“Wow, I Gotta Ride That!”
Europa-Park in Rust, Germany, is a major success story. Over the last 30 years, Siemens has provided state-of-the-art automation technology for all of the rides, delivering excitement, entertainment, and the highest level of safety for visitors of all ages.
D ad, you lied! It’s all so tiny!” cries six-year- old Dominik in disappointment. We’ve just checked into a hotel in the Europa-Park, one of the world’s largest amusement parks, and my son is basing his judgement on what little he’s already seen — basically, the en- trance to the park and the hotel lobby. Two days and a host of attractions later, Dominik has certainly changed his tune: “Dad, I don’t want to go home! There’s still loads more to see.”
This year, the Europa-Park in Rust, near Freiburg, Germany, is celebrating its 30th an- niversary. Operated since 1975 by the Mack family, it has been a success story from the word go — thanks not least to Siemens, which has provided the automation, drive, control and safety systems for each of the al- most 100 rides. Likewise, the complete elec- trical installation in the Hotel Colosseo, a spectacular combination of a Roman am- phitheater with Italian-style architecture (see box), is from Siemens. “Our business is to
Pure thrills in one of the world’s largest amusement parks. Shrieking kids ride on roller coasters (left), pirate ships or a huge water slide (top right). Behind the scenes, all the attractions are controlled by Siemens technology (bottom right) and supervised by safety engineer Walter Mitternacht (bottom left).
combine technology with emotion,” explains Roland Mack, head of Europa-Park.
That’s all fine and good, but from the kids’ room on the hotel’s eighth floor the technol- ogy is more or less invisible. Basically, what Svenja (12), Lukas (9), Dominik (6) and Leonie (4) can see is a 70-hectare park, Each year, the amusement park draws almost 3.8 million visitors. Nearby, the Atlantica Super- Splash water ride is completing its morning test run, which involves drawing boats up to a height of 32 meters and then letting them plunge down the water track. “Wow!” ex- claims Svenja. “I gotta ride that!” Further away, the Silver Star, Europe’s biggest and highest roller coaster, is warming up for the day. Lukas shakes his head. “No way you’re getting me on that!” he says.
Behind the Scenes. My family’s visit to Eu- ropapark begins with safety engineer Walter Mitternacht as we look at one of the park’s older attractions, an underground boat trip to the magical world of the Pirates of Batavia, which has been in operation for 15 years. By- passing a long line of visitors, we descend a narrow stairway and go “backstage.” Mitter- nacht opens up the technological heart of the ride — huge cabinets full of cables, clicking relays and flashing lights. This is where all the special effects are controlled with the utmost precision. “This is one of the older control sys- tems in operation here,” says Reinhard Egner, formerly of Siemens and now head of SSG, a Freiburg-based company. A close partner of Siemens, SSG builds the electronic control
systems for the rides and always uses the very latest automation technology.
“Where are the pirates?” demands Leonie. Smiling, Mitternacht opens a metal door and we’re suddenly at the starting point of the boat ride. The trip features more than 500 moving animal and human puppets, all of them artistically arranged and illuminated throughout the gigantic building. Wild-look- ing figures swill from tankards, while others chase storekeepers out of their shops, and prisoners even try to coax a key to their dun- geon from a monkey. All too soon, the boat has come to the end of its journey. “Can we go again?” pleads Dominik. “Let me show you something else instead,” says Mitternacht.
Screams of pleasure are audible from afar. The control system for the Silver Star is lo- cated in a small room beneath the 73-meter- high roller coaster, which entered service in 2002. An operator sitting in a glass cabin ob- serves operations on a bank of monitors. “There are actually three control systems,” ex- plains Egner. “The first, a Simatic S7 300, con- trols the Silver Star, a second system monitors the first, and the third, a Simatic S7 200, also controls the roller coaster, but using a differ- ent program, so there’s virtually no chance of a breakdown.” With assurances like that, Svenja plucks up the courage to take a ride. Mitternacht advises her to empty her pockets. “Why?” inquires Lukas. “If not, everything will fall out. We’re always finding coins, keys and even mobile phones.”
The ride takes three minutes. People in the cars behind us are already yelling as we near
HIGH TECH AT THE COLISEUM
When the fountains shoot into the sky at the end of the evening’s water extravaganza, spectators truly believe they are in Italy. From their seats in the courtyard, they can see a replica of the Coliseum and the curved facade of the four-star hotel, which cost 50 million euros to build in 2003. Siemens was responsi- ble for electrical installations and not only supplied all 1,450 rooms with power and heating but also equipped them with commu- nications technology, air conditioning, and safety and security systems.
The power supply for the hotel was planned using a tool called Simaris design. Behind the scenes is state-of-the-art field bus (instabus) technology and 220 kilometers of cable. Fea- tures such as the hotel’s 4,500 sockets, tele- phone system and multimedia technology for its nine conference rooms can be controlled via computer using a building management system based on the Desigo system. Siemens Automa- tion and Drives, Power Transmission and Distri- bution, and Building Technologies and Commu- nications Groups were involved in the project.
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2005