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Podcast: The One with the Voyaging Cheetah Carousel

It’s the off-season, but construction and maintenance are in full force all around the park!

The PodSquad was joined by Sean S., Maintenance Planner, and Anthony V., Maintenance Manager to get an update on all the work being done on Voyage, Cheetah Chase, and the Star Spangled Carousel.

We are so fortunate to have so much talent on our team!

Cheetah Chase Balance Tank as seen from The Voyage
Cheetah Chase Balance Tank as seen from The Voyage

Sean discusses what it takes to keep our coasters in excellent shape.
SPOILER: We go above and beyond industry standards to care of our coasters!!

Anthony gives us an update on Cheetah Chase Construction, specifically the balance tank and what the final phases of construction look like. As a reminder, you can follow along at home with our Splash Cam that is pointed right at the construction site.

Before the podcast we also interviewed Tom H. who shares about the work being done at the Star Spangled Carousel.

The same week we recorded this podcast, Stephen also created a Hard Hat Chronicle for a visual update:

Season 2 Episode 6 is available now!

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LEAH: And we are back welcome back to season 2 of the official Holiday World podcast this is season 2 episode 6 the one with the voyaging cheetah carousel. Lauren is just shaking her head.

LAUREN: It just deserves a headshake

MATT:  it deserves something

LEAH:  today is Friday January 17th but we are hoping to air this on February 17th again hope because you just never know what’s going to happen in especially in the amusement park world. Today we are here to give you updates on all of the major attractions projects that we are working on. So today in the studio we have song Sean Strahl and Anthony VanCamp.  Sean you go first why don’t you tell us about your history at Holiday World.

SEAN:  okay well started in 1999 in rides at Holidogs Funtown and then I started working seasonally on the coasters helping with maintenance. In 2003, I was hired full time on the coaster crew and then a few years later I became the coaster manager. Now currently I am the maintenance planner so I work with all the shops now.

LEAH: Sean is our go to coaster Guru since he has been working on the coasters since like almost the beginning. He’s very knowledgeable and we are very lucky to have him.  Anthony, how long have you been with Holiday World tell us about it.

ANTHONY: I actually started the spring of 2011 in the coaster shop and I was there for a couple years and then I moved to the maintenance shop and now I am at the Thunderbird with water parks.

LEAH: So now we have our classic Icebreaker question that we start with  everyone and Sean I’m going to start with you. If you could add one section or attraction to the park what would it be? And why?

SEAN:  I have never really thought about a section but I have always wanted to add a family coaster. We have the thrill rides, but I would like to add you know preferably would because it’s what I worked on. But a family coaster that pairs could are with their smaller children I think that would fit very well and I always thought about 4 up in Fourth of July in that Plaza there.

LEAH:  we are kind of coasterless up there in fourth of July.

SEAN:  and it would maybe draw some people up into Thanksgiving and  Fourth of July.

LEAH: Nice.  that would be cute I like that, okay Anthony same question.

ANTHONY: that is a tough question since I do water park and ride maintenance so I would have probably have to go with a new steel coaster in the Thanksgiving section. I think it’s if I really fun ride and I would just like to see more of them.

LEAH:  I hear maintenance on B & M’s are pretty nice am I right?

ANTHONY:  It’s very nice! It’s all straightforward we never have any issues it’s just fun to work on.

MATT: We like that, we like not having many issues. 

LEAH: All right in this first segment we are here to talk about all of the work we are doing on the voyage this season. Sean would like to tell us more about where that work is going on.

SEAN:  yeah, so on the voyage we decided it to redo a large section on the back turn. It’s a spot we worked on in the past but that was back in 2011.

LEAH:   that’s it sounds like it was just a couple months ago and it’s been years now

SEAN: that section has held up really well but it was our first redo on the voyage and so from that time we have learned a lot working with gravity group so we’ve improved so we went to work look at that section again and make it smoother.

LEAH:  So that is what, roughly eight hundred feet of track?

SEAN:  I think combined yes, they are going all the way through the first 90 it’s a pretty large section

LEAH: It’s  a huge section and Anthony you’ve worked on The Coasters before and you can attest.

ANTHONY:  he was talking about that work they did previously and that’s actually when I started.

LEAH: So you are a part of that last project that’s really interesting.

LAUREN: That’s cool

LEAH:   Any insights from the last time?

MATT: Did  You forget everything? 

LEAH: He’s like I am working on B & M’s now,  I’m done. 

LAUREN: We’ve been through this in the last episode, everyday you do something different. How could you remember something you did almost 10 years ago?

MATT:  I don’t remember what I did this morning, so

SEAN: Luckily this time with that section we don’t have to do anything with the structure. Last time you know we had that section was really low to the ground which was causing our problems so we actually raised it last time and that made a huge difference. This time it is just track.

LEAH: I think I make a point of those every time but I think people think you just cut out a cross section of stretch. But that’s not how it works at all in a wooden coaster. They are living and breathing so you have to stagger it, it’s layers on layers, so you start the track work at an additional 40 feet to do all eight layers of track.

SEAN: Yeah by the time you stagger it

LEAH:  it’s incredible! Just how much effort goes into replacing just 20 foot section of track when you have to do all eight layers you add in either direction to get all the way down to the bottom in to just really just anything it’s a long process. So they would just arrived this year. In the beginning of January so you have, it’s 105 days to opening day. So how are you guys doing? Working hard?

LAUREN: It was a hundred and five in January so if you’re listening in February it’s way less MATT: Thanks Lauren.

LEAH: For us in this moment it is a hundred and five how are you guys feeling?

SEAN: The guys are setting all the ledgers now and then next week they’ll start putting the first layer down. Our plan is for Gravity group to come out next week and survey for a set everything is where it’s supposed to be before we start building the track. That just helps us make sure it’s going to be as smooth as it can. 

LEAH: That’s awesome.  Now part of this is part of regular season maintenance is it not? We always take out a couple layers of track and redo them every year?

SEAN: Yeah so every year since 2011 we take out a large section, that was one of the planes we came up with of course when we’re working on the other coast as well but we always concentrate on one large section every year.

LEAH:  I just find it amazing every time. I think it is so cool that we oh, I believe they say you rebuild a wooden coaster every 10 years?

SEAN: I would say that’s pretty accurate. 

LAUREN: That is Crazy.

MATT: they take a lot of TLC
LEAH:  we take a lot of time  and energy. We Believe our family believes a lot in wooden coasters and keeping them up right so. You know, hopefully you guys have all the time you need to do that because we are very proud of those.

SEAN:  In my experience, Everything we have I ever asked for in the coasters we have been able to get and been able to do the work we wanted to do.

LEAH:  Also before we head out to the break can you tell us about some of the work that goes into the coaster trains in the off season? Because the track isn’t the only thing that gets to work.

SEAN:  Yeah so this year the voyage trains were sent back to PTC. That happens every other year because they set a time limit in hours and that is two seasons for us so the trains go back every other year.  In the off-year if they don’t go back we still work on them here so they will still tear the trains down, not as much as PTC would but they still go through the wheels and check everything and make sure everything is ready for next season. So they are being worked on every single year.

LEAH: So you’re getting a reassembled train every year that you come in. Sean thank you for coming and joining us. We are going to take a short break and when we come back we will talk about cheetah Chase.

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LEAH: We are back and this time we’re focusing on Anthony because we have questions about cheetah Chase. How is the construction coming?

ANTHONY:   it’s actually going really well even with the rain we’ve moving forward. We are pouring like pouring the walls for the balance tank and the station.

LEAH:  Can you explain what a balance tank is?

ANTHONY:  A balanced tank is a fancy word for a big concrete pit that you fill with water. It is somewhere for all the water to go.

MATT: How many gallons of water are going to go in it?
ANTHONY:  I believe it’s 70800 for a completely full pit.

MATT:  That is a lot of water.

LEAH:  That is so impressive.  And so and so I’m trying to find a way to ask this, does this mean that the water is going to be cool because the water is located below the station?

ANTHONY: It probably will, like the mammoth that water is some of the coolest water in the park.

LEAH:  Refreshing on a hot day and Punishment on a cold day.

ANTHONY: Since a lot of it is underground it’ll be about the same so I imagine it’s going to be chilly.

LEAH: And this is going to be probably the wettest ride we have built in the water park. 

ANTHONY:  from what I have seen I think it’s going to be for sure

LAUREN:  I will never forget riding with a news person of course in early morning whenever we were already chili and she was like how wet do you get? I’m like on a scale from 1 to 10 or 11 like a 10. And she was like oh, okay.
LEAH: News people always make it the last thing they do because they always come back looking a little

MATT: they don’t look very newsworthy at the end.

LAUREN: At the end she was drenched. She was like oh my gosh I didn’t expect this! And I was like I told you!

LEAH:  so this is going to be a continuous loop so basically you’ll take off from one location and you’ll you’re not into know it let me know I’m correct this is a question I’m promise that you’ll come into the station the same place you left it except wetter. Honestly I’m saying all this is a Segway to go back to that day that Lauren and I rode the mammoth with a news personality because fun fact if the conveyor belt stops while you’re starting to stand up be careful.

LAUREN: I mean it’s not a fast moving conveyor belt.

LEAH:  No it is not it just so happened on that ride we had the vice president of marketing. the standoff happened to stand up in the timing just happened just right that he, I shouldn’t laugh

MATT:  yes you should.

LAUREN:  it was amazing

LEAH:  he fell. On to that Mammoth conveyor belt. It was very bouncy.

MATT: He wasn’t hurt

LAUREN: No he definitely wasn’t hurt.

LEAH:  I just needed a reason to come back to that story. Because that image stays in my head. Those conveyors are very comfy to walk on, very bouncy.

MATT:  We do not recommend that though.

LEAH:  so if anyone is watching our web cam or seeing any of the pictures they notice there is only about two-thirds of the track in right now. What’s happening right there?

ANTHONY:  Yeah so we have to Halt the track work until the station is finished. But here in the next few weeks, you should see progress with fiberglass, we just have to stop so they can get in and do their jobs.

LEAH:  so we can get in and finish the station, the essential parts of the station.

LAUREN: Details.

LEAH:  I just think that it is so interesting that in order to get this just right we have to stop on one side.

ANTHONY:  yeah we are working together To make a big plan.

LEAH:  it’s a lot more than just everyone does their own thing, you have to coordinate proof.

MATT:  it’s all about teamwork.

LEAH:  so how excited are your guys for another attraction?

ANTHONY:  They are super excited. They love all of the water park rides in the water coasters so I think it’s going to be great. They are excited to test ride it for sure.

LEAH:  I was about to say are they going to be among the first ones?

ANTHONY:  I’m sure they will be parked! Official for sure!

LAUREN:  I know I’m excited I may not be able to write it right away because you know I’m having a child but my children do have outfits.

LEAH:  They do, she’s already got outfits all cheetah outfits. 

LAUREN:  They have cheetah outfits for when they come to visit.

MATT:  do you have a matching one?

LAUREN:  no I don’t, it’s just them. But they’re really cute, it’s not cheetah print it’s just little cheetahs on it it’s adorable.

LEAH:  how are you guys going to celebrate when it’s done? Aside from riding it?

ANTHONY:  Probably just take a couple deep breaths. 

MATT: Take a nap..

LAUREN:  I can appreciate that.

LEAH:  Now there are still some other projects  I know we don’t have the resident experts neccisarily, but have you guys  been keeping up with the carousel like we have?

SEAN:  I have been up there the last few days working with Tony, so they are installing new lights on the Carousel. And we are installing the electrical part of the lights because they’re lower the voltage.

LEAH: I love that I am really excited about what is going on with the Carousel

LAUREN:  In addition there’s it’s getting a fancy new paint job.

ANTHONY: It looks really good

LAUREN: Like the actual structure of the Carousel and some horses are also getting a makeover. So it’s going to look like a brand new ride it is exciting.

LEAH: I am very excited about all of this!  Annex we’re going to hear a little audio report from Tom Hart who has been working on the carousel project.

TOM: We are changing over all of the lights to LEDs. Just upgrading it, changing the horses to a more consistent theming with the 4th of July. So far we have stripped it down to the bare bones of the ride we have taken all the overhead and side panels out. We’ve taken off all the horses that need to be refurbished as time goes. We only do three at a time so this will be an ongoing project throughout the year. There are over 1,324 lights give or take a couple. It takes half of an hour to 45 minutes to do each panel, if you can just stay with it. There are 12 ceiling panels then you have the outer panels which are also 12 oz then you have the little panels inside there’s numerous panels. We are a Family theme park and of course a carousel is for all ages and you know a park isn’t a park without a carousel. We just want to take really good care of it so it last for generations to come.

LEAH:  and what else are you guys, I think everyone has this perception that we close the park down for the season and we just sit around on recliners

LAUREN: Wouldn’t that be nice.

LEAH: What other projects especially Sean since you’re the Maintenance Planner, what other projects do you have going on?

SEAN: We are working on Raging Rapids we are updating the whole system. Putting in some smaller cabinet separating some high voltage and low voltage back when it was built and put together there were no I guess anything to protect you from touching the light components. 

LEAH: Different day and age, am I right?

SEAN: We’re going to put in at least three different cabinets so we’ll know the different voltages
LEAH: The joys of a seventy-year-old theme park everybody. 

SEAN: It’ll be easier for the guys to troubleshoot usually you usualyonly have to get into the PLC the low voltage so it’ll be completely separate now. And we are putting the pumps on drives so we’ll be able to control the water flow a lot better we are also working  on log flume lowering the voltage on some of the parts of the control system they’re so it’s easier for the guys to work on. 

MATT:  so they stay plenty busy

LEAH:  yeah we’re running out of projects, does anyone have any ideas out there? Anyone want to submit any?

MATT: Anthony is going to punch me in the face if I say one more thing.

LEAH:  he’s like I appreciate sarcasm but I will slap you across this table let me put words in your mouth. congratulations you have bulldozed your way through another episode!