Chance Rides Manufacturing, the largest ride manufacturing company in the United States, is riding high.
Chance sold a $750,000 Freestyle, meant to simulate the feel of free-style biking, in August to Ray Cammack Shows of Laveen, Arizona. The ride was fitted compactly onto a 48-foot trailer and delivered to California, said Lisa Hargrove, marketing manager for Chance Rides.
The ride made it's debut at the Los Angeles County Fair and, from there, it went on to the Arizona State Fair.
The Freestyle is Chance's first portable carnival ride to come off the assembly line at the Wichita, Kansas company in quite some time, said Hargrove. She said that president Mike Chance and others involved in the business have simply been busy with other projects in the 425,000 square-foot warehouse at the 40-acre facility. The company employs 400 people; from mechanics and designers to artists.
The Freestyle is meant to be the latest revision of the Wipeout, said Hargrove, an evolution of the Trabant,, a kind of rotating ride on a platform. "Freestyle is a take on racing things," she said. "It doesn't make you sick, but it tickles your tummy."
The company was started in 1961 by the late Harold Chance. It was the beginning of a family tradition of building amusement rides and attractions. The rides manufactured in Kansas have since spread around the world with carnival rides, carousels, Ferris Wheels, trains and "people movers" (trams).
Chance Manufacturing started with the C.P. Huntington Train and expanded to include various trailer-mounted rides such as the Trabant and the Zipper.
In 1970, Chance purchased the assets of the Allen Herschel Company, which, at that time, was the largest manufacturer of amusement rides in North America. That's when carousels were added to their inventory.
In 1977, Minibus was acquired by Chance for the ability to produce small metro transit buses and streetcars.
In 1985, Dick Chance, Harold's son, founded Chance Industries Inc. as a holding company for three subsidiaries, including Chance Rides, Chance Coach and Chance Operations, according to the company's website. The company then purchased Chance Manufacturing Company.
Michael Chance, Dick's son, purchased the assets of D.H. Morgan Manufacturing, Inc., a roller coaster design and manufacturing company, in 2001 and formed Chance Morgan, Inc. The rides sold by Chance Morgan are produced by Chance Rides Manufacturing Inc., the third generation of manufacturing companies to be owned by the Chance family.
The company now has fully consolidated the Morgan Manufacturing operation into its Wichita, Kan. headquarters. Chance will continue to offer rides from the Morgan production line, as well as provide spare parts and technical services for all Morgan rides while the company ownership remains with the Chance family.
The new Freestyle has a classic spinning, tilting motion that appeals to riders of all ages. The ride extends from a center podium with two support podiums and outward-facing seating for up to 24 riders. It provides easy entry for loading and unloading passengers, said Hargrove.
"We're finding that the draw has been for families, and that's exactly what we wanted," she said.
The Freestyle has comfortable, over-the-shoulder restraints. The pre-programmed, electric, variable speed drive offers a variety of ride experiences, from simply floating through the air to the expected hanging sensation. The ride has ground level entry and side ramps. Wide walkways allow side loading and increase hourly capacity.
The ride was first introduced this summer to Chance' employees, families and friends at the company headquarters in Wichita, said Hargrove.
"We held a friends and family night, and the reception for the Freestyle was very good," said Hargrove.
The Freestyle also has an excellent LED light package, she said. You can be easily entertained simply by watching the lights.
The company is also celebrating its recent sale of a luxury carousel to an amusement park outside of Hong Kong. Hargrove said the characters on the carousel are all sea creatures, like sting rays, fish and other aquatic characters. The painstaking production of the carousel animals is depicted on the Chance website.
The 50-foot diameter carousel that went to Chimelong Ocean Kingdom near Macau, China has 60 animals and benches designed to look like sea sponges. The Chinese company ordered six new ocean-themed animals - a swordfish, sea turtles and a clownfish.
Chance Rides Manufacturing is now looking forward to the IAAPA trade show in Orlando, Fla. in November, said Hargrove. Chance is the largest U.S. company of its kind, most of the companies that will be at the trade show are European-based, she said.
The show will be an opportunity to show off the Freestyle, and Chance Rides is looking forward to some orders, she said.
The ride will be made to order in the Wichita facility, taking about 26 weeks to build.
"We hope people will be ready to get on with the new year," she said.