Today RD is back with a long overdue article, one that came about very quickly, and that's usually how the best articles work.
I think we've all felt "obsolete at times, whether it's on a ride or otherwise. I know for me it's Slingshot rides, they just don't appeal to me and the one one time I rode one I thought I was going to be sick. (Ask SFMM's PR dept). But read on, and be sure to share your comments below. - Gregg
Written by R.D. Sussman
Recently, the PJ 'staff' were in a discussion - and the idea of a potential new coaster at a park being an RMC came up. Mind you, it's all speculation this far out for the most part, but it had been originally guessed to be a GCI wood coaster.
I'm all for parks adding new coasters. It keeps our industry new, fresh & exciting. And it shows we are not just sitting on our laurels waiting for time to pass. In a lot of ways, that's been the case since 1884 (or earlier if you go to the old Russian Ice Slides). Parks & operators have always longed for the newest & most advanced attractions they can build - as it draws people & thrill seekers into a park. And this brings in money - which is the whole core of the business. It is to make money.
As y'all know already, I'm not a fan of transtracturing (be sure to check out RD's article about RMC's here) - that inane process of converting a wood coaster to steel. I'm a hard-core preservationist in the strictest sense; keep it simple, keep it natural, keep it the way it was designed and built. In a way though, this makes me obsolete. It goes against the thought of innovation, of new designs, of new concepts - and against the idea of new coasters in a park.
As I look around at the many new coasters we've seen around the world over the past five years, I look at what we have built - and it's amazing. RMC has cut a niche in rebuilding rides, and their own niche in new build coasters using their steel track or their layered steel-wood systems. Innovation that Alan Shilke can be credited for developing and engineering. At the same time - they don't appeal to me - they are outside my comfort zone. They have revitalized the industry - and made me obsolete.
Ride builders like Intamin, B&M and others have begun building taller, longer & faster rides - 200,300,400 plus feet tall. Innovation & size gratuity that grabs the attention of the media - and brings the guests in by the thousands. They stand out - becoming centerpieces of attraction innovation and visual acuity for a park. They are, for the most part, things I won't set foot on. Again - outside my comfort zone. They have rendered me obsolete.
As I walk around my local parks (SFMM, Disneyland & Knott's on one coast; SFoG on the other) I see vast worlds of difference. Disney's family-friendly attractions are still popular 50 plus years after they opened, and they tend to be outside the general park box for the most part. But seeing Knott's, SFMM & SFoG (among other chain parks) I look to their additions over the past 15 years - and at how many are new-generation attractions - built for thrills & for impact - and doing that job perfectly. At the same time: I look at how many attractions are now gone - ones that were either overhauled into completely new rides - or removed entirely due to a lack of popularity. A part of me went with those coasters - like them: I'm obsolete.
I grew up with some of the best theme parks in the USA - HersheyPark, Kings Dominion & Busch Gardens Williamsburg. I saw these parks innovate, add attractions & deftly change the landscape by adding bigger and more advanced designs. And then, as now, innovation was key. Duplication as a whole wasn't started yet (We have to give it to BatClone for that era...) but competition was fierce. At the same time - I considered that even the smaller coasters were fun & rideable. And up into the past five or six years, for the most part I felt the same way: Many coasters are there for fun & for entertainment. Very few were in the 'extreme' category - only a handful of parks would have something in that class.
This isn't the case anymore - the 'fun' is disappearing for me as parks remove attractions, revitalize older ones, and add new extreme attractions. Those drive me away from parks - instead, they do what they are intending to do: Bring new people in, spending money - as the parks did 25 years ago with me. In a way, time & parks have made me obsolete.
There will be a time in the near future when parks are no longer fun places for me. Where the fun coasters are all replaced by extreme rides, thrill rides, ones that draw the masses in. And on that day, I'll wave goodbye. Obsolescence occurs - it is the trend of life, of society, of man & machine. And I'll move on to another hobby - as I'm rendered obsolete.