NORTH WILDWOOD — Morey’s Piers’ latest attraction — with a simple two-letter moniker — was lifted into place on Surfside Pier Friday morning as Jack Morey, the company’s executive vice president, looked on. Guess what: “it” fits.
“I am really pleased. We spent a significant amount of time trying to figure out the exact juxtaposition of the ride,” Morey said as the support arms and center support were hoisted by two cranes.
“We worried about putting it too close to the children’s rides. We worried about the elevation, where the entrance and exits were,” Morey said of the ride that sits between the Sky Coaster and Rock and Roll.
Those were just some of the company’s concerns about a more than $1 million investment in “it,” which it hopes will be the season’s hottest draw.
“Beyond all the computer renderings, you really never know for sure, so I’m ecstatic that we put it in the right energy zone,” Morey said. “There is a feeling of jubilation and relief.”
Energy was key Friday as three specialists from KMG, the ride’s Netherlands-based manufacturer, Morey’s staffers, and painters, electricians and Shaw Crane Company operators prepared the ride and worked to position the four support arms and center support.
The work started early in the morning. Just after noon the ride, except for its gondola arms and green and black seats still sitting on the pier nearby, was in place.
The Moreys marked the occasion with a group photo, including the company’s ride maintenance staff and a champagne christening.
Will Morey, the company’s president, smashed the bottle on a support arm, dousing himself in champagne and making for a memorable start to “it’s” time on the island’s Boardwalk.
The ride, judging from the thousands of LED lights that line nearly every part of it, will be a hard-to-miss addition to the pier operator’s amusement inventory.
Beyond the lights, the ride experience promises to live up to the category of family thrill ride, as up to 24 riders at a time will swing, spin and fly about 65 feet above the Boardwalk.
Riders, who must be between a minimum of 4 feet 4 inches tall and a maximum of 6 feet 7 inches tall, will face each other as the ride spins. The ride features a lap-bar system — instead of traditional shoulder restraints — designed by the ride’s engineers and Morey’s Piers, and when the arm of the ride comes down to the base, it will be moving at 41 miles per hour.
Jack Morey said he will, of course, be in the first batch of riders with other staffers, including electrical mechanic John McLaughlin, who are also eager to ride.
McLaughlin watched closely as the KMG representatives installed each part of the ride because once they head home, McLaughlin will be charged with overseeing its maintenance.
“I’m going to try it, so I can hear the sounds of it. It’s going to be amazing,” McLaughlin said.
Maintenance is important for any ride, particularly one subjected to daily doses of sea air. “All the light bulbs. That’s going to be a full-time job right there,” McLaughlin said.
The ride controls have an array of safety features, including an anemometer, which measures wind speed, and the ride operator will have a series of controls to monitor for everything from the safety bars to the stroboscope. The anemometer will not allow the ride to operate at wind speeds of 33 mph or greater.
By late Friday afternoon, the KMG crew and McLaughlin had installed the gondola arms, which will hold the seats, placed together in six groups of four.
KMG’s North American representative, Robert Tucker, said the ride is known in the factory under the name Afterburner, but the name and other variations make each unique.
“it” for instance is the first of KMG’s Afterburner rides to be placed on a boardwalk, he said.
Ride enthusiasts will be able to try the new ride the weekend of May 14, and a grand opening is planned for Memorial Day weekend.
On Friday, Morey’s also announced planned upgrades to last year’s ride, the Ghost Ship.
That ride, which earned ‘Best New Theme Park Attraction for 2010’ in About.com’s Reader’s Choice Awards, will offer a new theme and changes to the interior, designed to make it more “immersive,” Morey’s announced.
“Ghost Ship was a great attraction last year, no doubt. It would have been easy to come back with the same show in 2011. But I was not surprised when Will and Jack sent me to various parks in the U.S. and across the pond in Europe to research how we can make it even better. That’s just how they operate. Good enough is never good enough,” said Ghost Ship manager Terry O’Brien.
Morey’s Piers has been operating in the Wildwoods since 1969.
The piers offer more than 100 rides and attractions, spread along six beach blocks.
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