High Roller Gets a 1,200 Gallon Face Lift
You heard it here first. Our oldest roller coaster is getting repainted. High Roller, operating since Valleyfair first opened its gates in 1976, is getting repainted. While we received many suggestions for exciting colors varying from highlighter yellow to pitch black, we are keeping it the iconic white.
We sat down with Scott Wagner, Valleyfair’s Painting Foreman, and learned all you need to know about High Roller’s 1,200-gallon facelift.
“Every ride will be different depending on the size and the condition of the current coating,” Wagner said, “High Roller, currently being painted, will take about 3-4 weeks to paint depending on the weather.”
The undertaking of painting a ride considers a variety of factors – material type (wood vs. steel), weather, size, the color of paint, and so much more. Like almost any other painting job, the process starts by evaluating the current condition of the coating. Just like you might determine the quality of paint or wallpaper in your kitchen, Wagner is assessing the quality of paint left on a roller coaster that is 46 years old.
Next step prep. “With the wooden structures, it is just a degreasing and then pressure wash maybe some scraping if there is still loose paint after washing,” Wagner said, “Steel can be a little more involved. With steel, you may have some rust spots that need sand or possibly sandblasted to prevent them from returning. Steel also uses a different type of paint and is traditionally painted with a shiny finish.”
What might seem like a daunting task for a 100-square-foot kitchen seems almost impossible compared to a 2,892-foot-long and 70-foot-high roller coaster. With that much track, you might be asking yourself how often we must paint our rides.
“This depends on what paint and what colors were previously used. There are many different brands of paint, and each one is different,” Wagner said, “Some do not have the gloss and color retention of others. Sometimes a ride can look nice for 10+ years, but others will begin to fade and turn chalky earlier. Brighter colors such as orange, yellow, and red do not hold up as well as other colors in the continuous sun.”
We’ve compared painting a ride to painting a kitchen, but Wagner says that might not be a fair comparison. “Well, when you think of painting a ride, there is nothing you can compare it to. Even though painting a wooden roller coaster is like painting a house, there are no flat surfaces that you can just set up a sprayer or grab a paint roller and do the job. They require painting from many different angles. You finish a spot, and you go back and look at it, and you say how did I miss that spot or how am I ever going to reach that.”
If you are like us, you might have been thinking, 'at least there are rides like Renegade and Excalibur that do not need to be painted,’ and we would both be wrong.
“In one way or another, every ride needs paint,” Wagner said, “You think of Excalibur and Renegade with the bare wood structures and think it may not need it. However, Excalibur does have a painted track, and every ride has a station or queue line, which all require paint. Also, every ride unit in the park is painted. There is less paint maintenance on some rides, but every one of them requires painting from time to time.”
While Wagner and his team are working hard to make sure that High Roller is looking fresh, we are counting down the days until we can ride - May 20, 2022, if you haven’t yet marked your calendar.