Ryerson Invitational Thrill Design Competition 2019
Having been invited to compete in Ryerson University’s design competition hosted at Universal in Orlando, Florida, TEA@ND gathered a team of 9 members and traveled south. We competed in 4 distinct challenges against 15 other universities and 120 students. In this, our first time attending RITDC, we placed 2nd in the Mechanical Design Challenge and team member, Mary Crawford, took 3rd in the Concept Art Challenge. After the weekend of competing, we traveled to the Orange County Convention Center for the IAAPA Expo (International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions). IAAPA was an incredible opportunity for our members to learn more about the themed entertainment industry and to increase their professional networks.
Indiana Beach 2019
Later in the fall of 2019, our club traveled to Monticello, Indiana to attend Indiana Beach Boardwalk Resort. With a storm brewing, crowds were low and our team had a blast walking on to almost every ride with no line. From Steel Hawg to the Lost Coaster of Superstition Mountain, we hit them all and snuck out just before the rain started to roll down!
Michigan’s Adventure 2019
This semester, TEA@ND decided to kick off the year with a trip to Michigan’s Adventure! Welcoming back some of our old members and one of our new ones, the group spent the day catching up and going on plenty of coasters. In addition, four of the members decided to take on a new type of adventure that day: the Swan Boats! A beautiful way to see the park and its rides, it made the group think about even the little aspects of theme parks that make them truly memorable.
Six Flags Trip 2019
In this last semester, the Spring of 2019, the club once again made its trip to Six Flags Great America. A beautiful day with low crowd levels, the group was able to manage, on average, a ride every 20 minutes! In addition to achieving this record, the group had a great time analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of various rides and thematic designs found throughout the park. By experiencing the customer side of themed entertainment, we hope to improve our members’ understanding of what customers value in this industry.
SITE at OSU 2019
In early February, four of our members traveled to Columbus, Ohio to participate in the first ever Students In Themed Entertainment (SITE) conference. They built outstanding connections with industry professionals and other students interested in the themed entertainment industry. TEA@ND looks forward to future TEA conferences which we can attend and learn from!
Cedar Point Trip 2018
This past fall semester, the Themed Entertainment Association at Notre Dame traveled to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. Members from the club learned a lot about the rides and history of Cedar Point sharing their knowledge with each other in a day of fun. Even with frigid rainy weather, fun was around every turn!
Six Flags Trip 2018
In the spring of 2018, our club traveled to Gurnee, Illinois to attend Six Flags Great America. There are currently plans to continue these fun trips as well as to send members on trips to competitions and conferences around the United States. All of these immerse students in the field they love and help them develop stronger networks within those fields.
A Coaster Hunt
A pair of our members took a Saturday afternoon to do a little research and exploration regarding what the closest roller coaster to Notre Dame is. After a little google searching they found the answer on roller coaster database, a ride called Toboggan. Discovering that it lies only 13 miles from campus at a county park, they hopped in the car and drove down to check it out.
The story starts 40 years ago where the park operator had his employees build and install this all season rail run. However, as it was being built they struggled to find someone to insure the ride. Upon finishing it, the park director and construction manager gave it a ride (the car you rode in was simply a bucket!). On this very first ride they got thrown from the car going around a turn and tumbled into the woods. Thus, the decision was made to never operate the ride. Since then, the ride has been what is termed SBNO, standing but not operating, for its entire life. Regardless, it still stands 40 years later, on the eastern slope of Carlisle Hill, the second highest point in St. Joseph County, buried in the woods of northwest Indiana.
Arriving at Bendix Woods County Park, they were overjoyed when they found out parking was free that day (as all college students would be). They left the car in a parking lot and trekked off into the woods. The day seemingly magically shifted from a cold, cloudy South Bend day to a warm fall day filled with sun. Wandering through the falling yellow leaves of Northern Indiana’s woods, they came across all sorts of things of beauty from the beauty of birds chirping in the trees, to an abandoned sugar mill, and to at last, in the back of the park, Toboggan. This was the peak point of the day as all of the searching had come to fruition at last. At the very first glance from afar, the ride was a wonder. It lay, snaking along the golden floor half buried in the leaves falling from above. All along the track trees had both grown up through it and also fallen down upon it. The iron tracks had snapped in several places and even had sections cut out to allow nature trails to pass through. But that didn’t keep them from exploring the track.
Most of the things discovered below are captured in picture more completely in the Gallery. The ride would have picked up speed descending what they estimated to be around a 60 degree angle at its steepest point. As the initial drop is coming down the hill the track banks left careening down the south side of Carlisle Hill. Here what is thought to have been a straightaway has taken on some large trees warping and snapping the track in several locations. Sadly, the ride hits a nature trail here and can be clearly seen that it was cleanly cut by a saw. However, tracing out the faint remains of the supports just peeking up past the carpet of leaves the ride seemed to trace out a fairly gentle curve here with the possibility of a run of unique turns. The track picks back up again at the north side of Carlisle Hill aimed back towards the station. Here is the steepest part of track which quickly plateaus just above the drop. This is the part of the ride that has also taken on the most new growth with trees sprouting up all throughout the space in the rails. This steep hill likely intended to send the riders back to where they came from leaving them settled at the end at the lowest point of the track. From there they likely would have manually pushed the car back up the hill for the next ride.
As one can see, Toboggan has taken a beating yet doesn’t fall down. Its robust nature evidenced by its survival is a testament to the unknown company who designed and manufactured it, because even after all of these years, Toboggan stands as Notre Dame’s home coaster.