Gravity Group Interview
We had the opportunity to ask Chad Miller of The Gravity Group some questions about what all they do. Read what he said below:
When designing a coaster, do you help guide the park in choosing a location for the coaster, or does the park already have one picked out?
Sometimes the park knows exactly where they want the ride. In that case, we do everything we can to put the best possible ride on that site. We may suggest to the park that the ride be moved a little here and there if we feel it will improve the ride, budget, and/or construction feasibility. Other parks have a larger space to work with and ask us to be involved in choosing a location that will lend itself to the best/most economical ride possible.
During the designing stage of the coaster, what do you look at most? (i.e., land, cost, etc.)
Our number one goal is fulfilling the vision of the park. Nobody knows what a park needs better than the park itself. Early in the conceptual design phase, we need to become aware of what is important to the park, and then design the best coaster we can that meets all of the park’s requirements, including things like budget, target audience, capacity, maitainability, and location.
What happens if you reach a dead end, or a point where you encounter a dilemma in the designing stage. How do you work around it?
These are often the moments that inspire some of the best ideas. We’re fortunate to have a group of very creative people that thrive on working around “obstacles”. Sometimes our solution to an obstacle can end up being the highlight of the coaster. For example, on Hades, Mt. Olympus knew they wanted this huge tunnel. At first, we struggled with the idea. How can we keep the ride interesting when we only have 12 or 15 feet vertically to work with for such a long stretch (1400 feet, to be exact)? The answers to this question resulted in the disorienting, out-of-control feeling in the tunnel as well as the 90 degree banking.
Once a park contacts you, do you already have a possible layout available or do they tell you what they want?
While we have many concepts and ideas stashed away in our minds, we like to start fresh with each park. That way we can better achieve what the park is looking for, and let the features of the site help shape the ride. Forcing a preconceived layout into a unique site doesn’t fit well with our “park vision” philosophy.
When designing a coaster, is your goal to be the fastest or the “best ride”?
We strive to design the best ride possible. And none of us here at The Gravity Group believe that a coaster has to be the fastest to be the best. As wood coaster designers, we don’t really have the opportunity to design a 400 foot monster that goes 100+ mph., so we have to be creative with the more moderately-sized lift hills, and less extreme speeds.
Obviously, you are well known for having large amounts of airtime, do you ever have to cut out elements just to keep that airtime?
We don’t like to think of our designs as a series of elements, but rather a well-choreographed progression of overlapping experiences. It’s no secret that we like to work airtime into that progression in liberal amounts, but not at the expense of the overall feel of the ride.