A legend is coming back for the 2018 season, and if the video is any indication, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. The classic coaster, Rollo Coaster is reopening with a new look, and new trains, and it may leave some people off the rails. In August of 2016, a three year old boy was ejected from the classic wooden coaster Rollo Coaster at Idlewilde & SoakZone in Ligonier, PA. The boy was allegedly alone in the seat, and was under the limit to ride alone. The state eventually and urged the park to take measures to make sure this would not happen again, but because the coaster is 80 years old, it doesn’t fit within the rules that current coasters do.
Over the weekend, Idlewild revealed their plans for bringing back Rollo Coaster, and the measures that they will implement.
Before we start with the obvious complaints, let’s look at everything first. The park was not required to make any changes, but it was strongly encouraged to. The ride manufacture, Philadelphia Toboggan Company, built the original incarnation in 1938 and also helped with the redesign. The changes are part of a two year redesign, which has seen newer trains, additional restraints and wings added to the side of the coaster cars.
The newer trains are heavier, especially with the new restraints, and wings, which lead to the park instituting a new weight limit of 265 lbs, per row. You can weigh yourself before the coaster, but there are pressure switches, with weight sensors right before getting on the coaster. With the weight of the new trains on the old track, the weight limit is just another safety measure. In addition, the park and PTC have upped the height requirement, as well as the height to ride alone, and will put their employees through more training.
Now, the real question is…is all this really necessary? Yes, training the employees to catch a three year old riding alone is definitely important. Yes, raising the height requirement may also help prevent any issues, after all safety is the utmost importance. But now we have a weight restriction as well. Look, I’m a fat guy (and I own it) and I have plenty of experience with the walk of shame, where you walk back down the entrance ramp because you just can’t fit on the damn ride. However, this takes it to a whole new level. Not only does the ride limit who can ride, it pretty much eliminates the ability of anyone to ride together. If you have someone 42 inches, there’s a chance they won’t be able to ride, because their weight and mom and dad’s combined may be a tad too much. I know personally, I wouldn’t be able to ride alone, let alone with someone else. No, this isn’t fat shaming, this is a park with a knee-jerk reaction, trying to appease everyone at once. There are now spacers in the seats, as well as seat belts, and a lap bar. While the “wings” sure aren’t going to weight much, they may help in bringing the weight limit down a bit. They also look ridiculous, and could even make the experience less than what it originally was.
Look, safety is important, it’s the MOST important thing, but instead of going with a crazy reaction that restricts more than it helps, how about doing more to help the situation? First and foremost, training, training, training. If the people running the ride fails to follow proper procedure, they need to be removed. Most coasters that age, and of bigger size also have just a lap bar, and seat belts. Those seem to be substantial enough. Of course, there’s the parenting issue as well. I’ve raised two, and helped with several others, and there’s no way in hell I’d let a three year old go it alone. That should have never happened. The fact that TWO kids were under the minimum height to ride alone, and they both rode alone, sets off all kinds of alarms about the decision process here.
Still, the park is working on making the 80 year old coaster able to handle more weight, which tells me that a redesign on the structure is looming. It’s possible that the coaster can return to “classic” status, but for now it looks like a bit of an overreaction.