Billy Boyd, Weber Group
With the warm weather upon us and the kids out of school, it might be a good time to take the family for a little river smuggling. Relax — we’re talking about a ride at Cedar Point in Ohio that was created with the help of a local design and build company called Weber Group.
Located in Sellersburg, Indiana, Weber Group specializes in custom fabrication and traditional construction. The company is known for work in themed entertainment experiences.
Louisville Future spoke with Billy Boyd, technology project manager at Weber Group, about the company’s latest project — the Snake River Expedition at Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio.
How did the company become involved in the Cedar Point project?
Boyd: We’ve been doing what we call themed entertainment, which is kind of designing for amusement parks and water parks, for a number of years. We’ve done a lot of rock sculptures, characters and overlays to make buildings look like they’re from the 1800s or part of a safari. We’ve worked with museums and zoos, mostly in the decorative capacity.
Cedar Point is on an island in Ohio off the northern coast of Lake Erie. Inside that island is a smaller island with a lagoon around it. They wanted to put a boat ride on that lagoon and then have a bunch of characters that would move along the shore.
The primary challenge of the whole thing was that the ride needed to be extremely safe. They wanted to be able to have tracks that passengers would activate to scare (but not harm) them. So we had to work with it quite a bit.
Can you give us an example?
Boyd: The premise of the ride is that you’re smuggling goods to a lost river settlement. At the beginning, a guy tells you about it and says to be aware of snakes. We’ve set sensors that emit a snake sound, so you feel a tickle around your ankles, as if snakes are biting you. As the ride finishes, you pass this 40-foot animatronic snake that spits at you as your boat passes.
No thank you.
Boyd: We also blow a couple of things up. It’s all to develop that sense of wonder. Because this has to happen every two minutes, every day for 12 hours for six months out of the year, it has to be highly repeatable. If it does have failures, then it needs to be very easy to access everything and fix it. Those are the challenges we face.