Hello again; Today, I am happy to announce that I have finally completed episode two of the midway’s video showcase. I am continuing to call it the Calliope Corner until something better comes along. However, that name is starting to grow on me. This time the video is about the sky coaster ride that used to b at Opryland Theme Park in Nashville Tennessee.


photo of 173 ft. sky coaster taken while still on location at opryland theme park in nashville tennessee


And like the first episode, the show features a video provided by the ride’s owner along with background information and my own personal commentary about the attraction. You can watch the entire show by clicking the link below. It lasts about sixteen minutes altogether. Or if you prefer, you can scan down to where it says “riding the sky coaster” and play just the ride video. I hope you enjoy it.



What Is A Sky Coaster?


2nd actual photo of the sky coaster from opryland


For those of you who aren’t familiar with these attractions a sky coaster is a ride where passengers are winched up to the top of a tower and then dropped off of it. They then swing back and forth at the end of a steel cable until gravity brings them to a stop. It is meant to give people the illusion of flight. And who among us hasn’t dreamt of or pretended to fly like one of the super heroes?


Sky Coaster Background Information


The first sky coaster was designed by Michael Kitchen and Ken Bird. They came up with the idea in 1992. They wanted to design a ride that would simulate the experience of jumping out of a plane with a parachute. Their plan was to design a ride that would be as exciting as bungee jumping if not more so and that would still be as safe as riding one of the horses on a merry-go-round. Today the sky coaster is produced by the Ride Entertainment Group based in Cottonwood Heights, Utah. They have manufacturing centers spread across the United States. They bring all the parts together to assemble the ride on its owner’s property.


Sky Coaster Types And Sizes


These units have been built in two main styles, the lattice and the monopole. The lattice versions came in single and double tower models and were available in several different heights. The 100 and 173 ft. tall versions of these were the most popular ones. The monopole models also come in single or dual launch versions and are available from 100 feet up to the 300 ft. tall giant one that is currently operating in Kissimmee, Florida. There are some early models that don’t fall into either of these two groups, but these are the ones you are most likely to see at an amusement park today. The one we are discussing is a 173 ft. tall lattice style model with dual launch towers.


Two Unusual Things About It


This ride was very unusual for its time. First, it was the only ride at Opryland and one of the few in the whole country that offered riders a video of their experience instead of just taking a picture of them. At that time it would have been on VHS cassettes. Now days this would be much easier with DVD’s and the ability to upload video directly to a computer or the cloud for editing and sharing. Also, now adays photo booths at parks and state fairs offer pictures on shirts, hats, mugs, posters, etc. The other odd thing about this ride is it did not belong to the park. It was owned by a separate company that had an agreement to use the space. So, in addition to your general admission fee; you also had to pay to ride the sky coaster. I’m told it cost $25 per rider. These rides are now referred to as up-charge rides or up-charge attractions. They are very common in amusement parks, family entertainment centers, and even some carnivals and fun fairs today; but the whole idea was brand new in 1995. I am told that the ride did gross over $900,000 in 1997 the last year of the park.


I do need to thank Wikipedia and the good people at Thrill Hunter for some of the information contained in this post.


Riding The Sky Coaster


If you click this link, it will take you directly to a video of the ride in action. This was obviously taken a long time ago because sadly the park has been closed for a long time. You can see a complete ride cycle. The video is about four minutes long. And I should warn people. If you are easily scared by thrill rides or heights in general, you might not want to watch.



Safety Features


I hope you enjoyed the video. These rides have been designed to be very safe. The flight suits that you see the riders wearing are very similar to those worn by hang gliders. They are made by a company that manufactures parachutes. And the three-ring release system is identical to those used by actual jumpers. The cables are made from steel and can support over 9,000 pounds well in excess of anything they will actually need to withstand. In addition, the owners replaced the rolling carts used for loading and unloading with a hydraulic scissors lift system. The rolling carts worked similarly to the rolling jet ways you sometimes see at regional airports. The point is you have to raise and lower the riders to hook them to and unhook them from the cables.


Current Condition And Potential Problems


First, I will say that it is hard to judge the condition of a ride when you haven’t had the chance to visit it in its current location and condition. I will tell you what my brother Michael has always told me. That is no piece of heavy equipment of any kind gets better in storage. And the park closed in 1997. There are a few reports that say the ride stayed on location until 2006 or 2007 due to a legal dispute between the owners of the sky coaster and the park owners. That means that it has been in storage somewhere between seven and seventeen years. So, these are my opinions. Th structure of the ride would be all steel. So, at the worst it would need to be pressure-washed and re-painted or powder-coated.

I would opt for powder-coating because once you put it up, you aren’t going to want to have to paint it again. The cables are made from stainless steel or galvanized steel, so there is no physical reason they would need to be replaced. However, there is no way to put a price on your peace of mind. If I were going to operate it, I would replace the cables whether they need it or not. And I say this regardless of whether local regulations would require you to do so. The scissor lifts are hydraulic. So, I would imagine you will have to replace the hydraulic fluid and replace the ceils. You may also have to replace the hydraulic pump or the motor that runs the pump. Of course, you could get lucky and find nothing wrong with them.

The same could be said for the winches that lift the riders. However, this is another area where caution would require me to replace the winch motors if not the whole winch assemblies to be sure they won’t be the cause of any future problems. Now, the safety equipment is long since past its expiration date. And even if they still had life in them, most regulations would require you to trash them. Most places you are required to replace these items on a regular basis. Still, these all would be miner considerations when you consider the cost savings over a new unit.


Sales Price


This ride cost $750,000 in 1995, and I’m told a brand new one of the same design would cost at least a half million dollars. This one is available for $160,000 or best offer. And you could probably have this one installed and ready to operate in time for your next season. I am not familiar with the company that makes these rides, but how soon would you be able to take delivery on a new one anyway? It is currently broken down and ready to be shipped to a new home. Of course, the buyer would be responsible for having it loaded into containers or on to trailers, transporting it to their location, and getting it installed there. While I don’t currently offer these services, I would be happy to help you locate a qualified ride installer who can not only help with the process but get you estimates on the time and money involved.


Possible Uses


Obviously, this ride would be a good addition to any amusement park. It would be a great ride to use as the cornerstone attraction for a new park. And it would also be a good fit in a family entertainment center where it would be a spectacular attraction. There are also beach boardwalks, pleasure piers, and themed restaurants. I think it would also fit in nicely at one of those zip line or ropes courses parks that are becoming popular. While not a natural fit at a water park, I can imagine the thrill someone would get soaring over water. Considering the physics involved, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see one at a planetarium or flight museum. I don’t know if there is a way you could make something like this portable. I do know that in the United Kingdom, Europe, and Australia the number of events lasting four weeks or longer does make things possible that couldn’t be done in the United States. It might make an unusual addition to a ski lodge or a park located near a canyon or gorge. Basically, it could be successful and a prime money winning attraction any where that large groups of people gather. Teens and young adults love anything that is a good adrenaline rush. And they love sharing these experiences on social media which would help drive traffic to your location.


About The Midway’s Showcase


I want to thank you for watching the videos. I know you have a limited amount of time, and I appreciate you spending some of it with me. And I want you to know that I am working hard to get better at this each time I do it. I would welcome your suggestions. My ultimate goal is to travel to meet with my clients in person and work with them to show their equipment to its best advantage. I also want to interview industry leaders, tour manufacturing plants, attend fairs and festivals, participate in trade shows and conventions, and visit notable amusement and theme parks. However, this all takes money. And being totally blind, there would be the additional expenses for one or more persons to travel with me. So, until I have the funds to take the show on the road, I will continue to do these shows like this featuring a video supplied by the equipment owner plus as much information as I can provide. I also hope you appreciate my opinions as they come from years of working in and around amusement rides, games, inflatables, concessions, etc.

If you would like to help support the YouTube show, you can either Take out a banner ad or you can make a donation. The ads cost $50 a month, $125 a quarter, or $450 a year and can be for companies producing products or providing services relevant to the industry. And the donations aren’t tax deductible. You can use PayPal or a major credit card, and all of the money would go towards the costs of making the youtube show a professional production that would spotlight the amusement industry and represent it in a positive manner to the general public.


Want To Be Featured?


Would you like to have your family, company, available equipment, unusual attraction, etc featured on the calliope corner? If so, then its really easy. Just send me an email. Please include your name, name of the company you own or work for, contact details, where you are located or will be working, and what you have that you believe should be represented on the show. I would love to hear from people in the Houston Texas area as that would make it easier for us to get together in person instead of doing things by remote. But we can work around that. If you can take videos and send them in or upload them to your YouTube account, then I can include them in a future episode. I am also available to chat via Skype or FaceTime. As a matter of fact, the owner of a blog and podcast in Switzerland is going to call me via skype next Monday to interview me for his podcast. And I get a lot done through emails. If you currently have equipment for sale on the site, or if you have been considering listing your items with me; then I really want to hear from you. I don’t want to go another month or more before my next show. I want these to be a weekly occurrence at the least.


Sharing Is Caring


I’ve been noticing that line on other people’s blogs, and I have decided I like it. The truth is we all work very hard on our websites, blogs, podcasts, YouTube channels, social media networks, email lists, etc. And the best way you can show your appreciation is to share quality posts with your friends, family, and coworkers. The other way you can say thank you is to leave a comment. And since I have CommentLuv Premium installed, this benefits you directly as well. With each comment you leave you can get up to three backlinks to you and your work. You get one to your website, blog, or social media page. You get a second one to your Twitter profile. And if you are a blogger, you get a third one to your most recent post. I like to leave a comment on other people’s blogs and then share it so people who read the post later will have a chance to see my title and maybe I’ll get a few more views that way. And if I’m really lucky this post will end up being seen by someone who can give the sky coaster or one of my other fine pieces a new home.


Well, that’s it for now. I look forward to your comments. And if you have a question, or just want to get to know me, then please use the contact form. I love hearing from you regardless of the reason. Every call, text, or email is a chance to make a new friend meet a new client or get a new great idea. So, be sure and stop by. Until then, take care out there, Max