Knoebels Amusement Resort recently opened its Black Diamond roller coaster. The ride combines the likes of a roller coaster and dark ride. Black Diamond just opened on October 8th, just in time for the Halloween events, which fits in well with the theme of the ride.
Black Diamond was originally located at Morey's Pier where it was named the Golden Nugget. The ride was built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company (PTC) which is highly unusual, since PTC specialized in wooden coasters at the time it opened during the summer of 1960.
Golden Nugget was in the “Standing But Not Operating” status twice, once from 1993 to 1995 and again from 1999 to 2009. In 2010, Morey’s Pier decided to demolish the ride, but Knoebels decided to purchase the trains and track. The same thing could be said back in 1985 when Knoebels bought the famed Rocket from Playland Park in San Antonio, Texas, which was in the “Standing But Not Operating” status as well. Knoebels bought the ride, renamed it to the Phoenix, and restored the ride to its original state. Now Knoebels has duplicated history by buying Golden Nugget, changing the name to Black Diamond, and restoring it to the park’s version of the ride.
Dark rides have always been a specialty of Knoebels. The Haunted Mansion, located at the right side of the park, has been the voted the best dark ride in the United States by the Darkride and Funhouse Enthusiasts club.
Black Diamond has been advertised by the parks as a mixture of a roller coaster and dark ride, which spans over three layers of a mine-themed experience. The theming in the Black Diamond is different from Golden Nugget. Black Diamond is located at the very back of the park next to the Phoenix, Flume, and the mining museum. Part of the Bald Eagle habitat was used for the ride. The exhibit was moved slightly to the right to allow for the ride to be built.
The Mountain Press has reported that after all the recent contract disputes with HUSS over its ill-fated and downtime plagued Timber Tower installation at the park, Dollywood is now suing the German-based ride company. The rides various malfunctions began just months after the ride’s 2006 opening and continued through the rides indefinite closing late last year, during which time Dollywood and HUSS have had multiple contract renegotiations to get the ride fixed.
The “Topple Tower” attraction from HUSS Maschinefabrik, the original HUSS company that built the ride in 2006, brings riders seated on a round gondola 65 feet up into the air, before the tower then tilts the spinning gondola towards the ground as it sways back and forth. Dollywood spiced up the ride with its heavy themeing, tilting guests over water, and even a mock bear encounter. Costing the park $2.2 million for the ride plus an additional $2.4 million for site preparations, the ride has been down far more than it has been up.
After the rides completion in March 2006, it only took a few months before the ride started experience problems and malfunctions. In October 2006, however, HUSS Maschinefabrik filed for insolvency and was taken over by HUSS Park Attractions and HUSS Parts and Services, according to The Mountain Press. Maintenance was performed by HUSS in January 2007 after negotiating a new contract with Dollywood. Again, within just a few months, by April, the ride was experiencing new problems, which led to the June 17 incident that year which left 38 riders stranded at the top of the tower. Dollywood then had to replace the ride’s main hydraulic pump and the circulation pump, in September and November 2007 respectively. Later, in June 2008, after just over two years of operation, Dollywood had to replace the gondola motor drive.
The problems continued over the next couple of years, with the ride operating only sporadically, and with HUSS requiring more payments and contract negotiations to get the ride fixed. Finally in late 2010, Dollywood closed the ride indefinitely until the contract disputes with HUSS could be resolved, and the ride has been Standing But Not Operating (SBNO) ever since.
According to The Mountain Press, Dollywood is now suing HUSS Park and Attractions and HUSS Parts and Services, the companies that are responsible for building and maintaining the ride, for a sum of $500,000 for breach of contract, breach of warranty, and negligence. Dollywood attorney Daneil Gass told The Mountain Press that after HUSS reformed in 2007, they claimed that Dollywood owed them money, but that “as a condition for that payment HUSS agreed to correct the ride performance problem. Based on those assertions Dollywood paid the sum HUSS claims it was owed.” But because the company has not yet fulfilled its agreement to properly maintain the ride, the park is now moving forward with the lawsuit to resolve the issue.