Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Scott and Carol Present: Outlaw Run at Silver Dollar City

It all started with a media pass all covered up and strict instructions not to unwrap it until 10:30 AM. They didn't want to release the name of the ride before that time.

Lisa Rau, Director of Publicity/Public Relations for all Silver Dollar City properties in Branson, started off the announcement by warming up the crowd and encouraging everyone to squeeze inside what will be the loading station for the new attraction. She casually mentioned "We like theming at Silver Dollar City," as everyone who was in attendance could readily see before she introduced Brad Thomas,

who as General Manager, accompanied by the theme from the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, started uncovering the storyboards and and explaining how they spent a lot of effort into market research to determine what their guests wanted for the next major attraction. "We pushed to take the classic wood coaster to a place it's never been before and the result is a wood coaster with never-done before thrill elements." Once they had a general guideline, they turned to Rocky Mountain Construction Company from Hayden, Idaho to realize the dream.

While approximately 60%-70% of the structural work is completed, piles of lumber scattered through the work site show that considerable work is still required. Eighty-nine thousand bolts hold together nearly half a million board feet of treated lumber supporting the Outlaw Run track.

This was the scene that greeted as you got off your mule, the motorized kind. Anthony Esparanza related how every building in Silver Dollar City is its own space. "They all have a story to tell, and this stagecoach depot is to take our guest back in time. They will sense that danger is coming, and they should get out of town." He also mentioned that they found this stagecoach on the Internet. Is it just us or does it seem strange to you to find wild west theming supplies on the new age Internet?

Here is a view of the 107 foot tall lift showing the view oncoming riders will have while waiting their turn in the station before they climb into the custom designed "stagecoach" trains which will restrain the passengers with nothing more than a lap bar.

In this shot you can see the "ride steel" already bolted into place. It is allowed to rust naturally, to enhance the rustic nature of the attraction.

The signature element of the ride, the corkscrew, was hidden behind this banner to prevent photos from being leaked prior to the announcement, because the train tracks run right next to Outlaw Run. As the attendees shouted for the banner to be dropped, the crane fired up and delivered the last corkscrew track piece to the top of the structure.

Left to right, Sherry & Jack Herschend, Brad Thomas, Fred Grubb, Peter Herschend, and Suanne Deadmon are all gathered in front of the first wooden coaster barrel roll.

Fred and Suanne, founders of Rocky Mountain Construction, talk about how excited they are to be a part of this breakthrough ride. Fred consistently gives most of the credit to Alan Schilke, not in attendance, for his engineering skills utilized is designing Outlaw Run. A direct quote from Fred, "I feel very lucky to be working with Alan on this project. I consider him brilliant."

Dennis, from Silver Dollar City, is in charge of their end of the project. "The saving of trees has been the biggest challenge. We redesigned several areas just to save some specific trees." He also said "We have been pleasantly surprised that we didn't have any foundation issues with rock formations close to the surface where we are putting in footers. That has really sped the project along." Hopefully the fast pace remains on track, because it will seem like a long winter for roller coaster lovers who can't wait for this ride to open in Spring 2013.

This is the last section of track for the corkscrew, which was bolted into place during the media event. It was rumored to have cost $28,000 alone, which explains the $10 million price tag for the new attraction. The track pieces have already been assembled and are currently being stored in Idaho due to limited space on site in Branson.

The piece of track snagged a little on a protruding tree branch, which caused everyone to gasp, adding a little drama to a rather mundane assembly operation. Interestingly enough, while everybody below was startled, the man on the structure never flinched. It obviously must have happened before.

This is a view of the 153 degree inversion, where the train rotates counter clockwise until it is inverted and then rolls back clockwise before dropping back close to the ground.

The track sections are bolted to these movable brackets and will pivot to absorb the stress as the trains traverse the track. The solid steel ledger will keep the track gauge constant to reduce the shuffling of the cars.

With this view you can see how the steeply the track is banked, while remaining close to the ground. The articulation of the cars needed to be enhanced beyond current standards for the train to smoothly negotiate the layout without scrubbing off too much energy.

It was a beautiful day for taking pictures, the nearly cloudless sky allowed everyone to feel the full force of the sun in the 97 degree heat.

These pieces of "ride steel" have all been pre-cut to reduce the stresses caused by on site track bending. They will be replaced as required by wear caused by train wheels during the lifetime of the attraction. This type of ride technology and the manufacturing precision involved enables a three year warranty for the new ride.

Here you can see how the topper track is bolted to the top of the wood stack and the bottom metal brackets are bolted to movable pieces on the ledgers. The piece on the left is upside down. All the pieces are manufactured in Idaho to precise tolerances beyond what could be done if the wood track was cut on site. Once the track is in place, the cover steel will be bolted on top of the metal box which will then be filled with a non-shrinking concrete. The riding steel pieces can then be easily replaced as needed without disturbing the rest of the trackbed.

The concrete footers are precast, inserted in place, and then back filled. The verticals are then drilled for the attachment bolts.

The sensation of speed will be greatly magnified due to the close proximity of the ground and the bank angle should enhance the out of control feeling of a runaway stagecoach.

This is a side view of the 81 degree first drop. By utilizing the existing terrain, the ten story tall lift hill has a sixteen story drop into the woods. The trains will be traveling at sixty-eight MPH when they reach the bottom of the first drop.

Outlaw Run is carefully tucked in around the trees, because it is the policy of all Herschend Properties to plant two trees for every one removed. The actual layout of the ride was tweaked because there were some trees the park did not want to remove.

Steep banking will give riders a feeling of being out of control, while being safely ensconced in the new trains. We will bring you in-depth coverage of trains' unveiling at IAAPA this November.

Here is a link to the Rocky Mountain Construction website with more details on this revolutionary technology.