Saturday, May 28, 2016

Day 17: Just Look at the Time!

Posing together outside one of our
group's favorite rides, Tower of Terror. 
What do Midway Mania, Markov Chains, Mission Space, and matrices all have in common? They're all integral parts of our magical studies here at Math and the Mouse! Mickey and Minnie Mouse have helped us explore mutations, modeling, mapping, and more - you wouldn't believe how much math can be found from observing the Mary Poppins line, watching MuppetVision 3D, and even riding Mad Tea Party or exploring the Maharajah Jungle Trek! We've enjoyed all of our time and studies in each of the four parks (although, if they have to choose, Molly and McKenna say that their personal favorite park is Magic Kingdom) and it has certainly been a marvelous, mathemagical, and alliterative May X! And today's update on our group's latest adventures is brought to you by Maria and Mary Lib!

Hollywood Studios
This morning we arrived in Hollywood Studios for rope drop! We started our day off at Midway Mania and Tower of Terror, and then continued collecting data at Rock ‘n' Roller Coaster. As mentioned in previous blogs, a couple of the groups are interested in Rock ‘n' Roller Coaster for various research reasons: one group is looking at the efficiency and worth of the FastPass, while the other is concerned with the value of the single rider line. While standing outside the ride itself, we collected entrance and exit data in 15-minute intervals, which will help us determine arrival and departure rates of the ride. While in line, groups recorded data such as the times group members entered the ride, when the FastPass and Standby lines merged, non-single rider line party sizes, when group members boarded the ride, how far apart each consecutive boarding time was, and when each group member exited the ride.

We were so lucky to have had the opportunity to meet
 with a Disney engineer this morning!
After collecting data, we reconvened as a group in front of Rock 'n' Roller Coaster at 11:00 AM to meet with an electrical engineer for Disney that has a family connection to Furman. He talked to us about the mechanical operation and troubleshooting of two park headline attractions, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror, as well as a few others. Everything he discussed was very interesting, and one of the highlights of his talk was his discussion of the random sequencing of Tower of Terror and Star Tours. Although it’s not obvious, each ride on Tower of Terror and Star Tours is not the same every time. Tower of Terror has a set of possible drop and rise sequences, and one of these is randomly selected for an elevator each time it runs. In a similar manner, the ride sequence for Star Tours is randomized, where each ride includes four of the thirteen possible segments. The random sequencing of both attractions allows for a unique and surprising experience for guests, even if they have ridden the rides repeatedly. Just another example of Disney going above and beyond!

After meeting with our guest speaker, we left the parks and the professors treated us to lunch - the break from PB&Js was greatly appreciated by students! The Chipotle and Panera Bread near our hotel are within a few feet of each other, so we split up and reconvened back at the hotel to eat together.

The Physics Behind Disney World
This afternoon in class, we were able to look more closely at the application of science in Disney World; specifically, we learned more about the physics behind the park.  Dr. Bouzarth gave a very interesting presentation that overviewed some fundamentals of physics and ways that they apply to the operation of Disney - this connected very well to our session with the guest speaker this morning, as we were able to explore in even more depth several ideas that he had discussed.  In the context of discussing such ideas as force, energy, magnetism, and Newton's laws of motion, Dr. Bouzarth helped us to make connections between these concepts and the park operation.  For example, we discussed the Test Track ride in Epcot, which our guest speaker had told us was the fastest ride among the four Disney World parks, in light of the idea of energy transfer.  We also learned that Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (the second fastest ride in the park) is able to accelerate from 0 to 57 miles per hour in less than three seconds because it utilizes more than 100 electromagnets which are underneath the tracks.  The quick acceleration is one of the signature features of the ride and one that we have all experienced, and it was interesting to learn more about how it actually works!  We finished the lesson by reviewing limits, derivatives, and integrals (concepts that we had all covered in calculus) and their applications to calculating position, velocity, and acceleration of objects.   

Animal Kingdom After Dark!
After riding Everest seven times tonight, we became pros
at having fun with the coaster's camera!
After class this afternoon, we left the hotel at 4:30 PM and headed to Animal Kingdom - this was very exciting, as it had been almost a week since we were in this specific park.  Also, today was an unusually special day in the park - for the first time ever, Animal Kingdom was open until 11:00 PM (a big difference from its traditional 6:30 closing time)!  Tonight was also the unofficial premiere (or “soft opening”) of the Jungle Book show in Animal Kingdom, so there was an extra amount of excitement within the park this evening which only added to the fun of the atmosphere. Once we had arrived at the park, our entire class rode the Dinosaur ride, a thrill ride that takes groups of 12 on a dark and bumpy journey through a path filled with a variety of moving dinosaur figures.  All of the students in our class were able to fit on the same car, which turned out to be quite the adventure!  The ride, which can be fairly unnerving at the best of times, became extra scary today when our class got stuck on it, and we were in complete darkness for what seemed like quite a while (though probably was only about two minutes).  After this unexpected adventure, the group had free time to visit other attractions in the park and to continue collecting data at Expedition Everest for the single rider line project group. We also had evening FastPasses for the Kilamanjaro Safari; while we had done this safari once before in the daytime, it was an even more fun activity around dusk, and we were able to see a wide variety of animals.  

Tonight definitely had the shortest wait times for rides we have ever experienced in any of the parks, and as a result we were able to ride Kali River Rapids five times and Expedition Everest seven times over the course of the day!  Undoubtedly, one of the highlights of the evening was getting to ride Expedition Everest at night.  Although approximately half of the ride takes place indoors and the other half takes place outdoors, the darkness outside made the ride transitions feel even more seamless than usual - plus, it was extra fun to know that we were some of the first park visitors to get to ride the coaster at night! After closing out the evening by riding Everest as a class for five consecutive times, we headed out right at closing at 11:00 PM.

Looking Ahead
Tomorrow, we will be heading to Epcot at 9:00 AM for rope drop and will spend the afternoon continuing some FastPass data collection in Magic Kingdom.  On Sunday, we will be back in Animal Kingdom for part of the day - and we also have FastPasses to see the Jungle Book!  While we’re certainly sad that the trip is coming to a close, we are doing our best to enjoy every minute left and we know that there is definitely still much more excitement ahead!         

Written by: Maria Bartlett & Mary Lib Saine

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