It is perhaps the most gawked spot in Ocean City.
Over the past few months, thousands of people stop momentarily during their Boardwalk strolls to check out the progress on construction of the new roller coasters at Playland’s Castaway Cove.
Typical of the gapers were Ocean City “snowbirds” Dennis and RuthAnn Murray who had just arrived back in town from their winter residence in Palm Coast, Florida.
“We are always looking for things to entice our children and grandchildren to come visit us,” said Dennis, as he snapped photos on his smart phone. “My grandkids will love it.”
The “it” Murray referred to is actually two different coasters, the Gale Force, which soars 125 feet above the Boardwalk and the smaller Wild Waves which is adjacent to the larger coaster. The cars of each attraction will come within inches of the other, adding a value to coaster-riding thrill seekers.
Castaway Cove was abuzz with construction activity Wednesday as owner Scott Simpson and his staff, construction crews, and engineers scurried about in an effort to see the project through. Simpson was in meetings and unable to speak with OCNJDaily when a reporter showed up, but he graciously asked Jerry Tuller of the Logan, Utah-based coaster manufacturer S&S Worldwide to answer questions about the attractions.
He estimated Gale Force could be completed in six to eight weeks. A German firm will soon be on sight to complete the ride’s programming. “After that is done, things usually go pretty fast,” he said.
Gale Force will carry 12 passengers at a time in ‘stadium seating” tiered rows of four. The ride features a 100-degree drop, a 180-degree twisting climb and numerous loops, rolls and dives. Riders will reach a top speed of 64 miles per hour.
The Gale Force is unique in numerous respects, Tuller said.
“Usually, these rides are more spread out over a larger area,” he said of the Gale Force. “This one has been designed to best utilize the available footprint.” The coaster is reportedly tucked into a space 220 ft long and just 40 feet wide.
That means the ride goes more veritical than horizontal.
Simpson has said he has been working on the coaster’s design for more than three years.
“I have seen (coasters) on much larger footprints with less track than (Gale Force),” Tuller said.
Another unique feature is the manner in which riders will be propelled to its highest level.”(On a conventional coaster) the cars are on a chain and dragged to the top. On this one, the riders will be launched. Instead of being dragged, they are being shot.”
Gale Force is a United Nations of coasters. Its blue track is from Italy, its silver frame from China, its magnet system and programming German. The concrete footings are being installed by a local contractor. The combined efforts will add up to an attraction never before seen in Ocean City or the South Jersey Shore.
At present, Tuller said his firm is overseeing the wiring of the coaster. Next, the loading platform, essentially the “train station” of the ride will be installed on the 10th St. side of the property. Younger riders will have a chance to experience the coaster as well, with its height requirement of just 48 inches.
In the meantime, Ocean City residents will keep on gawking at the construction site.