Visitor safety remains the number one priority for amusement park operators who are faced with the challenge of enhancing customer experience, whilst complying with rigorous health and safety regulations. The unpredictability of an average UK summer means that blue skies can turn to high winds, rain, thunderstorms and lightning in an instant. Severe weather planning is crucial to ensure visitor safety and protection and Skyview Systems was thrilled to be approached by Thorpe Park to design a fully automatic, bespoke weather monitoring system to do just that.
About Thorpe Park
Thorpe Park Resort is one of the UK’s most visited family destinations, welcoming some 1.85 million visitors* a year. Owned by Merlin Entertainments, Thorpe Park has a portfolio of spectacular rides for thrill-seekers everywhere. With over 30 rides, attractions and live events, the resort remains at the forefront of family entertainment.
Merlin Entertainments is Europe’s largest entertainments company, with 100 attractions in 22 countries across four continents.
Safety remains top of the agenda for Merlin, whose safety-first approach - “Protecting the Magic” - encourages its leaders, people and business partners to identify and manage risks effectively, prevent accidents and deliver unforgettable guest experiences.
“Protecting the Magic is about driving a positive, proactive culture of safety across our attractions and theme parks… Safety is our number one priority. It’s engrained in all we do and central to our values and principles.” - Merlin Entertainments
Fairgrounds and amusements parks must adhere to stringent legislation, including the European standard EN 13814:2004 on fairground and amusement park machinery structures and HSG175 - The Health & Safety Executive “Fairgrounds and amusement parks - Guidance on safe practice” - both of which specifically highlight the requirement for effective weather monitoring.
We were delighted to work with Thorpe Park on their flagship Saw ride - the “world’s first horror movie rollercoaster” - which has a “beyond vertical” drop of 100 degrees from a height of 100ft. At such a height, vigilant monitoring of wind speed and direction is necessary. Operators need to be made aware of weather changes, not just when a red alert is required, but well in advance to make crucial and well-informed decisions regarding the operation and management of the ride.
Having successfully installed weather monitoring systems at many of the UK’s biggest leisure attractions including Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Fantasy Island, the London Eye and Spinnaker Tower, we understand that no two site requirements are ever the same. The location of the ride, how exposed to the elements the ride is, and how close to the coast it may be are just some of the variables that need to be considered.
After site surveys and detailed discussions with the team to establish the main requirements, Skyview installed a custom solution comprising of a web-based SCADA system linked wirelessly to wind sensors and alarm units on many weather sensitive rides providing a very robust and reliable fully automatic system to measure, record and display wind speeds and alarm conditions across the park.
Skyview also designed and installed a traffic light alarm system, to allow the team to receive adequate and timely warnings. The flexible system enables each ride to have it’s own operating limits (wind speed and temperatures) which are specified by ride manufacturers. When all is well, the system will display a green light. The system’s amber light alerts the site operators to take caution. The red traffic light and accompanying audible alarm alerts the operators to stop the ride with immediate effect.