Category: Uncategorized

Greetings from Fabulous Sunbury Pennsylvania!

By , July 24, 2018
Jack Ballard

Hello fellow roller coaster nerds,

My name is Jack Ballard. I’m one of the 2018 summer interns here at the GCI Headquarters. This summer, we’ve been cooking up some big plans for new rides, and I’d love to share them with you! But I can’t, so instead let’s dive into a little background about me.

I am a mechanical engineering student at Purdue University. I’ve lived in the endless corn of Indiana for almost my entire life. Needless to say, the rolling hills (and abundant roller coasters) of Pennsylvania have been a welcome change. Speaking of roller coasters, I’ve been a roller coaster fanatic ever since visiting Universal Studios when I was 10 and riding Dueling Dragons (R.I.P.). Since then I’ve been visiting parks around the globe, playing way too many hours of Roller Coaster Tycoon, and hoping one day I could be on the other side of the tracks, helping create these rides myself. That opportunity finally came this summer and I must say, it’s been an incredible experience.

This summer has consisted of a wide variety of tasks for me and my fellow intern comrades. We’ve done everything from creating a project inventory tracker to lifting and sorting massive steel support beams. It’s been a healthy mix of hard work, sarcasm, and careful problem solving. Here are some of the most important lessons I have learned from this internship so far.

  1. Listen to everyone: Whether it’s the owner of the company, or the steel fabricators down in the shop, everyone has a story to tell and incredibly relevant advice to give. Almost everyone has been doing this longer than me, which means everyone can help me learn even more about roller coasters. When you ask and listen, you learn a lot.
  2. Count your blessings: Like any internship, there are bad days and good days. No matter how difficult the task is, it’s important to take some time to remember that I’m an intern at a company that makes roller coasters. I like to think about what it felt like before I had this job and just how fortunate I’ve been to get opportunities like this. Thoughts like this make the difficult tasks fly by.
  3. Always look for a better way: I’ll explain this one with a story.  A few weeks ago we were given the mind-numbing task of grinding chamfers into almost 15,000 bearing blocks using two steel grinders. It took us about a minute to grind each one, and with two people working, that equals about 125 hours of work. After about a day of this we couldn’t stop thinking that there had to be a better way. We then spent the entire next day designing and testing methods for streamlining this process. After several failed prototypes and with the help of people around the shop, we were able to design a jig which held blocks in place, and use a planar saw to cut chamfers into 22 blocks at a time. We ended up almost quintupling our productivity and were able to finish the task that week. The takeaway from this was that there is almost always a more efficient way to do something. As engineers, it is important to question existing products and processes and always search for opportunities for improvement.


Our Lovely Jig



Your 2018 Summer Interns!

I’ll be back with more updates in the next couple of weeks, but until then, have a Great Coasters day!

Jack Sig

The Brake Run

By , January 9, 2018
Robert Cybulski

Hello! And welcome to my final blog. It has now been a couple weeks since I finished my internship at Great Coasters, but I wanted to wrap up this blog with a final post.

During the final weeks of my internship, I spent most of my time in the train shop working on the assembly of a brand new set of trains. The previous set of trains (recently announced for Alton Towers) had already been started and were about 30-40% completed upon our arrival in September. However, this set of trains had not yet been touched, and I had the opportunity to work on them from the very beginning. It was cool being able to see the beginning of train assembly since I missed that part of the process with the Alton trains.

Since I had already learned how to assemble many different systems while building the first set of trains, Todd allowed me to independently install many systems including the anti-roll backs, chain dogs, brake fins, guide wheels, and upstop wheels while he focused on tasks such as assembling and pressing wheels. Of course, he checked all of my work and would answer any questions I had, but it was cool to have the responsibility of assembling the trains with minimal guidance. By the end of the internship, I felt like I had a pretty good idea of how a Millennium Flyer is built and the processes used to create the parts.

I briefly mentioned above that the first set of trains that Mike and I were working on was for Alton Towers. I am finally able to say this because Alton recently officially announced their new for 2018 roller coaster, Wicker Man, a Great Coasters creation that fuses wood and fire. The layout has yet to be revealed, but you can find the promotional material at the following link:

Before I say goodbye I would like to thank everyone who followed along with my adventures at Great Coasters through this blog. I really appreciate it and hope that it was entertaining and educational. I would also like to thank everyone at Great Coasters who made this opportunity possible, and who took the time to teach me something. It was a great experience and I learned a lot during my time here. I can’t wait to apply my experience as I continue my ride in this amazing industry.

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Drawings: Lego Instructions for a Roller Coaster

By , December 6, 2017
Robert Cybulski

Since our first set of trains (as well as Dan) left the shop a couple of weeks ago, the shop has been rather quiet. To fill in the time between tasks in the shop, I have been helping Jase with upgrading and modifying the engineering drawings for the Millennium Flyer trains. I have mainly been working with the assembly drawings for multiple subsystems of the trains (for those that are unfamiliar with engineering drawings, an assembly drawing basically shows the assembler how the parts fit together- kind of like Lego instructions).

My first task was updating the drawings for the trains that were recently sent out. Since the trains had a couple of special modifications due to the added sensors, there were a fair amount of changes to be made to the standard Millennium Flyer trains. Although many of the modifications were simple changes, our CAD (computer aided design) program used for drafting the drawings did not always agree with the changes I wanted to make. Although frustrating at times, these challenges gave me the opportunity to learn the various tricks of the program as well as to improve my understanding of train assembly.

My two proudest achievements as far as drawings are concerned were my drafting of a new seatbelt installation drawing and a sensor installation drawing for a new assembly placed under the floorboard. These were completely new drawings which required me to create an assembly model, an exploded view, and drawing with a bill of materials. Now that I have wrapped up most of the drawing changes for the last set of trains, I have been helping Jase get through his list of required drawing changes. We’re slowly cleaning off his to-do list whiteboards.

Thanks for reading!

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Weights and Measures (with some industry advice)

By , December 4, 2017
Mike Troise

Last time I wrote, I left off with shop inventory being conducted. That was quite the process! For the better part of a week we were counting every part in the shop and putting things in proper places on the shelves. It was definitely something that needed to be done but I am certainly glad it is over. Since then, we have gotten the next set of chassis off the shelves and onto the work benches to begin our next two trains. Dan is off at the job site with our last set of trains so Robert and I have been working with the other mechanic Todd to begin work on these new trains. This has included the bolting of the two chassis halves together, installation of ARB and chain dogs, and more.


What is interesting with this next set of trains is that some of the design changes the park requested have led us to reconsider some of our component weights. This is leading to a new task for Robert and I. While we assemble these current trains, each component added to the train during assembly is to be weighed. We will be writing subassembly lists and tracking the weights of everything, creating a database that can be referenced in the future. While not the most glamorous task, it is pretty neat starting something that will hopefully be useful to the company for years to come.


On the fun side of things, about two weeks ago, Robert and I had the chance to attend the IAAPA Trade Show in Orlando, Florida. The IAAPA (International Association of Amusement Parks and Attraction) Show is hands down the largest event for the amusement industry. Companies from every component of this industry attend, from roller coaster manufacturers to food vendors and more. While my original intent for this blog was to cover what I have learned about networking at events such as this and how to “make it” into this industry, Robert actually did a terrific job covering this in his most recent blog and I urge students interested in this industry to check it out (here is the link to his blog: Instead I just wanted to quickly reflect a bit on what I noticed in what was now my second trip to IAAPA, which may lead to a tip or two of my own as well.


Last year was extremely nerve-racking at IAAPA. I knew just about nobody in the industry, didn’t have industry experience, and was trying to get my foot in the door with as many companies as possibly and make as many connections as I could. I felt like a small fish in a real big ocean. But at that IAAPA so many connections were made and the few industry friendships I had grew stronger. Now a year later, I was able to strengthen my connections, seeing both students and industry professionals who I may have worked with (at Universal Creative and GCI) as well as those who I met at previous events. One of the most unique experiences was manning the GCI booth at times when the rest of the staff had meetings. The roles so quickly have changed. A year ago, I was walking up to booths talking with engineers and other company employees, and then this year I was talking to students who were asking ME for advice on getting their foot in the door. It was so strange but so cool at the same time.


I will conclude again by saying that Robert’s advice certainly holds true. In this industry hard work never goes unnoticed. Be persistent. Email companies, network and industry events (like the IAAPA Trade Show and ASTM F24 conventions), and take advantage of EVERY opportunity presented to you. There are a lot of people in this industry who are here for students, and for any students reading this, if I make it there some day, I hope to do the same. For now, if anyone wishes to contact me with questions, feel free to reach out ( I also want to give a quick plug to Irvine Ondrey Engineering. They are a wonderful company who actually does the control systems for some of GCI’s United States rides. Anne and Brian are some of the nicest people you will ever meet in this industry, and if you EVER need advice, reach out to them (they are very responsive to facebook messages and email).


This blog certainly went on for longer than expected so that is all for now. Sad to say I only have two weeks lefts at GCI and then it is back to school.



This Crazy Coaster Dream: My Advice

By , November 27, 2017
Robert Cybulski

About two weeks ago, Mike and I had the opportunity to travel to the annual IAAPA Trade Show. For those who don’t know, IAAPA (International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions) is the biggest event in the industry where hundreds of companies from around the world come to show off their products. With enough money, visitors can buy everything from replica fire hydrants to steel hyper coasters. IAAPA is a great event for students looking to get into the industry to start making and maintain connections with companies and individuals. With IAAPA still fresh in my mind, I wanted to provide my advice for getting into the amusement industry. Obviously, everyone’s path into the industry is going to be different, but this is what I have learned both through experience as well as from other professionals in the industry:

  1. Take advantage of every opportunity. Many times in this industry, opportunities will come from the most unexpected places at the most unexpected times. I had about 3 weeks left in my internship at Universal when I got a call from Adam House asking me if I was interested in interning at GCII. Of course, my initial reaction was “YES!! Let’s do it!!” However, I quickly remembered that I was already registered for classes, housing, school projects, etc. for the fall semester. Thankfully, everyone I talked to about the opportunity and my advisors at RIT were extremely supportive and told me to go for it. Obviously, timing, finances, and location might not always be ideal, but when opportunity comes knocking you should do your best to open the door.
  2. Hard work and persistence will not go unnoticed. Whether it is in your schoolwork, an extracurricular club, or on an internship, hard work is going to pay off. When our school’s theme park enthusiast club competed in the Ryerson competition at Universal last year, it was our first amusement industry competition, and we had no clue what to expect or how much effort we would have to put in. We decided that we were going to give it our all and hope for the best, but as we finished up the first challenge at 3AM the day of the presentation, we wondered if the effort and late nights were worth it. Thankfully, the judges were impressed by our performance, rewarding us with first place in the competition as well as internships at Universal Creative. So for all those students pulling all-nighters and drinking more coffee than might be healthy, know that your hard work will pay off.
  3. Go meet people! Do your best to get to IAAPA and ASTM F24 and network with professionals and students in the industry. Although IAAPA is one of my favorite events each year, I think the ASTM F24 conferences might even be more valuable as far as networking goes. Everyone at ASTM is there because they care about the industry and are generally very open to talking to students. If you can’t get to ASTM, try to attend IAAPA on Thursday and Friday after many companies have finished their sales for the week. Also, companies take notice of students who are consistently going to these events and it shows that you are serious about working in the industry.
  4. No person or task is too unimportant for you. There were times at Universal, and even at Great Coasters, where I was given a task that I felt was below my skill level. Although I may feel that my skills could be put to better use elsewhere, I’ve realized that all these small tasks have to be done by someone and they are important to a project’s success. The same can be said for people. No matter what position someone might have in a company, it is important to respect them. This industry is relatively small, and you never know where someone might end up working or what position they might eventually have.

Like I said, everyone’s path is going to be different, but I hope this advice helps all of the other students like me who are chasing a crazy roller coaster dream. I look forward to continuing to learn and grow as I continue my journey in this amazing industry.

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Crunch Time!

By , November 7, 2017
Mike Troise

It has been a few weeks but I have finally gotten a chance to sit down and write out another blog. It has been an all hands on deck affair in the shop for the last week or two as we finished up work on the three trains for our latest project. As of last week, we have officially shipped all three trains! It has been quite the experience getting all of these done and out the door by the end of October. It was really cool to watch this game of tetris played out on a large scale as we used a fork lift to load each chassis into the shipping container. While there were some issues along the way, it all worked out in the end.


It was never a dull moment in the shop during this time. I spent time gluing down floorboards, attaching custom plugs to the ends of wires for use on the lap bar monitoring systems (see Robert’s 10/27 blog for more on all of the systems installed on these trains), installing seat bottoms into the chassis, drilling out holes in the wood running boards, and more. One of my biggest tasks recently was gathering up hardware for Dan to use when he is sent on site to finish assembling the trains. While we certainly hope he doesn’t encounter any issues, he likes to have spares of every bolt, washer, nut, metal component, wheel, and more in case they are needed. I have gathered and packaged an entire shipping pallet of hardware. It was quite the tedious task, but definitely an important one. While it was a ton of work gathering hardware for this project, preparation for the next has already begun! We have an order for two trains from another park, and I have already begun to gather components for these trains. No rest for sure around here. We have also been conducting an inventory of the entire shop, so we can stay on top of what needs to be ordered for current projects as well as things down the road.


On the “fun” side of things, a little over a week ago a few members of the RIT Theme Park Enthusiasts club were able to come down to Sunbury for a tour of our shop. Members got the opportunity to ask Dan the train mechanic and our engineer Jase lots of questions about our trains and about how we build attractions. I included a nice group photo below. Another fun thing that was going on during the month of October was the Elysburg Haunted House which Dan volunteers heavily at, creating two scare zones for this year. While I will admit I am far too scared to go through a haunted house, Dan was nice enough to lead Robert and I through it before they opened for the evening one night so we could check out the scares he had created as well as the rest of the haunted house. Even during the day, I jumped a few times. The house was very impressive and I now see why they often get lines over two hours long!




Thanks for reading! Check back soon for the latest from Sunbury!





Great Coasters, Great Internships

By , October 12, 2017
Mike Troise


Hi! My name is Mike and I am one of the two fall interns at GCII. With the closing of the Florence Kentucky office, I am stationed out here at the main facility in Sunbury, PA. I have been with GCI for about 4 weeks, and have already gotten quite involved and learned a lot. But first, let me more formally introduce myself.

I am a mechanical engineering student at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY and will graduate with BS and ME degrees in December of 2018. While I actually grew up terrified of amusement rides, around the age of 10 or 11, I decided to get over my fear by riding some larger rides, and what do you know, I was hooked instantly!! My love of amusement parks, and specifically roller coasters, grew rapidly and from that moment on I wanted to design these impressive engineering marvels. I thought I was the only one who shared this crazy passion, but I met many others in college, and became a founding member of the RIT Theme Park Enthusiasts. Through this club, I was able to get my start in the industry with Universal Creative through attending design competitions as well as industry events such as ASTM F24 conferences and the IAAPA Expo in Orlando. My first contact with GCI was early on in college when I sent them a resume for an internship. While I was not given an offer, a year or two later I was invited to their FREDx convention where I had the chance to interview. Now here I am today, getting to partake in the internship of my dreams.

While I have only been at GCI for a few weeks I have already learned a lot about their products and what it takes to make these rides come to life. My main tasks thus far have been split between organizing inventory, putting together replacement part shipments, and helping assemble millennium flyer trains for a future project. This has included assembly of the foam seat bottoms and backs, lap bar locking mechanisms, and more. I have seen the importance of organization in a shop, and knowing where your inventory is located can drastically cut down on time to get shipments out the door and components made.

One of the most fun yet challenging aspects of an engineer’s job, is to drastically change a product you already have to meet the needs of a new customer. I have gotten to watch this process during the last few weeks at GCI. While the millennium flyers are perfectly safe trains that meet all safety standards, sometimes parks want additional systems that check lap bar monitoring, others may want a way to quiet the anti-rollback devices, and still others will want all of the above and potentially more. This poses a ton of unique challenges when your chassis is only so big. The engineers and mechanics in our shop have been hard at work tweaking designs to get the proper functionality in our limited space. Time is so much of the essence with projects such as this that myself and the other intern you will hear from (Robert) have taken multiple road trips in company vehicles to pick up necessary parts to complete the project.

Overall this set of trains is coming along well and it has been neat to watch them go from bare chassis weldments to full cars with seats, lap bars and more. It has been a wild ride thus far but I know I still have so much more to learn. Thank you for reading and please check back again soon to get the latest on what is happening at the GCI headquarters in Sunbury!


2017 Spring Internship Lucas Gorentz

By , October 11, 2017
Lucas Gorentz

Hello, I am Lucas Gorentz, and I was an intern for Great Coasters from early January to late June of 2017. I know this blog is a little late, but my experience at Great Coasters is too exciting to not share.

My time at Great Coasters was incredibly eventful and provided many experiences that challenged my knowledge of roller coasters, manufacturing techniques, and general engineering practices. I was fortunate enough to be an intern at Great Coasters during one of the busiest periods the company has experienced. Although this meant that everything happened at an extremely quick pace, it also meant that I was able to experience many different aspects of coaster design and fabrication.

I experienced far too many valuable learning experiences to list here, so instead I am going to focus on some of the bigger “projects” that I was a part.

Actuating Magnetic Brakes

Like most of the other interns at Great Coasters with me, the first main thing I did was assemble actuating magnetic brakes. Many other blogs have provided detailed descriptions of these brakes so I will keep mine short: These brakes use a magnetic force to slow down the ride vehicles to a manageable speed. Once the train is moving slow enough, the brake will drop out of the way allowing the train to continue moving down the track. Although I have had similar assembly experience as a ride mechanic at Cedar Point, this was my first time working with brand new ride components. This look at these ride components without years of grease and wear on them was fascinating, since I could easily see how everything functioned and interacted.

Train Assembly

After assembling numerous brake systems, I moved to the train shop to help Dan, the GCII Train Mechanic, assemble trains for most of the 2017 projects (Chongqing, Chengdu, Kings Island, and Lake Compounce), and the early stages of a 2018 project. This is where I spent most of my time as an intern, and by the end of the six months, I had helped construct 12 Millennium Flyer trains (not cars!). The experience I gained from working on all of these trains is incredible, and by the end of the internship, I was very comfortable with my knowledge of these fantastic ride vehicles.

Mystic Timbers Lead Axle Body Frame

After most of the dust had settled from train assembly, one key component for the Mystic Timbers trains still needed to be designed and fabricated: the frame that holds the decorative truck body onto the front of the train.  I was fortunate enough to be asked to complete this, what seemed like, simple design. That simple design soon turned into a couple of days of looking through old engineering drawings trying to exactly match the existing profile of the lead car. After finishing the design and sending them off for fabrication, nearly a month of anxious waiting passed. There was not enough time left for redesign and refabricating, so my design had to work on the first time.

After what seemed like an eternity, three massive boxes containing the decorative truck bodies arrived at the GCII shop. it was finally time to see if the new truck body frame would work, and it fit onto our test car like a glove! After testing out the all three of the truck bodies, we packed them back up, loaded them into the truck, and set off for Kings Island that same day. We arrived at the park late at night and were, at first, expecting just to drop the bodies off at the park before installing them the next day. However, it turned out that the awesome people from Irvine Ondrey Engineering were at the ride for their last night of testing. Anne and Brian graciously welcomed us to the ride that we had worked so hard on, and let’s just say that we had a fantastic time experiencing our first rides on the awesome coaster.




After resting up from our hour plus long marathon of riding Mystic Timbers at 3:00am, we went back to the park to finally finish the trains by installing the decorative truck bodies. As they did on the test car in the shop, the truck body frames fit perfectly onto the front of the trains, and the trains were finally completely assembled. Looking back now, it is incredibly humbling to know that every time someone looks at those trains rolling into the station or around the course, they can see the frame that I was fortunate enough to design.

New Shelving Units

The last major task that I completed during my time at Great Coasters was to design and fabricate new shelving units for the train shop and the outside storage shed. I completed the design in cad along with the help of Taylor Evans, another intern. The new shelving units were extensive and greatly increased GCII’s storage capabilities, especially in the train shop. Three shelving units were designed in the train shop: one unit to hold 29 unfinished car chassis with room for smaller shelves underneath, one unit able to hold 12 large boxes of seat foam, and another unit capable of holding 36 pallets of heavy train weldments. The shelving unit in the outside shed was designed to hold 16 heavy hardware pallets.

After the designs were all finished and drawings were printed, Taylor and I set out to fabricate and assemble the shelves. Fabricating the shelves was a hard and tedious job, giving me a massive appreciation for the people that have fabricated the steel structures for some of GCII’s coasters. All in all, fabricating and assembling the shelves took nearly a month, and the finished shelves were massive in relation to the shelves that were originally there. The largest shelving unit measures in at 12 feet tall and 44 feet long, and the second largest isn’t far behind that.




A large reorganization project then began in the train shop allowing me to watch my shelves be filled to the brim, signifying the end of the project, as well as the end of my extended internship.




I could continue talking about the cool opportunities that GCII provided me for many more paragraphs, but this blog is long enough already. However, here are quick tidbits of some of the other large tasks I was able to do: redesign of the magnetic actuating brake instillation gantry, completed over 100 sales orders for train components including, what I believe to be, a couple of the biggest sales orders in the company’s history, a visit and delivery to the Bush Gardens job site, and over 4,000 miles driven for various tasks.

Looking back, I learned a tremendous amount from my time at Great Coasters especially from the people that work there. Adam, Dan, Ryan, Joyce, Todd, and everyone else that I didn’t directly work with at GCII provided me with a tremendous amount of insight and expertise that I will continue to use for the rest of my career. The often hectic pace sure kicked my butt from time to time, but looking back, I would not want it any different.

As Great Coasters made a huge impact on my life, I think that I was able to make a dent in the company’s history as well. A great mentor of mine always lived by one main motto: leave it better than you found it. Whether it is by picking up trash on the sidewalk or reinventing the way the world thinks about something, find some way to make it better. I like to think that I was able to do that at Great Coasters.

Thanks again to all of the amazing people that have guided and been with me through this journey. I can’t wait to see what is in store for the future!


2017 Spring Internship

By , July 27, 2017
Kyle Wilson

After spending the last five months as an intern at GCII’s Sunbury headquarters, it’s about time that I finally contribute to the blog! I cannot believe how quickly the time has gone for what has certainly been the most eventful time period of my professional life thus far.

From the day I first accepted the position, it was quite difficult to really know what I was getting myself into. In fact, five months in I still can’t really say that I know what to expect on a day to day basis. While some may see this as a downside, it has actually allowed me to have numerous different beneficial experiences during my time here that I otherwise would not have had. That being said, however, for this reason it will be incredibly hard to wrap up this past semester in just one post, but I will try my best to give a snapshot of what I have been up to the last five months!

Starting with the very first day, the other interns and myself immediately got to work on helping to make 2017′s four new rides (at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Kings Island, OCT Chengdu, and OCT Chongqing) a reality. For some of us, our first task was to help Todd, one of our Mechanical Supervisors, assemble actuators used for some of the magnetic brakes on these coasters. The idea behind these actuators is pretty simple: based on the speed of the train, the actuators will move a strong magnet (StRoNg MaGnEt) into or out of the path of a fin bolted onto the bottom of the train made of a specific copper alloy. This basically introduces or minimizes the braking force caused by the eddy currents induced in the fin. This was the first experience I had assembling something of this size and complexity, and served as a suitable precursor of much of what was to come.

We worked on these actuators for the first couple of weeks, before some of us broke off to work on various other areas of need. Personally, I most commonly worked back and forth between assembling a few basic train parts and helping Todd gather and inspect some of the parts for many of the mechanical systems seen on the 2017 coasters. One of these systems, for example, was the transfer table which is used to transfer trains onto or off of the main track for various reasons, including daily train inspection. In addition, this also gave me the opportunity to occasionally help make notes for drawings and/or make suggestions for potential changes to how the parts are specified within them.

Part of the way through February, all five of the interns began working almost entirely on helping Dan, GCII’s Millennium Flyer mechanic, produce the nine Millennium Flyer trains for this year’s new rides with the exception of the trains for Busch Gardens Williamsburg and with the addition of two new trains for Wildcat at Lake Compounce. This was a very difficult (requiring long hours and a steep learning curve), yet incredibly beneficial experience. For me, I feel as though I now have a much better physical understanding of the design and assembly of a ride and the considerations one must make in doing so. During this time, we also had the pleasure of spending some time with Senior Engineer, Adam House, who offered us quite a bit of insight into the design of GCI’s coasters, our careers, and engineering in general.

This long stretch of working on trains started to slow up towards the beginning of April. Around this time, I also had my first opportunity to work (though briefly) on site! I made a trip with Jerry, our Mechanical Installation Supervisor, to help install a new Platen system specifically designed for the Millennium Flyer trains we were building for Wildcat at Lake Compounce. For those who don’t know, the Platen is essentially a rectangular tube located in the station that is moved up and down by a series of short stroke pneumatic cylinders. Without going into too much detail, when the train is sitting in the station this tube engages a mechanism on the train that unlocks the restraints. We spent the better part of two days working to install this system. It was an experience that was surely different than what I was used to and I learned quite a bit about mechanical installation in the process.

The following week, I had another incredible experience on site, this time with the other four interns, as we embarked on a trip to Kings Island to install one of the final pieces for the theming on the trains. This was a very different experience from being at Lake Compounce, as it was the first time I had been on the site of a ride that was still being constructed as a brand new ride, as opposed to simply a ride being renovated. From walking around the site and talking to many of the people who were working there on a day to day basis, I believe we all learned a tremendous amount about the design and construction of a ride. Due to the timing of this visit, we also had the incredible pleasure of experiencing the ride first hand while it was being tested and commissioned!

More recently, much of the work that I did involved helping to organize the procurement and shipment of all of the parts and hardware used for the mechanical systems of future GCII projects. This is similar to some of the work I did on the 2017 rides, but this time in much greater detail, as I was already familiar with many of the parts involved with these systems. This gave me another great opportunity to truly learn, analyze, and understand the interaction of all of the parts involved with the mechanical operation of the ride.

Overall, my semester spent at GCII was an incredibly unique experience. I will never forget the time I spent as a Great Coasters Intern, all that I have learned from the experiences I had, and the spectacular memories I made along the way. As I move on from this experience to the next, I cannot thank those who I was involved with during my time here enough and I look forward to continuing to make strides toward reaching my goals!

Kyle Wilson Signiture

Farewell to Florence

By , December 23, 2016
Tyler Mullins

Farewell Florence

It’s now been four months to the day that I started my internship with Great Coasters International and what a roller coaster ride it’s been (pun intended). These four months have been filled with so many incredible opportunities – I had the chance to learn new software while modeling Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s InvadR, fly to Arizona to make connections at a technical conference, visit Mystic Timbers’ construction site at Kings Island, and so much more. It’s hard to believe that today is the last day here in Florence, as it still feels like only yesterday that it was my first day in the office and I came in without realizing that I was wearing my polo inside-out (yeah… let’s not talk about that part though).

For my final post I thought I would share a few final things I’ve learned as a GCI intern that I haven’t blogged about yet. It’s cool to have worked on some upcoming roller coasters and to get a behind-the-scenes look at how parts of the industry operate, but some of the most valuable things I’ve learned are lessons that I’ll still be able to apply outside of a company that makes roller coasters (although a career in the industry, whether for a park or a manufacturer, is still the end goal). These lessons include…


…It’s Okay Not to Know Things

There is a lot that goes into a roller coaster. Like, I’ve loved roller coasters and theme parks since I was a little kid and thought I had a pretty good understanding and knowledge of all things coasters. Turns out there’s a lot I didn’t account for or even consider.

On my first day I was given the owner/operator’s manual for one of GCII’s recent projects and told to start reading. Every page had terminology, diagrams, and descriptions that just went straight over my head. I have a much better understanding four months later, but up until this last day I’m still being introduced to new things daily and am continually learning more about how the rides are built and operated.

It’s okay not to know something. Everyone starts there, and it’s only through lack of knowledge that you then have the opportunity to learn.


…Mistakes Will Happen. Use Them to Your Advantage

I’m a sucker for inspirational quotes. One of my new-found favorites, typically accredited to Henry Ford, is “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”

In the process of learning all these new things at Great Coasters, I’ve definitely made some mistakes along the way. I’ve had to remake models and update drawings after learning I goofed small things up. And while I could let these mistakes frustrate me, it’s better to instead focus on what I learned in the process and apply it to my work in the future.


…Expect the Unexpected

Great Coasters is opening four new roller coasters in 2017, more than the company has ever built in one year. That means four massive construction projects that each consist of thousands of parts, dozens of workers, and seemingly endless hours. There is a lot that needs to be done before any of these rides can open to the public and I had the chance to work on different components of each of them. Walking into work each day though I rarely knew which project I would be focused on that day. And, in the midst of doing something for one project, I would often get a phone call or email instructing me to switch to something different.

I learned the importance of being flexible and expecting the unexpected. It was important to adapt quickly, as one moment I could be working on bents for Kings Island and a minute later I’m searching for a drawing for Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s transfer table. I sometimes felt thrown-in to these situations, but I’ve discovered that is one of the quickest ways to learn something new.


So, now that my internship is just about wrapped-up, what’s next? I’ll be returning to Ohio State University in January for my penultimate semester. I’ll be president of the school’s Theme Park Engineering Group (shameless plug – check out our website at, working for Residence Life, and taking a variety of classes. Come summer I’m hoping to return to the industry for another internship and have already begun applying for positions. Then, after graduating next December, my goal is to begin a career in the industry.

I am extremely grateful for my time at Great Coasters and for all the amazing opportunities I’ve been given. I’ve learned so much, met some fantastic people, and reaffirmed my passion for the industry. Big thank you to the amazing team behind Great Coasters for everything. It’s been an incredible four months and I can’t wait to see what’s next!

© 2021 Great Coasters International, Inc.