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Kentucky Kingdom reopens, but new coaster sways…a lot

Screen shot 2013-12-19 at 7.51.29 PM

Kentucky Kingdom reopened on Saturday for the first time since 2009, but there is some concern that the the park’s premiere roller coaster, Lightning Run, may not be 100% safe. Lightning Run is the newest coaster, with 2,500 feet of track and an 80-degree ascent. It cost $7 million, and has an 100-foot drop. However, it also has a noticeable sway, as one person caught on film:

WAVE3 spoke to John Mulcahy, the director of marketing and communication for Kentucky Kingdom, who said that the coaster passed all safety inspections, and the sway is part of the natural give and take of a high-intensity roller coaster:

“There are so many twist, turns in this track that there are some points where it does release, and you see that movement,” Mulcahy said. “We are aware that there is movement in the coaster track, and it is there by design.”

I’m no engineer, but that video is still a little unsettling to me.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

45 Comments for Kentucky Kingdom reopens, but new coaster sways…a lot

  1. Mxyzptlk
    2:05 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    Amusement Rides are inspected by the Ag Commissioner’s office in Ky, if I recall correctly. Richie Farmer should have lost his job when that girl lost her feet. At least we know he did’t inspect this one…

    • Idiot
      2:18 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

      Pure genious. A cable snapping is easily detected . . . and the head of an agency’s fault. Just stupid.

    • Mxyzptlk
      2:30 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

      Damaged cables can be readily detected if anyone bothers to look. That’s why such accidents are not commonplace.. Stranded cables show fraying well before they snap. Oh, and insulting someone’s intelligence when YOU are the one who doesn’t know what you’re talking about just makes you look like a complete horse’s ass.

  2. SteelyDanny
    2:08 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    Do you want Kentucky Kingdom to get shut down again? Because irresponsibly reporting on topics of which you have not the slightest information (i.e. a background in Engineering) is how you get Kentucky Kingdom shut down again.

    Do you really think that a company would sink 10’s of millions of dollars into a project, such as reviving a derelict theme park, without checking first to make sure things were bolted down correctly?

    • Reading is hard
      2:33 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

      Did you read the headline and skip to the comments? How else would you have missed a block quote saying it’s by design?

    • City of bad decisions
      2:34 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

      This is the same city that o.k.’ed the chicken shack deal…. Yes they’re dumb enough to!

    • Ben
      2:36 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

      Yes! I know that Mr Hart has done shady things and used inferior products in the past. I have no reason to believe that he has changed. I know this because I refused to sell him lumber that was of less quality than the coaster was called for in the specification. I was told to mind my own business and I told Mr. Hart that I would no longer sell to KY Kingdom as long as he was associated with it. Ride at your own risk!

    • Dee W.
      11:32 pm May 28, 2014 Permalink

      There is no lumber in this coaster.

  3. Blue_Cat75
    2:09 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    Coasters have to have some give to them or they would break under stress. I will say, that one could be firmed up a bit.

  4. Craig
    2:10 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    Yes, and the Sears tower (or whatever it’s called now) sways up to 3 feet from center at its top. Steel is elastic, and can safely bend small amounts. A perfectly rigid structure at large scales or under high forces is more dangerous than one that can deform somewhat to dissipate the energy.

    • UKfan
      2:28 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

      bridges sway as well. if not, they would collapse similiar to buildings

  5. An Engineer
    2:10 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    I am an Engineer. Rule: If it bends it isn’t breaking. Watch the tip of a wing bounce during flight.

    Similar concept.

    • Blue_Cat75
      3:04 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

      Oh, why did I watch that? Another reason for me not to fly.

  6. An Engineer
    2:14 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    Here is a wooden coaster showing the same concept. Significantly more visible than the one at Kentucky Kingdom.

  7. A Bad Engineer
    2:20 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    See, a little sway can be a good thing.

    • A Bad Engineer
      2:20 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    • bluemanchew
      3:42 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

      That’s not a little sway. That’s a lot of sway. I could see the track giving a little but the supports aren’t supposed to do that.

    • An Engineer
      4:56 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

      In fairness bluemanchew, it started with a little sway and then the wind hit a frequency which caused a aeroelastic flutter. When the small sway and the wind came together it created a resonance which increased until failure.

      If it’s in regards to the roller coaster, it is the supports which have to give way. It is the supports which are taking the energy released by the car. You don’t want the track giving way because it is directly connected to the cars and could cause issues w/ the path of the roller coaster cars.

  8. Big Blue Coming At You
    2:32 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    If there was no give, then the track or supports could crack. The moron that filmed this irresponsibly turned this over to the media thinking the coaster was unsafe. Then the media irresponsibly created false panic by running with the story. Now the park will lose money on the ride because of the media’s irresponsible reporting.

    • bluemanchew
      3:39 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

      Thanks for the post from the Ky Kingdom PR dept.

    • So What?
      3:44 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

      It’s just Louisville.

  9. John Ellis
    2:33 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    Very interesting, but what we’re really wondering is does Ryan still have a marriage?

  10. Sparky624
    3:05 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    I guess this coaster has ‘Swaygger’ ….

  11. inlinefor9
    3:11 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    Guy in video “…yeah I’m not an expert or anything, but….”

    Probably disagrees with doctors as well. Leave the engineering to the experts. Try googling what you are seeing before causing a minor hystery over it.

    • bluemanchew
      3:44 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

      Thanks for standing up and posting the video. I might have gotten on the ride during Ky state fair. Definitely not now

  12. UKBlue
    3:47 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    KY Kingdom will be bankrupt again for the 4th time within the next 5 years, so hopefully this thing doesn’t collapse & kill someone. Remember the statement it’s supposed to have some sway when it collapses & KY Kingdom gets sued again.

  13. Big Mike In The Wood
    3:49 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    That coaster wobbles like Ryan Lemonds knees on his shameful walk home.

  14. Han
    4:04 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    Ever been in the arch in St. Louis? It sways by design.

  15. bluemanchew
    4:05 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    If ky kingdom was smart they would close the ride put up more supports. Atleast I would think they care about my safety. Them saying there is nothing to see here, that’s the way it should be, is reckless. But that’s the louisville way. Lie and hope nothing happens.

    • js2
      4:44 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

      based on what??

    • An Engineer
      4:58 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

      You’ve posted 3 times and have stated nothing supporting for views. Do you have any factual basis to your rambling or is it just that? Your opinion is one thing but don’t go out “giving advice” when the only thing is seems you have in plenty is hubris.

  16. Diehardcatfan
    4:10 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    Its swaying a lot and over time it will weaken the steal. It may take awhile but : Your only strong as your weakest link!

  17. Levi
    4:22 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    If you want to understand this better and have a thrill at the same time apply to the ironworkers union. I’ve built 250″ freestanding towers and they withstood Katrina and Rita. Believe me when I inspected the nav lights at the top, that steel was flexing in the wind several feet.

    • Blue Steel
      5:02 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

      “I’ve built 250″ freestanding towers….”

      What is this, a tower for ants?

    • Levi
      12:39 am May 28, 2014 Permalink

      Good catch. 🙂

      Point is engineers are pretty dang good at designing steel structures that flex a good deal but remain intact and erect through numerous hurricanes. As far as I’m concerned we need more engineers and fewer lawyers and business degrees.

  18. roons
    4:33 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    *a 100

  19. Big Blue Bill
    4:54 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    Ok guys, first there is a significant difference between the St Louis arch and the Sears tower swaying as much as they do and this roller coaster support. In the former we’re talking about structures moving relatively small distances compared to their overall height and rarely do they away beyond their base. Here we have a much shorter support moving similar distances laterally which will result in a much higher stress in the structure and a decreased life span.
    What troubles me more though is the length of time the structure stays in motion. It appears to me that a natural frequencyis being excited as the car goes over this particular hill. If that is the case there could be a real issue with this section. The good news is that this should be a relatively simple problem to address if someone will admit there is a problem to be addressed.

    Granted I only hold two engineering degrees and have work experience as a structural analyst, so I may very well be mistaken about what I’m seeing (as I’ve only got a ~30 seconds video clip to make assumptions from). However, I don’t believe that any concerns raised by patrons are unwarranted in this instance.

  20. Engineer
    5:29 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    I would gladly ride this coaster. That sway is surely designed, and not troublesome. The speed of the coaster is not causing harmonic oscillation, which would be where problems would arise. The engineers and technicians who designed and built this coaster could comment to the news if asked (they did, for those that missed it).

  21. senior engineering student
    7:05 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    I am a senior engineering student at UK. While I am not saying it is safe or unsafe, I don’t like people making conclusions based on pure conjecture. This is a steel roller coaster. Steel is a ductile material which means it can handle some give. Steel has an elastic limit for stress, and if that elastic limit is not reached then it will never permanently deform. Also, if fatigue is the concern, steel has an endurance limit which it can be built around. This means that once it weakens to a certain point it will not weaken past that point (normally 10^6 cycles). Trust the engineers who built the coaster, not the guy with a camera phone.

  22. RSMinton
    7:15 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    bluemanchew is evidence of just how badly American education has become in the modern era. If you know nothing about a field, you should at least know enough to keep your mouth shut.

  23. Also an Engineer
    7:40 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    This is how a statement from anyone other than the design team and the Structural Engineer on Record (even Professional Engineers) should go: “I know absolutely nothing about this because I have done absolutely no work on this project. Therefore, I will not form any opinion other than that I trust that the licensed professional engineer knows what they are doing.”

  24. Sad sad news
    7:46 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    The coaster crashed and derailed and was full of ul fans… The sad news, one survived.

  25. Tampa Satchel
    10:57 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    I trained as a nuclear engineer in the US Navy. I can say without hesitation that that is not a nuclear reactor.

  26. James Brown
    11:55 pm May 27, 2014 Permalink

    Hey! Wait a minute, hold on here. This bandstand wasn’t double bolted!