When our gates close for the season, people often think our associates get a 5-month ‘vacation’. But for our Maintenance team, it’s quite the opposite. They kick it into high gear as they prep for their busiest time of the season.
The winter maintenance process is broken down into the following steps:
One by one, each roller coaster train is taken off the tracks and moved to a warehouse or storage facility. Then they are completely disassembled…down to the very last bolt.
Each individual piece is then cleaned and ready to be inspected using various methods, one of which is Non-Destructive Testing (NDT). This technique involves manually dipping each part into a solution, magnetizing it, then using a black light to highlight any cracks or deficiencies.
If there is a minor crack, we’ll repair it. Otherwise we’ll replace the part to meet the manufacturer’s standards. Catching all defects early is the key to maintaining rides and keeping them in great shape year after year.
Once the inspection and repair are complete, it’s time to the put the puzzle back together, so to speak. It could take three members of the Maintenance team almost all winter to reassemble just one roller coaster. So with 16 great coasters (soon to be 17 with the addition of Yukon Striker), this is no easy feat.
Wooden roller coasters require a little more TLC as every nut and bolt needs to be tightened and beams and sections of the track require replacement from time to time.
For flat rides, the process differs slightly because they do not have trains. But cars are disassembled, cleaned, inspected, maintained, and stored away for the winter as required.
So while summer months are spent maintaining the rides daily with morning inspections, maintenance and repairs, it’s the winter months where the heavy-duty maintenance occurs.