PW-JAN20-28-29-Cover-Story.qxp_Feature 31/01/2020 14:16 Page 29

Cover Story

In a nutshell

PW: Talk me through your product range CH: Wooden structure/wooden track, and steel structure/wooden track coasters. We are finalising a new steel track design for 2020.

The company unveiled their first design —

Hersheypark’s Wildcat — in 1996, a dynamic coaster that made an impact from the start. “My reaction when I first road it myself was ‘WOW!’” remembers Hain. “I knew that was exactly the kind of coaster we had been wanting to produce.” The ride contained many of the elements that would become GCII’s signature including the tight sweeping curves, paying homage to the early 1900’s coaster designers such as Harry Traver. The innovative designs by GCII didn’t stop with

their tight twists and fast layouts. Hain and Boodley worked to develop a revolution for the modern wooden coaster industry: their Millennium Flyer trains. “We wanted trains

Did you

know? Although capable of designing and building any kind of wooden coaster, GCI specialises in ‘twister’ type rides. These convoluted designs, coupled with their own Millennium Flyer articulating coaster trains, create an experience that emulates the acrobatic thrills of a modern roller coaster while retaining the nostalgic look and feel of a timeless, classic attraction.

that could smoothly manoeuver the curves and snappy transitions we were designing,” Hain tells us. GCI spent much of 1998 designing the trains and debuted them in 1999 on Roar (later renamed Joker) at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. “The revolutionary design of the trains truly allowed GCI to take twister wooden roller coasters to the next level,” he says.

International attention That next level received unparalleled international attention and critical acclaim with the debut of GCI’s Thunderhead at Dollywood (Pigeon Forge, Tennesee) in 2004. The wild ride was the first coaster to feature a station flyby — having riders literally pass through the loading station, further wetting the appetites of guests waiting to board — and was named as ‘Best New Wood Coaster’ in the 2005 Coasters’ Choice Awards. Further prestige followed, with Thunderhead laying claim to the ‘Best Wooden Coaster’ title at the 2006 and 2007 Golden Ticket Awards. 2005 saw Boodley retire and hand the title of

GCI’s lead designer to Jeff Pike. Pike’s first coaster as lead designer, the Kentucky Rumbler at Beech Bend (Bowling Green, Kentucky.), continued the company’s traditions of quality, reliability, smoothness, and comfort in their designs as well as maintaining the curved first drop its designs had become known for. The accolades continue for GCI with both The

Prowler at Worlds of Fun (Kansas City, Missouri) and Mystic Timbers at Kings Island (Kings Mills, Ohio) taking home Golden Ticket Awards for ‘Best New Ride’ upon debut. In addition, the company has produced esteemed refurbishments of popular older coasters that benefitted from GCII’s TLC, with Knott’s Berry Farm’s Ghost Rider (Buena Park, California) and Holiday World’s The Legend (Santa Claus, Indiana) reopening to rave reviews. “Our coasters have always been designed with

the end user in mind, both park operators and guests. That means that we insist on the highest level of ride experience combined with the lowest cost-to-maintain design,” says Hain of the company’s success.

PW: What other products do you provide? CH: Kiddie cars, Class 4 Trains and Class 5 Trains.

PW: Tell us about the range of parks and attractions you have supplied to over the years? How do they differ in their demands and why? CH: Asia, Europe, and the USA. Price driven is the difference and the quality of the rides.

PW: Most challenging project, to date? CH: Our first ride, Wildcat in Hershey, PA, but all have challenges due to the uniqueness of each and every one.

PW: What have you got coming up at the moment? CH: Repair season is upon us - two in Europe and four in the USA. We have two ground- breaking projects underway in Dubai and Vietnam and are in the process of signing a new contract in Europe and Asia.

PW: What changes have you seen in the industry and how have you responded to them? CH: Changes on the “unscheduled maintenance” of the rides; we are making changes as warranted.

PW: What sets you apart from your competitors? CH: We strive to create and maintain a loyal customer base with parks throughout the world by delivering a quality product at fair market value, with our knowledgeable and trained team.

PW: What are your biggest achievements? That’s easy - developing and designing roller coasters for the last 25 years!

PW: Finally, what do you love most about your job? CH: Meeting new clients from different cultures and being able to travel to different countries and experience those cultures first hand.


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