Universal Studios' The Simpsons Ride's decorative concrete surface began to crack and peel just two weeks after the attraction opened in May 2008. As visitors began to arrive expecting to experience the new ride, Universal Studios management was wishing it could turn back the clock. That's when Floric Polytech, Parker, Ariz., recommended Surfacing Solutions Inc., Temecula, Calif., to C.W. Driver, Pasadena, Calif., to reapply the surfacing product. Surfacing Solutions was hired to complete the resurfacing of the entire 25,000-square-foot plaza with the Simpsons purple color in just four weeks.
Faced with meeting the high standards of Universal Studios management, short deadlines, and the pressure of keeping the ride open to record crowds, Surfacing Solutions worked around the clock and around the people to fix the problem, says Shawn Halverson, the company's president. "Universal was extremely professional," he adds. "They have very high expectations of the contractors and vendors that work with them. We saw it as a great challenge."
Surfacing Solutions began work immediately, putting together two seven-man crews that when combined could work 16 hours a day for five days straight to finish each phase of the project ahead of schedule. "The night crew would do most of the preparation for the day crew to come in and apply coating—the epoxy primer, the spray textures, and all the colors," says Halverson. Along with the purple background, the plaza design also included "stars and stripes" accents, which had to be colored to the Universal Studios art department's specifications. "There were some whimsical shapes that were sawcut into the slabs, and those shapes were colored individually based on the architect's design, whether they were white, green, blue, orange, or purple," explains Halverson. "We had to do it in four phases in four weeks." The surface was cleaned, then moisture block was applied, followed by the application of the knockdown spray texture. The surface then was coated, painted, and sealed.
Keith Cantillion, operations manager for Surfacing Solutions, pointed out another challenge the crew faced: the Kwik-E-Mart novelty gift store had to remain open at all times during park hours, so the crew could not block access to it. "We were only able to work in front of the Kwik-E-Mart when the park was closed," he says.
Once the job was completed, Universal Studios was impressed with the appearance and durability of the refinished surface. "It was a high-tech spray texture coating. They tested it for 30 days and it held up phenomenally. They beat it up with hammers and sledgehammers, let people walk over it—over 10,000 people a day for 30 days," says Halverson. "They called it bulletproof," adds Cantillon.