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The second major new thrill ride in a couple of years is being installed at Oaks Park -- it goes over the top

DAVID F. ASHTON - Workers guide another support for the new Oaks Amusement Park thrill ride safely down onto protective cribbing. After riding the waves across the Atlantic Ocean from a manufacturer in Italy, then making a trip through the Panama Canal, and finally arriving in Seattle, a new thrill ride is coming to Oaks Park. Trucks started pulling the six 40-foot shipping containers into the parking lot at nonprofit Oaks Amusement Park on May 26.

"We're excited that our newest attraction, called 'AtmosFEAR' – which is similar to, and replacing, the renowned 'Screamin' Eagle' ride – is finally here!" exclaimed Oaks Amusement Park Chief Executive Officer Brandon Roben.

DAVID F. ASHTON - The historic Oaks Amusement Park Midway served as the staging area for large and small parts being used to erect the new extreme thrill ride, AtmosFEAR. The difference between AtmosFEAR, and the ride it replaces, is that can be set to swing riders completely over the top – making a full 360° arc. "I've ridden it; and, in that mode, it truly is an extreme thrill ride," Roben told THE BEE.

But, because the ride uses computerized controls, it can also easily be set so that the main arm instead swings only about 180°, for the riders who are less adventurous, and shorter in stature.

During the unloading process, The Oaks' historic exhibit building served as a temporary shelter for numerous boxes of parts, controllers, and lighting panels.

Planning for opening day

With COVID-19 coronavirus "Phase 1 reopening" still pending for Multnomah County in mid-June, Roben said the season's opening date remains uncertain.

"When Multnomah County goes into 'Phase 2 reopening', we'll be able to open; but on a very limited basis, with our capacity set at only 250 people.

"And, for a facility like ours, with very large outdoor grounds – as is also the case with the Oregon Zoo, and Salem's Enchanted Forest – that cap of 250 people won't permit very many paying customers inside, because the staff must also be included in that total," Roben pointed out.

So, he said, their executives are in contact with other large attractions in Oregon, working on strategies to reopen sometime this summer.

"We've considered potentially shorter 'attendance blocks', where we would host 250 people for shorter times; but that brings us other logistical challenges," Roben observed. "While we're eager to have families come visit us again, we want to do it safely – by having a sensible capacity that allows us to enforce social distancing."

Instead of having long lines at the ticket booths, and potentially having to turn away families who've traveled some distance to visit the park, The Oaks is likely to offer online-only ticket sales this season. "It helps us gauge the number of guests coming on any given day," Roben explained, "So, when we've reached capacity, tickets will no longer be available online for that day."

Additionally, because people can see, online, how many tickets have already been sold for a given day, they can easily choose a less busy day to come and enjoy the park.

"While other ticketed outdoor attractions are scrambling to put in place online ticketing systems, Oaks Amusement Park actually launched our system at the start of their 2019 season; so it is already tested and ready to go," Roben told THE BEE.

Check for updates on their website – www.oakspark.com


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