Wrapping the Fair

If you think wrapping mega slides is the same as wrapping cars, think again. Discover how to navigate the challenges that could spell opportunity for you.

Wrapping rides at fair grounds spells opportunity for one vehicle wrap company ­ after the learning curve.

There are megawraps and then there are megawraps. Wrapping rides at the fair grounds qualifies in any installer’s book.

To be sure, installing graphics at fairgrounds rides is a unique application. But when those rides are mammoth-sized, it demands skill sets that you don’t have to use every day.

SkinzWraps, a full-service vehicle wrap company in Dallas, has been honing those skills with two completed fairgrounds wraps and more in the hopper. The company isn’t shy about sharing what it knows about the opportunities and challenges of applying vinyl graphics to rides.

Having fun with vinyl wraps 
SkinzWraps is the company behind the first-of-its-kind Talley Amusements Park’s “Raiders” ride in Fort Worth, Texas. The ride is an interactive play area, complete with rope ladders, punching pages, suspension bridges, a rubber band maze and a 90-foot-long slide.

“Raiders” has a huge visual backdrop and is the first ride to be wrapped in custom vinyl at the park. SkinzWraps lent a hand on multiple levels throughout the process of redesigning the ride’s scenery.

“This was very challenging because we weren’t really sure what tools we’d need and how it would work,” says Tamara Baumann, a national sales representative for SkinzWraps. “Of course, the surface has to be ready for the vinyl to adhere to, and so we ran into some challenges with that, too.”

Everything’s big in Texas
SkinzWraps also won the contract to wrap a new ride for the State Fair of Texas called the Texas SkyWay. The Texas SkyWay is part of a multi-million dollar upgrade campaign for the State Fair of Texas. SkinzWraps, with a documentary filmer in toe, successfully completed the 4,500-square-foot project.

The Texas SkyWay, a new high-performance aerial ride, offers visitors a bird’s-eye and panoramic views of the annual exposition in historic Fair Park. Riders will sit back and relax in 34 comfortable, enclosed gondolas as they travel up and over the colorful State Fair Midway ­ a distance of more than 1,800 feet from one station to the other. The gondolas will depart from the stations at cruising speed before accelerating to 600 feet per minute.

For the SkyWay project, SkinzWraps used perforated vinyl with a newly released optically clear overlaminate, both which are made by Avery Dennison. The combination use of these materials ensures riders of the Texas SkyWay will always have great views in good and inclement weather conditions.

Creating custom templates
Before it was time to clean the rides, the company had to create the templates. SkinzWraps creates its own templates in order to get exceptional results. Baumann says taking the time to do this offers the installation team more accuracy when it comes time to put the vinyl on the rides.

Practically speaking, creating custom templates for the ride meant hand measuring every vehicle or slide element that would be wrapped. The team also takes digital images to help capture the three-dimensional aspects it needs for its templates.

“We account for the full exterior 3-D scope,” Baumann says. “Those specs along with precise imagery allow our designers to create a three-dimensional view for graphic design purposes. We just don’t trust the templates that are available.”

Even when its team of installers is wrapping vehicles for which there are readily available templates that are deemed reliable by industry standards, she continues, SkinzWraps relies on its own booklet of vehicle templates it has built from scratch over the years. The team had to go through the same process with the fair rides.

“With this project, we learned the designer must build the template and take precise measurements so we get it right the first time,” Baumann says. “The biggest surprises came with preparing the surface for vinyl. It was extremely different than wrapping a vehicle.”

Readying the surface
The surface exteriors were specially cleaned with an alcohol-based solution. The crew removed all the fixtures to make the job easier and more thorough. Like a vehicle, Baumann says, the Raiders ride wasn’t ready for application until all existing particles of dirt, grease and other debris was completely wiped clean from the surface.

“This is important because any residue would adversely affect the adhesion process of the vinyl material,” she says. “This holds true for anything we are wrapping and the process is done to all areas that will ultimately be covered by vinyl.”

According to Baumann, SkinzWraps used squeegees designed for laying vinyl, in conjunction with heat guns ­ and sometimes blowtorches. The installation team also relied on precision cutting blades and, custom scaffolding, and measurement and aligning tools during the application of the vinyl material.

“Our installers use various techniques depending on which part of the ride is being wrapped,” Baumann says. “Convex and concave areas, recesses, and all variety of contours all require the adjusting and flexible techniques.”


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