WindSeeker at Cedar Point
|Opening date||May 24, 2011|
|Soft opening date||March 30, 2012|
|Opening date||March 31, 2012|
|Area||Beach Front – Next to Beach Entrance|
|Opening date||June 14, 2011|
|Area||Candy Apple Grove|
|Opening date||April 6, 2012|
|Opening date||June 21, 2011|
|Knott's Berry Farm|
|Status||Relocated To Worlds of Fun|
|Opening date||Mid-August 2011|
|Closing date||September 19, 2012|
|Replaced||Fiesta BBQ (Restaurant)|
|Replaced by||Sol Spin|
|Worlds of Fun|
|Attraction type||Tower swinger|
|Height||301 ft (92 m)|
|Speed||30 mph (48 km/h)|
|Capacity||960 riders per hour|
|Riders per vehicle||2|
|Height restriction||52 in (132 cm)|
Fast Lane available at all parks
WindSeeker (known as SteelHawk at Worlds of Fun) is a 301-foot-tall (92 m) swing ride at several Cedar Fair parks. The rides are Wind Seeker models manufactured by Mondial. They opened for the 2011 season at Canada's Wonderland in Ontario, Cedar Point and Kings Island in Ohio, and Knott's Berry Farm in California. Carowinds in North Carolina and Kings Dominion in Virginia opened their WindSeekers in 2012. The first four each cost US$5,000,000, and the next two each cost $6,500,000. Cedar Fair relocated the Knott's Berry Farm WindSeeker to Worlds of Fun in 2014, where it is known as SteelHawk.
The three-minute ride features 32 suspended twin seats (64 seats altogether) spinning around a central tower. A lighting package was installed on all four WindSeekers, consisting of strips of LED lights mounted on the arms that support the swings and (except at Knott's Berry Farm) colored floodlights to illuminate towers from above.
Canada's Wonderland was the first of the four parks to open its WindSeeker in 2011. On May 24, 2011, the ride was only open for a brief time before problems caused it to be closed for repairs; it reopened the week of June 10. The second WindSeeker was opened to the public at Cedar Point on June 14, 2011, the third on June 21, 2011, at Kings Island, the fourth in mid-August 2011 at Knott's Berry Farm, the fifth WindSeeker to open was Carowinds' model which soft-opened on March 30, 2012 and officially opened to the public on March 31, 2012 and the latest one to open was the sixth WindSeeker at Kings Dominion which officially opened to the public on April 6, 2012.
On September 21, 2012, Cedar Fair announced the temporary closure of all WindSeekers in response to two incidents at Knott's Berry Farm. All the installations, excluding Knott's Berry Farm, later reopened. The Knott's Berry Farm installation remained closed for 11 months until it was announced it would be relocated to Worlds of Fun.
On their Facebook pages throughout August 2010, several Cedar Fair amusement parks hinted frequently at a new ride to be opened in 2011. On August 24, 2010, Canada's Wonderland, Cedar Point, Kings Island, and Knott's Berry Farm all announced that they would be adding a Mondial WindSeeker, to open sometime in spring 2011.
Construction of the WindSeekers at Canada's Wonderland, Cedar Point, and Kings Island began in late October and early November 2010. To install them, Canada's Wonderland's Jet Scream ride was removed and Cedar Point's Ocean Motion was moved to the former Demon Drop site. Construction was scheduled to begin around the same time at Knott's Berry Farm, where the Sky Cabin observation tower was to be removed to make way for it. On January 7, 2011, however, it was announced that their WindSeeker would not replace Sky Cabin but instead be located in the Fiesta Village section of the park. Work began almost immediately after this announcement.
Kings Island's WindSeeker was originally scheduled to be the first to open, on April 30, 2011, but the opening was delayed because of bad weather and eventually took place on the morning of June 21, 2011. It was the first WindSeeker to use the Fast Lane program.
The WindSeeker at Canada's Wonderland was originally scheduled to open on May 8, 2011, one week after that of Kings Island. On May 24, 2011, after problems were discovered during testing, Canada's Wonderland announced on their Facebook page that it would open to the public later that day, but it was quickly closed again when further mechanical problems were discovered. From May 24 to mid-June 2011, the ride was intermittently closed because of a variety of problems, most of which have since been resolved. At the beginning of October 2011, the hydraulic dampers used on the Knott's Berry Farm model were added to reduce the amount of swing movement even more.
Cedar Point's WindSeeker was originally scheduled to open on May 14, 2011, two weeks after that of Kings Island. After almost a month delays in construction and testing due to bad weather, it opened on June 14, 2011.
Before the decision to keep the Sky Cabin at Knott's Berry Farm and to place its WindSeeker elsewhere, their WindSeeker was to have the same color scheme as others. Also, instead of there being the red "UFO" on the top of the tower, original promotional materials show that a large purple "K" was to be placed on the top of the ride. The ride opened in mid-August 2011 after three months of delays. In late 2011, Fast Lane became available on the Knott's Berry Farm WindSeeker. On September 7, the ride stalled for nearly three hours, and on September 19, it stalled again at the top of the tower for three and a half hours. Both incidents prompted Cedar Fair to close all other WindSeekers until an internal investigation is completed. After the investigation was complete, all WindSeekers reopened except Knott's' model which was dismantled by December 11, 2013 to be sent to Worlds of Fun.
Throughout August 2011, the Carowinds web site had six different QR codes, each of which led the user to a website giving a clue as to what the 2012 attraction might be. When all six clues were put together, they made a picture that read "Voiceless it cries, wingless flutters, toothless bites, mouthless mutters, fun soars to new heights... August 24". On August 24, 2011, it was officially announced that Carowinds would receive the fifth WindSeeker, and on September 1, 2011, Kings Dominion officially announced that the sixth would open at the park in 2012. The WindSeekers at Carowinds and Kings Dominion will have the same appearance as those at Canada's Wonderland, Cedar Point, and Kings Island and are expected to open in 2012. Their construction started in early November 2011, after the parks closed for the season. At Kings Dominion, El Dorado was removed at the end of the 2011 season to make room for WindSeeker. The first WindSeeker tower piece was installed there on January 20, 2012, and at Carowinds on January 23, 2012. Carowinds soft-opened their version on March 30, 2012 to media and invited guests; it opened to the public on March 31, 2012. Kings Dominion officially opened their model on April 6, 2012.
Problems and Accidents
The four WindSeekers opened in 2011 are based on the same prototype design by Dutch amusement ride manufacturer Mondial Rides. The WindSeeker at Canada's Wonderland was the first to be completed and thus the first to be tested. It was discovered during testing that the swings could rock back and forth once rotation reached full speed, and were close to hitting each other in some cases. Therefore, hydraulic dampers not included in the original design were added to all four WindSeekers to reduce this rocking. Nevertheless, there were still incidents: on June 14, 2011, the swings on Cedar Point's WindSeeker began to sway in different directions, and some seats almost collided with each other. In one reported case, a rider had to extend his leg to stop the seat in front from hitting him. In another, a seat collided with the kneecap of a rider who had closed their eyes. Official explanations suggested that the hydraulic dampers could fail under high winds: apparently, high winds and the imbalance arising when some swings are full and others not could cause the swings to collide. On June 29, 2011, Jennifer Valentyne of Breakfast Television Toronto rode the WindSeeker at Canada's Wonderland for her "Live-Eye" spot on the show. When the swings reached the top of the tower, the seats began swinging and hitting each other. As the ride continued, Breakfast Television hosts Kevin Frankish and Dina Pugliese asked whether the seats were supposed to touch each other, but received no response.
Additional problems were discovered when the ride opened to the public. The WindSeeker at Canada's Wonderland underwent repairs for just over a week when it was discovered that one of the 32 pairs of seats had been removed for an unstated reason. They were replaced and testing began shortly after. In another case at the same installation, riders were stuck at the top of the WindSeeker tower for 20 minutes when the swings did not come down. Since these incidents, ride operations are suspended during high winds or heavy rain.
Aside from the many minor problems all WindSeekers had in 2011, the first major accident occurred on June 2, 2012, on the Cedar Point installation. According to numerous news and rider reports, WindSeeker operated normally as the gondola made its way up the tower. Attached to the tower and gondola are a set of electrical cables that are located inside a plastic casing and are secured by two side panels to prevent the cables from moving around. At the top of the tower, winds were reportedly strong enough to push the electrical cables out of the socket on the tower causing the cables to move around freely. According to a rider riding WindSeeker at the time of the accident, as the gondola made its way back down the tower, the cables got stuck in the rotating gondola. The plastic casing began to be ripped apart as well as the cables causing the ride to come to a complete stop just over halfway up the tower. Because the electrical cables had been damaged, Cedar Point employees had to manually bring down the gondola. Riders were stuck on the ride for over an hour and no one was injured. WindSeeker at Cedar Point remained closed until the cause of the accident was found and fixed. The ride reopened on June 5, 2012.
During the 2012 season, all of the WindSeekers except Kings Island's experienced incidents in which the ride stopped, stranding riders in the air. Two such incidents occurred in September at Knott's Berry Farm, in one case leaving riders stranded at the top of the ride for nearly four hours, prompting the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration to order the ride shut down indefinitely on September 19 pending investigation of both the length of time riders were stranded and the actual causes of the incidents. Two days later on September 21, Cedar Fair announced the closure of all other WindSeekers to conduct an internal review. The company said that until the review concludes, none of the rides would operate again. The rides remained closed through the remainder of the 2012 season at the five seasonal parks but reopened at all parks in 2013, excluding Knott's Berry Farm's version which was relocated to Worlds of Fun.
All six WindSeekers consist of the same parts in an identical structure. The 301-foot-tall (92 m) center tower is made up of eight parts. The base section is different from the other seven tower pieces because it supports the rest of the tower. On top of the eighth tower piece, there is a steel platform where workers and mechanics can observe the operation of the ride and perform maintenance. Above this platform is an element called the "red UFO" or the "Crown". The gondola itself has a number of parts. In the middle of the structure there are wheels that allow the swings to rotate as they go up and down the tower. The gondola is raised and lowered by cables linking the gondola structure to four sets of yellow wheels, each attached to a different section of the steel platform at the top of the tower. Hydraulic dampers that were not in the original design were added to all the WindSeeker installations to reduce the movement of the swings while in operation. The illustrations below show where the parts are located and what they look like.
Riders sit in one of 64 seats placed around a central tower, which brings the gondola up and down. A restraint bar is fixed over the rider's lap to keep them firmly in their seat. There is no seat belt across the rider's lap, but there is one from the seat to the restraint bar in case the lock on the restraint bar fails. After the operators determine that it is safe to proceed, the gondola rises to the top of the tower to a musical accompaniment, beginning to spin slowly around the central tower and picking up speed as it ascends further. By the time it reaches the top, it is rotating around the tower at its full speed of approximately 30 miles per hour (48 km/h). The gondola remains at the top of the tower for just over a minute before starting its descent and immediately beginning to slow down. By the time it reaches the bottom of the tower, all rotation has ceased. One cycle of the ride lasts three minutes.
All the WindSeekers have speakers mounted to the inside of the gondola structure. They play 18 different tracks, among which are Hedwig's theme from the Harry Potter films, the theme songs from E.T., Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and Superman, and songs from Flight of the Valkyries. At Cedar Point and Kings Island, the WindSeeker sign changes colors during night operation. At Cedar Point, as the gondola makes its way up the tower, the LED lights at the top of the tower go out, making the tower invisible, though the LED lights on the gondola remain lit. When the gondola comes back down, the lights at the top of the tower come on again. At Canada's Wonderland, the LED lights at the top of the tower remain on throughout the cycle, keeping the tower visible at all times.
The WindSeeker at Knott's Berry Farm differed from the other five in several ways. Rather than white, blue, and green on the tower, Knott's adopted a color scheme using orange, purple, and yellow to reflect the Spanish California theme of the Fiesta Village section of the park. The tower at Knott's had no lights at the top. The ride's sign had a Mexican theme and did not light up.
One week after the official opening of the ride at Cedar Point, attraction reviewer Brian Krosnick of Theme Park Tourist submitted an online review saying that it was "truly breathtaking". The review applauded "the inclusion of on-ride audio and such an exemplary lighting package", commenting that it was "more than anyone expected or could've asked for". Krosnick pointed out that, because of the location of the ride beside Lake Erie and the hot summers, the lights on the ride attract massive "clouds" of bugs. He felt the ride cycle might be too short for the type of ride, particularly the time spent at the top. On July 13, 2011, Nick Sim, also from Theme Park Tourist, reviewed the ride at Kings Island and made similar remarks. Los Angeles Times blogger Brady MacDonald complimented the "impressive nighttime spectacular from anywhere in the park". He reported having thoroughly enjoyed the ride at Knott's Berry Farm and said that he would ride it every time he visited the park. Tom Sherer of the Sandusky Register praised Cedar Point's WindSeeker for having one of the best views of the park and commented that it "isn't as extreme as a lot of people fear, unless you're afraid of heights." He criticized the name WindSeeker, pointing out that the ride closes in high winds. Another reviewer called the view from Knott's Berry Farm's version "simply breathtaking" and urged readers to "get a ride on it as soon as you can". The same reviewer, however, also criticized the choice of music, suggesting that the park should have used "themes from more 'southwestern' films" to fit with the overall theme of the Fiesta Village area. Members of the general public have also applauded the addition.
- SkyScreamer, a similar ride by Funtime at Six Flags theme parks
- 2011 in amusement parks
- 2012 in amusement parks
- Taylor, Robert. "Wind Seeker at Canada's Wonderland Not Actually Open". COASTER-net.com. Archived from the original on December 19, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2012.
- "Carowinds WindSeeker". Carowinds. Retrieved August 24, 2011.
- Self, Jamie (August 25, 2011). "Carowinds new 'flying machine' sends riders 30 stories up". Herald Online. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
- Worthington, Don (March 30, 2012). "Carowinds in Fort Mill opens its sky-high ride, the WindSeeker". Herald Online. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
- "Carowinds Open for the 2012 Season on March 31". Yahoo Finance. March 31, 2012. Retrieved April 1, 2012.[permanent dead link]
- Jackson, Tom (June 14, 2011). "WindSeeker takes flight". Sandusky Register. Retrieved June 15, 2011.
- Erik (August 31, 2011). "Windseeker and Dinosaurs Alive make the line up for new 2012 attractions". Behind the Thrills. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
- Sim, Nick (January 24, 2012). "Image: Kings Dominion begins installing WindSeeker tower pieces". Theme Park Tourist. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
- Bacqué, Peter (September 22, 2012). "Kings Dominion's new attractions on schedule". Times-Dispatch. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
- Business Courier (June 21, 2011). "Kings Island's new Windseeker ride to open today". BizJournals. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
- "Windseeker ride opens at Knott's Berry Farm". KABC-TV. August 24, 2011. Retrieved February 25, 2012.
- Haake, Garret (August 30, 2013). "Planned Worlds of Fun attraction has checkered past". KSHB. Retrieved August 31, 2013.
- "Wind Seeker". Mondial. Archived from the original on April 24, 2012. Retrieved April 23, 2012.
- Justice. "Windseeking across the continent". Park Thoughts. Retrieved February 25, 2012.
- "Westcoaster – Knott's Berry Farm". Westcoaster. August 16, 2011. Archived from the original on July 28, 2014. Retrieved August 16, 2011.
- Sim, Nick. "WindSeeker tower ride back open at Canada's Wonderland". Retrieved February 25, 2012.
- "PREVIEW CALENDAR: Dance, comedy, special events and theme park listings for Aug. 11–17". North County Times. August 11, 2011. Retrieved August 12, 2011.
- MacDonald, Brady (September 21, 2012). "Problems at Knott's Berry Farm force ride closures nationwide". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 22, 2012.
- Wootson, Cleve (July 28, 2013). "Carowinds ride malfunctions, stranding dozens". Charlotte Observer. Archived from the original on February 21, 2014. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
- "WindSeeker". Knott's Berry Farm. Retrieved February 14, 2012.
- "Wonderland gets WindSeeker ride despite lawsuit". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Associated Press. August 26, 2010. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
- Business First (August 24, 2010). "Kings Island to add Windseeker ride". BizJournals. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
- Brown, Tony (August 25, 2010). "New ride at Cedar Point tops out at 301 feet, but (alas!) it's not a roller coaster". Cleveland. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
- MacDonald, Brady (August 24, 2010). "WindSeeker thrill ride to alter Knott's Berry Farm skyline in 2011". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on May 26, 2011. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
- "WindSeeker". Cedar Point. Retrieved February 14, 2012.
- "Windseeker". Kings Island. Retrieved February 14, 2012.
- "WindSeeker". Canada's Wonderland. Retrieved February 14, 2012.
- MacDonald, Brady (January 7, 2011). "Knott's Berry Farm to relocate WindSeeker thrill ride, delaying launch". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
- Mello, Michael (January 7, 2011). "Work begins on new Knott's ride". The Orange County Register. Archived from the original on January 11, 2011. Retrieved January 9, 2011.
- McClelland, Justin (January 8, 2011). "301-foot tall WindSeeker is Kings Island's newest ride". Middletown Journal. Retrieved April 18, 2011.
- Business Courier (April 29, 2011). "Kings Islands' Windseeker won't open with park". BizJournals. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
- Martin-Robbins, Adam (May 26, 2011). "Ride Nearly Ready to Fly". York Region. Retrieved May 29, 2011.
- Canada's Wonderland (May 24, 2011). "Canada's Wonderland Announces Windseeker open". Facebook. Retrieved May 24, 2011.
- "Canada's Wonderland Adds Better Dampers". Theme Park Review. October 10, 2011. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
- Jackson, Tom (May 6, 2011). "WindSeeker won't fly on park's opening". Sandusky Register. Retrieved May 8, 2011.
- "Justice". "More Windseeker News". Park Thoughts. Retrieved February 9, 2012.
- Sim, Nick (January 6, 2011). "Rumor: Knott's Berry Farm's Sky Cabin to get reprieve as Windseeker moved". Theme Park Tourist. Retrieved February 14, 2012.
- Screamscape [@screamscape] (December 11, 2013). "And it's gone... RT @I305Evan: @screamscape Knott's Berry Farm's WindSeeker is now fully disassembled..." (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Hart, Lance (August 3, 2011). "Carowinds". Screamscape. Archived from the original on February 10, 2012. Retrieved February 29, 2012.
- Hart, Lance (August 3, 2011). "Carowinds WindSeeker Riddle". Screamscape. Archived from the original on August 31, 2011. Retrieved August 24, 2011.
- Cedar Fair (Carowinds) (August 24, 2011). "WindSeeker Takes Flight at Carowinds in 2012". Press Release. PR Newswire. Retrieved August 24, 2011.
- "WindSeeker". Kings Dominion. Archived from the original on February 4, 2012. Retrieved September 1, 2011.
- "Kings Dominion WindSeeker Announced". Kings Dominion. September 1, 2011. Retrieved September 1, 2011.
- "Kings Dominion set to remove El Dorado at end of 2011 season". Theme Park Tourist. August 29, 2011. Retrieved October 8, 2011.
- Kings Dominion [@KingsDominionVA] (January 20, 2012). "First piece of #Windseeker is up!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "Wall Photos". Facebook. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
- Engle, Tim (August 30, 2013). "Worlds of Fun to add SteelHawk thrill ride". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved August 31, 2013.
- Hart, Lance (May 24, 2011). "WindSeeker Hydraulic Dampers Added". Screamscape. Retrieved June 14, 2011.[dead link]
- MacDonald, Brady (June 14, 2011). "Knott's Berry Farm hopes to open Windseeker thrill ride in July". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 13, 2012.
- Hart, Lance (June 27, 2011). "Actual Cause For Swing Movement On Cedar Point WindSeeker Explained and Video". Screamscape. Archived from the original on August 6, 2011. Retrieved June 27, 2011.
- "Breakfast Television". Breakfast Television. Toronto. June 29, 2011. Citytv. CITY-TV. Archived from the original on March 16, 2012. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
- Hart, Lance (May 30, 2011). "Canada's Wonderland seat missing". Screamscape. Archived from the original on May 28, 2011. Retrieved May 31, 2011.
- "WindSeeker Delay Break-Down Video(End Of Video)". Fox 19. June 15, 2011. Retrieved June 19, 2011.
- "Cedar Point". Screamscape. June 4, 2012. Retrieved June 4, 2012.
- "Cedar Point ride malfunctions, strands riders 150 ft. in the air". wcpo.com (ABC). June 2, 2012. Archived from the original on June 4, 2012. Retrieved June 4, 2012.
- "Thrill Ride Malfunctions at Cedar Point". Fox 8 Cleveland. June 2, 2012. Retrieved June 4, 2012.
- Cedar Point [@cedarpoint] (June 5, 2012). "@flamingscrubs Yes, WindSeeker is now open!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Tully, Sarah; Quick, Sonya; Salazar, Denisse (September 20, 2012). "State shuts Knott's ride for investigation". The Orange County Register. Retrieved September 21, 2012.
- Canada's Wonderland (April 26, 2011). "WindSeeker Construction Photos". Facebook. Retrieved May 30, 2011.
- Krosnick, Brian (June 23, 2011). "Review: WindSeeker at Cedar Point". Theme Park Tourist. Retrieved June 24, 2011.
- "WindSeeker JBL Speakers at Canada's Wonderland". CWMania. June 13, 2011. Retrieved June 19, 2011.
- "Carowinds WindSeeker Audio System". PR Newswire. August 24, 2011. Retrieved August 24, 2011.
- In the Parks. "In The Parks – Knott's opens Windseeker, Disneyland and DCA, Universal". MiceChat.com. Retrieved February 13, 2012.
- "Kings Island WindSeeker Opening Day". CoasterForce. June 22, 2011. Archived from the original on September 29, 2011. Retrieved June 27, 2011.
- "WindSeeker Night POV at Cedar Point". Coaster Force. June 14, 2011. Archived from the original on September 29, 2011. Retrieved June 19, 2011.
- "Canada's Wonderland WindSeeker at Night". Canada's Wonderland Facebook (Coleen Flammia Dwyer). August 24, 2011. Retrieved August 24, 2011.
- Hart, Lance (June 17, 2011). "Knott's WindSeeker Tower". Screamscape. Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. Retrieved June 19, 2011.
- "Knott's Mexican Theme WindSeeker Sign". Westcoaster. August 9, 2011. Archived from the original on February 22, 2013. Retrieved August 9, 2011.
- "Kings Island WindSeeker Review". Theme Park Tourist. July 13, 2011. Retrieved August 9, 2011.
- MacDonald, Brady (August 22, 2011). "Review: WindSeeker soars at Knott's Berry Farm after flight delays". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
- Sherer, Tom (October 2, 2011). "Belaboring the Point" (PDF). Sandusky Register. p. C1. Retrieved October 13, 2011.
- Sherer, Tom (October 2, 2011). "Belaboring the Point" (PDF). Sandusky Register. p. C2. Retrieved October 13, 2011.
- Sherer, Tom (October 2, 2011). "Belaboring the Point" (PDF). Sandusky Register. p. C3. Retrieved October 13, 2011.
- "Cedar Point's New WindSeeker Swing Ride Opens for the Summer!". PR Newswire. June 15, 2011. Retrieved August 12, 2011.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to WindSeeker.|
- WindSeeker at Canada's Wonderland
- WindSeeker at Carowinds
- WindSeeker at Cedar Point
- WindSeeker at Kings Dominion
- WindSeeker at Kings Island
- Windseeker at Knott’s Berry Farm (Archived)