(WBIR-Dollywood) As you’re zipping along the FireChaser Express there’s a lot more to see than the
twisty tracks. You’re a volunteer headed to a fire at a gas station. And when you arrive…
“They notice that it’s full of fireworks and it’s perhaps dangerous and they’re starting
to get a little worried and then you see some explosions and then boom, you come back out of there,”
Ralph Nielsen, Add -Creative Consultant and Art Director on the project said.
Ralph Nielsen led a team of about a dozen people who came up with ways to create a fun and thrilling experience. They developed the concept from drawings to through design and of course, when it came to creating the really exciting stuff, they called on Back Stage Technologies!
A critical design feature was making the fire creep toward a huge rocket they call Big Bertha.
“She starts sparking and when she does she falls over and starts smoking and then the room fills up with smoke and you’re blasted out of the room backwards,” Nielson explained..
The huge challenge was weaving together a story about fire and explosions while keeping it completely
“Seven feet is as close as you can get to people with real flames. Another thing is you have to be less than 150 degrees on their forehead. So you can feel the heat but it’s not that hot,” Nielson said.
And then there’s the whole explosion thing…
“We knew we wanted to do explosions so what we have in there is actually propane gas that gives you
the explosions,” he said. “Because it’s propane and not a real fire we actually control when it starts and
what the duration of it is and how big it is so you feel like you are in an explosion. And then we fill up the
room with smoke that’s actually made from a combination of steam and liquid nitrogen.”
Of course, Backstage Technologies assured nothing in the gas station setting can actually catch on fire.
To effectively create this exhilarating scene, Back Stage Technologies engineered and fabricated
everything from the ominous traveling flames to the show action and sparking of the Big Bertha Rocket
tipping over along with a healthy amount of atmospheric thick “smoke” that billows out towards the
coaster car before it quicky zooms out of the scene in reverse.
You won’t get hurt or burned. Ralph Nielsen wants you to thoroughly enjoy journey as a volunteer firefighter in the FireChaser Express.
“I hope they want to go ride it again.”