I spent yesterday at Cedar Point. One of the things that I noticed
this time around was the platform heights, and a strange thought
occurred to me. First, let me run through a quick rundown of the
Blue Streak: Less than 3'.
Wildcat: About 5'
Mine Ride: About 20'
Corkscrew: About 15'
Gemini: About 15'
Jr. Gemini: About 6'
Disaster Transport: About 25'
Iron Dragon: About 20'
Magnum XL-200: About 15'
Mean Streak: About 20'
Raptor: About 30'
Mantis: The Coaster Formerly Known as Banshee: About 25'
Okay, for most of these, the height makes perfect sense. Blue Streak
actually dives below ground (but not underground) for the turnaround
leading to the lift hill. The lifts for Mine Ride, Corkscrew,
Gemini, Magnum XL-200, and Mean Streak all start very near ground
level. So the platform height is used to provide enough of a drop
for the train to coast from the station to the lift. Wildcat uses
advancing wheels, and is actually level from the station to the base
of the lift...the station is as high as it is because it is a
portable coaster, so that space is needed for the support structure
and the station mechanicals.
But Disaster Transport, Raptor, and Mantis all use advancing wheels
between the station and the lift. In all three cases, the bottom of
the lift is at roughly the same height as the station track. So why
do you suppose the designers make us walk up all those darned steps?
The only effect the elevated station has on the ride itself is to
allow for a shorter lift. Why not let the mechanicals do the
lifting, and put the boarding platform much closer to the ground?
The only reason I can think of off-hand is that the elevated station
reduces the distance from the top of the lift to the top end of the
brake run at the end of the ride, which implies that the train will
be going more slowly...even without brakes...as it enters the station
track. But it seems that there are other ways to use up that kinetic
energy, so I'm thinking that isn't the real reason. Anyone got any
I can see why Arrow's platforms are built up in the air; heck, one of
Arrow's signature elements seems to be that quick dip between the
station and the lift. But B&M use advancing motors, and usually have
a shorter path from station to lift...on Mantis, for instance, it is
barely a dogleg. As a result, the bottom of the lift is at the same
height as the rest of the ride. It seems to me that this would make
it fairly trivial to put the whole station at ground level,
eliminating the need for a special-access ramp or elevator.
--Dave Althoff, Jr.
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