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Ride Profile

[intellectual property], so we made a smart decision to find a well-known story that is out of licence – free IP! Before we did it, I spoke to Universal because they did the Van Helsing movie and are a partner with us on Shrek 4D, however they did not have a problem because what we were doing was totally different.

I was introduced to Joshua Wexler from Threshold Animation by Roger Houben, who gave me a choice of three storylines. Then I asked Philipp Van Stratum from P&P Projects to help us make us a book; nice pictures always helps when it comes to board decisions. We got approval, and the theming contract went to TAA Industries. During the build process TAA also put in some of their own flavour; I would say it’s about 70% P&P and 30% TAA.

Double Lift Wiebe Damstra, who has worked with me on a few projects over the past couple of years, served as project manager. Face, a local contractor, handled all the sound, light and show control, and showed us a lot of

professionalism after two other parties bailed out during construction.

The ride system is a Gerstlauer Bobsled Coaster with two lifts. The first is a chain lift; the second is a tyre drive so we can accelerate the speed as you climb the hill. We only have two anchor points; everything else is on a base frame, but it’s very quiet running because we put sand inside the track. Gerstlauer are a great manufacturer, but cars are not really their signature, so we also have made a really great custom design for the cars; I am really happy with them. Van Helsing’s Factory is the garage where he prepares his cars for vampire hunting. The story that we tell in the queue line and pre-shows is that you are on a tour of his factory, and we really build it up with sound effects and music; you feel your heartbeat racing as you get closer and closer. Then as you reach the station, all hell breaks loose. There is no time to waste, there is a vampire inside the ride, you must grab your weapons and help Van Helsing find him.

You see the vampires on four screens at the top of the first lift, and then race through four scenes including the factory, a forest, and then you go into a tunnel section. This part of the ride has a drop in it like a Wild Mouse and I said this should be totally in the dark so people do not see the drop. This is my favourite part of the ride, which funnily enough is not themed at all.

Everything else is about theming, including a scrapyard scene before the second lift, wolves jumping out at you, and a really great fog screen with a giant vampire. At the end, Van Helsing appears again on a screen, mission complete. Then, as you leave the ride, a vampire falls out through the roof, laughing at you. I wish we could have had actors in there, but I didn’t want to jeopardise anything in the design phase. Maybe there are a few options for our Halloween Horror Fest.

It was very important for us to theme the outside of the building. If you look at all the old “studio” buildings from when the park opened in 1996, they were all very plain. I wanted to break with our history and move away from that, this is why we already

painted the X-Men building blue. I wanted people to know that what is inside is new; we haven’t just changed the name. That’s what happened in 2005 when we went from Warner Bros to Movie Park, we launched “10 new attractions,” but really it was 10 new names. The last few years I think we have moved away from that with Nick Land and now Van Helsing.

Vampire Tales

“Movie Park was looking for a cool and scary, but not too scary, concept to replace the Gremlins attraction and vampires seemed like an idea with real bite!” reveals Joshua Wexler of Threshold Animation in

California, which helped the park settle on the theme of Van Helsing. “We went back and forth on a few different concepts until we came up with this story about Van Helsing's Garage (now Factory). Essentially you enter what appears to be a run of the mill auto body shop, but you're not just any visitors, and this is not just any body shop. You're here on special assignment. You see, Abraham Van Helsing is still hunting vampires, but the days of hand held crosses and garlic necklaces are long behind us. This is the modern age of vampire hunting, and at Van Helsing’s Factory, no expense is spared when it comes to saving the world from these bloodsucking maniacs.” “Threshold’s basic Van Helsing story was situated in a Bavarian

Continued over the page

Racing through the forest JULY 2011

Another internal shot of the ride in action 29

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