Sometimes it’s best to ask an expert

Suffering from feelings of extreme inadequacy while creating yesterday’s HoliBlog post, I realized it was time for me to ask an expert.

After all, this watching-The-Voyage-grow-and-grow will only get more complicated in the coming weeks, right?

Happily, Chad at The Gravity Group is more than happy to educate us:

Most of what the guys are doing right now (when they’re not pouring concrete) is digging holes and trenches, bending and tying up rebar cages (the steel reinforcement that adds strength to the concrete foundations), forming up the holes and trenches (so that the concrete that’s above ground is nice and square or round), and setting the anchor straps in place (the lower portion of which get buried in the concrete). Each foundation has to meet up perfectly with the post that will attach to it, so position along the ground is important as well as the top of concrete elevation.

The foundations we are using on this job are different than the other two coasters – but not completely – due to the fact that we are using steel structure. It also has to do with new ASTM requirements, site and soil conditions, and The Gravity Group’s evolving design philosophy.

Thanks, Chad. We’ll check in again with you soon.

No doubt you’ll keep us right on track.
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A case of the piles

Here’s another discussion about footers. It seems they’re also called piles.

This is from our old pal DJ, you remember him, right?

What the man in the photo is drilling into is typically referred to in the construction industry as a “pile.”

A pile is a vertical shaft made of concrete. It is created by drilling a hole into the ground, putting a circular form inside the hole, and pouring concrete inside the form. It typically has reinforcing steel inside the concrete to make the pile stronger.

The purpose of a pile is to prevent the structure above it, in this case, a roller coaster, from sinking.

(Oh, thank goodness!)

In the construction of buildings, piles typically go deep enough to hit bedrock beneath the soil. However, in the case of many coasters, which are lighter than buildings, the piles often do not need to go that deep. This all depends on the soil on which the ride is built. This is the type of information a geotechnical engineer can tell you.

The large, flat holes in the ground that the workers are creating and filling with concrete and steel in other photos are called “spread footings.” These serve the same purpose as a pile. They make sure a structure doesn’t sink, but instead of going deep vertically to gather its support, a spread footing stays closer to the surface and depends mostly on the soil beneath it to support itself.

Each patch of soil has specific properties. Some can support more force (weight) per square foot than other soil. Once the engineer knows the properties of the soil, and how much force the ride puts on the ground, he can design a sufficient spread footing.

Just remember that without careful consideration of a roller coaster’s foundation, the ride will likely start sinking in many areas soon after being built. This is why you often don’t see much vertical construction early on when a ride is being built. The creators are making sure the ride doesn’t sink for future park patrons to enjoy for years to come.

There’s something quite likable about engineers

They may not be the flashiest individuals, but they’re smart. And they like to explain what it is they do.

And I’m surrounded by them! (Will has an Electrical Engineering degree from Notre Dame, his dad had an engineering degree from Purdue, and my oldest son is an EE/Math major at my husband/his dad’s alma mater.) And then there are our pals at The Gravity Group.

I must admit, my eyes roll back in my head fairly often.

But it’s always a learning experience.
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We work at Walt Disney World

Here’s a lovely note from some Disney World cast members.

In 1948 my Mother, Father and I came to Santa Claus Land, at Santa Claus, Indiana.

I thought it was great. Boy, have you changed! ( I still have picture of that trip.)

On July 5, 2005, 14 of my family members came to Holiday World.

We had a great time. For one of the members, it was his first trip to a theme park. He really liked it. He is 13 years old.

My husband and I have worked at Walt Disney World for seven years.

Your park rates right up there. It was clean and employees were informed.

The free Pepsi was something you would never receive at Walt Disney World.

The day was a day we all will never forget. I hope in my lifetime to come again.

We live in Florida all the time that is why we work five days per week at Walt Disney World. It is fun to be a cast member at Walt Disney World and enjoy all the benefits.

It was great to have 14 family members at your park.

Thank you for a GREAT time.

Kathy Z.
Davenport, Florida

The quote that didn’t make it

It was so nice to wake up this morning to see this article in USA Today. (Their circulation is a whopping 2.2 million, baby!)

Will did the phone interview with the reporter a month or so ago.

I always try to sit in on these interviews. Not that I “catch” a mistake all that often, but I do tend to learn a thing or two.

Will’s strongest statement in the article is that building Splashin’ Safari “… is the best business decision we ever made.”

(Of course, when he tells this to a travel writer during a park tour, I pipe up, “Next to hiring me, of course!” A bit obnoxious, admittedly, but it always gets a laugh. From the writer, anyway…)

Later in the phone interview, Will nearly gave me a heart attack with this quote.

“You know if I had to choose between our coasters or the water park

“I’d keep Splashin’ Safari”

Gasp!

Will — how could you?! Making a choice? And then talking about it?

Don’t you know the first rule of Parenting Q&A: I love you all equally.

Happily, such a decision doesn’t have to be made.

And no one need know Will’s dirty little secret.
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The hint no one caught

fireworks

I found hint this to be stunning.

And no one caught it.

Whew! And I was certain it was a complete give-away.

It started on July 5.

I wanted to show you one of the … um … more interesting photos taken by the editor of our local paper. She took it during our fireworks celebration on Independence Day.

fireworks

But I just couldn’t post it on the HoliBlog.

Okay, so now that you know what’s what for ’06 …

… do you get it?

Squint a bit

Maybe tilt your head.

No — the other way!

A bit more …

… a little more …

Okay, I’ll do it for you.

fireworks
There! Looks just like a turkey, doesn’t it?

Okay … well … an exploding turkey. But a turkey nonetheless.

Right?

Is this a sign?

A message of some sort?

What does this mean?

When I discovered this on July 7, I just couldn’t keep it to myself. I forwarded the photo to Will and our directors.

The sole response to that email: Paula, you really need a vacation.
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Guess I’ll go eat worms

That’s right – worms!

A lady called for more information about her upcoming visit. When our Call Center operator asked if she needed to make group reservations, since she was bringing a busload, she said she’d won a contest and already had her tickets.

“I ate worms.”

Excuse me, ma’am?

“To win the contest, I had to eat a bowl of worms. It was down to me and another woman. Then we had to eat a bowl of spaghetti.

“She gagged on the spaghetti, so I won”

Oh, yes.

Of course.

Imagine having to eat pasta!

The operator was so stunned, she didn’t ask for more details. We’re guessing it was one of those zany radio stations holding a contest.

So if you’re in line to ride The Raven and you catch a whiff of “worm breath,” you might want to sit in front of the lady, not behind.

Definitely, not behind.
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That’s so Edgar

The Raven

The RavenThat’s so predictable.

Another day, another travel writer.

Another park tour.

And another chuckle.

The cute little neighbor girl she’d brought along (for a child’s view of the park) unintentionally made me feel like a total geezer.

When I pointed out The Raven wooden roller coaster, she turned her head quickly to take a look, her long braids swinging wildly.

“Oh! Is that named after That’s So Raven?”

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Blown away by The Voyage

Congratulations on all of the hard work you put into the HoliBlog and the HoliHints. You did a fantastic job of keeping your audience glued for weeks, and building the anticipation for today’s announcements.

As for the announcements, well, I’m blown away by the sheer scope of it.

Simply Incredible.

Growing up in Kentucky, and knowing of Santa Claus Land from the brochures I’d eagerly grab from the brochure racks at area hotels, I would have never believed that the park would grow to have three amazing wooden coasters, and an equally amazing water park.

Now that I’m grown up, and live in California, I am already making plans for next summer. A trip to Indiana is certainly a requirement.

Having been fortunate enough to be at the Press Day for the Raven, I can still remember telling the reporter from the Evansville paper that HW had “a world-class ride,” and his disbelieving look. I know he thought I was a shill or an employee.

Well, that comment has turned out to be an understatement, and I couldn’t be happier for you, the Kochs, and the entire HW family.

I hope that you have the good fortune to have reporters from around the world tell you how incredible The Voyage is when it opens next year.

May you have a safe and successful season,

Bret J. “blown away”
California

It boggles the mind

Well, I guess we got your attention! Still, it boggles the mind. 

Man, oh, man.

When I asked the producer who was on site yesterday from WEHT TV if he knew how many people would have been able to stream our announcement before their site sent out “NO MORE!” error messages, he said, “Forty thousand.”

Forty thousand?

As in … 40,000?

Eegads. As you know if you tried to tune in, the system crashed early on and was soon restored.

And I just heard from the creator of CoasterBuzz … my friend Jeff sent his compliments, along with this message: CoasterBuzz set its record for simultaneous users Wednesday around 12:30 EDT. We had about 2,000 unique users hitting us at once. That’s more “buzz” than Millennium Force, X, Dragster, Kingda Ka … any of the big announcements in the last five years.

I’d say Holiday World made the right decision.

Yes, we’re definitely getting that impression.

More mind boggles.

And if one more person emails me suggestion we name Voyage’s three coaster trains the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, I’m going to cry.

Those were Christopher Columbus’s ships … back in 1492.

We’re talking more modern times (and the Mayflower) which sailed in 1620.

Okay, I admit it, I had to double check those facts, too.

Meeting interruptus

Meeting interruptus? It was all part of Melissa’s plan. Here’s her report:

I wanted to write a quick note.

I’m so giddy! I don’t know if I’m more excited about The Voyage, or about the fact that my guess for the new theme section was correct.

Okay, as an ACE member I must admit that I’m more excited about the Voyage.

Congratulations to everyone. I’m impressed that nothing got out to the public before the announcement.

Way to go on including the eggs-ageration comment on the HoliBlog. Others fell for it.

I, however, did not.

I want you to know that I had a meeting that was scheduled for 11:00 am today. It nearly killed me to go. I tried to come up with all kinds of excuses for not going, but my good conscious would not allow me to follow through.

I developed a Plan B and had a friend call me when she knew what it was and I stepped out of the meeting to take the “important” call.

After reading the Holiblog this morning I was reassured that I’m not the only crazy Holiday World fan. All the way from Europe? Now that’s crazy.

Melissa S.
Indianapolis, Indiana
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