Arrow Dynamics

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Arrow Dynamics
Industry Amusement Rides
Fate Bankruptcy, assets bought by S&S Arrow
Predecessor Arrow Development Company Inc
Arrow Huss Inc
Successor S&S Worldwide
Founded 1986
Founder Ronald Toomer
Otis Hughes
Brent Meikle
Defunct 2002
Headquarters Clearfield, Utah, United States
Key people
Ron Toomer
Alan Schilke
Products Roller Coasters

Arrow Dynamics was a roller coaster design and manufacturing company based in Clearfield, Utah, United States. Successor to Arrow Development (1946–1981) and Arrow Huss (1981–1986), which were responsible for some of the most influential advancements in the amusement and theme park industries. Among the most significant was tubular steel track, which provided a smoother ride than the railroad style rails commonly used prior to the 1960's on wooden roller coasters. The Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland was Arrow's first foray into roller coasters, in 1959. Arrow and their successors would continue to build trend-setting ride systems for the next 45 years.

In 1975, Arrow Development introduced the first corkscrew style track Corkscrew, at Knott's Berry Farm that sent riders through a series of barrel rolls. Though not the world's first inverting coaster, it was the first in modern times. Arrow created several other "firsts" over the years, introducing the first suspended roller coaster in almost a century, The Bat, in 1981, and the world's first "hypercoaster", Magnum XL-200, which opened in 1989 and built the first 4th Dimension roller coaster, X2, which was designed by Alan Schilke, who founded Ride Centerline, LLC in 2006 later joined Rocky Mountain Construction.

Arrow Development's ownership changed three times between the 1950s and 1980s. Arrow Dynamics would eventually survive two bankruptcies and spin off a sister company, Fabriweld, primarily to build track,[1] by 1988. Arrow Dynamics eventually met its demise on December 3, 2001. S&S Worldwide purchased part of Arrow's remaining assets on October 28, 2002, and the remainder of the company was dissolved. Late in 2012, Sansei Yusoki Co., Ltd., of Osaka, Japan, acquired a 77.3% interest in S&S - Arrow. Signage at the 2012 and 2013 IAAPA Attractions Expos promoted the new company as S&S Sansei.

History[edit]

Beginnings[edit]

Arrow Dynamic's forerunner, Arrow Development, was founded in 1946 when Ed Morgan, Karl Bacon, Bill Hardiman, and Angus "Andy" Anderson, started a machine shop at 243 Moffett Boulevard, just north of downtown Mountain View, California.[citation needed] They started out selling used machine tools, building truck parts and repairing cars until about 1950 when they built their first merry-go-rounds for San Jose's Alum Rock Park.[2]

In 1953, they contacted Walt Disney, who was just beginning to plan a new type of amusement park in California.[3] Disney admired Arrow's work and hired them to help design build the vehicles for Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. They would eventually design and build the ride systems for many of Disneyland's original and early rides, including Mad Tea Party, King Arthur Carrousel, Casey Jr. Circus Train, and Snow White's Scary Adventures.[2] Disney continued to use Arrow as Disneyland expanded. Arrow designed and built Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Autopia, and Alice in Wonderland in coming years as well as upgrading and renovating the King Arthur Carrousel.[3]

Move toward roller coaster manufacturing[edit]

Matterhorn Bobsleds, the first Arrow Development roller coaster.

In 1959, Arrow Development designed what was to be the first of many roller coasters, the Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Built in conjunction with WED Imagineering,[4] the ride was the first modern tubular steel tracked roller coaster.

After construction of the Matterhorn, Disney bought a third of Arrow Development in an effort to keep them viable and at least partially in-house. Arrow had already developed rides for other other customers, and had orders for more, so they moved into a larger plant at 1555 Plymouth in Mountain View, California. At the new location, Arrow developed vehicles, flumes and tracks for It's a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, Adventure Thru Inner Space, and the Haunted Mansion.

Arrow developed the modern log flume ride, eventually installing over 50 around the world, the first being El Aserradero at Six Flags Over Texas in 1963. In the 1970s, the company perfected and brought back the looping roller coaster.

In 1975, Arrow installed one of the most important rides of its time, Corkscrew, which made its debut at Knott's Berry Farm as the world's first modern inverting coaster. Arrow made hundreds of coasters throughout the decades, including 17 Corkscrew-style coasters, 16 "runaway mine train" coasters like Cedar Creek Mine Ride and Adventure Express, custom-designed coasters like Loch Ness Monster, and Carolina Cyclone.

Some of Arrow Development's later projects included what were at the time the world's tallest roller coasters, such as Magnum XL-200 at Cedar Point in 1989 and Pepsi Max Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach in 1994.

Reorganizations and bankruptcy[edit]

Arrow Huss logo (1981–1985)
Arrow Dynamics logo (1986–2000)

In 1971, Karl Bacon, Ed Morgan and Walter Schulze sold Arrow Development to Rio Grande Industries. At the time, Penn Central owned Six Flags and Rio Grande had plans to build theme parks of their own, purchasing Frontier Village in 1973.[5]:224 Rio Grande sold Arrow to the German manufacturing firm, Huss Maschinenfabrik, in 1981. The merger formed Arrow Huss. Dana Morgan (Ed Morgan's son) was appointed president and Ron Toomer was made vice president and manager of engineering. Dana would leave the company and form Morgan Manufacturing in 1983. Although Arrow's coasters continued to sell well, Arrow Huss struggled financially, partially due to heavily investing in Darien Lake theme park in New York and the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition in New Orleans.[5]:225 Arrow Huss filed for bankruptcy in 1985, and 13 of the company's American officers negotiated a buyout. In 1986, the takeover was approved by the courts and the company re-emerged as Arrow Dynamics. Ron Toomer served as president until 1993, Chairman of the Board until 1995, and as a consulting director until his retirement in 1998.[6]

In the late 1990s, Arrow Dynamic's bookings steadily decreased, with few installations toward the end of the decade. Other manufacturers such as Bolliger & Mabillard had entered the field. Arrow partnered with Vekoma, to act as their European distributor and taught them how to build tubular track in Holland. In 2013 Vekoma signed a deal which allows them to sell Rocky Mountain Construction's roller coasters outside the North American market.

Design and manufacturing costs for new, larger ride systems were increasing and competition was intense. Bankruptcy loomed once again just as Arrow introduced the X (subsequently known as X2) at Six Flags Magic Mountain, a 4th dimension roller coaster designed by Alan Schilke. X opened to massive media attention and received an initially positive reception;[citation needed] however, several mechanical problems caused the ride to be closed for repairs during much of its first year of operation.

The company filed for bankruptcy again on December 3, 2001. At the end of October 2002, the remaining assets were sold to S&S Worldwide, a limited liability company related to amusement ride manufacturer, forming S&S Arrow.[7][8] In November 2012, Sansei Yusoki Co., Ltd., of Osaka, Japan, acquired a 77.3% interest in S&S. Signage at the 2012 and 2013 IAAPA Attractions Expos promoted the new company as S&S Sansei.

Milestones[edit]

Magnum XL-200, the first roller coaster in the world to pass the 200 ft mark.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 19 December 1988 Kokomo Tribune, pg. 11; "Coaster Rolling Toward Finish"
  2. ^ a b O'Brien, Tim (November 30, 1998). "Pioneers share Living Legend Award". Amusement Business 110 (48): 20. 
  3. ^ a b Gurr, Bob (November 27, 2013). "DESIGN: Those Were The Times – No.23 1955 Arrow Development – Ed Morgan and Karl Bacon". MiceChat. Retrieved 2013-11-28. 
  4. ^ "Arrow Story". Archived from the original on 2002-12-07. Retrieved 2008-01-02. 
  5. ^ a b O'Brien, Tim (2006). Legends: Pioneers of the Amusement Park Industry. Ripley Entertainment. pp. 224–225. ISBN 9781893951136. 
  6. ^ Seifert, Jeffrey (December 2011). "Ron Toomer 1930–2011 (Obituary)". ACE News (American Coaster Enthusiasts) 34 (2). 
  7. ^ O'Brien, Tim (August 12, 2002). "S&S moves to snap up defunct rivals". Amusement Business 114 (32): 1, 9. 
  8. ^ O'Brien, Tim (November 4, 2002). "S&S affiliate catches Arrow". Amusement Business 114 (44): 8. 
  9. ^ a b c d e "Roller Coaster History Timeline". Ultimate Rollercoaster. Retrieved 2011-11-27. 
  10. ^ "Runaway Mine Train – Six Flags Over Texas". Ultimate Rollercoaster. Retrieved 2011-11-27. 
  11. ^ "Controversy and Confusion Surround Geauga Lake Auction". ACEonline.org. American Coaster Enthusiasts. Retrieved 16 February 2015. 

External links[edit]