Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Blast From The Past - Beech Bend's Kentucky Rumbler Pt 2

On October 27, 2005, Beech Bend Park outside of Bowling Green, Kentucky, held a press conference. There were somewhere between 50 to 75 people sitting outside the beautiful sunshine waiting for the festivities to begin.The occasion ...The announcement of the name for their new wooden coaster, You see for the family, had decided on the company they wanted to build the coaster, the layout and where they wanted to build the ride. But, the perfect name still had to be selected. So, Beech Bend decided to hold a contest get some ideas for the name. All season long park goers could submit proposed names in the park’s main gift shop or names could also be submitted on-line.

The attendees, local dignitaries, coaster enthusiasts, the Jones family, the Bowling Green Middle School cheerleaders, a film crew from The Discovery Channel and the press were all very eager to learn the rides name.

But, first some formalities were required; Charlotte Jones Gonzales and Clay Jones went to the podium to talk about how their parents were making a dream come true. The single largest investment in the history of the park was this new attraction. And they wanted their mom and dad to know how much it meant to the kids. Dallas and Alfreda Jones received warm applause as they posed for a family photo. They talked about how all the parents, kids, in-laws and grandchildren all gathered together Wednesday night to select the new coaster's name. They started with over 7,000 entries in the name the coaster contest

Dallas described how they threw out the names nobody liked, spending hours whittling the list down to ten, then five, then three, and finally one. The whole process required three hours. The film crew covered the entire affair, and those grandchildren had to be the coolest kids in school, for they really had something unusual for show and tell.

The name was announced: the Kentucky Rumbler. The cheerleaders fired up the crowd with a special cheer, "Topsy-turvy, ride the Kentucky Rumbler! Ride, ride, ride, topsy-turvy, ride the Kentucky Rumbler!" Any visitor to the park on a Sunday knew where the name came from, for the Bowling Green facility also has a drag strip right next door and the rumble of the dragsters can be heard all over the park. Riders on the coaster will have a free view of the track when they ride the coaster. Of course, they will have to keep their eyes open to see anything! The only time they will see what's making that loud noise is when the train is climbing the lift, because the next 40 seconds is going to be amazing.

The rides designer, Jeff Pike, talked about how much fun it was to recreate the Rye Aeroplane. This long-defunct coaster served as the inspiration for the new ride. Looking much like a fighter pilot, he used both his hands and sometimes his arms, to describe how the ride would feel to the guests on board. Not to say he was excited, but he did have to have quick cold drink before he could start the construction tour!

Dallas explained how they were changing around some of the ride locations, trying to balance out the park. There will also be a new restaurant, bathrooms and a patio for those who say, "No thanks, I'll just watch.”

During the tour, Jeff explained how he wanted to recreate the original bottle look of the Aeroplane, but was unable to because the Rumbler would be traveling much faster and would exert too much sideways stress. So instead, he used a cone surrounding a taller cone, to establish a definitive shape for the coaster. Jeff wanted every picture of the coaster to help establish the identity of the ride. He works on his designs so they are not only fun to ride, but also are nice to watch. They are also very photogenic.

He took us deep inside the tallest part, where a concrete deadman retains the structure. This would be considered the "cathedral" for coaster lovers, as weddings have been performed inside some of their other roller coasters. The bents sloping skyward do lend an uplifting feeling while you are inside the structure.

Jeff also showed us how the design takes full advantage of the 26-foot drop over the site to maintain a higher speed throughout the course. He told us they used 3,000 cubic yards of concrete, and it will require almost a million bolts to hold its sinuously curves together

After the tour was completed, we decided to ride the Wild Mouse, which they had running, before we headed home. As we were walking out to the front parking area, we could hear Charlotte screaming clear up by the go cart track while she took her turn on the Wild Mouse! Evidently, this was her way of relieving the stress of the day before she went home

As we drove northward, we marveled at how special it was to attend something as meaningful as this event was! And, it's still a very special memory to us today. Check back next week for part three, the grand opening of the Kentucky Rumbler!