The Gale Force roller coaster is getting back on track – literally.
On Wednesday workers were installing track at the Ocean City amusement in Playland’s Castaway Cove to recreate the thrills of last summer’s main attraction, but with a more comfortable ride.
Brian Hartley, Playland’s vice president, said the 125-foot-high roller-coaster towering over 10th Street and the Boardwalk, brought thrills to riders, but Playland employees felt it was too bumpy.
“It was supposed to be a bit smoother. We weren’t satisfied,” Hartley explained. “We needed a little more craftsmanship.”
The designer agreed to replace the entire steel track at no cost to Playland.
On Wednesday workers were busy assembling the hulking serpentine coaster.
And the hope is Gale Force will reopen by Memorial Day weekend, if not sooner, Hartley said.
“It depends on the weather,” he said.
And after its completion, rigorous safety inspections will be conducted before anyone hops in.
The coaster was taken down in November. On March 21 S&S Sansei Technologies of North Logan, Utah, began to install the new steel track. It is a different company than the one that originally installed the coaster.
The hope was to have the coaster operational by last weekend, but a two-month delay in getting the track manufactured and delivered, along with inclement weather slowed the process down, Hartley has said.
While looking up at the superstructure, Hartley commented that the last thing he wanted was work done on the roller coaster during what is expected to be a busy Easter weekend, but there is nothing they can do about it.
But somethings are worth the wait, he said.
The coaster ride, which lasts about a minute, propels passengers through sharp twists and turns traveling more than 60 mph.
When the Gale Force debuted last May, thrill seekers wrapped around Playland’s Castaway Cove anxiously waiting to give it a try.
Like many roller coasters passengers flip upside down and travel backward. The most dramatic part of this coaster is its skyward climb straight up 125 feet and its 90-degree drop.
Throughout the 2017 summer season, the ridership for the Gale Force was strong, especially during the busiest times at the park from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Hartley said.
“The ride ran fully loaded all night long,” he said.
But for Playland employees and passengers who ride coasters across the country, there were issues with the ride’s comfort, Hartley said.
The bumpiness was caused by slightly misaligned rails, but other than being a bit uncomfortable, passengers were not in danger, Hartley said.
And the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs the state entity that oversees amusement safety, also said in its findings that the problem was an alignment issue but “did not pose a danger.”
Hartley said most riders he spoke with didn’t have an issue with the ride.
“For those of us in the industry, we know roller coaster rides and we felt it should have been a lot smoother than it was,” Hartley said. “We started looking at the ride. The overall customer experience could have been better and should have been better.”
The ride costs anywhere from $7 to $9.53 with a ticket package or $10 if you want to ride only Gale Force.
Hartley said he is looking forward to offering the new and improved Gale Force to the public.
He added, “It should be so smooth this year it will great.”