Making Amusement Rides for Life

retirement cakeI suppose maybe it makes sense that once a person has a job in the amusement industry, they would have no reason to ever do anything else.  However, in a day and age when things are constantly changing it is an accomplishment worth celebrating when someone retires after thirty years with the same company.  Last week we had one such celebration at our company and it reminded me about all the other faces that have lived and breathed Chance Rides for essentially their entire adult life.

Young Dick Chance

Obviously, our CEO was born into the business so he’s never not known the amusement industry. In August he will officially celebrate his 48th anniversary with the company.  And while that might seem shocking and admiral, he is not the longest tenured employee of the company.  Two wonderfully knowledgeable gentlemen still serve Chance Rides since before Richard Chance came to work for his father Harold.  Last month the longest of these served his 52nd year of employment at Chance.

 

Tram Work

There is no question that these men hold valuable knowledge in their heads that continue to shape the way we skillfully create amusement rides, coasters and people movers.

It is true that we are always hiring new individuals for the company and our long tenured employees do their best to impart their wisdom onto the next generation.

But the will to love it has to come from inside.  We have just around 100 employees currently and of those 34 of them have been here for 20 years or longer.

Chance Rides Employees

Purchasing an amusement ride, coaster or people mover from Chance Rides comes with a lot of experience and expertise built in.

It has often been said that this is a family business not only because it owned by the Chance Family but because the employees have worked together so long that they’ve become family.

There are employees here that have literally grown up here.  From their first “real job” to what has become their career.  The people that work here truly dedicate themselves to the things they do.  These people care about the amusement rides that we put out into the world. These are the things that we hope you can experience when you enjoy the rides.  When someone compliments how smooth of a ride they get on Lightning Run at Kentucky Kingdom, we know that is because our welders took their work seriously when they blended the welds on the rail.

Hyper GT-X Comments

When someone marvels at the action of the Zipper, we know that everything was masterfully assembled according to the correct engineered drawings.  Zipper Comments

And when our latest carousel is complimented for being to stunning we can point directly to the artists responsible for making that true.

Carousel comments

This team of people produce works of art that bring joy to people all over the world.  There is a lot of pride in that.  The rides, roller coasters and people movers that go out into the world from Chance Rides are built by men and women that have honed their expertise in the process over many, many years.

Amusement Rides in the Making: March Edition

It’s that time again!  Walk with me through the Chance Rides factory to see what is about to roll out to your favorite attraction.  First up a couple of familiar items from last month.  This unique carousel was just inspected by the customer this week.  Now that its been approved the disassembly is starting.  It will be shipped in cargo containers to its new location in Korea.

carousel 28ft

And here is a look at the Electric C.P. Huntington train that is being tweaked prior to shipping out for actual in field testing.  Once it is installed we’ll be sharing some more information about where you can see it in operation.

ECPH 400

You can also see a Tramstar in the early stages of production in this photo.  The Chance Rides people movers are the most comfortable, high-capacity, open air trams in the industry.  We start with the chassis from a Ford E-450 and convert them into the Tramstar or Sunliner II people movers.  Below is another photo of the production set up for this particular trailing unit.

Tramstar Trailing Unit

Carousel Trailer

The El Paso Zoo is about to receive their new wildlife carousel.  It will be a feature of their new Asia Gateway.  The 36ft carousel features endangered species and a birds nest spinning tub.  The carousel will be placed under a special shade structure that will protect the carousel as well as make the rides more enjoyable for guests.  In the image below you can see the specially designed trailer that Chance Rides uses to deliver carousels.  This trailer ensures that all of the carousel elements are secured safely and arrives to the new location in pristine condition.  Our ornate endangered species scenery can be seen at the back of the trailer.  Guests to the El Paso Zoo will be able to ride on this magnificent carousel this spring.

Family CoasterAnother familiar project from last month is this awesome family roller coaster.  This fun coaster for the whole family will be installed this fall.  The track you can see here is the braking run as riders come back to the station.  Soon these pieces will be disassembled for painting.  And then piece by piece it will be prepared for shipments to the yet to be announced location.  I can assure you this family coaster is going to be a fun ride for the whole family.

Outside I was able to spy a couple of the coaster columns that have already been through the paint line.  It is honestly fascinating to see these ideas come together from a drawing to a real ride.  Each piece meticulously constructed just as it was designed to fit together for an amusement that millions of people will come to enjoy.  Most will likely never think of the skilled workers who spent so many hours ensuring that it was manufactured correctly to provide a smooth and safe ride.  Our workers don’t mind if you don’t think of them, they are just proud to put out rides that so many people can enjoy.

Family Coaster Columns

Tramstar

While I was making my rounds outside I also spotted another Tramstar set that was in its final testing stage just before being shipped to the customer.  Each of our power units can pull up to three trailing units accounting for a total capacity of 104 passengers, with even more than that in our Sunliner II units.  Easily the industry’s most comfortable way to move over 100 guests at the same time.

 

Before heading back inside I went out to the paint shop to see what was moving through there.  I was excited to see that I could give you all a look at the way we finish our Lexan scenery panels to ensure that they have a long last finish.  Paint is applied to the inside of the clear panel in layers so that it is ultimately protected from the outdoor elements.  The layers create the finished, detailed look that Chance Rides is so well know for.

Scenery Panel

 

After I reviewed the paint booths I headed back inside to get back to my office.  Before heading upstairs I stopped by the shipping and receiving area.  As you can imagine the parts that we ship out of here on a daily basis are not your typical widget.  We have a huge inventory supply on hand so that we can limit the amount of time that a ride may be down waiting on replacement parts.  And now we have introduced the opportunity to purchase replacement parts for Chance Rides products online.  We are continuing to work on adding more products to the site all the time.  You can go to parts.chancerides.com to register for an online account.

Chance Rides Parts

 

Thanks again for taking this tour with me today.  We’ll be back to show you what is happening in April. Let me know if there is something in particular that you’d like to see.  And definitely let us know if we can help you with some information about a new coaster, ride or people mover.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ADA Compliant and Inclusive

I recently read an article that was written by Linda Van Slyke and shared by CarnivalWarehouseNews in regards to efforts being made toward ADA compliance.  The Americans with Disabilities Act has been in existence since 1990 but in an industry that is centuries old change can come about slowly.  It made me stop and think about how well Chance Rides is addressing these needs for our customers.

Naturally, the best way for me to show you what Chance Rides is doing is by showing you what is currently in production.  Carousels are part of the standard assortment of products that we produce every year.

swan chariot

Because we make so many that serve so many customers it is important that they address ADA Compliance and give everyone an opportunity to enjoy them.  Here is an example of our Swan Chariot that has a flip up seat and floor latches to accommodate the whole wheelchair on the ride.

Tramstar Accessible

We also specialize in people movers that can accommodate guests of all abilities.  Out on the shop floor we have several Tramstars that are all equipped with wheelchair locks on the power unit.   Again these include a fold down seat that provides additional capacity for when it is not needed for a wheelchair bound guest.  The Tramstar includes a pullout ramp so that the vehicle is easily accessible at any point on the trip, not just at the loading station.

CP Huntington 401

On my walk I spied another item in production that is sure to be inclusive for everyone.  The beloved C.P. Huntington Train. Here you only see the production of our latest locomotive – 400 and counting!

 

 

 

 

ADA Coach

But our train coaches are able to accommodate wheelchairs as well.

We also place the wheelchair accessible coach right behind the locomotive so that it is easy for the train engineer to offer assistance.  And like the Tramstar, the coach is equipped with its own retractable ramp making it accessible at all points of the journey.

While we have a lot of examples in the factory, there is no better example of the strides we’ve made toward making amusements accessible than the products we manufactured for Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio, TX.  The entire park is designed to provide full wheelchair access for every attraction.  We created special utility type vehicles for the electric car track that can accommodate a rider in a wheelchair.

Electrical Car Off Road Vehicle

Electric Cars Off Road Vehicle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The carousel that was created for Morgan’s Wonderland even featured a specially designed chariot that would have the same movement as the other carousel horse so that children in wheelchairs would have the same experience as everyone else.

Galloping Carousel Chariot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many of the other rides we manufacture require transfer from the wheelchair in order to experience the ride.  This is due to the nature of the safety requirements in our thrill rides.  We do our best to make this process as accommodating as possible while still ensuring that all guests can experience the ride safely.  And we are still always working on new ways to  be an inclusive ride manufacturer.

We look forward to future projects that drive us to get more creative with our accessible solutions.

Factory Walk February

I slid my way into work today on sheets of ice due to some recent winter weather hitting us here in Kansas, but I can still tell that spring is near.  I just have to go out into the factory to know that it will be here before we know it.  We have some exciting projects entering the final assembly stage of production.  Here we assemble the rides for testing just before they are shipped to the customer for installation.  And then the parks will open to the ride fans eager to see what is new.  In fact our shop floor is starting to look a bit like our own amusement park.  Take a walk with me below to see some of the projects just about to leave the building.

First we have the Freestyle for the The Great Escape up and running. Our team is doing the final program checks before it is sent to the Six Flags park in Lake George, NY.

Freestyle_TheGreatEscapeThis beautiful ride is going to be called Pandemonium at The Great Escape when it opens for the season this May.  It will leave our factory in a couple of weeks for the installation at the park.  The Chance Rides Freestyle spins with seats facing out while the boom rises and turns in the opposite direction.  You get an intense experience of G-forces from every direction.  You’ll spin into a Pandemonium!

 

Zipper_NAME

 

Another fan favorite out in the shop is just about ready for shipment, it is our latest Zipper transformation.

This Zipper came to us from North American Midway Entertainment.  They look forward to debuting the like new Zipper at the Miami-Dade County Fair and Exposition.  The refurbished Zipper for N.A.M.E. includes our all new Zipper cage design. It features an open view door and over-the-shoulder restraints.  You’ll still experience the same unpredictable spinning action as the cages travel around the spinning frame but now you won’t have to hold yourself in place inside the cage.  The thrilling experience will be much more comfortable.  The new paint and lighting will be a standout on the carnival midway as well.  N.A.M.E. chose a paint scheme of orange, magenta and lime.  The striking color combination and the new LED lighting will draw crowds from all over the fairgrounds.

We also have some beautiful carousels being assembled in the factory before they get delivered to their new homes.  This 28′ carousel with our Victorian scenery is absolutely stunning.

28ftVictorianCarousel ZebraAnd it is going to feature some very special carousel figures.  They will all be a variety of horses and zebras.  The most striking figures will be the unusually painted zebras.  You can see why they might particularly grab your attention.

The carousel is going to our customer in Seoul, Korea.  We have had the opportunity to create some very unique works of art for this customer before and clearly this piece is no exception. The customer is coming to review the carousel before it is packed up for the journey overseas next month.

28ft Pacific Carousel We also have a carousel for El Paso Zoo in the assembly stage.  They will be receiving a 36′ carousel with a menagerie of wildlife figures.  Here you can see the ADA Swan chariot put into place on the carousel.  This provides a good seat for grandparents visiting the zoo while children mount their favorite zoo animal.  And it allows for those guests in a wheelchair to still experience the fun and beauty of the carousel.

Swan El Paso Zoocarousel wheelchair chariot

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rest of the decorative elements of the carousel are yet to be assembled but here is the beginning of it all coming together.

Carousel Scenery PanelCarousel Figure Asst

 

 

 

 

 

Lately we’ve been spending a lot of time talking about our electric C.P. Huntington model #400 that was produced with zero emission Lithium-Ion batteries, but it would be inappropriate to ignore the beautiful C.P. Huntington model #399 that will be heading out of our facility soon.  This traditionally painted train will be going to the Montgomery Parks Department in Maryland.

CP Huntington 399

 

Another big project coming through the factory that is not yet in the final assembly stage is a new family coaster that is going to the new American Dream Mall in New Jersey.  The American Dream mall is going to be a world class facility that is beyond anything we’ve ever seen before.  The project is being driven by the same people that have brought us the Mall of America and West Edmonton Mall.  They have taken the grandeur of these properties and expanded on it.  There will be an amusement park, a water park, an observations wheel, an indoor ski slope, an NHL sized ice rink and an aquarium among other features.  Chance Rides is very proud to be a part of this spectacular project.  I continue to be fascinated by seeing roller coasters come to life in our factory.  They are constructed in meticulously accurate sections that will then be fit together on site.  As they work, pieces are assembled together and stretched throughout the factory until they are disassembled, painted and ultimately shipped to the installation site. You can get a sense of the banked turn in these pieces being produced currently.

Family Coaster American Dream

Thank you for taking this walk with me and stay tuned as we see more projects come to life at the hands of our skilled workers.

 

 

 

 

The Wheels of Love

How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day?  For George W. Gale Ferris Jr. this was also his birthday, and since he’s credited with inventing the Ferris Wheel this day has also become National Ferris Wheel Day.  There is no question that the idea of a Ferris Wheel sparks images of romance in your mind.

Young love on a midway sounds like the title of a song doesn’t it? At Chance Rides we’ve been manufacturing wheels since 1988.  First with our 90′ Giant Wheel, then we introduced the smaller 63′ Century Wheel in 1963.  These wheels are some of the most prolific wheels around the country.  Most midways in America feature at least one Chance Rides wheel along with many of the regional amusement parks in the world.  These Chance Rides wheels have made history as well.

In 2008, the Giant Wheel on the Santa Monica Pier at Pacific Park was sold on eBay.  Pacific Park installed a new Chance Rides Giant Wheel with a solar element and their original wheel is now the central element of the Wheeler District in Oklahoma City, OK.  The wheel at Pacific Park is considered the most photograph wheel in all of North America.  It is frequently featured as a back drop in commercials, movies and television due in large part to its location in California.

We were also granted the opportunity to construct the first wheel to ever be erected at a professional baseball venue.  In 2013, Modern Woodmen Park, the home of the Quad Cities River Bandits, was voted as the “Best Minor League Ballpark” in the 10Best Readers’ Choice Travel Awards.


In 2006 we installed our first observation wheel at Clifton Hill in Niagara Falls, ON.  We have since installed 4 others in Myrtle Beach, SC, Seattle, WA, Pigeon Forge, TN, and National Harbor, MD.  And we have 1 more wheel that will be installed some time in 2019.  These wheels are nearly 200 ft tall and are equipped with climate controlled gondolas that give the riders a full 360 degree view of the surroundings.  These wheels are most similar to the original concept developed by Mr. Ferris for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.  They are as much a wonderful experience to ride as they are an icon for the location where they exist.  In Seattle the Great Wheel on Pier 57 has been credited with completely revitalizing that area of the city.  They are at an annual ridership each year of over 1 million people.

On this day of celebration of love we very happy to celebrate #NationalFerrisWheelDay!  Chance Rides is so proud to create these beautiful iconic pieces around our country.

 

The 50th Anniversary of the Zipper

It was recently brought to my attention from a Chance Rides Fans page on Facebook that our beloved Zipper is turning 50 in 2018.  I quickly verified the information and found that the first Zipper was indeed manufactured and shipped in 1968.  In fact 19 Zippers were delivered in that first year.

Our Facebook page shared the news with the question of “what would be a proper way to celebrate this milestone?”.  Below I’ve listed 10 of the ideas shared on the post.  Let us know which of them you’d like to see us do.

Top 10 Ways to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Zipper

  1. Create and sell a commemorative t-shirt.
    • Available for purchase on our e-commerce site and at the IAAPA Expo.
  2. Set a date to have a Zipper operating in each of the 50 states at the same time or on the same day.
  3. Set up a Zipper at the Chance Rides facility to offer free rides all day.
    • or for 50 days.
  4. Create a VR experience video for the Zipper on ride experience.
  5.  Reunion party for the developers and initial Zipper owners.
  6. Create decals and signage to distribute to the ride operators.
  7. Operate 50 Zippers together in one location.
  8. Fill the Zipper with riders born in 1968.
  9. Offer a 50 minute ride. (Holy G Forces)
  10. Convince a toy manufacturer to create a replica model.

Comment below with your favorite ideas or add your own.  We look forward to giving the Zipper it’s due. 🙂

New ALL RIDES Service Bulletin From Chance Rides

NEW Requirements Issued for Addressing Corrosion
Concerns in Amusement Equipment.

Chance Rides has recently released a service bulletin to address the detection of corrosion in amusement rides.  We are dedicated to the safe operation of amusement equipment.  Because of that we want to be on the forefront of addressing this potentially catastrophic element of ride operations.  You can find the specific details of the bulletin on our technical services website.  http://tech.chancerides.com/techsupport/login.php 

The terribly accident that occurred last July in Ohio has caused the entire industry to focus on this concern with aging amusement rides.  Chance Rides has established a protocol that will ensure safe operation and be a reasonable practice for all operators.  If you should have any additional questions about the listed requirements or how they specifically apply to your Chance equipment do not hesitate to give us a call at 800-242-6234.

What is Chance Rides working on now?

It is true that we are still weeks away from Christmas but the spring will be here before we know.  With the new amusement season beginning in the spring the Chance Rides team is ramping up to be ready for new deliveries.  Below you can join me on a photo walk through the factory to see what is coming together for early spring deliveries.

Six_Flags_Freestyle

 

This photo shows you the bones of the Chance Rides Freestyle being readied for delivery to Six Flags Great Escape in Lake George, NY. You can see their announcement about their New Pandemonium here.

 

 

Electric_CP_Huntington

 

Work continues on perfecting the new technology involved in our state of the art Electric C.P. Huntington Locomotive. After returning from the 2017 IAAPA Expo we are preparing the locomotive to capture some more test data for the lithium-ion batteries.

 

 

In these photos you can see the beginning of the manufacturing process for the Chance Rides Tramstars.  It all begins from a cutaway chassis of the Ford E450.  The Chance Rides Tramstar and Sunliner II trams are the only people movers in the market that feature air-ride suspension, airover hydraulic brakes and serviceable from any Ford dealership. These will be going to a resort developer in Mexico called Groupo Vidanta.

Tramstar_PUTramstar_TU

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

North American Midway Entertainment sent their Zipper ride to our factory to be completely rebuilt.  It will return to the midway in 2018 in a like-new state.

Zipper_RefurbZipper_Rebuild

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carousel_Panda

 

I told Dana that her panda was upside down to get this chuckle. 🙂  Truth is our talented artists work from all angles to make sure that each figure is expertly painted with real-life detail.

 

 

Carousel_Bear

 

 

Julie is working on a black bear for the same carousel.  He is going to have a beautifully colorful saddle for the the children to mount.

 

Carousel_Lion

 

 

This lion is complete and I just had to share it because I think he is absolutely stunning.  And again, look at all of those life-like details.

 

 

All of these animals are going to the El Paso Zoo where they will be enjoying their new 36ft Carousel in the spring of 2018.

 

This carousel zebra is no less stunning but we’ve certainly stepped away from life-like.  This beautiful and strikingly colorful 28ft carousel will be traveling to Singapore.

Carousel_Zebra

Thank you for taking this tour around the factory with me.  We still have time to add more products for your spring delivery if you act fast!  Contact us at sales@chancerides.com.

 

Happy Thanksgiving from Chance Rides

The Chance Rides offices will be closed on November 23rd and 24th to allow our employees some extra time with their families.  Many of us have just recently returned from the IAAPA Expo in Orlando, FL and need a little more time to get caught up.

We will all be back to work on Monday, November 27th.

Chance Rides is truly grateful for all of our customers and we wish you a wonderful holiday with your family and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Next week let’s talk about coasters, amusement rides,  and people movers!

 

See what is NEW at Chance Rides

Welcome to the new ChanceRides.com.  We are making it easier for you to find the amusement ride, coaster and people mover information that you need. You can also subscribe to our newsletter and our blog to make sure that you are getting the latest information from Chance Rides.

In addition to our website update we have added a web store for our replacement parts.  You can find this under the services menu.  Or you can bookmark parts.chancerides.com.  We are working to build the store offering one product at a time.  Currently you can find replacement parts for Zippers and C.P. Huntington trains.

At Chance Rides our philosophy is, “If we can help our customers be successful then we will be successful.”  We welcome any feedback you might have to help us bring you greater success.

As we begin our preparations for IAAPA Expo 2017, I am very excited about the new things we have to show you this year.  For the first time in several years we will have a ride experience right inside our booth.  You’ll be able to board the Unicoaster 2.0 seat and experience the user-controlled rotation.  The original Unicoaster was originally introduced in 2010 with our first ride installed at Belmont Park in San Diego, CA in 2011.  We have now taken the Unicoaster outside the circle, with the same rider-controlled design you can now treat guests to the experience of a looping coaster.  This amusement ride is perfect for catering to thrill seekers of all levels.  If the guest is more into a mild thrill they can remain upright traveling the course, while the more dramatic thrill seekers can flip and flop throughout the entire ride.

Unicoaster 2.0

In addition to the Unicoaster 2.0 we will again have a beautiful C.P. Huntington Locomotive in our booth, however, this is no ordinary C.P. Huntington.  Our latest model is fully battery powered.  The new technology involved with operating the classic C.P. Huntington on battery power will significantly reduce the required maintenance that is typically associated with a combustion engine.  Not to mention showing your guests that you care about the environment, as our Electric C.P. Huntington Locomotive has zero emissions of harmful gasses. The show model is currently being tested at our facility to prove that it will sustain all day operation at your venue.  Stop by booth #5124 to see the locomotive and let us share all that we’ve learned from the test runs.

Electric C.P. HuntingtonChance Rides also has some guest passes available for IAAPA Expo 2017.  If you still need a pass for the show please contact Lisa Hargrove at lisa.hargrove@chancerides.com.  We look forward to seeing you there!