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.
The oldest roller coasters are believed to have originated from the so-called "Russian Mountains", specially constructed hills of ice located in the area that is now Saint Petersburg, Russia. 21 and 24 m (70 and 80 feet), had a 50-degree drop, and were reinforced by wooden supports. Later, in 1784, Catherine the Great is said to have constructed a sledding hill in the gardens of her palace at Oranienbaum in St. Petersburg. The name Russian Mountains to designate a roller coaster is preserved in many languages (e.g. the Spanish montaña rusa), but the Russian term for roller coasters is американские горки ("amerikanskiye gorki"), which translates to "American mountains."Built in the 17th century, the slides were built to a height of between
The first modern roller coaster, the Promenades Aeriennes, opened in Parc Beaujon in Paris on July 8, 1817.It featured wheeled cars securely locked to the track, guide rails to keep them on course, and higher speeds. It spawned half a dozen imitators, but their popularity soon declined.
However, during the Belle Epoque they returned to fashion. In 1887 Spanish entrepreneur Joseph Oller, co-founder of the Moulin Rouge music hall, constructed the Montagnes Russes de Belleville, "Russian Mountains of Belleville" with 656 feet (200 m) of track laid out in a double-eight, later enlarged to four figure-eight-shaped loops.
In 1827, a mining company in Summit Hill, Pennsylvania constructed the Mauch Chunk Switchback Railway, a downhill gravity railroad used to deliver coal to Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania – now known as Jim Thorpe.By the 1850s, the "Gravity Road" (as it became known) was selling rides to thrill seekers. Railway companies used similar tracks to provide amusement on days when ridership was low.
Using this idea as a basis, LaMarcus Adna Thompson began work on a gravity Switchback Railway that opened at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York, in 1884. 600-foot (183 m) track up to the top of another tower where the vehicle was switched to a return track and the passengers took the return trip. This track design was soon replaced with an oval complete circuit. In 1885, Phillip Hinkle introduced the first full-circuit coaster with a lift hill, the Gravity Pleasure Road, which became the most popular attraction at Coney Island. Not to be outdone, in 1886 Thompson patented his design of roller coaster that included dark tunnels with painted scenery. "Scenic Railways" were soon found in amusement parks across the county.Passengers climbed to the top of a platform and rode a bench-like car down the
By 1919, the first underfriction roller coaster had been developed by John Miller.Soon, roller coasters spread to amusement parks all around the world. Perhaps the best known historical roller coaster, Cyclone , was opened at Coney Island in 1927.
The Great Depression marked the end of the golden age of roller coasters, and theme parks, in general, went into decline. This lasted until 1972 when the instant success of The Racer at Kings Island began a roller coaster renaissance which has continued to this day.[ citation needed ]
In 1959, Disneyland introduced a design breakthrough with Matterhorn Bobsleds , the first roller coaster to use a tubular steel track. Unlike wooden coaster rails, tubular steel can be bent in any direction, allowing designers to incorporate loops, corkscrews, and many other maneuvers into their designs. Most modern roller coasters are made of steel, although wooden coasters and hybrids are still being built.
There are several explanations of the name roller coaster. It is said to have originated from an early American design where slides or ramps were fitted with rollers over which a sled would coast.This design was abandoned in favor of fitting the wheels to the sled or other vehicles, but the name endured.
Another explanation is that it originated from a ride located in a roller skating rink in Haverhill, Massachusetts in 1887. A toboggan-like sled was raised to the top of a track which consisted of hundreds of rollers. This Roller Toboggan then took off down gently rolling hills to the floor. The inventors of this ride, Stephen E. Jackman and Byron B. Floyd, claim that they were the first to use the term "roller coaster".
The term jet coaster is used for roller coasters in Japan, where such amusement park rides are very popular.
In many languages, the name refers to "Russian mountains". Contrastingly, in Russian, they are called "American mountains". In the Scandinavian languages, the roller coaster is referred as "mountain-and-valley railway". German knows the word "Achterbahn", stemming from "Figur-8-Bahn", like Dutch "Achtbaan", relating to the form of the number 8 ("acht" in German and also Dutch).
Roller coaster trains are not typically powered. Most are pulled up a lift hill by a chain or cable and released downhill. The potential energy accumulated by the rise in height is transferred to kinetic energy, which is then converted back into potential energy as the train rises up the next hill. Changes in elevation become smaller throughout the track's course, as some mechanical energy is lost to friction. A properly-designed, outdoor track will result in a train having enough kinetic energy to complete the entire course under a variety of stressful weather conditions.
Not all coasters feature a lift hill, however. A train may also be set into motion by a launch mechanism such as a flywheel, linear induction motor (LIM), linear synchronous motor (LSM), hydraulic launch, or drive tire. Some launched roller coasters are capable of reaching greater speeds using less track when compared to traditional coasters that rely on a conventional lift hill.
A brake run at the end of the circuit is the most common method of stopping a roller coaster train as it returns to the station. One notable exception is a powered roller coaster, which instead of relying on gravity, it uses one or more motors to propel the trains along the course.
In 2006, NASA announced that it would build a system using principles similar to those of a roller coaster to help astronauts escape the Ares I launch pad in an emergency,although this has since been scrapped along with the rest of the Ares program.
A variety of safety mechanisms protect riders on roller coasters. One of these is the block system. Most large roller coasters have the ability to run two or more trains at once, and the block system prevents these trains from colliding. In this system, the track is divided into two or more sections known as blocks. Only one train is permitted in each block at any given time. There is a section of track at the end of each block where a train can be stopped if necessary, such as preventing dispatch from the station, stopping a lift, or simply applying brakes. Sensors detect when a train passes so that the system's computer is aware of which blocks are occupied. If a train attempts to enter an occupied block, the stopping mechanisms in all blocks are engaged.
Another key to safety is the programmable logic controller (PLC), an integral component of a roller coaster's computer system. Multiple PLCs work together to detect faults associated with operation and automate decisions to engage various elements (e.g. lift, brakes, etc.). Periodic maintenance and visual inspection by ride engineers are also important to verify that structures and materials are within expected wear tolerances and functioning correctly. Effective operating procedures further enhance safety as well.
Roller coaster design is another important aspect that requires a working knowledge of basic physics to enhance ride comfort and avoid harmful strain to the rider. Ride designers must carefully analyze the movement a ride subjects its riders to, ensuring its within a reasonable tolerance. The human body needs sufficient time to react to sudden changes in force in order to control muscle tension and avoid harmful consequences such as whiplash. Designers typically try to stay in the range of 4–6Gs (40–60 m s−2) as a maximum for positive g-force acceleration, which increases the feeling of weight and pushes riders downward into their seat. For negative g-force, or the feeling of weightlessness, the target is 1.5-2Gs (15–20 m s−2) as a maximum.[ citation needed ] These fall into a range considered safe to a majority of the population. Lateral acceleration is also typically kept under 2Gs using various techniques including the banking of curves.[ citation needed ]
Roller coasters are statistically very safe when compared to other activities, but despite all the safety measures in place, accidents still occur.The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 134 park guests required hospitalization in 2001 and that fatalities related to amusement rides average two per year. According to a study commissioned by Six Flags, 319 million people visited amusement parks in 2001. The study concluded that a visitor has a one-in-500-million chance of being fatally injured, which is less likely than being injured in a golf cart or folding lawn chair.
Controversy about safety has increased over the years as roller coasters become more extreme. There have been suggestions that these may be subjecting passengers to translational and rotational accelerations capable of causing brain injury. In 2003, a report from the Brain Injury Association of America concluded, "There is evidence that roller coaster rides pose a health risk to some people some of the time. Equally evident is that the overwhelming majority of riders will suffer no ill effects." [ citation needed ]A similar report in 2005 linked roller coasters and other thrill rides with the potential triggering of abnormal heart conditions that could lead to death. Autopsies have shown that some of these were due to undetected, preexisting heart conditions.
Roller coasters are divided into two main categories: steel roller coasters and wooden roller coasters. Steel coasters have tubular steel tracks, and compared to wooden coasters, they are typically known for offering a smoother ride and their ability to turn riders upside-down. Wooden coasters have flat steel tracks, and are typically renowned for producing "air time" through the use of negative G-forces when reaching the crest of some hill elements. Newer types of track, such as I-Box and Topper introduced by Rocky Mountain Construction, improve the ride experience on wooden coasters, lower maintenance costs, and add the ability to invert riders.
Modern roller coasters are constantly evolving to provide a variety of different experiences. More focus is being placed on the position of riders in relation to the overall experience. Traditionally, riders sit facing forward, but newer variations such as stand-up and flying models position the rider in different ways to change the experiences. A flying model, for example, is a suspended roller coaster where the riders lie facing forward and down with their chests and feet strapped in. Other ways of enhancing the experience involve removing the floor beneath passengers riding above the track, as featured in floorless roller coasters. Also new track elements – usually types of inversions – are often introduced to provide entirely new experiences.
By train type
By track layout
Several height classifications have been used by parks and manufacturers in marketing their roller coasters, as well as enthusiasts within the industry. One classification, the kiddie coaster, is a roller coaster specifically designed for younger riders. Following World War II, parks began pushing for more of them to be built in contrast to the height and age restrictions of standard designs at the time. Companies like Philadelphia Toboggan Company (PTC) developed scaled-down versions of their larger models to accommodate the demand. These typically featured lift hills smaller than 25 feet (7.6 m), and still do today. The rise of kiddie coasters soon led to the development of "junior" models that had lift hills up to 45 feet (14 m). A notable example of a junior coaster is the Sea Dragon – the oldest operating roller coaster from PTC's legendary designer John Allen – which opened at Wyandot Lake in 1956 near Powell, Ohio.
A hypercoaster, occasionally stylized as hyper coaster, is a type of roller coaster with a height or drop of at least 200 feet (61 m). Moonsault Scramble, which debuted at Fuji-Q Highland in 1984, was the first to break this barrier, though the term hypercoaster was first coined by Cedar Point and Arrow Dynamics with the opening of Magnum XL-200 in 1989. Hypercoasters have become one of the most predominant types of roller coasters in the world, now led by manufacturers Bolliger & Mabillard and Intamin.
A giga coaster is a type of roller coaster with a height or drop of at least 300 feet (91 m). The term was coined during a partnership between Cedar Point and Intamin on the construction of Millennium Force. Although Morgan and Bolliger & Mabillard have not used the term giga, both have also produced roller coasters in this class.
|Millennium Force||Cedar Point||Intamin||Operating||May 13, 2000||310 feet (94 m)||300 feet (91 m)|
|Steel Dragon 2000||Nagashima Spa Land||Morgan||Operating||August 1, 2000||318.3 feet (97.0 m)||306.8 feet (93.5 m)|
|Intimidator 305||Kings Dominion||Intamin||Operating||April 2, 2010||305 feet (93 m)||305 feet (93 m)|
|Leviathan||Canada's Wonderland||Bolliger & Mabillard||Operating||May 6, 2012||306 feet (93 m)||306 feet (93 m)|
|Fury 325||Carowinds||Bolliger & Mabillard||Operating||March 25, 2015||325 feet (99 m)||320 feet (98 m)|
|Red Force||Ferrari Land||Intamin||Operating||April 7, 2017||367 feet (112 m)||N/A|
|Orion||Kings Island||Bolliger & Mabillard||Operating||July 2, 2020||287 feet (87 m)||300 feet (91 m)|
A strata coaster is a type of roller coaster with a height or drop of at least 400 feet (120 m). As with the other two height classifications, the term strata was first introduced by Cedar Point with the release of Top Thrill Dragster, a 420-foot-tall (130 m) roller coaster that opened in 2003. Another strata coaster, Kingda Ka, opened at Six Flags Great Adventure in 2005 as the tallest roller coaster in the world featuring a height of 456 feet (139 m). Superman: Escape From Krypton exceeded 400 feet (120 m) back when it opened in 1997, but its shuttle coaster design where the trains don't travel a complete circuit usually prevents the roller coaster from being classified in the same category.
|Top Thrill Dragster||Cedar Point||Intamin||Operating||May 4, 2003||420 feet (130 m)|
|Kingda Ka||Six Flags Great Adventure||Intamin||Operating||May 21, 2005||456 feet (139 m)|
A stand-up roller coaster is a roller coaster designed to have the passengers stand through the course of the ride.
Bolliger & Mabillard, officially Bolliger & Mabillard Consulting Engineers, Inc. and often abbreviated B&M, is a roller coaster design consultancy based in Monthey, Switzerland. The company was founded in 1988 by Walter Bolliger and Claude Mabillard, both of whom had worked for Giovanola.
Alpengeist is an inverted steel roller coaster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard, Alpengeist has an Alpine mountain region theme. The name "Alpengeist" is German for "Ghost of the Alps" or "Alps Spirit" and the ride is themed to a runaway ski lift. Since it opened in 1997, Alpengeist has been the world's tallest complete circuit inverted coaster.
Nemesis is an inverted roller coaster located at the Alton Towers theme park in England. It opened to the public on March 19, 1994. The ride was manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard and designed by Werner Stengel, in collaboration with attraction developer John Wardley. It is located in the Forbidden Valley area of the park, adjacent to Galactica and The Blade attractions.
Raptor is a steel inverted roller coaster designed by Bolliger & Mabillard at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, United States. When built in 1994, it broke many records and held many firsts when it opened. Instead of having a short layout designed to fit into a compact area like Batman: The Ride, Raptor was designed with a larger, 3,790-foot (1,160 m) layout, making it the tallest, fastest and longest inverted roller coaster in the world when it opened. It features six inversions, including a cobra roll, a first for inverted roller coasters. The ride is themed as a bird of prey.
Patriot is an inverted roller coaster located at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, Missouri. Manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard, the inverted coaster opened to the public on April 8, 2006. It features four inversions, a height of 149 feet (45 m), and a track length of 3,081 feet (939 m).
Batman: The Dark Knight is a steel floorless roller coaster designed by Bolliger & Mabillard located in the Gotham City section of Six Flags New England. The roller coaster has 2,600 feet (790 m) of track, reaches a maximum height of 117.8 feet (35.9 m) and features five inversions. The coaster was announced on February 6, 2002 and opened to the public on April 20, 2002. In 2008, the ride's name was changed to Batman: The Ride to avoid confusion with Six Flags New England's installation of The Dark Knight Coaster that was planned to be built at the park; but after the project was cancelled, the ride's name reverted to Batman: The Dark Knight.
The Dive Coaster is a steel roller coaster model developed and engineered by Bolliger & Mabillard. The design features one or more near-vertical drops that are approximately 90 degrees, which provide a moment of free-falling for passengers. The experience is enhanced by unique trains that seat up to ten riders per row, spanning only two or three rows total. Unlike traditional train design, this distinguishing aspect gives all passengers virtually the same experience throughout the course of the ride. Another defining characteristic of Dive Coasters is the holding brake at the top of the lift hill that holds the train momentarily right as it enters the first drop, suspending some passengers with a view looking straight down and releasing suddenly moments later.
Silver Bullet is a western-themed steel inverted roller coaster designed by Bolliger & Mabillard located at Knott's Berry Farm, an amusement park in Buena Park, California. The $16 million roller coaster was announced on December 1, 2003 and opened on December 7, 2004. A first rider auction was also held where people would bid on seats to be the first riders. The track is approximately 3,125 feet (952 m) long and the lift hill is about 146 feet (45 m) tall. The ride lasts two minutes and thirty seconds and features six inversions including a vertical loop, cobra roll, zero-g roll, and two corkscrews.
Behemoth is a steel roller coaster at Canada's Wonderland in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada. It is a Hypercoaster designed and developed by Swiss manufacturer, Bolliger & Mabillard. Behemoth was the tallest and fastest roller coaster in Canada until 2012 when Leviathan, a roller coaster also manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard, was built at the opposite side of Canada's Wonderland, claiming these titles. Behemoth is similar to Diamondback, Intimidator (Carowinds), Goliath and Nitro.
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".
Roller coaster amusement rides have origins back to ice slides constructed in 18th-century Russia. Early technology featured sleds or wheeled carts that were sent down hills of snow reinforced by wooden supports. The technology evolved in the 19th century to feature railroad track using wheeled cars that were securely locked to the track. Newer innovations emerged in the early 20th century with side friction and underfriction technologies to allow for greater speeds and sharper turns. By the mid-to-late 20th century, these elements intensified with the introduction of steel roller coaster designs and the ability to invert riders.
SheiKra is a steel Dive Coaster roller coaster at the Busch Gardens Tampa Bay amusement park in Tampa, Florida, United States. The roller coaster was proposed by Mark Rose, vice-president of design and engineering for the park, and designed by Bolliger & Mabillard. The ride was planned to be 160 feet (49 m) high, but the park's executives rejected this and the height was changed to 200 feet (61 m). SheiKra reaches a maximum speed of 70 miles per hour (110 km/h) and has a total track length of 3,188 feet (972 m). It first opened on May 21, 2005, and was converted to a floorless roller coaster on June 16, 2007, following the opening of its sister Dive Coaster Griffon at Busch Gardens Williamsburg that year.
Leviathan is a steel roller coaster at Canada's Wonderland in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada. Located in the Medieval Faire section of the park, the Hyper Coaster model from Swiss firm Bolliger & Mabillard is the first roller coaster manufactured by the company to exceed a height of 91.5 metres (300 ft), putting it in a class of roller coasters commonly referred to as giga. At 1,672 metres (5,486 ft) long, 93.3 metres (306 ft) tall, and with a top speed of 148 kilometres per hour (92 mph), Leviathan is the tallest and fastest roller coaster in Canada, taking the records previously held by Behemoth on the opposite side of the park. As of July 2020, Leviathan is ranked as the eighth-tallest roller coaster in the world and the fourth-tallest traditional lift-style coaster in the world.
X-Flight is a steel roller coaster located at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois. Designed and built by Bolliger & Mabillard, the ride opened as the fourth Wing Coaster in the world and the second in the United States on May 16, 2012. It replaced both the Splashwater Falls and Great American Raceway attractions. The 3,000-foot-long (910 m) roller coaster features barrel rolls, high-speed drops, and a signature fly-through element, where the train narrowly misses a support structure – designed to look like an air traffic control tower – as it passes through an opening known as a keyhole element.
Wild Eagle is a steel Wing Coaster built by Bolliger & Mabillard at the Dollywood amusement park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. It is the first of its kind in the United States and opened to the media on March 23, 2012 before opening to the public on March 24, 2012. The roller coaster reaches a height of 210 feet (64 m) and reaches speeds of 61 miles per hour (98 km/h). In September 2012, the ride was voted as the best new ride of 2012 in Amusement Today's Golden Ticket Awards.
Banshee is an inverted roller coaster located at Kings Island amusement park in Mason, Ohio. Designed and built by Bolliger & Mabillard, it was the biggest investment in park history at the time, costing $24 million to construct. With 4,124 feet (1,257 m) of track, Banshee opened to the public on April 18, 2014, as the longest inverted roller coaster in the world. The ride also became the third fastest inverted coaster at 68 miles per hour (109 km/h), matched by Steel Venom at Valleyfair in Shakopee, Minnesota. It was also well-received, ranking every year in the top 50 of Amusement Today's Golden Ticket Awards since its opening.
Nitro is a steel Floorless Coaster at the Adlabs Imagica amusement park located in Khopoli, Maharashtra, India. Manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard, the roller coaster reaches a maximum height of 132 feet (40 m) and a maximum speed of 65.2 miles per hour (104.9 km/h). The coaster also features five inversions. Nitro opened to the public in October 2013.
Thunderbird is a steel roller coaster in the Thanksgiving section of Holiday World & Splashin' Safari amusement park in Santa Claus, Indiana. Designed by Bolliger & Mabillard, the ride opened in 2015 as the eighth Wing Coaster in the world and the fourth in the United States.
Valravn is a steel roller coaster at Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio. Built and designed by Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M), it is the first Dive Coaster model in the Cedar Fair chain of parks and opened on May 7, 2016, as the tallest, fastest, and longest of its kind in the world. It remains the tallest, sharing its height record with Yukon Striker at Canada's Wonderland. Valravn is also the first Dive Coaster to use B&M’s vest-style, over-the-shoulder restraints and the third Dive Coaster overall to open in the United States. The installation marked the hundredth roller coaster from B&M, dating back to the company's founding in 1988.