By Gia Gallone
Have you ever wondered what it takes to run an amusement or water park? What’s behind the thrills and fun? Maybe you haven’t thought much about it, but after hearing this, you will definitely think twice next time you board your favorite ride or climb into your water tube.
I got the chance to go on Morey’s Piers new “Beyond the Boards” VIP Tour, an exclusive behind the scenes look at the complexity of the amusement and water park scene. Morey’s will be offering this tour on a weekly basis throughout the summer. Read on to find a sneak peek!
What was once Hunt’s Pier is now Morey’s support pier, holding the buildings or “shops” which keep the amusements safe, running and looking good. The Coaster Shop is an 8,000-square-foot area for testing and quality control, where technicians perform 7,923 daily maintenance inspections total per year, as well as weekly, biweekly and monthly inspections.
When a ride part comes to the paint shop, it first enters the sanding booth where any old paint is stripped using different types of media (grit). Morey’s goes through about 150 50-pound bags of metal media per year, which is recycled for future use. The sanded part then goes over to the paint side, where it is “showered” with acetone and put into the paint booth.
Morey’s carpenters are constantly working to keep the parks safe. On a daily basis, carpenters take three to five hours to walk the track of the Great White wooden rollercoaster on Adventure Pier, replacing and fixing parts. The Great White totals around 3,300 feet of track, with about 750 feet of that track replaced each year. Additionally, the carpenters also replace deck boards daily.
The Parts Room holds 7,500 unique parts and 112,568 individual pieces, totaling a worth of $1.6 million. In this room you’ll find shelves full of harnesses, motors, brakes, coaster wheels and more. Since many parts come from Europe and can sometimes get held up in customs, there is a certain number of each unique part in stock at all times to keep the rides and parks running.
Surfside Pier Shop
One pier over on Surfside Pier, you’ll find the Surfside Pier Shop. Within this shop is the Great Nor’Easter rollercoaster control system, which controls the coaster’s cars, trains and motors. During the winter, the Great Nor’Easter underwent a $5 million re-tracking project. The upgraded coaster now boasts a 95-foot drop, a sleek ocean-themed paint job and 2,170 feet of new and improved track with a faster ride. There are now 120 sensors and magnetic breaks on the coaster, making for a quieter, smoother ride and less wear and tear on the trains. The maintenance technicians at the Surfside Pier Shop also shared that this year, they have gone fully digital in the sense that they now take tablets to every ride on the pier for daily inspections. Starting at 6 a.m., they inspect every piece of equipment on every ride, running through a checklist on their tablets.
Water Park Pump Room
Right outside of the Surfside Pier Shop is the Water Park Pump Room, containing water pumps and filters for one of Morey’s two water parks. While the park is open, the water pumps constantly recycle water from the bottom of the water slides to the top, and the water filters continuously run water through a sand filter. Around 2,000 gallons of water per minute come through one pump, which is enough to fill a bathtub 15 times in one minute. Once a day, the filters are backwashed (reversed) to clear the filters of debris and dirty water. Chlorine sensors measure the chlorine in the pools and automatically add more if needed, and the water is tested by hand every two hours. On average, Morey’s goes through 50,000 lbs. of chlorine per year. In addition to maintaining the water parks with pumps, filters and chlorine tests, employees walk the slides by foot and swim in each pool every morning for inspections.
The last stop on the tour was KONG, a remake of an iconic boardwalk landmark from the early 1970s, opened in summer 2015. I got to witness the gorilla-themed ride in action, seeing the operations behind the flying scooters which circle King Kong. We learned about Morey’s safety procedures for rides, a huge part of their philosophy. Aside from checking guests’ seatbelts and making sure the area is clear, each smaller ride has a foot pedal that the operator must keep his or her foot on to keep the ride going. In case of an emergency, the operator can lift his or her foot off the pedal and the ride will automatically begin to shut itself down. For all of Morey’s amusement rides, employees go through two to six hours of hands-on ride training after hours of orientation, as well as supervised operations before running the ride on their own.
Want to go “Beyond the Boards” with a member of the Morey family, and see for yourself what it takes to run the parks? Visit moreyspiers.com and register for your VIP tour! Throughout the summer season, Morey’s will hold one tour per week. Each tour can accommodate around 16 people ages 12 and up. Cost is $35 per person for the 90-minute tour, plus a Curley fry buffet bar at the end, Morey’s Piers swag and exclusive discounts and coupons. Come witness all that makes up this playground by the sea!