Those are just a few of the key words that come to mind when you learn why Cedar Point, a world-famous amusement park located in Sandusky, Ohio, went with tried-and-true chain lift technology on its winged roller coaster, the Gatekeeper.
For the first installment in Design World’s Summer Tech Vacation video series, Editorial Director Paul Heney speaks with Monty Jasper, Corporate Vice President for Safety & Engineering for Cedar Fair about the engineering behind the Gatekeeper. This record-breaking coaster soars riders around the 4164 ft track on two wings. The trains reach top speeds of 67 mph, all thanks to the first hill that rises 164 ft above the entrance gates to the park.
Because the ride is more about the experience of soaring outside the tracks, Cedar Point went with a standard lift chain to ensure reliability and stability. The difference here, however, is that unlike older lift chain technologies that were powered by AC motors, Gatekeeper uses a variable speed DC motor.
Jasper said with AC motors, when you turned the ride on in the morning, the motor ran all day, so you could hear the chains being carried up the lift—continuously. The VFD and computer controls allow the operator to slow the chain down when the train is not ready for the lift and speed up when the train is ready to make the climb up the hill. So instead of the chain running at a constant speed all day, it only runs at top speeds when the train is ready to leave the station. It’s all about reducing energy and noise.
Watch our on-site interview to learn more about this unique technology and learn a bit about why amusement parks are switching to magnetic braking. And stay tuned for all five videos in the Summer Tech Vacation series, with future looks at the linear induction motors on Wicked Twister, pneumatics on Power Tower, hydraulics on Top Thrill Dragster, and cable lift technology on Millennium Force.