Sunday, November 8, 2015

Pacific Ocean Park Banana Train

Much to my surprise and delight the Summer 2002 Issue of The "E" Ticket Magazine has a ten page article in it about Pacific Ocean Park with some nice photos and text with a scene by scene description of the ride;

"Rolling thru the Longhouse area, the six plantation type Banana Trains (build by Arrow Development) were beautiful ride vehicles. The open passenger cars had exteriors authentically faced with bamboo, and carried fifteen passenger each. The trains had a very different appearance because the cars were pushed from behind along the spindly track by the little thatch-roofed locomotives. The down sized "steam engines” were actually electric, but were convincing enough with their self contained water tenders, copper boiler jackets, diamond stacks and operators shaded from the sun by palm branch cab covers.

One after another, the Banana Trains loaded passengers, then “steamed” from the high-roofed longhouse and int the tropical “South Seas” jungle ahead. The track to be followed on this tropical fun trip, run by a beachcomber, around the island from one thrill to another was a figure eight, with the return track descending from the mountain and crossing above the outbound section. The railroad’s light rail was crudely laid on thin, wide spaced ties which inspired very little confidence as you looked down from the first car, and watched it flex under the weight of the train.

The track led a winding path through and under native thatched huts on stilts (where a few menacing "New Guinea Headhunters” threatened from the rafters. Then it plunged into the “authentic South Seas vegetation" ahead. A display of tribal dancing in a bamboo fenced village was then seen along the right before the tracks began their climb up the rocky slopes at the base of the volcano. As the Banana Train ascended, it passed a group of “carnivorous vultures,” nesting among the rocks, which glared with hunger at the passengers.

The train then entered the first several dark tunnels in the mountain. Out in the sunlight, framed by the curving spiral of track, the “live” volcano’s pots of bubbling lava could be seen within the cones of the cauldrons below. Twittering bats, thunder and lightning, a noisy “tropical rainstorm” and an “earthquake” were among the excitements enjoyed by the passengers before coming out into the sunlit center of the volcano, thru a short tunnel, then out again in the fresh ocean air, the Banana Train creaked over the spindly track and trestle onto a short section directly above the Pacific Ocean.

You weren’t out there long, but there was time to stare down at the water, towards the lights of Santa Monica Pier, then back into the tunnel ahead. The train then descended past the huge nest and broken eggshells of the Gooney Bird, who flapped and shrieked “Hello… hope you enjoyed your trip.” at the passing trains."

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Arrow Trams!

Over the past three years of research I've come a cross a handful of references to Arrow having done the parking lot trams for Disneyland and Walt Disney World as well as propane powered trams for  Yosemite National Park. Last week I stumbled across an item on eBay that helped filled in some blanks.


About 1973 Arrow published a four page supplement to Amusement Business magazine that contained this image of one of their trams. I'll leave it to others to figure out where this image may have been taken and how similar it is to Disney trams of that era.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Rainbow Express at CrayolaLand?

Sometimes its fun to speculate on what might have been.

Here is an image from an Arrow Dynamics brochure illustrating a roller coaster vehicle concept for what we can only speculate may have been for a Children's Coaster at somewhere called CrayolaLand.

Arrow Dynamics Rainbow Express

Saturday, August 15, 2015

1986 Arrow History and Ride List

As Arrow was emerging from the bankruptcy reorganization in 1986 they published a list of attractions they had "gone around in." This was probably intended to reassure the public and former business partners that Arrow was still alive and kicking.

14 Standard Corkscrews, 7 Launched Loops, 12 Custom Coasters, 6 Standard Loop Coasters, 2 Suspended Coasters, 2 Steeplechases, 12 Runaway Trains, 2 Special Coasters, 52 Flume Rides, 2 Shoot-the-Chutes, 8 Merry-Go-Rounds, 5 Space Whirls, 4 Rub-a-Dubs, 8 Dark Rides, 2 Magic Rooms, 47 Special Systems, 53 Antique Cars and 25 Sports Car attractions.

Over 260 ride systems in America, Europe, Japan and China.
The story and list was impressive then and still is today. 
Look closely, and you'll find some surprises.

Many Thanks to Shane Huish for sharing his archive of Arrow documents and materials.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

1959 was a Very Good Year for Arrow

By late 1959, Arrow's star was definitely on the rise. The November 30th Issue of Billboard Magazine featured two ads and a story that give significant clues as to just how well things were going, with at least half a million dollars in orders; All told, there were;

4 - Dark Rides
2 - Electronically guided trackless trains (Danny the Dragon)
9 - 19th Century Mine Trains
40 - Freeway Cars
30 - Cadillac 1911 Cars
4 - Ford Cars
4 - Maxwell Cars
68 - Tramway Ride Buckets

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIF - Arrow Development Company will deliver approximately $500,000 worth of original theme rides to Freedomland, Inc., New York, by the first of the year, Walter B. Schulze, Arrow Secretary-Treasurer said.

The company has purchased three and one-half acres for a new plant that will centralize operations and speed the production on orders for spring delivery for nearly every important park in the nation.

Arrow is now making four dark rides, one of which will be two-story; two electronically guided trackless trains, two 19th Century Mine Trains, 40 streamlined freeway cars, 30 Cadillac 1911 cars, 68 tramway ride buckets, one 72-passenger circular turntable spinning top ride and other devices still in the planning stage.

Schulze said that the steel strike had been anticipated and construction of the rides was started late in the summer. A majority of the dark car rides, Cadillacs and trains for Freedomland will be delivered late this year in anticipation of the July 1 opening.

Other rides on order include a 19th Century Electric Mine Train with 10 ore cars, gags and sound effects for the Santa Cruz Seaside Company, Santa Cruz, Calif. four Ford and Maxwell antique cars and a 19th Century Mine Train with excursion type coaches for Adventure Land Atlanta, and five electric trains with a mine type theme for Knotts Berry Farm, Buena Park Calif.

Also on the work schedule are modernization of dark rides by Arrow for Riverview Park, Chicago and Coney Island, Cincinnati.

Ads in Billboard touted Gas Light Village as having grossed $24,000 in 56 days with 8 Arrow Antique gasoline cars and 850,000 riders in the last two seasons at Knott’s Berry Farm, using the "original contact shoes.”on the electric tracked auto ride.

Another add stated; 

New rides now building for Freedomland, N.Y. Additionally, Arrow is pleased to announce that mechanical devices developed by Arrow for Disneyland; Turntable ride, 2-story dark ride, etc., are now available to Arrow customers for the use with completely new ride themes.

Friday, July 24, 2015

MVHA Commemorative Poster

Mountain View Historical Association Poster

The Mountain View Historical Association posted an image of a poster commemorating Arrow's involvement with Disneyland for 60th Anniversary on July 17th. 

They also announced that Bob Gurr will be speaking at their annual bar-b-que on Sunday August 2nd, 1:00 p.m. at the Old Adobe Building 157 Moffett Boulevard in Mountain View.

I have an inquiry out to Pat Figueroa, MVHA's President, to see if they have any plans to make the poster available for sale and will post an update here.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Dal Freeman - Saved the best for last

Hold onto your... Holy Cow!

Lagoon has recently announced the opening of their newest coaster - Cannibal - which was designed by Arrow alumni Dal Freeman. Unlike many recent coaster designs, Cannibal was engineered and built in-house, with local (Utah) talent.

It starts with a trip up a 208-foot enclosed vertical tower. Next is a past vertical 116 degree push-over leading to a high speed shot thru a themed underground tunnel. Finally are three inversions including a 140-foot-tall (43 m) half-loop twist, a heartline roll, and a diving loop. 

Its 12 seat cabins feature lapbars, which is unusual for an inverting ride path, but Arrow basically invented the corkscrew roller coaster, which uses barrel rolls - a positive g maneuver - to keep you squarely planted in your seat. Cannibal chews thru 2735 feet of track in just over a minute, at speeds up to 70 mph, while pulling as much as 4.2 g's.

Dal joined Arrow in 1986 as the Director of Engineering, overseeing a staff of ten people. The size of his department more than doubled in three years, reflecting the then increasing demand for Arrow's coaster's.

Dal was with Arrow through the 90's, leaving just before X2 and the bankruptcy. He worked on the Pipeline, Magnum XL-200 and Drachen Fire, with Magnum being his favorite. Dal previously worked for Disney on Splash Mountain and was also offered the opportunity to work on either Jaws or Kongfrontation at Universal Studios Florida. He felt that Kongfrontation was more exciting and came up with the idea of using a suspended cable car as the ride vehicle.

Before working for Arrow, Dal worked for Thiokol, which made the Chickadee ski lift at Snowbird. Thiokol also produced a range of other equipment for ski resorts, including snowcats and snow grooming vehicles. Those businesses were spun off in 1978 when the company restructured itself to concentrate on its rocket motors and related technologies. Their snowcats were used in ski resorts, operated by the USAF in Alaska, and are now popular with private owners for all terrain transport.

At Lagoon, Dal's  first project was Wild Mouse. He worked on every Lagoon ride since; Spider, Samurai, Rocket, Rattlesnake Rapids, The Bat, Wicked, OdySea, Jumping Dragon and Bombora.

Dal's love for equipment started at a very early age, growing up on a farm in the Salt Lake Valley. He was driving a tractor by age five. Using and maintaining farm machinery instilled a curiosity to understand how things worked and what had to be done to fix them. That laid the foundation for pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Utah. He also held Engineer Land Surveyor and Professional Structural Engineer licenses.

One of the things Dal truly enjoyed about working at Arrow was the opportunity to interact with the customers. From the time a new project began, he was interfacing with manufacturing during construction, consulting during field installation and test check-out and start-up of each new ride. No two projects were exactly alike and Dal enjoyed the unique challenges that each instillation brought.

He apparently saved the best for last, as Dal announced his retirement mid July 2015.

Dal Freeman by Wicked