Throwback Thursday–Sky Whirl and Triple Play

Sky Whirl was a triple ferris wheel that operated at California’s Great America in Santa Clara from 1976 until 1997.  It was a Tree Triple Wheel model, supplied by Intamin and manufacture by Waagner-Biro.  Sky Whirl resembled a huge tree with three arms, with each arm supporting a giant wheel. Two wheels were spinning while the third was on the ground loading.  Sky Whirl was featured in the movie Beverly Hills Cop III, which was filmed in 1994, but closed 3 years later in 1997, to make room for Invertigo, which now resides in Dorney Park as Stinger.

sky whirl

Triple Play was a HUSS manufactured Troika model. The Troika is a ride, designed and manufactured by HUSS in the mid-1970s.  Triple Play opened at Great America in 1976 and closed in 2004.  Triple play consisted of three arms radiating from a center column. At the end of each arm is a star shaped structure holding seven gondolas, each of which seats 2 people side by side.  When the ride was activated, the central column rotated clockwise, while the Star at the end of each arm rotated counterclockwise. Hydraulic cylinders then raised the arms to an angle of 40°. The gondolas did have some capacity to rock from side to side. At the end of the ride cycle, the arms were lowered, and the rotation stopped.  This ride was located next to the entrance of Vortex, and was considered the perfect ride for intermediate thrill seekers, who were ready to graduate from Kidzville, but not yet ready for the larger flat rides like Orbit.

triple play


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