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Skyscraper Specs
Operating Since:
Gravity Works
Extreme Thrill Ride
170 ft
70 mph
2 seats at each end
Ride Duration:
2 to 3 minutes
Ride Capacity:
60 riders per hour
Many theme parks and recreation spots are eager to install new types of extreme thrill rides in order to attract customers. Some of these are known as "upcharge attractions," meaning they cost an extra fee to ride, separate from the park's entrance fee. Rides such as the Skycoaster or Ejection Seat represent new types of thrills that rollercoasters are unable to offer.

In 1997, a company called Gravity Works developed just such a ride. The Skyscraper is a unique ride that immediately draws attention, and looks even crazier and scarier than previous upcharge attractions. The ride rises 170 feet into the air. Four passengers ride at a time, each tightly seated in a two open seats slightly reminiscent of Ferris Wheel seats. The two groups of seats are attached to what is essentially a 160 foot propellor, which rotates around the center bringing the riders to a top speed of 70 mph.

In addition, each set of seats is pivoted at the sides-the way a Ferris Wheel seat is pivoted so that the riders remain upright. However, on this ride, the seats pivot randomly as the ride rotates. The center of gravity is located such that at the top of the 170 ft tower (waiting stationary while the seats below board or unload) the riders are tilted slightly back looking at the sky. At the ride whips the seats around, (courtesy of a 75 hp, 300 amp electric motor,) the seats swivel crazy-like so that riders may be facing either up or down at the top or bottom of the propellor arc, or possibly simply spinning wildly.

As passengers whirl at 70 mph alternately rising and plunging the equivalent of 16 stories, they will experience G-forces up to a maximum of 2 Gs at the top of the arc and 4 Gs at the bottom! The acceleration once the ride is started is such that after 1/2 revolution the ride has reached its top speed of 70mph.

As a final touch, each set of seats has video camera sending a live feed to the entrance/exit area of the ride. It can be quite a thrill just watching the expressions of hapless riders as they experience their thrill. Of course videotapes are available for purchase so that one can prove to his or her friends that they indeed had the courage to ride.

Developing the Skyscraper required some creative engineering on the part of Gravity Works in order to maintain safety at all times. A large concern for a ride such as this is that after time, cracks may appear in the framework due to the constant stresses of operating the ride. Detecting these cracks requires sophisticated equipment and X-ray devices, such as are used to inspect aircraft at periodic intervals for signs of flight stress. This normally makes designing, selling, and operating this type of ride impractical for the maintenance time and costs involved. Gravity Works developed a unique and simple solution to this problem. The framework of the ride is constructed of hollow tubes of metal. The tubes are filled and sealed with highly compressed nitrogen gas. A meter on the ride indicates the pressure of the gas within. If any cracks were to form, the pressure would drop, which can easily be detected well before the stress would cause the ride to be unsafe. A simple inspection of the pressure gauge at regular intervals takes care of this part of ride maintenance.

The Skyscraper has immediately become one of Dexter's favorite all time rides. The thrill of the sheer speed, being precariously strapped into the open seating 170 feet in the air, the acceleration and wild disorientation of spinning around and seeing the ground approach and recede at terrifying speeds, all contribute to a truly unique and truly scary thrill. Although Dexter has never been a particular fan of the majority of upcharge rides, the Skyscraper, he believes, is truly worth the added price, and he will ride one whereever and whenever he has the opportunity. To date Dex has found this ride at Seaside Heights and in Wildwood in New Jersey, as well as at Dorney Park.

If you are a thrill seeker, Dexter urges you to find an example of this ride. If you need motivation, just keep in mind that the Skyscraper offers the experience of being strapped to the tips of a 160 ft propellor travelling at 70 miles an hour.

All pages, images and info © Copyright 1997 - 2009 David W Creighton.
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