The Skyride opened at Disneyland in June of 1956, just under a year after the parks opening. It was a Vonn Roll type 101 detachable mono-cable gondola lift ride. It had a maximum height of 60 ft and a length of 1200 ft, traveling a approximately 4 mph. The ride was more of a means of transport from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland, and vice versa. The ride, when at full capacity, held 168 people. In 1959, Disney had a major renovation, adding rides like the Monorail, Submarine Voyage, and Matterhorn Bobsleds. Unfortunately, the Matterhorn Mountain was planned to be built right in the path of the Skyride track, and many thought this would be a short lived attraction. However, Imagineers had the wonderful idea of allowing the Skyride to run through the mountain, and it ran without a single closure while the mountain was being built. During the large scale Fantasyland renovation of the mid 80’s, the Skyride continued to run, but only round trip from the Tomorrowland station. The Skyway was removed in November of 1994, almost 40 years after it opened, due to cracks in the Matterhorn supports. The Fantasyland Skyway station remains but is off limits to guests and completely empty and is mostly hidden by trees. It is slated to be demolished soon due to pest infestations and a weakening structure. The Tomorrowland Skyway station has been demolished. The holes in the Matterhorn were filled in and the Skyway supports were dismantled within weeks of its closing.
America the Beautiful was a short film shown in the Disney Circle Vision 360 degree film theater. It was opened for 25 years, from 1960 to 1984, and then again for its final year between 1996 and 1997. The soundtrack from the show is now used as the opening number for the Disneyland show, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. 360 degree film technology was invented by famous Disney Imagineers Don and Ub Iwerks. A year after its final closing in 1997, Rocket Rods used the building for its queue, and now, the building holds Buzz Lightyear: Astro Blasters.
Six Flags Magic Mountain has finally announced the name of their brand new kiddie coaster! ‘Speedy Gonzales Hot Rod Racers’ it is! This will be the park’s 19th coaster, securing the ‘Coaster Crown’ for the park, since Six Flags Magic Mountain thus has more coasters than any other theme park on the planet! This will also be the park’s 4th kiddie coaster, making it the park with the most kiddie coasters in the U.S.
Speedy Gonzales Hot Rod Racers will open this summer in the renewed Bugs Bunny World, and is themed to be a race-car racing around a mini Grand Prix. We love the new theme, and we can’t wait for this Zamperla Family Gravity Coaster to open to the public. The coaster will be located in the former Foghorn Leghorn’s Barnyard Railway, and will stand 14 ft tall, and will have a track length of 279 ft.
We hope to see it open before summer, since it’s fairly small compared to the bigger additions, but we’ll see. We sure are excited that Magic Mountain is focusing on family fun in 2014!
Grizzly River Run is truly one of our favorite rapid rides in the state of California. This is because it is the tallest, fastest, and longest rapid ride in the world. Although sometimes thought to be the same, the difference between this ride and Kali River Rapids in Animal Kingdom, Orlando, is that the boats on GRR are designed to spin while dropping. The ride receives its name from its being built around the park landmark, Grizzly Peak. The rides line is in a shaded area with trees, and views of the end of the ride.
Although there isn’t much theming in the line, it does fit well with the entire area’s theme of California National Parks. The lines don’t get very long in general, and even on a hot summer day the longest line you’ll find will be about 60 minutes. When riding earlier on the morning, or later in the day when it gets dark, you will likely be able to board right away without having to wait at all.
Riders enter on the rapid’s boats on a turn table and then head up a lift hill, which passes under many “leaking” pipes that give riders just an appetizer to the soaking they are in for. Once the lift hill has reached its peak, riders make a slight turn and then quickly head into a cavern through the bottom of Grizzly Peak. Once coming back into daylight, riders go through a few more rapids through the wilderness before heading to the rides first of 2 stomach dropping drops. They then head into their second cave, this one full with boarded up caves, and sound effects. Then after passing through more rapids, the ride heads over a bridge where the line can be viewed from one side below, and the drop can be found on the other. Riders make their way around to the drop, where they fall and splash under the bridge and into a steamy geyser field, in which one high spout can go off at anytime . The boats then return to the rotating boarding platform. This rapid ride definitely is a wild ride through the wilderness.
It’s a tradition for us to visit Six Flags Magic Mountain on the first Saturday that they are open ’til 8PM, because we always find the park to be entirely empty. Today was that day for 2014, and indeed the park was entirely empty. (Well, almost).
Let’s start off with the construction update. Nothing has changed really in the Mooseburger building, it seems like it is more so electrical maintenance. The area of the new coaster has been marked for supports, so we’re expecting the ride to be constructed soon. Tweety’s Escape’s panel building is being constructed, as seen below as well.
The park placed these new stickers on the directory in Baja Ridge, they no longer tell guests to walk around, but use the Orient Express as a way of getting to Samurai Summit.
GREAT NEWS! All the audio effects are working properly, and clearly on both trains, and the flame-throwers are operative again! We had some awesome rides on the beast today. Which proofs the amazing lines today, we waited 4 minutes in between our rides… on X2… on a Saturday… YES, it was indeed a great day to visit the mountain!
Apocalypse’s effects are all working too, there wasn’t a line all day, so we got to ride it multiple times, including in the dark. We kind of forgot how great last row in the dark is, the fire effect keeps surprising us each time, we’ve been on it hundreds of times. Yet another great experience today.
Full Throttle closed around 5, after it seemed to have some technical difficulties, but luckily re-opened later at night, so we closed on it. The service lights in the tunnel were on, which was awesome because we got to see the details on the walls.
Even Tatsu was pretty much a walk-on at night, and after 8’05PM there were no more rides operating, except for FT.
Overall it was a great day to visit!
Both are lengthy rides (for the periods in which each opened), both are white, both have a top speed of 55 MPH, both operated 5 trains when opened to the public, both have ride time of about 2.5 minutes, both have a height of approx 110 ft., both were designed by Buro Stengel, and both have a loop. As you see, these 2 rides actually have a lot in common, most people just didn’t know it. Now in what aspects are they different, worse, or better?
- Comfort – The comfort goes to California Screamin’, although both have OTSRs, the ones on Revolution tend to hurt, as the trains were originally designed to have lap-bars only. Although the CS restraints are not the most comfortable, they sure are better than the Revolution ones. Additionally, due to it’s age Revolution shakes some more, and has limited space for taller people. As where CS accommodates most taller people. (Request odd-numbered rows when boarding Revolution, they have more leg room, do the exact opposite for CS)
- Loop – We’re gonna give that to Revolution, no doubt. We honestly find the loop on CS a little force-less, and we are bummed about the fact that the train is slowed down before the loop, it had a nice speed before the brakes, and without braking would have been a lot better. Luckily we have Revolution for the loop. Although the first ever vertical loop, it still remains to be one of the best in the world. The Revolution loop has the perfect mix up G’s with some airtime, strong negative, and strong positive vertical G’s. Additionally we are a fan of the way the ride approaches the loop, the downward slope to the loop is a unique, but great approach!
- Lift/ Launch – Although both result in trains reaching 55 mph, a launch will of course (almost automatically) win. Though we find the launch a bit weak, when we compare it to some other launches out here in CA, the launch is smooth, and fun, and we’d take it over a lift-hill. We do realize that that wasn’t an availability when Revolution opened, but several years later, we still find the launch a great invention and will take that over the lift hill any day.
- Setting – Although a very hard one, we’re actually giving this one to Revolution. Yes the CS launch over the water, and boardwalk setting sure looks great, but for a Disney ride, perhaps more could have been done to it. The line is a little disappointing for California Screamin’, and although the waterfall is no longer working on Revolution, the bridge over the ‘waterfall’, and the station look great for a Six Flags park. Another reason we’d say Revolution’s setting is perhaps better, is the fact that the ride travels through a forest, passes by the fountain, and has a fully enclosed tunnel. Screamin’s tunnels, although creative, were designed as sound barriers, but it won’t ever get dark in ’em since they’re open, and lights are installed inside of them.
- Overall Ride Experience – Smoothness and comfort of a ride is very important, as well as the dispatch and capacity. Although Revolution actually opened with 5 trains, it now operates no more than 2. Screamin’ still operates all 5 simultaneously for a dispatch rate of 24 passengers per 36 seconds, lines thus move incredibly quickly. The setting is a tough one, but the overall ride experience; length, launch, setting, etc is better on CS.
Not looking at age, but at current operations the winner will definitely be California Screamin’, but if we were to compare the rides factoring in when they opened, and their former significance, Revolution and California Screamin’ would tie. Both are still great rides of you ask us!
Condor was a 105 ft tall Huss Condor model flat ride at Six Flags Magic Mountain. It only operated for 1 year plus between 1988 and 1989. It was located where Viper is today in the Baja Ridge section of the park. The ride started like a scrambler, except, the cars tilted outwards. Then the ride climbed up the 105 ft pole in its center. As great as that sounds, it got very poor reviews, and thus only operated for about 1 year. The ride moved to La Ronde for a year, before finding its final home at Six Flags Great America.
Z-Force was an Intamin Looping Starship Model that opened in 1987 where Batman stands today. The ride was similar to Buccaneer, except, the ride completely inverted twice. It was designed to look like a fighter jet, and with it came a complete retheming of the area known as the Backstreet (now DC Universe). Electric Rainbow (now Wonder Woman) was rethemed to be Turbo, Himalaya (now Flash) was rethemed to be Subway, and Enterprise (defunct) was rethemed to be Reactor. The Backstreet later began staying open 2 hours later than the rest of the park, mainly for a hangout for SCV locals, especially do to the dance club located there called After Hours, but this didn’t last very long. Z-Force closed to the sad public in 1993, but a year later, Batman the Ride would cheer them up, taking its place.
You must have heard of the recent Silver Bullet repaint… One of the main guys behind it all, is Steve Hickey. Steve Hickey has been working for Baynum for a long time now, and is currently Baynum’s Lead Foreman.
Steve Hickey has been so friendly to let us interview him, and sent us footage and information of projects he worked on. We really appreciate it, and to personally thank him for the great interview, we’d like to dedicate this interview to Derek. As Steve himself stated; ‘Derek, one of my best guys and very close friend was shot and killed’. He also implied; ‘It was one of the darkest days of my life and we miss him very much.’.
In memorial of Steve’s good friend and colleague, we thus dedicate our first interview to Derek Garland.
What is the most difficult project you’ve ever worked on?
Hands down X2, many times a coaster will have its unique challenges. That’s what gives it it’s own personality. Due to its overwhelming size, X2 had them all. The end result was worth the effort.
Which/how many different countries have you worked in?
I have worked in China and Mexico. These projects are some of the best memories of my career. In China we rode bicycles to work just as the locals did. I rode the rice fields that I’m sure no outsiders had ever seen. If the locals did it we did it, including the where-and-what we ate. I worked there under the direction of Chuck Hendricks. Mr Hendricks is now building the Grand Texas Theme Park outside Houston TX.
Is there a difference in color from up close versus where the public can see it from a further distance?
No, but, what the color does do that you don’t think about is effect the expansion of the steel. Dark colors absorb heat and increase expansion. This can be somewhat offset by the the gloss level. Some rides are very sensitive to this and thus it’s a major factor in color selection.
Were you interested in being a professional painter of any sort before getting into this industry?
I remember being a kid and having to help paint our house. I hated it. Thinking; I don’t know what I will do when I grow up, but, I will not be a painter. How’s that for irony.
What are the different techniques you use when painting a wooden coaster versus a steel coaster? As I said earlier, each coaster has its own personality. Woodies are no different. Because of their tiered blocked construction they’re not as difficult to access. They do have challenges you don’t see on steel rides. In the high stress areas the board fasteners sometimes break and it may not be manifest until you step on it. Then you know real fast it’s loose. With that said, the carpenters know where these area are and constantly monitor and rebuild these high stress areas. When you visit a theme or thrill park you simply cannot imagine how much effort and money goes into making sure your visit is enjoyable, and above all, safe.
What is your most frequently visited theme park (work)?
This really varies as parks go through cycles and many times a ride will be repainted because it or the area around it is being re-themed. For instance last year I worked in 5 different parks and that’s just my crew. Baynum Painting has other crews they utilize and each has its own specialized skill set that determines what crew will best fit the upcoming project. Many years ago I painted a ride at California’s great America then on to Astroworld in Houston then on to Six Flags in New England. I remember thinking, working on West Coast, Gulf Coast, and East Coast in the same year was pretty spectacular.
What is your most frequently visited theme park (outside of work)?
Kings Island, Cincinnati Ohio. I live very close to it.
On average how many people work on a paint job for a coaster?
Although it varies depending on the scope of work and the schedule. I have seen as many as 30 men on a Wooden Coaster. Some small flat rides may only require a few.
What is the worst weather to paint in?
That’s a great question. Coatings can be formulated and modified to accommodate almost any environmental condition. For instance a moisture cure urethane designed to be applied in a cold wet environment simply will not cure in a hot dry environment. A traditional urethane would be a better choice in that scenario. Now as for the painters, cold and wet is the worst!And when bad weather takes over, it’s time for yet another repaint. Lucky Steve, not everyone gets to climb a Batman Clone! (Batman The Ride, Six Flags Over Texas)
How do parks approach /contact you?
Baynum has a great marketing team and is in contact with their clients continuously.
What are some techniques for painting rides over water?
This is one of the things that gives a ride it’s personality. We have work baskets called ‘Spiders’ that allow us to work from the top down verses from the ground up as you would in a man lift.
What are some techniques for painting rides in thicker vegetation, such as in forests?
We have has some instances where extensive clearing of the vegetation took place. Typically we are limited in working around heavy growth. It must be cut back to allow access.
What are some techniques for painting rides that are tougher to reach due to the terrain?
This would be treated the same as if it were over water. Get the spiders out. As Steve told us; ‘Getting this equipment to the top of this hill was a real challenge.’ To get the equipment there, he told us; ‘I had to use this 10,000 lb forklift to get this all terrain man lift in place. We have to do some extreme things at times.’
What is the toughest inversion to paint?
That’s a tough call, but, there sure are some fun ones out there to ride.
How do you paint the inside of a wooden coaster’s structure?
We kind of touched on this earlier, on a Woodie you work from the structure itself. The real trick here is fall protection. From a steel structure or a man lift this is very straight forward. On a wood coaster you need literally hundreds of anchor points. Life lines are run vertically in each bay, as we call them. When you climb into a bay, a life line is there waiting for you. This can be very costly and time consuming. Just one of the things you don’t think about when you pay the gate price and enter an amusement park.
Do you paint water rides, and if so, what coat do you use to keep the paint on as long as possible?
Yes, I have painted many water rides. They face a greater challenge than typical rides, and the water and chemicals added are very aggressive from a corrosion standpoint. Further complicating the issue is water rides always have vibrant colors and these are prone to fade quickly due to the chlorine. Although we do have some tricks to help prolong these, water rides will always require a disproportionate amount of maintenance.
Is it tough when painting rides that go over or through another ride?
What makes this so tough is generally park management would like the other ride, or pedestrian area that it goes over, to remain unaffected. Tatsu at Magic Mountain is the best example I can think of. It has not yet been repainted but it’s time is coming. That one will be a real challenge.
What is the tallest you’ve been while painting a ride?
The Eiffel Tower at Kings Island. It’s a 1/3 scale of the real one. I painted the needle on top just for the bragging rights. That was 25 years ago, I leave that kind of thing to the younger guys now. They need their bragging right too.
Do you also paint scenery on more themed rides?
Personally no, I mentioned each crew has things that they excel in. Baynum has some guys who are real good in this situation.
Do you paint the track or supports of a coaster first?
Personally I like to start at the point where the ride exits the station and make my way around the ride. Logistically this is not always possible. I do try to keep my projects systematic, these things can spread out so much it is easy to get overwhelmed. It also helps me keep track of what is prepped and ready for paint.
What is your favorite ride that you’ve worked on in California?
Although I will never forget X2, my favorite in California is the Giant Dipper at Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk. Working in that setting is truly special. I painted it 15 years ago, it was just repainted this past year by Walker Hopkins and his crew. Although I really wanted to be part of that project Walker and his guys did a fantastic job.
What coating process do you use for maximum color lasting?
In general terms polysolixanes and urethanes are the most common. Fluoropolymers are making some advances in the market share but their cost and limited ability to be field applied have kept their use limited.
Do you ride rides before and/or after you paint them?
The crews love to. I have several vertebrate fused together in my neck as a result of a fall on a wood coaster many years ago, so my coaster riding days are over. The beast at Kings Island was always my favorite. That was also my first coaster to oversee the repainting of.
What Californian parks have you painted for?
Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk
Six Flags Discovery kingdom
California’s Great America
Six Flags Magic Mountain
Knott’s Berry Farm
I also got to visit Never Never Land. Baynum painting was scheduled to paint some of the attractions there. It just ‘Never Never’ materialized.
Do you paint rides that are in storage?
This type of repaint is called a ‘Lay Down’. A ride will be dismantled, repainted and reassembled at a new location. We have completed many of these.
Steve did the ‘Lay Down’ for Boomerang (St. Louis), after the original Flashback from Six Flags Over Texas was dismantled, and needed to be repainted.
What ride would you like to paint the most? (One you have not yet worked on) The project I want most to be part of is Superman Krypton Coaster at Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio, TX. The way that ride incorporates itself into the landscape, running parallel to the rock wall and plunging over the rock wall toward the lake below is something special and I want to be part of it. It has so many features that would make it unique. Thus far it has never been repainted, when it is I hope to be there for it.
What is the one park you would like to work in year around? If I had to choose one park to stay at, it would be Fiesta Texas. It sits in an abandoned rock quarry. The lake under Superman Krypton Coaster has the best bass and bluegill fishing you can even dream of. In general I have a fascination with Texas and can definitely see myself calling it home someday. A very very close second would be Magic Mountain. I love the area and the people there.
Do you have any formal training?
I have been trained and certified by NACE (national association of corrosion engineers) as a level 3 inspector.
I also hope to instruct the NACE inspector program in the future. I should qualify for this privilege in a couple more years.
Additional footage for the interview!
Steve has traveled to almost any major theme park you can think of, he told us the following about the above picture; ‘Chang at Six Flags Louisville KY (former SF Kentucky Kingdom, currently scheduled to reopen this Spring as ‘Kentucky Kingdom’). I painted this ride twice. This is the first repaint. Several years later it was relocated to Six Flags in New Jersey (SF Great Adventure). We removed all the old coating and repainted it to its current green and black, now the Green Lantern.’
Steve also worked in the now defunct Astro World, he stated; ‘This goes 20 years back to the Viper at Astro World in Houston TX. We had to climb on and install rigging points on top of this structure. They just didn’t think about how it would be accessed when it was built. I was a young man on this one.’
Steve doesn’t only paint roller-coasters when he works at Amusement parks, he also painted Kuahuea at Six Flags Mexico. The first picture below will show you the crew he worked with while painting the triple S&S tower. (Steve is to be found in the middle of the men). The second picture shows the progress as one of the towers did not yet receive the repaint, and the others did. It also shows some techniques.
Steve Hickey has worked on many Baynum painting projects, many coasters released in the Baynum video, have been painted by Steve Hickey and crews.
Before we publish a very exciting interview related to this topic, we’ll post a quick list of the CA coasters that need a repaint most badly. The top 10 below is our opinion, though many would agree. If you don’t agree, please comment your top 10 below the article!
9. Montezooma’s Revenge
8. Goliath – Hard to see, but Goliath is starting to fade a lot, additionally, there are oil marks to be found everywhere, thus part of the structure has black specks.
7. Riddler’s Revenge
6. Journey to Atlantis
1. Scream! – Needs one very badly. Read our ‘4 ways to bring Scream! back to life’ article here.
It was Super Bowl Sunday once again, and of course Magic Mountain was pretty much empty again. The longest line to be found was over at the one train operation of Batman.
The longest line we’ve seen for FT today, and Ninja’s line was entirely empty all day too. Tatsu had a 10 minute wait, which is neat. Apocalypse was a walk on, so was Gold Rusher of course, SEFK hardly had a line, and ran both sides later in the day. All with all a good day to visit the mountain.
Bugs Bunny World renovations are finally coming along very well, the ground has been cleared for the new kiddie coaster, the Tweety’s Escape has partially been relocated, and the little carousel has been partially dismantled as well. Other than that, the area is fenced, and the Full Throttle construction walls are now used for Bugs Bunny World as well.
In addition to that, the new entrance to BBW is being realized, although we’re not sure what it’s supposed to be…
The Mooseburger Lodge is officially no longer the Mooseburger Lodge, as all signage has been taken away, and the indoor is now pretty much cleared to become…
We also noticed that Magic Flyer’s track was wrapped in plastic, and that it was of course not operating.
Also, the ‘control-booth’ of the Full Throttle Plaza is going to soon receive a roof. It seems to be maintenance month at MM, after we also noticed new fencing around Ninja’s storage tracks!
Scrambler and Swashbuckler are still out, we’ve seen parts of Scrambler under scream, and next to Apocalypse. Most Swashbuckler parts are returning to the ride, we don’t expect it to take too long to be come operative again.
But then at 4’45 the rain kicked in, and around 5 it was pouring, leaving Full Throttle closed, and visitors leaving. We left too, after finally finding out the Cyber Cafe sandwiches are on the dining pass too now!
Comment anything we missed, or didn’t talk about below!
The first Premier LIM Spaghetti Bowl coasters were the Flight of Fears at both Kings Island and Kings Dominion, which opened on June 18th, 1996. They were the first coasters to ever use an LIM launch system, speeding riders up from 0 to 54 mph in 4 seconds. Both rides are indoors, and share the theme of the crash landing of a UFO, similar to Area 51. Reaching top speeds of 60 mph, the Flight of Fear coasters are the second fastest indoor coasters behind the Rockin’ Roller Coasters in Orlando and Paris.
3 year later, Premier came out with 2 more of the LIM Spaghetti Bowl coasters. Both Joker’s Jinx at Six Flags America and Poltergeist at Six Flags Fiesta Texas opened withing 3 weeks of each other in May of 1999. All rides begin with the namesake LIM launch into, what is known as a spaghetti bowl of track. They all contain the same inversions: A cobra roll, sidewinder, and corkscrew.
Unlike the original Flight of Fears, neither Joker’s Jinx or Poltergeist have a mid course break run. On Joker’s Jinx, where the break run would be placed, there are instead a series of rings that the coaster passes through.
Poltergeist, unlike any of the other coasters, has no mid course scenery or brake run, and just continues as a coaster. Joker’s Jinx also has a faster launch than the other three going 0 to 60 rather than the original 54. All of the coasters opened with over the shoulder restraints, but were all replaced with lap bars sometime between the 2001 and 2002 seasons after many complains of riders that hit their heads while flying through all twists and turns at high speeds.