Best Innovation of 2019
One ofAmusement Today’s new categories brings in the industry voice. Manufacturers and suppliers, as well as industry journalists, evaluated nominees provided by professionals within amusement attractions.
Innovations introduced in the past year had the potential to boost revenue, increase safety, improve the guest experience or offer new products.
The Best Innovation of 2019 Golden Ticket Award showcases the continued progress in creating dynamic changes for the benefit of the amusement industry in all of its facets. The broad brushstrokes of the 2019 nominees demonstrate the ongoing effort to continually improve.Amusement Today applauds the accomplishments of the companies involved in making these great strides in innovation.
Best Innovation of 2019:
Loose article storage and
transfer system for Yukon Striker
(Vaughn, Ontario, Canada)
Canada’s Wonderland introduced a new loose article bin system at the station for the new dive coaster, Yukon Striker. There has been great interest among amusement parks in finding a system that is efficient and improves upon the guest experience, instead of making it an inconvenience. Other loose article storage systems involve lockers outside of the queue which force the guest to be without their phone or bag for the duration of their wait in line.
The park devised a conveyor system to provide the opportunity for guests to keep their belongings with them while in the queue. Their items are placed in the bins, which hang from the conveyor apparatus, before boarding. Items are carried up above the coaster track over to the exit on the other side, in time for riders’ departure. This is all done securely, safely and all at no charge to the visitor.
There are two bins for large and small items. The cargo weight limit is 100 pounds for the large items, and 50 pounds for the smaller articles.
Best Innovation No. 2:
Six Flags Great Adventure (Jackson, N.J.)
Six Flags took innovation a step further by announcing Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey is now almost fully solar powered. The park partnered with KDC Solar LLC for the project, which is divided into two main components: 11 megawatts of solar carports distributed over three parking lots, and 12.5 megawatts of grounded solar panels across 40 acres of land. Many parks in the amusement industry are starting to consider green energy, but Great Adventure is ahead of the game.
After ten years in development, the project ranks the park as New Jersey's largest net metered solar project. More than just going green, the park addressed environmental concerns and preserved available forest and wetland areas by building the solar carports over Great Adventure's parking lot — 40 acres of ground-mounted panels.
Conservationists for 45 years, the park has been faithful stewards of caring for 70 species of animals and has been a leader in recycling — more than 60 percent of its annual waste. Innovative thinking has turned the parking lot into an energy resource that provides 98 percent of the park's power needs virtually eliminating all reliance on harmful fossil fuels.
Best Innovation No. 3:
Guangzhou Sunac Land (China)
This new coaster by Intamin features two trains. Its unique layout includes one suspended train and one traditional sitdown train. During the ride, they duel each other with several thrilling near-misses. The coaster uses Intamin’s LSM drive system, and the trains are simultaneously launched forward into the loop. Stalling by gravity in the loop, the trains then move backward, picking up even more speed (from the same LSM system that launched them earlier) until they reach the crest of a 50-metre high vertical spike.
During the launch and the loop, the coaster trains share a track structure, with one riding along the top and the other the underside of the structure. This unique design opens the door for the possibilities of parks offering two coasters that share/intertwine their structures, saving on costs and adding to spectacle.
Urban Air’s Immersive Reality Arena
Urban Air Southlake (Southlake, Texas)
Urban Air successfully launched the world’s first Immersive Reality Arena featuring patented gaming engines and hardware products that allow guests, to literally “Get in the Game!” The equipment transports them inside a fully-surrounded, 360-degree digital environment where all arena walls and trampoline floors come to life with animated gameplay imagery and cinematic sound.
Free of AR headsets, players interact with gameplay stories and characters in real life and time. UA patent sensor technology and game engine created by the Urban Air Innovation Lab, allows for speed tracking of fast-moving players and physical flying objects. This mixed reality experience allows gamers a fun tactile experience by integrating their gameplay with UA Adventure Park.
Patented Urban Air Snap ActionBands, RFID collectable wearables, also incentivize guest spending by tracking players points which are later redeemed for fun prizes through the Urban Air “Gear Up! Game On!” guest loyalty rewards App.
Lava Drifting (Spinning Rapids Ride)
Shanghai Haichang Ocean Park (Anhui Sheng, China), supplied by WhiteWater West
Lava Drifting, a Spinning Rapids Ride at Shanghai Haichang Ocean Park, China, is the world’s first spinning rapids ride with actual rapid rivers. Depicting a volcano theme, the ride combines the spins and twists of an exhilarating river rapids journey with the oscillating movements and steep drop from the wings of a Manta and centrifugal spins.
The ride differentiates the classic Spinning Rapids Flume Ride experience by including conveyor lifts, rapid rivers, tunnels, multiple drops, and of course the famous dizzying spins. Flowing through the park and around other attractions with elevated river channels that lead into and out of the ride flume, the ride is spread across different elevation points, coming to a finale with a steep drop into the Manta and oscillating exit.
From an engineering perspective, the Spinning Rapids Ride is a technical showcase. This ride required a control system to manage the world’s longest ride path with precision, safety and accuracy. The controls system integrates multi-zone control, advanced vehicle tracking and state-of-the-art safety elements. The patented spin technology of the water ride lends to it its thrilling spinning motion that gets accentuated with the actual river rapids — a first for any Spinning Rapids Ride to deploy.
Environmentally Based Filtration System
SeaWorld San Antonio (San Antonio, Texas)
Turtle Reef, SeaWorld San Antonio’s new 126,000-gallon habitat for endangered and rescued sea turtles, was designed with an environmentally based recirculating filtration system that attracts wildlife, completes the ecology circle, reduces water and energy consumption, and enables the park to further its eco-friendly mission.
SeaWorld has some of the most advanced water purification infrastructures in the world built into the foundation of its parks and uses these systems to reclaim and recycle wastewater for reuse. At Turtle Reef, man-made seawater is filtered through a fabricated salt marsh grass wetland, similar to how water is filtered in the environment, and returned to the habitat.
The use of a constructed saltwater marsh to filter the exhibit is a unique example of a biodynamic habitat, using natural elements and processes in an organic way. The team ultimately hopes that the marshland will begin a new standard in animal habitat filtration methods.
H20 Live (Orlando, Fla.)
With Vantage, for the very first time, operators have a single overview of how every facet of a park interconnects — not only driving operational efficiency but also improving guest satisfaction. Vantage gives operators insights into their guests along with real-time park data empowering strategic long-term planning.
At Island H2O Live!, guests use Vantage’s mobile app and 11 in-park kiosks to create their own unique in-park experiences by seeing wait times (also displayed on the seven wait time signs), locating friends, viewing park maps, and choosing profile themes and music playlists to customize attractions. Guests can also earn Park Perks points when they ride slides which can be redeemed for prizes. Park and in-ride photos are also viewable in their profiles (app and kiosks) which can then be shared across their social media channels — Vantage uses an open architecture to integrate with other third-party vendors.
On the operation side, managers can see, in real-time, the park’s current attendance, including total entrances and exits, dispatch rates, guest dispersal and dwell times, and queue times—all from the Operator’s App on their mobiles or via the Operator’s Portal on their desktops. Also, operators can view historical data to help better forecast and plan.
The Zenith (hubless wheel)
Mega Parc (Quebec City, Quebec, Canada)
The Zenith, a 76-foot, hubless wheel at Mega Parc was supplied by Larson International. The concept of a hubless, spokeless wheel was developed by Jeff Novotny and Walter Larson as part a patent application process that dates back to 1999.
The ride features 24 gondolas (12 per side) and can hold a total of 96 passengers. However, in slower periods, the ride’s unique design allows for the park to operate only one side during days when the demand is lower.
The unique hubless design allows for the park’s Telegraphe attraction (a Cloud Coaster from Extreme Engineering) to pass directly through it while the wheel is in operation. The gondolas also feature both solid and clear floors, allowing some riders an added view — and thrill — when looking down aboard the attraction.
Fluidized Sand Bed Furnace
Ralph S. Alberts/Alberts Spray Solutions
Ralph S. Alberts installed a fluidized sand bed furnace to remove degraded foam, paint and powder coating from metal frames that provide the internal structure for amusement park ride equipment, without the release of hazardous air pollutants or harmful emissions. Once the organic compounds are removed from the frame, it can be inspected for safety, recoated and refoamed.
Dramatically cutting turn-around times and reducing energy consumption, the furnace provides an environmental benefit with a clean blast and burn-off process.
The innovative upgrade earned the Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection 2019 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence.
In addition to the reduced process time, the new unit increases efficiency by using an automated loading system. The system requires only one start up each day.
The new system saves energy by using quartz sand as a heating medium. Since sand is significantly denser than air, energy is transferred to the polyurethane quicker therefore, each part requires less time in the oven and is prepped for paint / powder coat within the same cycle.