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The Science of Park Magic Explained
|Doc Krock's Electronic Lab Bench E-Mail - 8/1/00|
The second part of the Space Mountain article is still on the way... I've got a few more cool things to collect before I can finish! However, since I started writing this column, my electronic lab bench here at the MousePlanet Mobile Laboratory has been piling up with e-mails, and it's now time to clear some of them out. So, here's a few tidbits to hopefully tide you over...
Space Mountain Comments and Questions:
Out of necessity to keep the first part of the Space Mountain article relatively short, readable by a general audience, and focused on Space Mountain, I intentionally kept some sections oversimplified and broad, and well, I got quite a bit of mail about it. Several readers were requesting additional information or clarification on a few points I made in the article.
Fortunately, several readers provided additional information and details to help clear things up:
I received several comments about a misstatement about the original seating configuration in the Walt Disney World (WDW) Space Mountain. To clarify:
Thanks for clearing that up, Brad!
Block Zone Systems
In the article, I made a generalized statement about the Matterhorn being the first to use a block zone system, and I need to clarify that statement a bit. First, the concept and practical application of block zone systems have been around for several decades, but the earliest systems were either manually controlled by operators or mechanically triggered. It wasn't until about the 1960's when electronics had reached the point that electrically automated systems could be developed. During that time, the Matterhorn was one of the very first coasters to use an automated blocking system. It was very simple, but it was more flexible than a mechanical block zone and more reliable than a human operator. The readers also provided some additional information and detail that I'll pass on.
Thanks for the detail JD.
Yes, when there is a cascade, the trains are held in the various brake zones along the track. The brake zone closest to the end of the ride is released and the train returns to the loading area under its own energy (the train is never literally "removed" from the track). The cast members unload the train and take it off the mainline track (backstage). Then, the next closest brake zone is released, and the process continues until all of the brake zones are cleared. If you are on the ride during a "recycle", over the loudspeakers around the track, you can hear the operators announce each of the brake zones as they are released and then declared "clear" or empty.
Thank you Alex for clarifying that point.
Wooden Coaster Comments...
I very quickly mentioned wooden coasters as the starting point of roller coasters, but since wooden coaster history wasn't the focus of the article, I glossed over it and oversimplified it. Wooden coasters have a very long history, and some readers felt I didn't accurately represent them. Here's some additional detail provided by one of the readers - there were several of you, but I could only pick one! ;)
Thanks Kyle, and if you want more coaster details, be sure to check out a series of good coaster physics articles listed in the references!
Well, that's all I have for right now! I've had a couple Monorail questions, but don't worry, they'll be covered in a follow-up Monorail article in the near future. Also, some of the other mail I've received has been suggestions for other articles, and I've been filing those away to make sure I can do the research to answer them!
Keep sending in the ideas - they've been great.
Until next time...
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