The Importance of Ride Operations (AKA Channeling my inner ElToroRyan)

Ride operations can be a big part of whether you have an enjoyable or a frustrating day at a theme park, especially on a busy day. If you visit them parks a lot you may start to pay more attention to the workers and the differences between different theme park chains. An operator’s number one priority is safety, but they must also move quickly.

For example, each train of Iron Gwazi can carry 24 riders. If the operators can dispatch one train every 3 minutes that’s 20 dispatches and 480 riders per hour. If that stretches to 4 minutes that capacity plummets to 360 riders/hour, but if it can be cut to 2.5 minutes it’s 576 riders/hour. Over a 12 hour day that’s +/- over a thousand people that get to experience the park’s marquis coaster.

A ride operator has to navigate several things simultaneously. They must make sure safety restraints are properly secured, check for height requirements and watch for loose articles. They must balance speed with customer service getting riders to move quickly without seeming pushy. They must also navigate sensitive situations where a rider may be too large to fit in the restraints or a child too short. Juggling all this is no small feat.

Maybe you’re a fan of ElToroRyan like me, can someone say block zone? He’s a former operator who goes into depth about both the operations side of coasters, but also the technology side that dictate how fast rides can be loaded and unloaded. One of the best examples of this is Hagrid’s at Universal and his video below talks about how many trains can be on the course simultaneously (block zones or sections of track which only one train can occupy) as well as what the operators are thinking/doing. He also compliments crews doing a good job.

The technical side that keeps the operators and patrons safe is interesting as well. Maybe you’ve seen a ride not dispatch when a gate is open or an operator have to step on a foot pedal or press/hold a button? This all assures each operator is in a safe place when motion begins. This can be even more critical on a ride like Tigris where the ride can come screaming through the station. I was waiting to ride Iron Gwazi once and the whole system had to be rebooted because someone leaned against and pushed a gate open, resulting in a 10+ minute delay.

All this interesting for coaster nerds for sure, but the bottom line is that hopefully this helps you respect and appreciate operations more the next time you’re at the park. Take time to watch them for a few minutes to see everything they do!

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