A team of scavengers scouring the globe for vintage thrill rides to bring back to Cedar Fair amusement parks in the United States hit the mother lode in Europe and plans to continue the search in Japan.
The transcontinental trek took Monty Jasper and a small crew of Cedar Fair maintenance coordinators to Scotland, Holland, Italy, Switzerland and Germany where they collected seven classic flat rides — industry-speak for spinning thrill rides that travel near the ground and/or rise up into the air.
“To be honest, I was surprised at all we found,” said Jasper, a 42-year industry veteran and chief ride curator for Cedar Fair’s chain of 11 amusement parks.
The classic Whip, a simple ride built by W.F. Mangels, consists of two opposing turntables with a cable loop that pulls cars around a laminated wooden track.(Cedar Fair)
Every Cedar Fair park except for Worlds of Fun has a full-size wave swinger, the familiar spinning ride with seats suspended from chains.(Cedar Fair)
Shown is the 1970s Huss Troika, whose overhead arms tilt during the ride.(Cedar Fair)
The Chance Trabant, a spinning ride with a tilting base, first debuted in the mid-1960s and can be found on many carnival midways.(Cedar Fair)
The Huss Condor is a spinning tower ride with counter-spinning swinging gondola seats.(Huss)
The most common ride at any amusement park could well be the Tilt-a-Whirl by Sellner Manufacturing, which first debuted in the mid-1920s.(Cedar Fair)
The Huss Top Scan spins riders in free-rotating gondolas.(Carowinds)
Popular in the 1970s, the Huss Swing Around spinning rocket ride is similar to the Astro Orbiters found at many Disney parks.(Cedar Fair)
The Eli Bridge Scrambler is a familiar ride at many amusement parks, with centrifugal force causing riders to get cozy as the ride spins on two axes.(Cedar Fair)
The 1950s Round-Up has a tilting base. The centrifugal force of the spinning stand-up ride causes your back to stick to the wall.(Cedar Fair)
A series of similar spinning rides by Eyerly Aircraft Co. that first appeared in the 1950s and ‘60s go by the names Monster, Octopus and Spider.(Cedar Fair)
Made by many manufacturers and known by many names, the Music Express, Bayern Curve and Himalaya rides each feature a similar snake-like train traversing an undulating track that harkens back to the 1920s Caterpillar ride.(Cedar Fair)
The rarest ride at any Cedar Fair park has to be Cedar Downs Racing Derby at Cedar Point with carousel horses that appear to gallop at full sprint.(Cedar Fair)
The throwback flying scooters originally debuted in the 1930s and have made a resurgence at parks around the world.(Cedar Fair)
The Huss Breakdance features a sloped spinning platform with hubs of cars that spin in the opposite direction.(Huss)
Probably the most popular flat ride at Cedar Fair parks is the Enterprise, first made by both Schwarzkopf and Huss in the 1970s.(Cedar Fair)
Pennsylvania’s Dorney Park is the only Cedar Fair park without bumper cars (removed in 2010).(Cedar Fair)
In all, Jasper spent $7 million — about $1 million per ride — on a Mondial Top Scan, Mack Music Express, Zierer Wave Swinger, Huss Condor, Huss Breakdance and a pair of Huss Troikas.
After extensive rehabs, five of the rides are heading to Carowinds outside Charlotte, N.C., and the other two are on their way to Missouri’s Worlds of Fun in time for the summer season.
Jasper likes the rides from the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s because they tend to be more robust and mechanically sound than their modern brethren.
“If you take care of them, they will last a long time,” Jasper said.
At Scotland’s Loudoun Castle theme park, which closed in 2010, the Cedar Fair ride pickers passed on a portable Schwarzkopf looping coaster but picked up a Troika, which is similar to the familiar Scrambler except it’s suspended from overhead arms that tilt during the ride.
“They stuck the key in the ignition and it started right up,” Jasper said. “Troikas are stout rides. They’re built like tanks.”
Switzerland and Italy proved scenic but fruitless, with the pickers deciding against a Huss Top Scan and a Mack bobsled roller coaster.
“Anything can run again if you throw enough money at it, but it might not be worth it,” Jasper said. “You don’t want to put some troublemaker into a park.”
Carowinds is expected to get the Scottish Troika, Breakdance, Music Express, Top Scan and Wave Swinger. The Music Express features a snake-like train traversing an undulating track, and the Top Scan spins riders in free-rotating gondolas. The Wave Swinger may replace the park’s Chance Yo Yo, a similar spinning ride with seats suspended from chains.
Worlds of Fun is expected to become home to the Dutch Troika as well as the Condor, a spinning tower ride with counter-spinning swinging gondola seats.
This month, Jasper plans to visit Japan on another scavenger hunt in hopes of discovering more rides like the ones he found in Europe while also looking for other classics like the Chance Trabant, Schwarzkopf Enterprise and Eli Bridge Scrambler.
“It may not be as good as that first trip,” Jasper said. “We will see.”
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