Rollback (roller coaster)

Last updated
Sign warning Kingda Ka riders that a rollback may occur Kingda Ka rollback sign.jpg
Sign warning Kingda Ka riders that a rollback may occur

A rollback appears on some launched roller coasters when the train is not launched fast enough to reach the top of the tower or hill, It will roll backwards down the tower, and will be stopped by brakes on the launch track. Any roller coaster on which it is possible for a rollback to occur will have these brakes. Intamin, a manufacturer of roller-coasters, refers to the "rollback" as a "short shot". [1]


Most coasters contain at least one anti-rollback device to prevent a train from rolling backwards while ascending the main lift. This is typically with chain-driven lifts, not hydraulic launchers such as Kingda Ka or Top Thrill Dragster.


Rollbacks are most common (though still quite rare) on the world's largest launched roller coasters, Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure, and Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point, along with somewhat smaller rides such as Stealth at Thorpe Park and launched roller coasters of the same type, such as Xcelerator at Knott's Berry Farm and Storm Runner at Hersheypark.

There are several factors that can cause a rollback, all of which are related to the train's speed: [2]

While the general public may not realize that rollbacks usually are completely safe and that coasters are designed with them in mind, many coaster enthusiasts look forward to being in one. Being in a rollback essentially gives riders a ride and a half, as the train will be launched again after the rollback. On some rides, when a rollback occurs with people on board, the train will first be brought back to the station to give the guests the option of getting off; other roller coasters with dual-train dispatch systems disallow backwards returns to the station and the train will simply be launched a second time without the option to disembark.

Unusual circumstances

On extremely rare occasions, a single train may require more than two launches to clear the highest point of the track.

Very rarely, a train is launched with just enough speed to reach the track's highest point, resulting in the train getting stuck on the top. This results in neither a full ride nor a rollback. This happened three times on Top Thrill Dragster. All three times, a ride mechanic had to take an elevator to the top, and give the train a small push so it could complete the ride. [3] [4] It has also happened on Stealth at Thorpe Park during early morning tests. Maverick at Cedar Point tests roll backs every morning during testing.


In a video of a rollback on Stealth at Thorpe Park, the train is seen to reach slightly over halfway over the midpoint at the top. The train proceeded to roll back, due to an insufficiently powerful launch, combined with an uneven distribution of weight on the train in April 2006. [5] Stealth also had a rollback in March 2008 due to strong winds.

Related Research Articles

Roller coaster Ride developed for amusement parks

A roller coaster is a type of amusement ride that employs a form of elevated railroad track designed with tight turns, steep slopes, and sometimes inversions. People ride along the track in open cars, and the rides are often found in amusement parks and theme parks around the world. LaMarcus Adna Thompson obtained one of the first known patents for a roller coaster design in 1885, related to the Switchback Railway that opened a year earlier at Coney Island. The track in a coaster design does not necessarily have to be a complete circuit, as shuttle roller coasters demonstrate. Most roller coasters have multiple cars in which passengers sit and are restrained. Two or more cars hooked together are called a train. Some roller coasters, notably Wild Mouse roller coasters, run with single cars.

Top Thrill Dragster steel accelerator roller coaster at Cedar Point

Top Thrill Dragster is a steel accelerator roller coaster located at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. Manufactured by Intamin, it was the sixteenth roller coaster to be built at the park since Blue Streak in 1964. It opened in 2003 as the tallest roller coaster in the world and the first full-circuit roller coaster to exceed 400 feet (120 m) in height. Its height record was later surpassed by Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure in 2005. Top Thrill Dragster, along with Kingda Ka, are the only strata coasters in existence. It was the second hydraulically launched roller coaster built by Intamin, following Xcelerator at Knott's Berry Farm. The tagline for Top Thrill Dragster is "Race for the Sky".

Kingda Ka Roller coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure

Kingda Ka is a launched roller coaster located at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey. Designed by Werner Stengel, Kingda Ka is an Accelerator Coaster model from Intamin that opened as the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world on May 21, 2005. It is also the second-ever strata coaster, a roller coaster taller than 400 feet (120 m); Top Thrill Dragster was the first and previously held both records. Intamin subcontracted Stakotra to assist with construction.

Intamin Worldwide is a design and manufacturing company in Wollerau, Switzerland. It is best known for creating thrill rides and roller coasters worldwide. The Intamin brand name is a portmanteau for "international amusement installations". The company has offices throughout the world including three in Europe, three in Asia and two in the United States.

A brake run on a roller coaster is any section of track meant to slow or stop a roller coaster train. Brake runs may be located anywhere along the circuit of a coaster and may be designed to bring the train to a complete halt or to simply adjust the train's speed. Contrary to some belief, the vast majority of roller coasters do not have any form of braking on the train itself, but rather forms of braking that exist on track sections. One notable exception is the Scenic Railway roller coaster, which relies on an operator to manually control the speed of the train.

Launched roller coaster modern form of roller coaster

The launched roller coaster is a modern form of roller coaster. A launched coaster initiates a ride with high amounts of acceleration via one or a series of linear induction motors (LIM), linear synchronous motors (LSM), catapults, tires, chains, or other mechanisms employing hydraulic or pneumatic power. This mode of acceleration powers many of the fastest rollercoasters in the world.

Werner Stengel German engineer; roller coaster designer

Werner Stengel is a German roller coaster designer and engineer. Stengel is the founder of Stengel Engineering, also known as Ingenieurbüro Stengel GmbH.

Do-Dodonpa amusement ride

Do-Dodonpa (ド・ドドンパ), formerly known as Dodonpa (ドドンパ), is a steel roller coaster located at Fuji-Q Highland in Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan. Manufactured by S&S – Sansei Technologies, the launched coaster uses compressed air to propel its trains. It opened on 21 December 2001 as the fastest roller coaster in the world with the fastest acceleration, reaching a top speed of 172 km/h (106.9 mph) in 1.8 seconds. The fastest speed record was previously held by Superman: The Escape and Tower of Terror, both of which accelerated to 160.9 km/h (100 mph) in 7 seconds. The ride was refurbished in 2017, removing the top hat element in favor of a vertical loop and increasing its speed and acceleration to 180 km/h (111.8 mph) in 1.6 seconds. Steel fabrication was provided by Intermountain Lift, Inc.

On-ride camera

An on-ride camera is a camera mounted alongside the track of a roller coaster, log flume or other thrill ride that automatically photographs all of the riders on each passing vehicle. They are often mounted at the most intense or fastest part of the ride, resulting in humorously distorted expressions due to fear or wind resistance. The pictures are then available for viewing and purchase as a souvenir.

Launch track segment of roller coaster track

The launch track is the section of a launched roller coaster in which the train is accelerated to its full speed in a matter of seconds. A launch track is always straight and is usually banked upwards slightly, so that a train would roll backwards to the station in the event of a loss of power.

Stealth (roller coaster) steel roller coaster located in the Amity area of Thorpe Park in Surrey, England

Stealth is a launched roller coaster in the Amity area of Thorpe Park located in Surrey, England. Built and designed by Intamin of Switzerland for £12 million, the Accelerator Coaster model opened in 2006, a year after another Accelerator, Rita, opened at sister park Alton Towers. It reaches a height of 62.5 metres (205 ft) and accelerates from 0 to 80 mph (129 km/h) in 1.9 seconds. It is the fastest roller coaster in the UK, and the second tallest after the Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

Hypersonic XLC roller coaster

Hypersonic XLC was a roller coaster located at Kings Dominion in Doswell, Virginia. Hypersonic was built by S&S – Sansei Technologies, a company specializing in air-powered rides, and was the first compressed air launch coaster in the world. Hypersonic was S&S – Sansei Technologies's actual prototype for an air-launched coaster, called Thrust Air 2000.

Xcelerator Launched roller coaster at Knotts Berry Farm

Xcelerator is a steel launched roller coaster at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, California. It was Intamin's first hydraulically launched coaster, while also the fourth Intamin installation at Knott's, alongside The Sky Cabin, Bigfoot Rapids and Perilous Plunge.

Accelerator Coaster

An Accelerator Coaster is a hydraulically launched roller coaster model from Intamin. The model usually consists of a long, straight launch track, a top hat tower element, and magnetic brakes that smoothly stop the train without making contact. The technology was developed by Intamin engineers as an alternative to electromagnetic launch systems, such as the Linear Induction Motor (LIM) and Linear Synchronous Motor (LSM), that are found on earlier launched roller coasters like the Flight of Fear and The Joker's Jinx. Unlike the earlier linear induction motors, the Accelerator Coaster's launch system exhibits constant acceleration and is capable of reaching greater speeds.

Storm Runner roller coaster

Storm Runner is a launched roller coaster located at Hersheypark in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Manufactured by Intamin and situated in the Pioneer Frontier section of the park, the Accelerator Coaster opened to the public on May 8, 2004. It reaches a height of 150 feet (46 m) and catapults riders from 0 to 72 mph (116 km/h) in two seconds. Storm Runner features a top hat element, three inversions, a dual loading station and a magnetic braking system. In addition, it was designed to interact with three other Hersheypark rides: Dry Gulch Railroad, the Monorail, and Trailblazer.

Roller coaster elements are the individual parts of roller coaster design and operation, such as a track, hill, loop, or turn. Variations in normal track movement that add thrill or excitement to the ride are often called "thrill elements".

Kanonen amusement ride

Kanonen was a steel roller coaster located at Liseberg amusement park in Gothenburg, Sweden. Built by Intamin, the ride featured a hydraulic launch and opened in 2005. The tightly packed layout is the result of a limited area to house the ride. On 30 December 2016, Kanonen closed permanently and was replaced by Valkyria, a Bolliger & Mabillard dive coaster.

The Swarm (roller coaster) amusement ride

The Swarm is a steel roller coaster located at Thorpe Park in the United Kingdom. The Swarm was the world's second Wing Coaster model designed by Swiss roller coaster manufacturer Bolliger & Mabillard and the only one located in the United Kingdom. Construction commenced in May 2011, and the coaster opened on 15 March 2012. From 2013 to 2015, the last two rows of each train faced backwards, while the first five rows faced forward. This was removed in 2016, with all riders facing forward once again.

Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom drop ride at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey

Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom is an amusement ride operating at the Six Flags Great Adventure amusement park in Jackson Township, New Jersey. At 415 feet (126 m) tall, the ride is attached to the existing Kingda Ka roller coaster and stands as the world's tallest drop tower.

Red Force (roller coaster) steel roller coaster at Ferrari Land in Spain

Red Force is a steel launched roller coaster located at Ferrari Land within PortAventura World in Salou, Catalonia, Spain. The ride was manufactured by Swiss manufacturer Intamin and opened on 7 April 2017. With a height of 112 metres (367 ft) and a maximum speed of 180 kilometres per hour (112 mph), Red Force is the tallest and fastest roller coaster in Europe as of 2019.


  1. Dreamer, Randy J. Roller Coasters! Record Breakers & Fan Favorites. LULU Press. ISBN   9781312956780.
  3. "Yes, It Happens". Archived from the original on October 31, 2008. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
  4. "Here We Go Again". Archived from the original on May 29, 2009. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
  5. On-ride footage of a rollback on Top Thrill Dragster