vehicles. This way, if you stuff a loved one’s stocking with pier passes (discounted now as part of our Winter Holiday Sale!), you can feel confident you’re offering the best Morey’s experience yet. Who knows? It may even land you on Santa’s nice list…

At holiday time, they say good things come in small packages. We say good things come in packages so big, you need a crane to deliver them.

We’re talking about recent upgrades to the Sea Serpent, among the first looping coasters ever built at a seaside park. In 1983, second-generation partner Jack Morey traveled to Belgium to test ride and purchase the attraction with his father, Will Morey Sr.                  

Will Morey Sr. with son Jack Morey and Vekoma engineers on the Serpent in Germany.

“I remember the trip like it was yesterday. It was the most expensive ride ever built on the boardwalk” Jack says. “On the flight home, we sketched out plans for how to make it work financially on the back of an airplane sickness bag.”

Photo taken of the airplane sickness bag from their flight home.

Now, more than 35 years later, there are new plans underway for the Sea Serpent. Some of these changes are down to routine maintenance; others will ensure a smoother, quieter, more pleasant ride.

First up: A replacement lift hill #2. In case you’re not up on your coaster vocab, a lift hill is an upward-sloping section of track on which trains are mechanically lifted by chain to a high peak. Once in position, the chain drops out, and riders plummet swiftly and safely back toward earth.

Our existing lift hill #2, which reaches approximately 110 feet, was disassembled on October 28. A large crane (capable of hoisting 150 elephants at once) took it apart in four pieces weighing between 11,000 and 14,000 pounds each. In the spring, we’ll rent this same machine in order to assemble the replacement section of track, set to ship to us from the Netherlands by the end of this month.

In the fall work began on disassembling the existing lift hill.

So, what’s in it for you? The new lift hill will come complete with a chain guard, which is part of a silencing mechanism on the ride. In other words, that voracious (and sometimes unsettling) roar you hear as you launch backwards on this section of track is about to get a whole lot easier on the ears. 

Will Morey Sr. next to a similar ride at a park in Belgium.

“People drinking beer at Wilhelm’s Bier Garten below the Sea Serpent will be less likely to spill,” Jack says.

Meanwhile, we’re also replacing the Sea Serpent’s brakes. While the current ones use friction created by copper slats rubbing against copper sleeves to slow the coaster down, the new devices will be magnetic, just like those used on The Great Nor’Easter. In other words, they’ll create a magnetic field between track and train that will force deceleration, sans the rubbing. This translates to less wear and tear on the equipment and a smoother, quieter experience for riders.

Finally, we’ll be upgrading the ride’s harnesses, which were previously large, heavy and a little bit irksome for anyone wearing earrings. Next season, they’ll be softer and more seatbelt-esque. A new PLC, or program logic controller, will also make for a more automated security check, so the process of ensuring riders are securely fastened will be conducted by both humans AND a cutting-edge computer system.

Of course, none of these are things that will fit under a tree. But if Santa happens to stuff any pier passes into your stocking on Christmas Eve, the new-and-improved Sea Serpent will be waiting for you come opening day of summer 2020. 

In the meantime, there’s only one thing left to figure out: How are we going to wrap it?