Roller coaster elements

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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".


Common elements

Banked turn

A banked turn on Dragon Khan Dragon Kahn's Banked Turn.jpg
A banked turn on Dragon Khan

A banked turn is when the track twists from the horizontal plane into the vertical plane, tipping the train to the side in the direction of the turn. Banking is used to minimize the lateral G-forces on the riders to make the turn more comfortable. When a banked turn continues to create an upward or downward spiral of approximately 360 degrees or more, it becomes a helix.

Brake run

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 or hidden 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. The vast majority of roller coasters do not have any form of braking on the train 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.

On most roller coasters, the brakes are controlled by a computer system. Some older coasters have manually operated friction or skid brakes, some with a pneumatic assist. These are either engaged at the control panel or operated by pulling or pushing large levers in the station.

Buzz bars

Single-position lap bars on wooden roller coasters are sometimes referred to as "buzz bars," a slang term named for the buzzing sound that some bars make as they lock or release. The term can be misleading as the buzzing sound only occurs on Philadelphia Toboggan Company (PTC) trains when the solenoid that releases the bar is out of alignment. There are other train types, such as NAD and even some PTC trains, that feature a single-position lap bar that has a mechanical release and therefore does not produce a buzzing sound. Most parks have switched to individual ratcheting lap bars, similar to the lap bars found on steel coasters. Ironically some of the earlier ratcheting lap bar conversions use a solenoid release and can also produce a buzzing sound. It can be argued that single-position buzz bars give more air time on roller coasters, as ratcheting lap bars tend to lock further during the ride in many installations.

The traditional "pirate ship" style thrill ride often utilizes this type of restraint, as does the Troika.

Drive tire

A drive tire, or squeeze tire depending on its usage, is essentially a motorized tire used to propel a roller coaster train along a piece of track. Although they are most often used in station areas and brake runs, they can also be used to launch trains at greater speeds. However, they are generally used to propel the train at speeds between 5-8 mph. The Incredible Hulk Coaster at Universal's Islands of Adventure is notable for using drive tires to launch the train up an incline. Some roller coasters, most noticeably Vekoma Roller Skaters (Vekoma's version of a junior coaster) and Zierer Tivoli/Force (also junior coasters) also use drive tires instead of a chain on lift hills. Drive tires are also used to power other types of amusement rides, such as ferris wheels, Pirate Ships, and other spinning rides. The Olympia Looping traveling roller coaster at Barth, Alpina Bahn and Mindbender at Galaxyland at the West Edmonton Mall also feature a drive tire instead of a chain on their lift hill.

Drive tires are often used in one of two ways on roller coasters. When oriented horizontally, drive tires are often put in pairs so as to "squeeze" a portion of the train as it crosses that section of track. In this case, it is usually the brake fin that is used to propel or slow the train with the tires. When oriented vertically, they contact the underside of the train as it crosses a particular section of track. This underside area is a flat area which often has a grated metal surface to increase friction between the car and the tire. One disadvantage of vertical drive tires is that rainy weather can greatly reduce friction between the tire and the train, possibly causing the train to slightly overshoot its intended position and cause an emergency stop.


A headchopper at the bottom of the first drop on El Toro El Toro headchopper.jpg
A headchopper at the bottom of the first drop on El Toro

A headchopper is any point on a roller coaster where the support structure of the ride or the track itself comes very close to the passengers' heads, or at least appears to do so. All head choppers are, of course, designed so that even the tallest rider, with both hands up, would be unable to touch the structure; although if a rider exceeding the maximum height does board the coaster it could be potentially dangerous. Head choppers are most common on wooden roller coasters but are also found on many steel roller coasters.

The inverted coaster equivalent is a foot chopper. Foot choppers are designed such that riders' legs appear to come close to the ride's support structure, water, or other ride surroundings. For example, Dragon Challenge at Islands of Adventure had many foot choppers, where the riders' feet come within feet of the ride's supports. Vekoma's Suspended Looping Coasters also feature an intense foot chopper during an in-line-twist, in which the train approaches a section of track directly below, making it appear that the riders' feet will impact the track if the train remains on that course; but the train undergoes an in-line-twist right before the obstruction, twisting the riders onto their backs as the above track crosses safely over the track below.

On Wing Coasters designed by Bolliger & Mabillard, keyhole elements are common. These elements feature both headchopper and foot chopper effects. The train seats riders in pairs on both sides of the track and passes through the center of an object, giving the illusion that the train and its passengers have just enough clearance to fit. [1] [2]


A helix is a balanced spiral, generally exceeding 360°. Helixes can spiral upward or downward.

Launch track

Speed Monster (2006), at Tusenfryd of Norway, prominently features a launch track. Speedmonster1.JPG
Speed Monster (2006), at Tusenfryd of Norway, prominently features a launch track.

A launch track is a 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 upward slightly, so that a train would roll backward to the station in the event of a loss of power.

A launch track serves the same basic purpose as a lift hill providing energy to the trainbut accomplishes it in an entirely different manner. A lift hill gives the train potential energy by raising it to the highest point in the track (and not significantly accelerating it). A launch track gives the train kinetic energy by accelerating it to the maximum designed speed (while not significantly raising the height of the track).

A launch track normally includes some form of brakes. Depending on the type of coaster, these brakes may be used in every run of the coaster (this is normally found on a shuttle roller coaster where the launch track also serves as the main brake run) or they may only come into play when a rollback occurs, normally on a complete-circuit coaster such as Stealth, Top Thrill Dragster, Kingda Ka, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith and Xcelerator. In either case, the brakes are retracted to allow trains to launch and are engaged at all other times.

Lift hill

Goliath (2002), in Walibi Holland of the Netherlands, has a 150-foot (46 m) lift hill. Walibi World Goliath.jpg
Goliath (2002), in Walibi Holland of the Netherlands, has a 150-foot (46 m) lift hill.

A lift hill, or chain lift, is often the initial upward section of track on a typical roller coaster that initially transports the roller coaster train to an elevated point. Upon reaching the top, the train is then disengaged from the lift hill and allowed to coast through the rest of the roller coaster's circuit.

Lift hills usually propel the train to the top of the ride via one of a few different types of methods: a chain lift involving a long, continuous chain which trains hook on to and are carried to the top; a drive tire system in which multiple motorized tires push the train upward; a cable lift system as seen on Millennium Force; or a linear synchronous motor system as seen on Maverick.

Launch lift hills are like launch tracks, but instead of having it flat, it is rather at an incline. Sometimes, launch lift hills serve the same purpose as lift hills but faster transport to the top of the lift hill; or they are sometimes used to power the train up into an element, like the Incredible Hulk Coaster at Universal Orlando. Launch lift hills use mostly linear synchronous motors or linear induction motors but sometimes use drive tires.

Linear induction motor

The linear induction motor is a simple but powerful type of electric motor used to propel the cars. Rather than using a standard enclosed spinning rotor and drive wheels, there is a long flat magnetic pole plate with closely spaced electric coils. This pole plate mounts on the track underneath the car and a matching metal plate attached to the car moves across the magnetic pole faces. By applying a multiphase alternating current to the poles, the pole plate induces eddy currents into the moving plate and can be used to accelerate or brake the car.

Compared to other drive mechanisms, the linear motor is typically maintenance-free. The pole faces on the track and moving plate attached to the car do not need to touch, and the gap between them can be quite wide to accommodate any side-to-side car motion, so there is no friction or wear between them. Further, the magnetic coil assembly on the driving pole plates are either potted or sealed in a weathertight enclosure, so that rain, vibration, and dust do not affect motor performance or cause drive motor slippage.

On-ride camera

An on-ride camera is a camera mounted alongside the track of a roller coaster that automatically photographs all of the riders on passing trains. They are usually mounted at the most intense part of the ride, to capture the best possible pictures. The pictures are available for viewing and purchase at a booth outside the ride's exit. On some rides, such as Saw: The Ride at Thorpe Park and Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit at Universal Studios Florida, video, as well as still photographs, can be purchased upon exiting the ride.


The station is the area where guests waiting in a line queue board a roller coaster. The line often divides into lanes to allow guests to board each row. In addition to boarding, passengers also exit the ride within the station, but this is not always at the same location where boarding passengers are waiting.


A roller coaster train describes the vehicle(s) which transports passengers around a roller coaster's circuit. More specifically, a roller coaster train is made up of two or more "cars" which are connected by some sort of specialized universal joint. The vehicle is called a "train" due to its similarities with a railroad train. Individual cars vary in design, often carrying multiple passengers each. Some roller coasters, notably Wild Mouse roller coasters, operate with individual cars instead of trains.

Tester hill

Diagram of a tester hill Pre-drop.jpg
Diagram of a tester hill

A tester hill, also known as a trick hill or pre-drop, is any small hill following the lift hill that precedes the main drop. After a train is hauled up the lift and begins to descend down the hill in a standard configuration, the force of gravity pulls the train cars that are still hooked to the lift. When a tester hill is used, the tension and stress on the lift mechanism is reduced prior to the train's release. The element is commonly found on B&M roller coasters, as well as older roller coasters from other manufacturers. The alternative name "trick hill" comes from the illusion created from the tester hill, which "tricks" riders into thinking they have already started the main descent, when in fact they haven't.


The tunnel entrance of 'Oblivion' at Alton Towers Resort Oblivion Tunnel.jpg
The tunnel entrance of 'Oblivion' at Alton Towers Resort

Some roller coasters feature tunnels, and they may include special effects such as lighting, fog, and sound. The Iron Rattler at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, for example, features a darkened, above-ground tunnel. [3]

Non-inverting track elements

Consecutive camelbacks on Grand National Roller Coaster Camelbacks.jpg
Consecutive camelbacks on Grand National


A camelback or camelback hill is a hump-shaped hill that travels in a straight line designed to lift riders out of their seats and provide a feeling of weightlessness, commonly known as airtime. [4] [5] It produces negative g-force to achieve the effect. [6] [7] The term has been used to describe a series of smaller hills typically found near the end of a track's layout, which is a common finale on older wooden coasters. [7] [8] A modern coaster's implementation of a camelback can be a much larger, single hill often found earlier in the track's layout. [4] [9]

Double dip

Jack Rabbit's double dip Kennywood Jack Rabbit DSCN2786.JPG
Jack Rabbit's double dip

A double dip element, also known as a double drop or double down, is created when a hill is divided into two separate drops by a flattening out of the drop midway down the hill. A notable ride featuring this element is Jack Rabbit, a 1920 coaster classic from John A. Miller located at Kennywood amusement park. The inverse of this element is known as a double up, where two inclines are separated by a level piece of track. Stampida at Portaventura Park is an example that incorporates both a double dip and a double up element.

Hammerhead turn

Behemoth's hammerhead turn Behemoth (Canada's Wonderland) 06.jpg
Behemoth's hammerhead turn

A hammerhead turn is based on a flying maneuver by the same name and is similar to, but not the same as, a 180-degree overbanked turn (See #Overbanked turn ). The train enters the element with a steep slope up and a slight curve in the direction opposite that of the overall turn (a so-called "priming" of the turn). The train then banks heavily to the side opposite the initial curve and finishes its climb while it negotiates the overall turn, beginning its descent midway through the turn. The second half of the element is the same as the first half, but in reverse order. While negotiating a hammerhead turn element, the train makes a turn of more than 180 degrees; however, because of the entry and exit curves, the overall effect is that of a 180-degree turn that exits toward the direction from which it entered, roughly parallel to the portion of track preceding the hammerhead turn. Hammerhead turns are found on some B&M hypercoasters. Examples of these coasters are Nitro at Six Flags Great Adventure, Behemoth at Canada's Wonderland, Diamondback at Kings Island and Mako at SeaWorld Orlando.


A horseshoe is a type of turnaround maneuver found on Maurer Rides GmbH's Spinning Coaster model. The horseshoe is essentially a 180-degree turnaround with high banking so that riders are tilted at a 90-degree angle or more at the top at the element. The horseshoe is named that way because the element is shaped roughly like a horseshoe, with a semicircular shape at the top. It is found on coasters such as Dragon's Fury at Chessington World of Adventures and Laff Trakk at Hersheypark.

Junior Immelmann loop

A junior Immelmann loop is similar to a normal Immelmann loop, except riders are not inverted and only roll to 90 degrees instead of 180 degrees. The element first appeared on Black Mamba at Phantasialand. [10]

Icon's Junior Immelman Icon's Junior Immelman.jpg
Icon's Junior Immelman

Non-inverting loop

Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit's non-inverting loop HRRR Loop 3.jpg
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit's non-inverting loop

The non-inverting loop is a variety of loop that, when coming up, twists similar to a heartline roll, leaving riders completely right-side-up when at the top of the loop. Some roller coasters with this element include Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit at Universal Studios Florida, Shock at Rainbow MagicLand, Superman: Ultimate Flight at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Flying Aces at Ferrari World, Soaring with Dragon at Hefei Wanda Theme Park, DC Rivals Hypercoaster at Warner Bros. Movie World and Tempesto at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

Overbanked turn

An overbanked turn is a turn or curve in which the track tilts beyond 90 degrees, usually in the 100-120 degree range. The element is common on large steel roller coasters, particularly those built by Intamin and Rocky Mountain Construction. Two examples of an overbanked turn in the United States are the first turn-around on Superman the Ride at Six Flags New England, and Millennium Force at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, which features four separate and two consecutive overbanked turns.

Top Thrill Dragster top hat at Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio Top Thrill Dragster (Cedar Point) 01.jpg
Top Thrill Dragster top hat at Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio

A Stengel dive combines an overbanked turn with a camelback hill. The train first goes up a regular camelback hill, then quickly tilts beyond 90 degrees at the very top. It is the only roller coaster element named after its designer, in this case Werner Stengel. Examples of roller coasters that feature this element include Goliath at Walibi Holland and Thunderbolt at Luna Park.

Speed hill

A speed hill, also known as a high-speed float, [11] is an airtime element commonly found in Bolliger & Mabillard steel coasters and Rocky Mountain Construction wooden coasters. The element is a mini-version of camelback entered at a high speed, which results in significant negative G-forces that exceed a typical camelback. Leviathan at Canada's Wonderland [12] and Outlaw Run at Silver Dollar City are two roller coasters that feature this element. [11]

Top hat

A top hat, also known as top cap, is an element typically found on launched coasters. The element consists of 90-degree ascent up a hill, followed by a 90-degree descent; the train exits in the same direction from which it entered. In a standard configuration, the track twists so that the train does not invert during the ride. Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point and Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure are two roller coasters that feature a top hat element.

In a top hat inversion, also called an inside top hat or inverted top hat, the track makes a 90-degree twist as the train approaches the top. The train is on the inside of the element, and once it reaches the apex, the train is inverted. Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast at Six Flags St. Louis is one example that features this variant.

Wave turn

A wave turn, commonly found on Rocky Mountain Construction roller coasters, is a 90-degree banked turn that incorporates a small camelback hill. [13] The airtime feature separates wave turns from typical banked turns. [13] When a train banks either right or left into an inclined turn, it traverses an airtime hill while banked at 90 degrees. [14] The element finishes with the train exiting in the opposite direction that it entered. [13]

Inverting elements

Banana roll

A banana roll is an inversion element named after its shape that is similar to an elongated cobra roll. [15] [16] [17] It first appeared on Takabisha at Fuji-Q Highland in 2011. [15] [18] The element may invert riders once, as it does on Takabisha and TMNT Shellraiser (Nickelodeon Universe), [16] [19] or it may invert riders twice as it does on Steel Curtain at Kennywood. [17]


Batwing on Afterburn (2008) Afterburn overview.jpg
Batwing on Afterburn (2008)

A batwing is a heart-shaped roller coaster element that features two inversions. The train goes into a reverse sidewinder, followed by a sidewinder. [20] It is the inverse of a cobra roll.

Like other inversions, this element has different names depending on the roller coaster's manufacturer. It is most commonly known as a batwing, which is the term used by Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M). Afterburn at Carowinds and Montu at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay are two examples that feature this element. It was first marketed as a Kamikaze Kurve by Arrow Dynamics during the construction of Orient Express at Worlds of Fun, which opened in 1980. [21] Arrow would later refer to the element as a boomerang in future projects, such as the defunct The Great American Scream Machine at Six Flags Great Adventure.[ citation needed ] One variation of the batwing is known as a bowtie, where the entrance and exit of the inversion are in the same direction. Dragon Mountain at Marineland of Canada is the only coaster to feature this element. [22]

Bent Cuban eight

A bent Cuban eight is a double inversion element that features two "bent and twisted" Immelmann loops that are connected back to back. [23] Designed by Maurer Rides GmbH, the element only appears on two X-Car roller coaster models from the company, including G Force that was at Drayton Manor Theme Park. [24] [25]

Butterfly element on Blue Hawk (can be seen near the middle) BlueHawk SFOG 1.jpg
Butterfly element on Blue Hawk (can be seen near the middle)


A butterfly is sometimes found on Vekoma roller coasters. A butterfly begins like a vertical loop, but as the track goes up, it twists 45 degrees to one side or the other, and then when it is headed down the track twists back. The maneuver is then repeated but in reverse. It is essentially the same in construction as a batwing or boomerang except for the coaster exiting the construct traveling in the same direction as it began. An example of this is found on Goudurix in Parc Astérix in Plailly, France, or Blue Hawk at Six Flags Over Georgia.

Cobra roll

Cobra roll on Alpengeist (2007) Alpengeist (Busch Gardens Europe) 04.JPG
Cobra roll on Alpengeist (2007)

The cobra roll is a roller coaster inversion that resembles the shape of a cobra head when flaring its hood. The element consists of two half vertical loops facing the same direction joined together by two half corkscrews that each twist in opposite directions. As the train completes the first half loop, it turns perpendicular into a half corkscrew, completing a first inversion. This is immediately followed by another half corkscrew that twists in the opposite direction into the other half vertical loop, completing a second inversion. The train exits the cobra roll traveling in the opposite direction from which it entered.

Vekoma's Boomerang was the first model to incorporate a cobra roll, and the first Boomerang installation was Sea Serpent at Morey's Piers in 1984.


Corkscrew element on Corkscrew (2008) Corkscrew (Cedar Point) 01.jpg
Corkscrew element on Corkscrew (2008)

A corkscrew inversion resembles a helix that rotates riders 360° perpendicular to the track. It was named for its resemblance of a corkscrew tool, which is used to remove bottle corks. Unlike vertical loops, riders remain facing forward for the entire duration of the inversion. The corkscrew was the first modern-day inversion element to be featured on a roller coaster. It first appeared in 1975 with the release of Corkscrew, a roller coaster at Knott's Berry Farm designed by Arrow Dynamics. The element was well-received and became a staple of many early roller coasters that inverted riders.

Corkscrews commonly exist in pairs, where the end of one leads straight into the next. Another configuration involves interlocking corkscrews, where two corkscrews are intertwined, with each crossing over the other's track. Both Nemesis Inferno at Thorpe Park and Bizarro at Six Flags Great Adventure feature interlocking corkscrews. Bolliger & Mabillard introduced a variation of the corkscrew that the company calls a flat spin. Flat spins snap riders quickly through the inversion at varying speeds, as opposed to a standard corkscrew that rotates riders at slower, constant speeds.


A cutback is a roller coaster inversion similar to a corkscrew, except the second half of the element is reversed. The train exits the inversion in the opposite direction from which it entered. Arrow Dynamics debuted the feature on Drachen Fire at Busch Gardens Williamsburg in 1992. It can also be found on other coasters such as Twisted Timbers at Kings Dominion, Steel Curtain at Kennywood Park, and Wonder Woman Golden Lasso Coaster at Six Flags Fiesta Texas.

Demonic Knot

A demonic knot is a roller coaster inversion that features an inclined dive loop followed by an inclined immelmann loop. There is currently only one coaster which features this inversion and that is Flug der Dämonen.

Dive loop on Dragon Khan Dive Loop Inversion.jpg
Dive loop on Dragon Khan

Dive drop

A dive drop [26] (also known as a Wing Over Drop [27] ) is a roller coaster inversion in which a half-inline twist is performed at the top of a lift hill, leading into the initial drop. Examples that feature this element include The Swarm at Thorpe Park, X-Flight at Six Flags Great America, and GateKeeper at Cedar Point. [27] [28]

Dive loop

A dive loop, also known as a diving loop, is a type of B&M and Gerstlauer roller coaster inversion whose inspiration was taken from a stunt plane maneuver. The track twists upward and to the side and then dives toward the ground in a half-vertical loop. This element is common on many B&M roller coasters. Arrow and Vekoma use a similar version of the element known as a reverse sidewinder, as seen in Arrow's Cyclone at Dreamworld in Australia and Vekoma's Ninja at Six Flags over Georgia.

An inline twist (left) has an axis of rotation centered on the track. A heartline roll (right) has an axis of rotation centered on the rider (usually at chest level). Herzlinie.svg
An inline twist (left) has an axis of rotation centered on the track. A heartline roll (right) has an axis of rotation centered on the rider (usually at chest level).

Heartline roll

A heartline roll, also known as a barrel roll, is a roller coaster inversion in which the rider performs a 360-degree roll. The center of the train rotates on one axis. The track changes in elevation to keep the train moving in the same line in which it entered the element. In an in-line twist, a similar element, the track remains straight at the same elevation. The point of rotation is either above or below the rider's point of view, unlike a heartline roll which keeps the point of rotation near the middle. An example of this element is Colossus at Thorpe Park, which features five heartline rolls, or The Smiler, which has its first inversion as a heartline roll.

Immelmann inversion on Afterburn (2007) Afterburn (Carowinds) 02.JPG
Immelmann inversion on Afterburn (2007)


An Immelmann is a popular inversion found on many B&M roller coasters. In an Immelmann, riders enter a half-loop followed by a half twist, and then exit the element traveling in the opposite direction making a 180-degree turn. The inversion is similar to the sidewinder which exits closer to 90°, or perpendicular to the entrance point. An Immelmann loop becomes a dive loop if the entrance and exit points are reversed. The name "Immelmann" comes from the Immelmann turn, an aircraft maneuver named after the World War I German fighter pilot Max Immelmann. [29] Immelmanns are commonly found as the first element on B&M Dive Coasters. A notable example is Valravn at Cedar Point, which has an Immelmann loop immediately following the first drop.

Inclined dive loop on GateKeeper (2013) GateKeeper 006 (9550477858).jpg
Inclined dive loop on GateKeeper (2013)

Inclined dive loop

An inclined dive loop is essentially a dive loop that has been tilted. Instead of exiting vertically, an inclined dive loop exits at an angle. The only two examples are on Hydra the Revenge at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom and GateKeeper at Cedar Point.

Inclined loop

Inclined loop on Chang (2007) Chang (Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom) 02.jpg
Inclined loop on Chang (2007)

An inclined loop, also known as an oblique loop, is a 360° loop that has been tilted at an angle. It is not entered vertically, like a vertical loop, or horizontally like a helix. Instead, it is usually entered at an angle between 45° and 80°. Inclined loops can be found on B&M stand-up roller coasters, B&M Wing Coasters, and B&M Floorless Coasters. Examples include: Rougarou at Cedar Point; Green Lantern at Six Flags Great Adventure; Riddler's Revenge at Six Flags Magic Mountain; and The Swarm at Thorpe Park.

In-line twist on Furius Baco (2018) Furius Baco Inline Twist.jpg
In-line twist on Furius Baco (2018)

In-line twist

An in-line twist is a roller coaster inversion in which the rider performs a 360-degree roll. The in-line twist is often found on flying coasters and wing coasters, such as Galactica at Alton Towers, Batwing at Six Flags America, Superman: Ultimate Flight at Six Flags Over Georgia, Firehawk at Kings Island, Manta at SeaWorld Orlando, Raptor at Gardaland and The Swarm at Thorpe Park. It can be confused with a heartline roll, also known as a barrel roll. In a heartline roll the center of the train rotates on one axis so the height of the average rider's heart never changes, whereas during an in-line twist the train rotates around the track and there is usually little to no elevation difference in the track. It can also provide hangtime.

Norwegian loop

Speed Monster's Norwegian loop Speedmonster2.jpg
Speed Monster's Norwegian loop

A Norwegian loop is an element made out of two elements: a dive loop, then an Immelmann; forming an inversion that looks like two side by side loops. This element is similar to the flying coasters pretzel loop, except that the train goes through a twist when entering and exiting the loop. It may also been seen as a normal loop entered from the top. It was first introduced on Speed Monster in TusenFryd, Norway (hence why it is called a "Norwegian" Loop). [30] Other examples of a Norwegian Loop can be found on Hersheypark's roller coaster Fahrenheit and Helix at Liseberg.

Pretzel knot on Banshee (2014) Banshee 03.jpg
Pretzel knot on Banshee (2014)

Pretzel knot

A pretzel knot is an element similar to the batwing, except the entrance and exit of the inversion is formed differently. In a pretzel knot, the twisted formation of the element's entrance and exit resembles a pretzel shape as opposed to a batwing's heart shape. The defunct Moonsault Scramble at Fuji-Q Highland was the first coaster to feature this element. [31] The second was Banshee at Kings Island. [31]

Pretzel loop

Pretzel loop on Tatsu (2006) Tatsu.jpg
Pretzel loop on Tatsu (2006)

The pretzel loop is a large inversion found on flying coasters from Bolliger & Mabillard. The element debuted on Superman: Ultimate Flight at Six Flags Over Georgia and has been used on many other B&M flying coasters since then. [32] It consists of a downward half loop and upward half loop. The entrance and exit points of the loop overlap at its peak forming a shape resembling a pretzel. [33]

Raven turn

A raven turn is a half-inversion which looks like half a loop followed by a drop and then levels out near the same height as it began. The raven turn is only usable on either flying roller coasters or 4D roller coasters at the moment and has only been used on three 4D coasters and one flying coaster. [34]

The general term raven turn refers to any inversion that follows the design described above; however, there are two types of raven turns. Assuming the train is going round the half-loop first, an inside raven turn is where the rails are below the train at the start whereas an outside raven turn is one in which the rails are above the train at the start of the element. at Six Flags Magic Mountain, Eejanaika at Fuji-Q Highland, and Dinoconda at China Dinosaurs Park are examples of raven turns. [35]

A "roll over" inversion on Infusion (2018) Roll-over Inversion.jpg
A "roll over" inversion on Infusion (2018)

Roll over

This element, known as a roll over on roller coasters built by Vekoma, is an inversion featuring two half loop halves, connected by two opposite-facing half inline twists. This inversion can be found on the most Vekoma SLCs.

Sea serpent

The sea serpent is a roller coaster element with two inversions similar to a cobra roll, but the train enters and exit in the same direction. [36] It features two vertical loop halves connected by two half corkscrews that face in opposite directions. The second half loop is on the opposite side in comparison to a cobra roll, which changes the exit's direction. [36] Examples featuring this element include Vekoma's Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith located at Disney's Hollywood Studios and The Smiler at Alton Towers. [37] [38]


A sidewinder is an inversion element where riders enter a half-loop followed by a half-corkscrew, and then exit the element perpendicular to the direction in which they entered. The element is commonly found on Arrow and Vekoma roller coasters. It is similar to the Immelmann loop, with the exception that riders exit in a different direction usually 90 degrees from the entrance point.

Twisted horseshoe roll

Twisted horseshoe roll on Maverick (2007) Twisthorseshoeroll.JPG
Twisted horseshoe roll on Maverick (2007)

A twisted horseshoe roll is an inversion element that begins with a corkscrew that leads into a 180-degree banked turn and ends with another corkscrew that rotates in the opposite direction as the first. [39] Two roller coasters that feature this element are Maverick at Cedar Point (United States) and Blue Fire at Europa-Park (Germany). [40]

Vertical loop on Full Throttle is one of the world's tallest and largest at 160 feet (49 m) SFMM- Full Throttle 4.JPG
Vertical loop on Full Throttle is one of the world's tallest and largest at 160 feet (49 m)

Vertical loop

A vertical loop is one of the most common roller coaster inversions in existence. It is a continuous, upward-sloping section of track that eventually completes a 360-degree turn, inverting riders halfway into the element. They are ellipses in the shape of an oval or teardrop. Early roller coaster designs attempted vertical loops that were more circular, resulting in massive g-force that were dangerous to riders. The first successful implementation in the modern era of roller coasters was on Great American Revolution which opened at Six Flags Magic Mountain in 1976.

Interlocking loops on Loch Ness Monster (1978) BGE-Loch Ness Monster.jpg
Interlocking loops on Loch Ness Monster (1978)

Arrow Dynamics designed two roller coasters that featured interlocking loops, which consist of one vertical loop perpendicular to the other. Loch Ness Monster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg opened in 1977 followed by Orient Express at Worlds of Fun in 1980. The Lightnin' Loops installation at Six Flags Great Adventure featured two looping roller coasters with similar interlocking loops.

Zero-g roll

Zero-g roll on The Incredible Hulk (1999) Zero-g.png
Zero-g roll on The Incredible Hulk (1999)

A zero-g roll or zero-gravity roll is a roller coaster inversion where the track twists 360 degrees as it rises and falls in elevation, usually at the crest of a hill. The element gets its name from the weightless effect of zero g-force that a rider experiences during the inversion. [41] [42] [43]

Zero-g stall

A zero-g stall or zero-gravity stall, sometimes referred to as a top gun stall, is an inversion similar to a zero-g roll, however after the track has twisted 180 degrees on the ascent, it stays inverted for a short section at the crest and then twists back on the descent, usually in the opposite direction as the initial twist. Similar to a zero-g roll, riders experience a feeling of weightlessness during the short inverted section.

This element is commonly found on Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC) installations including Goliath and Wildfire. S&S has also included this element in Kennywood's Steel Curtain.

Visual elements


Griffon Splashdown element Griffon (Busch Gardens Europe) 02.JPG
Griffon Splashdown element

A splashdown is a visual element in which the ride vehicle physically interacts with a body of water, forcefully spraying or jetting water on impact. Splashdowns can be used as a natural braking system, and some coasters feature pathways for non-riding visitors to view or get wet from the splashdown element. There are two types.

Water spout

A water spout is a visual element encompassing a number of different methods to simulate a roller coaster's interaction with a body of water  the ride vehicle does not make contact with the water. Water spouts are intended to be visually appealing. The following are some examples of roller coasters that utilize this effect.

See also

Related Research Articles

Roller coaster inversion Section of inverted track on a roller coaster

A roller coaster inversion is a roller coaster element in which the track turns riders upside-down and then returns them an upright position. Early forms of inversions, dating as far back as 1848 on the Centrifugal Railway in Paris, were vertical loops that were circular in nature. They produced massive g-force that was often dangerous to riders, and as a result, the element eventually became non-existent with the last rides to feature the looping inversions being dismantled during the Great Depression. In 1975, designers from Arrow Development created the corkscrew, reviving interest in the inversion during the modern age of steel roller coasters. Since then, the elements have evolved from simple corkscrews and vertical loops to more complex inversions such as Immelmann loops and cobra rolls. Featuring fourteen inversions, The Smiler at Alton Towers holds the world record for the number of inversions on a roller coaster.

Dragon Khan

Dragon Khan is a steel sit-down roller coaster located in the PortAventura Park theme park in Salou and Vilaseca (Tarragona), Catalonia, Spain. Dragon Khan boasts eight inversions, which was a world record until the opening of the ten-inversion Colossus in Thorpe Park, United Kingdom in 2002.

Montu (roller coaster) Amusement ride at Busch Gardens Tampa

Montu is an inverted roller coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa in Tampa, Florida. Built by Swiss manufacturer Bolliger & Mabillard, it is the park's second roller coaster designed by that company following the success of Kumba, which opened 3 years prior. When the ride opened on May 16, 1996, it was the world's tallest and fastest inverted roller coaster, a title it has since conceded to Alpengeist at sister park Busch Gardens Williamsburg. The ride stands 150 feet (46 m) tall and reaches speeds of 60 miles per hour (97 km/h).

Colossus (Thorpe Park)

Colossus is a steel roller coaster at Thorpe Park in Surrey, England, and the park's first major attraction. It was built by Swiss manufacturers Intamin and designed by Werner Stengel as an adaptation of Monte Makaya in Brazil, with consultation from Tussauds attraction developer John Wardley. Colossus was the world's first roller coaster with ten inversions; an exact replica, called the 10 Inversion Roller Coaster, was later built at Chimelong Paradise in Guangzhou, China. It retained its title of having the most inversions on any other roller coaster in the world until The Smiler at Alton Towers took the record in 2013.

Suspended Looping Coaster Type of roller coaster

The Suspended Looping Coaster is a model of steel inverted roller coaster built by Vekoma. There are at least 39 different installations across the world. The minimum rider height requirement is 130 centimetres. Vekoma is now marketing a Suspended Thrill Coaster to replace the Suspended Looping Coaster. The Odyssey is the largest, fastest and tallest SLC ever built at Fantasy Island in the UK. Many people argue that this is the best however it can sometimes be rough

Great Bear (roller coaster)

Great Bear is an inverted roller coaster located at Hersheypark in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Designed by Werner Stengel, the roller coaster was built by Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M) and opened in 1998 in the Kissing Tower Hill section of the park. Great Bear was the first inverted looping coaster in Pennsylvania, with four inversions, and cost $13 million to build.

Viper (Six Flags Darien Lake)

Viper is a steel looping roller coaster located at Six Flags Darien Lake Amusement Park near Buffalo, New York. This was the first large ride at the park and the first roller coaster of its type anywhere in the world to have five inversions. The ride was built by the newly merged Arrow Huss. It opened in 1982. The coaster opened with the potential of running three trains at once, but only one or two trains are necessary for maintaining a steady operation of the coaster. The coaster's trains include seven cars; riders are two across with two rows in each car. The track was originally all black, but it was repainted to a green track with black supports when Six Flags took over Darien Lake. In 2010, Darien Lake repainted the Viper all black again.

Nighthawk (roller coaster) Steel roller coaster

Nighthawk is a steel flying roller coaster from Vekoma located at Carowinds amusement park. The roller coaster originally opened as Stealth at California's Great America on April 1, 2000. In 2003, Paramount decided to relocate the roller coaster to Carowinds. It reopened as Borg Assimilator – the first coaster in the world to be themed to Star Trek – on March 20, 2004. After Cedar Fair purchased Carowinds in 2006, Paramount themes were soon removed from the park, and the ride was renamed Nighthawk. It is one of only two Flying Dutchman models still in existence from Vekoma.

T3 (roller coaster) Roller coaster at Kentucky Kingdom

T3 (stylized as T3; pronounced "T-three", "T-cubed", or "Terror to the third power") is an inverted roller coaster at Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville, Kentucky. Previously named T2, the Suspended Looping Coaster model manufactured by Vekoma opened in 1995. The amusement park closed in 2010 due to financial difficulties, but later reopened under new ownership in 2014. The roller coaster was refurbished and renamed T3, which reopened to the public on July 3, 2015.

Batwing (roller coaster) Flying roller coaster at Six Flags America

Batwing is a steel flying roller coaster built by Vekoma at Six Flags America in Prince George's County, Maryland. This is nearly identical to Nighthawk at Carowinds, however that ride has a slightly different ending, and different paint scheme. The ride is also a clone of the now-defunct Firehawk at Kings Island.

Blue Hawk (roller coaster)

Blue Hawk is a steel roller coaster located at Six Flags Over Georgia. Designed by Vekoma, Blue Hawk was originally built for Conko's Party Pier in New Jersey, where it was known as Kamikaze. It was relocated to Six Flags Over Georgia in 1992 as Ninja, and was the tallest roller coaster in the park at that time. In 2016, Six Flags announced that the ride would be renovated and renamed, with members of the public voting on the ride's new name.

Corkscrew (Valleyfair)

Corkscrew is the name of a roller coaster at Valleyfair in Shakopee, Minnesota featuring one vertical loop and two corkscrews. Built in 1980, Corkscrew was planned to reflect the design of its sister roller coaster Corkscrew at Cedar Point. It is notably one of the first roller coasters to feature a double corkscrew, as well as a vertical loop. The main differences that the Valleyfair model has is the addition of a finale helix and the omission of the camelback before the loop. Until the hypercoaster Wild Thing, Corkscrew was the only outdoor all-steel roller coaster in Minnesota. Corkscrew is currently the only roller coaster at Valleyfair with inversions. The coaster's track was painted blue when it open in 1980 but was repainted orange and yellow in 2011.

Orient Express (roller coaster)

Orient Express was a steel roller coaster located at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, Missouri. Introduced in 1980, the ride was manufactured by Arrow Huss and designed by Ron Toomer. The red-orange track was in between the two entrances of the park. The station house is still visible, and contains the park's haunted attraction Lore of the Vampire and Club Blood. In 2004, the ride was replaced by Spinning Dragons, a Gerstlauer spinning roller coaster, which is still in operation as of 2020.

Shockwave (Six Flags Great America) Defunct roller coaster at Six Flags Great America

Shockwave was a roller coaster manufactured by Arrow Dynamics at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois. Standing 170 feet (52 m) tall and reaching speeds of 65 miles per hour (105 km/h), it opened in 1988 as the world's tallest and fastest looping roller coaster with a record-breaking seven inversions: three vertical loops, a boomerang, and two regular corkscrews. Shockwave was closed in 2002 and has been dismantled.

Anaconda (roller coaster) Steel roller coaster at Kings Dominion

Anaconda is a steel roller coaster located at Kings Dominion. Built by Arrow Dynamics and designed by Ron Toomer, Anaconda opened in 1991 as the first looping roller coaster to feature an underwater tunnel and the first at Kings Dominion with more than one inversion.

Medusa (Six Flags Discovery Kingdom)

Medusa is a steel roller coaster located at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, California. Built by Bolliger & Mabillard, Medusa opened in 2000 as the first floorless roller coaster on the West Coast. The coaster features seven inversions, a 150-foot (46 m)-tall lift hill with a 150-foot (46 m) drop, and the first Sea serpent roll element ever built on a B&M coaster. The ride is the longest coaster in Northern California at 3,937 feet (1,200 m) long and is notable as having one of the largest vertical loops in the world at 128 feet (39 m). It also shares the height record in Northern California with another ride in the same park, The Flash: Vertical Velocity, at 150 feet (46 m) high.

Afterburn (roller coaster) Inverted roller coaster at Carowinds

Afterburn is an inverted roller coaster located at Carowinds amusement park in Charlotte, North Carolina. After more than two years of planning and construction, the roller coaster opened on March 20, 1999. The ride previously operated as Top Gun: The Jet Coaster, before it was renamed following Cedar Fair's purchase of Paramount Parks in 2006.

X-Flight (Six Flags Great America)

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.

Flug der Dämonen

Flug der Dämonen is a Bolliger & Mabillard Wing Coaster at the Heide Park Resort amusement park located in Soltau, Lower Saxony, Germany. The attraction officially opened to the public on March 29, 2014.

Batman: The Ride (Six Flags México)

Batman: The Ride is a steel inverted coaster at Six Flags Mexico that has been operating since 2000. It is a standard Vekoma Suspended Looping Coaster model themed to the famed Batman franchise, and was part of Premier Park's massive renovation in 2000.


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