Building Automated Gates for the Dallas Zoo
In 2015, Buzz Custom Fence was asked to assist the Dallas Zoo with a challenging renovation for the monorail. Originally designed in 1990, the monorail transported 4 million guests, but was due for a face-lift and new safety features. Buzz was in charge of building new railings, gates and automation systems that would allow guests to safely board and exit the train.
Fence Requirements & Design
Retrofitting the existing ride platform was a challenge. Not only were the highest safety requirements a priority, but convenience for guests and minimal noise for nearby animals needed to happen. Thirteen cars on the monorail meant Buzz needed to design 13 queues for passengers to board with several hundred feet of fencing.
We started with the installation of wooden post railings with black vinyl screening, giving safety to young riders. The fence design matches the new African safari theme of the monorail and uses durable materials to withstand the elements.
Next our team worked on the challenges of gate automation. We weren’t able to rely on existing gate operators, which pneumatically open and close gates. The zoo needed a discrete gate operator that would automatically open when the monorail stopped in the station and close when the monorail embarked. This automation needed to be synced for 13 gates, while still allowing a ride operator to override and open a single gate independently.
For safety features, the gate needed audible and visual alerts when opening and closing for physically impaired riders, while not disturbing nearby animals. A rigid locking mechanism was a necessity, keeping the gate securely closed.
Buzz Custom Fence promised a lot and delivered a system that met the rigorous requirements of the Dallas Zoo. The biggest challenge was engineering software that gave the ride operator control of the gates. To protect the gate computer system and wiring from the outdoors, Buzz was required to house this system 150 feet away from the platform.