Friday, November 14, 2008

Prowler Construction 11/13/2008

So Jeff and I made plans today to go out and see what's up with Prowler construction, and much progress has been made since last time we visited. On a previous episode you might remember that the helix and return run had just begun, as well as track had just barely began appearing. Well now we not only have footers for the the main drop, we have a main drop going up as we speak. These guys are quick!

So to start us off, lets take a look at the bent ready to go up.

Only a few minutes later the bent is hooked to the crane and begins going up. We were estimating this is about 30-40 feet high at this point in time.

The bent is lifted in place.

A close up as the bent is put into final position. The wind was blowing pretty good while we were there so this could not have been an easy job!

Going down hill into the mud a bit, you can see the elevation change looking up at the first drop. Also as mentioned previously with Prowler, GCI is using a somewhat altered version of its slab footers. You can see here just how deep the footers will be for the transfer track, brake area and drop (They will cross in this area).

Doing a 180, here is where all those holes will connect to, the rest of the outbound run.

With wood structure of the drop now in the picture, the layout of the station and drop makes a little bit more sense. Here is the retaining wall we saw under construction a few weeks ago. To the right (at the top of the wall) will be the station, lift and first drop. There will be a bridge crossing the creek with the queue line and Prowler Plaza on the left.

Here are the footers waiting on the return run, you can see the creek off to the right.

A little farther out on the return run, you can see the structure is making its way back. This shot also shows the elevation change fairly well too.

A reverse of the same thing.

This is what we all want, Wood! Here is the return run making some definite progress from previous weeks. Notice how close to the ground the structure is in this shot.

A great shot of some banking and twisting action on the return run. Looks like nothing boring there!

A beautiful shot of one of the crossovers, in this case into the helix. On the bottom is the inbound run, on the top is the beginning of the outbound (return) run. You can also see the track bed being built here too. Next we will take a closer look.

We are going to take the fast track back to the very beginning as we finish up this tour. When we first arrived at the site this bent was just beginning to be laid out. Here the bent is almost finished. Pretty quick if you ask me.

Waiting for the end of the day the sun finally decided to peak out behind the trees. Allowing some beautiful final sunset shots. Here is a shot of the first drop again, in the background is Boomerang and Mamba.

A beautiful silhouette of the construction workers still hard at work, even this close to dusk. You can also see the 2nd hill of Mamba in the background.

One final shot, showing them detaching the crane from the bent.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Happy Birthday Times Two!

The 35th Anniversary Worlds of Fun season has ended, yet 2008 won't end without a 2nd anniversary. The beginning of November marks 11th anniversary online. The internet and the world was quite a different place back then. The Orient Express would still operate for six more seasons, Film still dominated photography as the digital camera was still in its infancy. Amazing to me at the time was that older rides were being forgotten, The Sky Hi, The Schussboomer, The Extremeroller were becoming dusty memories, long forgotten it seemed. Instead of letting those rides and their memories die off I started researching through old copies of The Star, and what little I could get from the park itself. In November 1997 on a rainy day I started a free personal website on Tripod to put some of the information I had found online. A repository so to speak. Little did I know what that little website "26 Years! The History of Worlds of Fun" would become and who I would meet along the way.

The beginning though I believe didn't start in November 1997 though, it didn't start in 1983 when I first went to Worlds of Fun as a child, it started in 1969, when Lamar Hunt and Hunt Midwest Enterprises first began planning a fun world in northern Kansas City. That is where I would like to start. The true Beginning.

History tells us the idea of Worlds of Fun began taking shape in 1969, but physical progress first began in November 1971. The official ground breaking ceremony.

There it is.... Worlds of Fun all 500 acres of it. No Zinger, No ELI, No Voyager. Just the folks that were going to make it possible. In the center is Lamar Hunt, to his right, the tallest in the picture is Jack Steadman. Present at the balloon release were Mayor Charles B Wheeler Jr (yes the downtown airport was named after him), George W Lehr (Jackson County Court Judge), Edward J Bauman (Clay County Court Judge), Richard K Degenhardt (Kansas City Chamber of Commerce), Stan McIlvaine (General Manager of Mid-America), Al Lambino (Project Architect for Randall Duell & Associates), and Charles Pafford (Construction Director Mid-America).

3,000 total balloons were released that day (along with a dynamite detonator in the background), each with a certificate attached redeemable for two passports (tickets), for free admission to Worlds of Fun during its 1st year of operation.

Concept artwork showing the Scandinavian gate. Originally the Scandinavian gate was the backgate, as the Americana gate located were the Grand Prix is today was the main gate until 1995 when the trams were discontinued.

More concept artwork, in this case for the Ski Heis in Scandinavia (now Tivoli East). The Scandinavian section was originally designed to pay homage to the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark. Ski Heis was the Scandinavia stop for the Sky Hi in Americana. It was a Von Roll sky ride that was incredibly popular for parks during that time. Von Roll sky rides still operate at Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH, the two Busch Gardens parks in Tampa, FL and Williamsburg, VA and Great America in Santa Clara, CA to name a few. The Sky Heis was removed at the end of the 1987 season.

One of my favorites, it shows the oldest artistic renderings of Worlds of Fun from the park's designer Randall Duell & Associates. First for orientation the main Americana gate is in the upper right hand corner, with the Cotton Blossom and the Henrietta already there. Notice the Sky Hi/Ski Heis is shown but appear with Balloon-shaped cars, as well as the Tivoli Theater makes an appearance, but in this case an open-air theater.

Overall the park appears more ornate in some places then it actually ended up being, especially with the two "dreams" that never actually appeared. First being the ornate carousel that appears in the upper center section (I have a feeling that Worlds of Fun's carousel idea was recycled at the Great America parks) as well as the overally ornate Tivoli Gardens in Scandinavia.

Tune in next week as we take a look as progress is made on the construction of Worlds of Fun!

Special thanks to Brandon Stanley at Worlds of Fun for letting us borrow some of these wonderful photos that you see today and in the future.