Callie On The Job: Holiday World - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Callie On The Job: Holiday World

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SANTA CLAUS, IN. -- Amusement Parks are filled with food, rides and fun. But what goes on behind the scenes? News 3's Callie Carroll visited Holiday World to see what goes into making the rides safe in this week's Callie On The Job.

Originally called Santa Claus Land, Holiday World is now home to more than 30 rides and attractions. This summer marks the park's 70th birthday. The park is family owned and operated. Employing 100 full time, year-round employees and 2,200 seasonal employees.

Holiday World has three world-class wooden roller coasters, and the nation's only launched wing coaster. The Thunderbird takes riders from zero to 60 in 3.5 seconds.

The ride has several inversions and several near misses, so when you're on the side of the tracks riding on the wing you come very close to buildings and trees.

Safety is the number one concern for Holiday World. Maintenance workers arrive to the park five hours before the gates open to start testing the rides for the day.

"It's important that we're the first ones to ride before our guests and we are always judging the ride experience, making sure it's normal and that's in addition to the hours of inspections prior to that," said Holiday World Director of Attractions, Eric Rentz.

Wing operators manually check restraints, and the main console operator electronically checks the seats as well. After restraints are checked, workers do something called a ride scan. This is a final check on the gates, the guests, each area and the crew to make sure everyone is in the right spot.

Launching Thunderbird takes several crew members.

"They have to do it in tandem with the wing operators who are back at their own panels, there's panels back there as well and they all have to hit their buttons at the same time. Wow, so there's checks and balances so not one person can dispatch it takes multiple people," said Rentz.

Workers are not forced to ride the ride they work on, but it is encouraged so they can tell guests what to expect.

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