Take a Ride on The Old Mill at CMU

When visitors to Spring Carnival step into Skibo Gym this year, sights, sounds and even smells of an old steel mill will greet them.

"We have a couple of formulated scents just for this. It’s going to smell just like an old steel mill would. There’s a blast furnace on the ride, and it’s going to smell exactly like burning coals,” said Roly Garcia.

Garcia, the project director for The Old Mill Ride and a junior information systems major, leads a team of students who have worked for over a year to bring Garcia’s idea to life - a dark ride in the heart of Carnegie Mellon’s annual Spring Carnival.

"The Old Mill is a love letter to old traditional dark rides,” Garcia said.

Dark rides are a bit of a murky subject, but the commonly accepted definition is a ride that has some sort of story to it, in a dark and usually building. Animated set pieces, static set pieces and other small storytelling elements create the experience.

The student-led, designed and produced ride will make its premiere on Thursday, April 11, and will be open to campus guests all weekend long. What started as an independent study through the Entertainment Technology Center for Garcia has become a passion project for students across campus.

"I was one of the first people Roly recruited right after Carnival last year,” said Monica Toren, a fourth-year architecture student and scenic designer for the project. "This is massive and frankly we all thought Roly was crazy when he first proposed the project. Cut to a year later and here we are building it!”

Toren explored less traditional architecture paths, and one of those happened to be designing for theme parks. She is using The Old Mill as a chance to put that exploration into action, working with Garcia to develop the ride’s storyline and the set pieces needed to transform an old weight room into a ride that will leave guests in awe.

Riders will go through the fictional Garfield Steel Works, which workers are trying to transform into a museum to keep history alive. Through the magic of the steel mill - and the team’s skills in engineering, lighting, sound, and architectural design - the steel production floor comes to life.

"We will have tour guides from the Garfield Steel Works museum actually pushing people through the ride, telling riders about the different equipment they’re seeing and going through this journey with them,” said Jack Dangremond, a senior electrical and computer engineering major who serves as the ride’s audio designer.

"I just really want people to get the feeling of ’wow, I can’t believe students did this,’ especially little kids,” Toren said. "I want them to realize this wasn’t created by a team of professional adults. I want them to think, if you have an idea, and you’re creative and you have the drive to do it, go for it. Nothing’s holding you back.

Visit The Old Mill Ride in Skibo Gym, Thursday, April 11-Saturday, April 13, from 3-9 p.m. View the Flickr gallery.

Follow #CMUCarnival on social for all of the latest from Spring Carnival 2019.