And Roush Made it Happen: Full Adrenaline at Theme Parks

The wind is rushing in your face. You’re upside down, flying fast on the back of a fire-breathing creature while dodging an alien.

Theme park rides can be a completely immersive experience. They are a rush, often placing you in the middle of the action related to a movie, comic-book or otherworldly situation. They are also highly engineered, incredibly complex, incorporate emerging technologies, and constantly push the boundaries of possible vs. impossible. If you’ve enjoyed a theme park attraction in the past decade-plus, chances are you’ve interfaced with Roush.

We first entered the theme park industry in 2007 when a customer required a very strong but lightweight structure for a ride vehicle. We already had expertise in advanced composites acquired through supporting our motorsports arm, Roush Fenway Racing. Our customer was confident Roush would get it right. As our work in this market continued to expand, in 2012 Roush Entertainment Systems was established to provide program management, mechanical, electronics and controls engineering, and design, quality and technical assembly services with experts fluent in the unique requirements of this industry. We continue to leverage the extended Enterprise for creative services, computer analysis, and testing, with our manufacturing capabilities that include advanced composites, machining, metal forming, welding, paint, trim, graphics and electrical, enabling us to provide theme park customers with turnkey development services.

In engineering jargon, our entertainment work falls into the realm of “snowflake,” or one-off, specialized projects requiring a highly specific skill set. The industry’s requirements are incredibly rigorous and specific — for good reason related to guest and operator safety and maintainability. Our Roush Entertainment team members are also hardcore theme park enthusiasts who are extremely passionate about what they do, giving them unique insights into a complex and challenging industry.

Our primary area of expertise is in the development of a ride and show systems. Ride systems can be a vehicle, a tracked car, a trackless vehicle, or a cabin integrated into a simulator. Show systems could be an animated figure or show action equipment. The projects we tackle fall into three categories:

  • Blue sky: Development of a ride or show system from start to finish, including design and engineering.
  • Build-to-print: Customer-completed designs that we build and bring to life.
  • Product refreshes: Ride or show systems running for years that need an update.

What we do isn’t easy, because often the duty cycle for rides are 365 days a year, 16 hours a day for up to 20 years.

The theme park industry is led by world-renowned brands that have very stringent, exacting requirements. That’s why we find ourselves inventing things that have never been done before.

We’re on top of the latest advances, too, leveraging technology to provide guests a fully immersive experience.

We’re honored that Roush’s products are in just about every major theme park worldwide. But at the end of the day, our greatest reward comes from listening to the guests as they exit an attraction – either full of adrenaline or absolute terror. For a few minutes, we made their life extraordinary.

Michael Deneau is Vice President, Entertainment, for Roush.

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