Sky Hi/Ski Heis
Manufacturer: Von Roll, Inc.
Model Type: Sky Ride 101
Maximum Cars (as of 1973): 25
All Time Maximum Capacity: 1,169 an hour
Sky Hi was the Americana entrance to Worlds of Fun's aerial gondola ride, with its opposite station in Scandinavia entitled Ski Heis. Sky Hi was an incredibly common ride at amusement and theme parks across the country when it was built, almost every park had one. Sky Hi was manufactured by Von Roll Holding AG of Switzerland and was classified as a type 101 Sky Ride, at its peak there were over 100 installations of the 101 Sky Ride, today there are less than a dozen operating.
Sky Hi transported guests from the Americana section of the park by way of a semi-enclosed cable car, that seated four, the cable that supported each car was supported by one of the ride's four towers, with the tallest being 75 feet tall. The drive wheel was located on the Scandinavia section of the park with its station structure still being located in the park. Today, the Ski Heis's station is a picnic facility known as Tivoli East. The counterweight of the ride was located in the Americana section of the park, today the Americana station is the red games barn next to Mustang Runner.
In 1977, The Sky Hi cable was walked by Arthur Duchek (King Arthur the Lion) on Memorial Day Weekend, a feat that was completed in 25 mile-per-hour winds! In 1978, the beginning of the end started, when another Von Roll car fell 70 feet to the ground at Six Flags Mid America (Eureka, Mo. today it is known as Six Flags St. Louis) killing three of the guests aboard. All of a sudden Von Roll Sky Rides became viewed as "dangerous" and began disappearing in parks across the country as quickly as they had appeared. Worlds of Fun's version lasted until the 1987 season when mid-season insurance auditors arrived at the park and began condemning cars one by one for surface rust. Jeff Mast, one of the editors of worldsoffun.org was working as a ride ambassador at the time at the nearby Le Taxi Tour and recounts receiving calls from a friend working Ski Hi as car numbers dwindled down the final six that were left at the end of the day.
Worlds of Fun wasn't ready to give up on Sky Hi though, and they contacted nearby Six Flags Mid-America in regards to their leftover cars from their defunct Sky Ride. In the end, the Six Flags cars ended up being in far worse shape than those condemned at Worlds of Fun, and it marked the end of a true Worlds of Fun classic.
The left over cars were in the end rounded up on a flatbed and turned to scrap almost immediately after the end of the 1987 season, the 75-foot pylons removed. For years, one of the concrete supports near Autobahn was left remaining but has been removed within the last two decades. Today, only one concrete support remains located below the base of Lift 2 on Viking Voyager.
On a more personal note, Sky Hi is one ride that this writer vividly remembers riding as a child, one of the rare original rides I can recall riding actually. It was this ride that made me first interested in discovering park history so that I could find the name of this once long-lost ride. I still remember the moment I re-discovered "Sky Hi", on a late afternoon in 1996 at the Kansas City Downtown Library. So in a matter of speaking Sky Hi not only gave us all wonderful memories while it operated but continued to do so even thirty-plus years after it was removed.