Harley Quinn has left the building.
The cars for a new roller coaster named for the Batman villainess were shipped this week from the warehouse of Orlando-based Skyline Attractions, destined for a Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, in Vallejo, Calif.
The vehicles were manufactured here, a city that's known worldwide for rides — but not for making them.
"It's a big deal, getting this out of here," said Jeff Pike, president of Skyline. "Our goal is to sell a boatload of these things."
The coaster's design, also created by Skyline, features a figure 8 propped up on its side. Its train moves forward and backward, building up momentum to speed through the inversions, endless-loop style. The Skyline model is called Skywarp, although the California park will call it the Harley Quinn Crazy Coaster when it opens this spring.
"Almost everything you see in those cars was made in this building" or nearby, said Chris Gray, Skyline vice president, after using a forklift to guide one of the coaster's 19 chassis into a semi headed out west.
"I try to keep as much local as possible," he said. He contracted with several local fabricators and skilled laborers, got fiberglass from Melbourne and even labels that go on the cars from a source near his south Orlando base.
"No joke, he's our neighbor," Gray said.
A coaster requires many elements. Skyline purchased foam padding from Pennsylvania; the coaster's rail was made in Idaho. Then there are seats, harnesses, electronics, engines, bolts and more to put together. Twelve pieces of track and some support columns are already in California.
It took about four months to get the cars assembled, Gray said.
Workers wheeled push carts — loaded with the parts and equipment needed for specific tasks — from car to car. The first round of assembly naturally takes longer, Pike said.
Coaster cars generally cost between $60,000 and $150,000 each, depending on how elaborate they are, Gray said.
"We've hired people here who have moved here to Orlando specifically to help identify and document the right processes to use to put stuff together," PIke said. "We have to have it documented properly so that the next team of people that comes in to do it, they can do it with minimal delay and minimal input from engineering — who's going to be working on the next big thing that we're doing."
The next time Skyline builds Skywarp cars, it will take about half the time, Gray thinks.
"We could have as many as three or four of them next summer," he said.
That could mean a doubling of the Skyline work force, Gray said, mostly in jobs on the shop floor. It has 12 full-time employees, and it is looking to hire experienced engineers.
Finding qualified workers is a challenge, Pike said.
"It's tough," he said. "When we hire engineers, we look locally, but we also end up bringing in people from all over the country, all over the world."
That could improve if more ride manufacturing gears up here. Pike sees signs of that with the engineering work by Canada-based Dynamic Attractions, which opened an attractions-development center in south Orlando, and Houston-based Oceaneering, which has its entertainment-systems division headquartered here.
"We're still really hoping this becomes one of the major hubs for manufacturing," Gray said.