Here’s a question for all you LED gurus out there: Why don’t amusement parks use LEDs on their rides?
I just came back from a trip to a locally famous (i.e. not Disney or Six Flags etc..) amusement park that has been operating since 1902 and they just recently put in some fantastic new rides and I was shocked to see that these rides that are 1 – 2 years old at the most, have hundreds to thousands of big honking colored light bulbs and on some of these rides, half of the bulbs were burned out already! This made them look ugly and cheesy. This was the case all over the park.
In some applications, like automobile headlights, the switch to LEDs just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense but for an amusement park, at least to me (not being a amusement park owner) it makes all the sense in the world. Amusement parks operate at extreme expense and so are always looking for ways to cut costs. It would seem to me that switching to LEDs would save the an enormous bundle of change just on the energy savings alone. Then theres the huge maintenance bill that light bulbs carry. These things are blinking and flashing which, for a light bulb, shortens it’s life to around 2000 hours (maybe less) and now you have to replace them and hire people to do it. So imagine how many people it takes and how long it takes when you have thousands of these things and many of them are 10, 20, 50 or more feet up in the air (this probably explains why the don’t change them often)! So with the switch to flashing LEDs, you get a lifecycle of about 20000 – 50000 hours: a huge difference and a tremendous cost savings. Of course all this has to be weighed against the cost of retro-fitting the existing lamps to LEDs but is there really an excuse for the amusement ride manufacturers to not utilize LEDs when their building these things? It would seem to me that it would be a huge selling point. Now with the advent of direct screw and pin lamp LED replacement, there really isn’t much of an excuse even for the amusement parks to not replace the lamps even weighed against the much higher cost of purchase for the LED lamps versus the traditional light bulbs (what’s a box of small colored lamps cost?). If these parks can get 30 million dollar loans to build new rides, they can get 1 or 2 million dollars loans to replace their lamps. The short-sighted may say well thats not going to sell tickets but I beg to differ. People may not realize it when their looking around but the clean, modern, and fully-working appearance that LEDs will afford will increase ticket sales as much as picking up litter on the pathways will. Plus, over time, the LEDs will pay for themselves (often in the first year or two as evidenced by several large building retrofit projects that have made the news lately. See my Architectural Lighting Blog) and then some.
This doesn’t even begin to touch all the accent lighting, emergency lighting, signage etc… that amusement parks continue to use traditional light bulbs in (although I did see some LED in-roads in the parks signage but not a whole lot). Just think of all the potential savings!
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