Europa-Park, which has just celebrated its jubilee year with a record 5.5 million visitors, is the largest theme park in Germany and the second most popular theme park resort in Europe after Disneyland Paris.
The park caused a stir at the Euro Attractions Show (EAS) in Gothenburg earlier this year, and at the IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando in November, with its ground-breaking ride The “Alpenexpress VR-Ride”.
Europa-Park: Innovating at Mack SpeedThe ride, which opened to the public in September, is the result of a collaboration between VR Coaster, Mack best selling mini swing carousel rides cheap, MackMedia and Samsung.
Blooloop spoke to Michael Mack (left), Member of the Management Board of Europa-Park, about the park’s digitisation.
A Theme Park Native
The son of Roland Mack who was IAAPA president three years ago, Michael is the eighth generation of his family to be in the theme park business, and describes himself as “…basically a theme park native.”
Having graduated in International Business Studies, he completed both his tri-national studies and a number of study programmes and internships at theme parks overseas, including Liseberg (Sweden), Bush Gardens Williamsburg / VA (USA), Warner Bros. Movie World / Queensland (Australia), Nigloland (France) and Port Aventura (Spain). Click this link.
He then became an executive board member of Mack hot sale flying chair Rides, which specialises in the design and construction of roller coasters.
He and joint director Christian von Elverfeldt developed a strategy to restructure the company, focusing on small swing ride to buy cheap construction, design and customer service.
To reduce the production process, coasters were designed purely on the computer until the final stages, with rails being precisely calibrated and manufactured straight from the computer. The design precision also meant the coasters were incredibly quiet.
“Mack Rides had kind of changed the way we were producing roller coasters back in the day. We were trying to get smaller products for the market, so we invented the Pegasus, the first kiddie coaster for Mack Rides, and the Twist and Splash and the Splash Battle.”
The Blue Fire breakthrough
The big breakthrough, he says, came in 2009 with the creation of Blue Fire (above) - their first looping coaster - installed at Europa-Park.
“So I was changing sides, so to say, from Vice Chairman of Mack Rides to Europa-Park in 2008, with the building of the Blue Fire.”
Blue Fire is a ground-breaking combination of dark ride and launched coaster. The experience begins with a brief dark ride portion then, moving outside, the train is accelerated to 100 kph in 2.5 seconds using a linear induction motor launch, propelling the train over a 38m high turn and into a 32m vertical loop. There is a brake-run mid-course, a twisted horseshoe roll (the first on any roller coaster in Europe) over a lake, an airtime hill and a heartline roll culminating in a final brake run.
“Previously, we had wanted to change our car trains for the roller coaster, so we partnered up with the University of Pforzheim, which specialises in Industrial Design,” says Mack. “We said, we’d love to have students think about roller coaster cars, and they came up with pretty neat ideas, so we collaborated with the university, and that was the train designed for the Blue Fire.
“I always like to work with universities, because of the fresh ideas, and am interested in how scientific or artistic ideas can change the theme park industry.”
He headed up Europa-Park, gradually taking over his father’s responsibilities.
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