NORTH WILDWOOD - An overcast sky and 40-degree weather made summer seem a long way off Wednesday, but the brightly colored red, green and yellow supports for Morey's Piers' newest attraction hinted it is closer than it appears.
"It" is the key word here. The two-letter word happens to be the name of the pier operator's latest $1 million-plus attraction. On Wednesday, "it" started to take shape.
A crane lifted the first of the ride's support arms onto the Surfside Pier at 26th Avenue and the Boardwalk as a crew from KMG, the ride's manufacturer, and Morey's employees worked to position "it."
The process began Tuesday and will be completed in late April, when the second half of the ride makes its way from a plant in the Netherlands all the way to Five Mile Beach.
"It's a guy's form of giving birth," said Jack Morey, vice president of the company, noting that "it" has been years in the making. "We keep our eye out for attractions that might work for us."
The ride, in a slightly different incarnation, caught the company's eye at a carnival, and Morey's arranged to have "it" built to their specifications about two years ago.
"'It' had a certain stage presence," Morey said, comparing a successful ride to a classic rock band. "We need to pick rides like the Rolling Stones, with a good stage presence for a long time," he said.
Morey believes "it" has just that.
The ride, which he placed in the family thrill category, will swing, spin and fly about 65 feet above the Boardwalk. Riders will be secured with a lap-bar system - instead of traditional shoulder restraints - designed by the ride's engineers and Morey's Piers, allowing greater freedom of movement.
Mike Granigan, director of construction for the company, watched as the support arms were moved into place Wednesday. He said when the arm of the ride comes down to the base, "it" will be moving at 41 mph.
Twenty-four passengers at a time will board "it," and the ride's closeness to the Boardwalk - on a raised platform - means spectators will be able to share in the thrills as the gondolas swing through the air.
"There will be some weightlessness. Some significant positive G-forces," Morey said.
The thrills should make the ride a success, but Morey said new rides don't come with guarantees.
"Oh yeah, there have been some failures, painful and expensive mistakes," Morey said.
While the art of picking a ride is best known only by those in the business, Morey said there is a science involved. Rides are judged on a host of traits such as compatibility of the minimum height requirement with the company's target audience, the ride's capacity per hour and operating costs.
Visitors will get to judge "it" for themselves when the ride debuts Memorial Day weekend during the pier's Curley Fry Festival. A group of amateur fry eaters will compete to see who can eat the most fries in the shortest amount of time.
Then, they will get to ride "it."
"Hopefully, they won't puke on 'it,'" Morey said.
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