Arrow Dynamics was an American manufacturing and engineering company that specialized in designing and building amusement park rides, especially roller coasters. Based in Clearfield, Utah, the company was the successor to Arrow Development (1946–1981) and Arrow Huss (1981–1986), which were responsible for several 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 1960s on wooden roller coasters. The Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland, built in 1959, was Arrow's first roller coaster project.

Arrow Dynamics
IndustryAmusement Rides
PredecessorArrow Development Company Inc
Arrow Huss Inc
FounderRonald Toomer
Otis Hughes
Brent Meikle
FateBankruptcy, assets bought by S&S Arrow
SuccessorS&S Worldwide
HeadquartersClearfield, Utah, United States
Key people
Ron Toomer
Alan Schilke
ProductsRoller Coasters
Arrow Dynamics logo (1986–2000)

In 1975, Arrow Development introduced the first corkscrew style track Corkscrew, at Knott's Berry Farm that sent riders through a series of corkscrews. Arrow created several other "firsts" over the years, introducing the first suspended roller coaster in almost a century, The Bat, in 1981, and the first "hypercoaster", Magnum XL-200, which opened in 1989. They built the first 4th Dimension roller coaster, X2, which was designed by Alan Schilke in 2002.

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 closed 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. In 2012, Sansei Yusoki Co. of Osaka, Japan, acquired a 77.3% interest in S&S - Arrow.

History edit

Beginnings edit

Arrow Dynamics' forerunner, Arrow Development, was founded in 1946 when Ed Morgan, Karl Bacon, Bill Hardiman, and Angus "Andy" Anderson, started a machine shop in Mountain View, California.[2] 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.[3]

In 1953, they contacted Walt Disney, who was just beginning to plan a new type of amusement park in California.[4] Disney hired the company to help design and 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.[3] 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.[4]

Roller coaster manufacturing edit

Matterhorn Bobsleds, the first Arrow Development roller coaster.

In 1959, Arrow Development designed what was to be their first of many roller coasters, the Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Built in conjunction with WED Imagineering,[5] 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 customers, and had orders for more, so they moved into a larger plant in Mountain View. 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, beginning with 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 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 The Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach in 1994.

Reorganizations and bankruptcy edit

Arrow Huss logo (1981–1985)

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.[6]: 224  In the late 1970s, Arrow began teaching Vekoma how to build tubular track in their native Holland, and in return Vekoma became Arrow's European distributor. Rio Grande sold Arrow to the German manufacturing firm Huss Maschinenfabrik in 1981. The merger formed Arrow Huss. Dana Morgan, the son of Ed Morgan, was appointed the company's 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 the Darien Lake theme park in New York, and the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition in New Orleans.[6]: 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. Toomer served as president until 1993, Chairman of the Board until 1995, and as a consulting director until his retirement in 1998.[7]

In the late 1990s, Arrow Dynamic's bookings steadily decreased, with few installations toward the end of the decade. Despite attempts to keep up by implementing more updated design techniques, Arrow still found itself struggling to compete. Other manufacturers such as Bolliger & Mabillard and Intamin began to dominate the industry.[8]

Design and manufacturing costs for new, larger ride systems were increasing and competition grew. Bankruptcy loomed once again just as Arrow introduced 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.[9][10] In November 2012, Sansei Yusoki Co., Ltd., of Osaka, Japan, acquired a 77.3% interest in S&S.

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. ^ Perry, Nick (July 26, 2002). "Arrow Development- A forgotten piece of Mountain View's past". Mountain View Voice. Retrieved January 9, 2014.
  3. ^ a b O'Brien, Tim (November 30, 1998). "Pioneers share Living Legend Award". Amusement Business. 110 (48): 20.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ "Arrow Story". Archived from the original on 2002-12-06. Retrieved 2008-01-02.
  6. ^ a b O'Brien, Tim (2006). Legends: Pioneers of the Amusement Park Industry. Ripley Entertainment. pp. 224–225. ISBN 9781893951136.
  7. ^ Seifert, Jeffrey (December 2011). "Ron Toomer 1930–2011 (Obituary)". ACE News. American Coaster Enthusiasts. 34 (2).
  8. ^ Seifert, Jeffrey (2006). "Arrow". RollerCoaster! Magazine. 28 (4): 11–14. ISSN 0896-7261.
  9. ^ O'Brien, Tim (August 12, 2002). "S&S moves to snap up defunct rivals". Amusement Business. 114 (32): 1, 9.
  10. ^ O'Brien, Tim (November 4, 2002). "S&S affiliate catches Arrow". Amusement Business. 114 (44): 8.
  11. ^ a b c d e "Roller Coaster History Timeline". Ultimate Rollercoaster. Retrieved 2011-11-27.
  12. ^ "Runaway Mine Train – Six Flags Over Texas". Ultimate Rollercoaster. Retrieved 2011-11-27.
  13. ^ "Controversy and Confusion Surround Geauga Lake Auction". American Coaster Enthusiasts. Archived from the original on 7 August 2016. Retrieved 16 February 2015.

External links edit