I wanted to cover a few more things on Giant Wheel that I really didn’t touch upon in my article last Thursday. I plan to do similar follow ups with other articles as I publish them on the blog.
Astron International Corporation
As I mentioned in the previous article, Giant Wheel was Waagner-Biro’s first double wheel. Intamin, who supplied the ride to Hersheypark, called this type of Ferris wheel a Double Swivelling Wheel.
At the time R. Duell and Associates drew up concepts for the renovated Hersheypark, they didn’t have the plans for the Waagner-Biro ride, so they created a concept based on the other double Ferris wheels installed in other parks R. Duell & Associates worked on – the Astron model Planetary Amusement Ride.
You can see this in the picture on the right.
Astron International Corporation took note of this once the plans for Hersheypark were announced in December 1971. Knowing that they hadn’t been contacted to build a double Ferris wheel, they managed to realize that it would be an Intamin version Hersheypark would install.
Under the belief this was a violation of their patent, they sent a cease and desist letter to Intamin, supplier of the ride, and Hershey Foods Corporation. Astron was under the mistaken belief that Hershey Foods owned Hersheypark. This was not the case, as Hershey Estates was a separate company from Hershey Foods.
Lawyers for Intamin and Hershey Foods rejected the cease and desist letter, Intamin saying there wasn’t a patent violation because Giant Wheel hadn’t been built yet. Hershey Foods responded clarifying that they did not own Hersheypark. Astron never followed up on their attempt to block the construction of Giant Wheel, and the ride was built.
A few other points of interest
- Giant Wheel was Hersheypark’s first true ride that was purchased new and manufactured by a company from Europe. Waagner-Biro is based in Austria, and Intamin is based in Switzerland.
- Hersheypark purchased two other rides with European ties prior to Giant Wheel. The first ride was Starship America, manufactured by Kasper Klaus. Hersheypark purchased this ride from Pontchartrain Beach amusement park, New Orleans, Louisiana, however.
- Hersheypark also managed the Monorail, which was owned by the Monorail Amusement Company from 1969-1973. In late 1973, the Monorail system became directly owned by Hersheypark. This ride was manufactured by Universal Mobility, Inc., of Salt Lake City, Utah. However, they built the Monorail system using the rights they acquired from Habegger Maschinenfabrik AG of Austria. Also, the autopilot system that was used on the Monorail was manufactured by Honegger Elektronik AG of Germany.
- Giant Wheel was the first of seven rides supplied and / or manufactured by Intamin to be installed in the park. SooperdooperLooper was manufactured by the great Anton Schwarzkopf, but the ride was sold to Hersheypark by Intamin.
- Giant Wheel is one of three Intamin-supplied rides that have since been removed (Sky Ride in 1991, Canyon River Rapids in 2008).
I have a wide variety of interests, from sports to politics, music to Star Trek. I write about the history of amusement parks on my website, The Amusement Parkives, which I founded in 2016.