A roller coaster inversion is a roller coaster element in which the track turns riders upside-down and then returns them to an upright position. Early forms of inversions were circular in nature and date back to 1848 on the Centrifugal railway in Paris. These vertical loops produced massive g-force that was often dangerous to riders. 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. Elements have since evolved from simple corkscrews and vertical loops to more complex inversions such as Immelmann loops and cobra rolls. The Smiler at Alton Towers holds the world record for the number of inversions on a roller coaster with 14.
The first inversion in roller coaster history was part of the Centrifugal Railway of Paris, France, built in 1848.It consisted of a 43-foot (13-meter) sloping track leading into a nearly circular vertical loop 13 feet (3.9 m) in diameter. During the early 1900s, many rides including vertical loops appeared around the world. These early loops had a major design flaw: the circular structure produced intense g-forces (hereafter "Gs"). The Flip Flap Railway, designed by Lina Beecher and built in 1895 on Coney Island of Brooklyn, United States, had a 25-foot circular loop at the end which though initially popular caused some discomfort in passenger's necks, and the ride soon closed. Loop the Loop, another looping coaster, was built later in Coney Island as well. This time the loops were slightly oval-shaped rather than circular, though not clothoid in shape like modern loops. Although the ride was safe, it had a low capacity, loading four people every five minutes (48 people per hour, compared to 1800 riders per hour on Corkscrew, an early modern coaster that opened in 1976), and was poorly received after the discomfort of the Flip Flap Railway. As their novelty wore off and their dangerous reputation spread, compounded with the developing Great Depression, the early looping coasters disappeared.
The concept of inverting riders was not revisited until the 1970s. In 1968, Karl Bacon of Arrow Dynamics created a prototype steel roller coaster with a corkscrew, the first of its kind. The prototype proved that a tubular steel track, first pioneered by Arrow to create Disneyland's Matterhorn Bobsleds in 1959, could execute inversions both safely and reliably.The full model of the prototype, aptly named Corkscrew, was then installed in Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, United States, making history as the world's first modern inverting roller coaster (it was relocated to Silverwood Park of Idaho in 1990). In 1976, the previously disastrous vertical loop was successfully revived when Anton Schwarzkopf constructed the Great American Revolution at Six Flags Magic Mountain of Valencia, United States, which became the world's first complete circuit looping roller coaster. Another roller coaster named Corkscrew, built in Cedar Point of Ohio in the same year, became the first with three inversions.
The next few years brought innovations that are still popular in modern coasters. The shuttle roller coaster (non-complete circuit) was invented by Schwarzkopf in 1977 and realized at Kings Island with the Screamin' Demon coaster. These early incarnations used the weight-drop mechanism (as opposed to the later flywheel methods) to launch the trains.Built in 1978, the Loch Ness Monster in Busch Gardens Williamsburg became the first coaster with interlocking loops. It is still the only coaster with this feature, as the only other coasters containing interlocking loops are now defunct: Lightnin' Loops, built by Arrow in Six Flags Great Adventure, was sold in 1992, and Orient Express of Worlds of Fun was demolished in 2003. The first Schwarzkopf shuttle loops with a flywheel launch also first appeared in 1978. Arrow's Revolution, Europe's first looping coaster, was built in 1979 at Blackpool Pleasure Beach of England. In 1980, Carolina Cyclone opened at Carowinds as the first roller coaster with four inversions. The Orient Express opened at Worlds of Fun of Kansas City, United States, in 1980, with the newly invented batwing (not to be confused with a boomerang), a single track element with two inversions.
In 1981, Vekoma invented the Boomerang coaster model, which became the most duplicated roller coaster ever. The first Boomerang was built at Reino Aventura (now Six Flags México) of Mexico City, Mexico in 1982.The Boomerang has had over 50 clones built worldwide from Doha, Qatar, to Tashkent, Uzbekistan. 1982 also brought the first five-inversion coaster, Arrow's Viper at Darien Lake in Darien, New York.
The record for number of inversions was broken quickly in the following years. Arrow's Vortex at Kings Island, built in 1987, was the first to have six. The next year, Shockwave at Six Flags Great America broke that record with seven inversions. In 1995, Dragon Khan in Spain's Port Aventura became the first to have eight. In 2002, Colossus at Thorpe Park in Chertsey, Surrey, England was the first with ten. In 2013, The Smiler at Alton Towers in Staffordshire, England, broke the record again with 14 inversions.
In 2000, Kings Island built Son of Beast, the world's first wooden roller coaster with a vertical loop. Until then, all roller coasters with any inversions were steel. After structural problems caused an incident in July 2006 that injured several riders, Son of Beast's loop was removed in December 2006 to make it possible to use lighter trains.
In 2002, X, now X2, designed by Arrow, opened in Six Flags Magic Mountain. It is marketed as the world's first Fourth dimension roller coaster, capable of rotating riders upside-down independently of any track elements. This adds difficulty in delineating the number of inversions such rides have. As the riders physically rotate 360 degrees forward and backwards, proponents insist the number of inversions should not include only track elements. According to Guinness World Records, the roller coaster with the most inversions counted this way is Eejanaika (Japanese : ええじゃないか, Ain't it great?), another 4th Dimension roller coaster, in Fuji-Q Highland of Fujiyoshida, Japan, which rotates riders 14 times. Counting only track elements, however, Alton Tower's The Smiler has the world record for number of inversions, also rotating riders 14 times.
Two or more wooden roller coasters with inversions opened in each of 2013, 2014, and 2017. As opposed to the vertical loop that Son of Beast had, Outlaw Run and Hades 360, Mine Blower and Goliath (at Six Flags Great America) have more complex inversions. Outlaw Run at Silver Dollar City has a double barrel roll and a 153° over-banked turn, and Hades 360 has a single corkscrew. Other elements which partially invert riders, such as the overbanked turn which occasionally turn riders beyond 90 degrees, are not typically considered inversions.
A steel roller coaster is a roller coaster that is defined by having a track made of steel. Steel coasters have earned immense popularity in the past 50 years throughout the world. Incorporating tubular steel track and polyurethane-coated wheels, the steel roller coasters can provide a taller, smoother, and faster ride with more inversions than a traditional wooden roller coaster.
The generic roller coaster vertical loop, where a section of track causes the riders to complete a 360 degree turn, is the most basic of roller coaster inversions. At the top of the loop, riders are completely inverted.
A stand-up roller coaster is a roller coaster designed to have the passengers stand through the course of the ride.
Anton Schwarzkopf was a German engineer who founded Schwarzkopf Industries GmbH, a German manufacturer of roller coasters and other amusement rides that were sold to amusement parks and travelling funfairs around the world.
Arrow Dynamics was an American manufacturing and engineering company that specialized in designing and building amusement park rides, especially roller coasters. Based in Clearfield, Utah, the company was the successor to Arrow Development (1946–1981) and Arrow Huss (1981–1986), which were responsible for several influential advancements in the amusement and theme park industries. Among the most significant was tubular steel track, which provided a smoother ride than the railroad style rails commonly used prior to the 1960s on wooden roller coasters. The Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland, built in 1959, was Arrow's first roller coaster project.
Ronald Valentine Toomer was an American roller coaster designer credited for designing 93 roller coasters around the world. He graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno in 1961 with a degree in mechanical engineering and was a part of the design team responsible for the Apollo spacecraft heat shield.
Great American Scream Machine was a steel roller coaster located at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson Township, New Jersey. The 173-foot-tall (53 m) ride opened in 1989 as the tallest and fastest looping roller coaster in the world, reaching a maximum speed of 68 mph (109 km/h). It was designed by Ron Toomer and manufactured by Arrow Dynamics, which built two other coasters with similar layouts – Shockwave at Six Flags Great America and Viper at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Great American Scream Machine featured seven inversions including a batwing and double corkscrew. Records set by the ride were succeeded by Viper the following year in 1990. It operated until July 2010 and was replaced by a stand-up roller coaster, Green Lantern, in 2011.
Werner Stengel is a German roller coaster designer and engineer. Stengel is the founder of Stengel Engineering, also known as Ingenieurbüro Stengel GmbH.
Green Lantern, formerly known as Chang, is a stand-up roller coaster located at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson Township, New Jersey. Green Lantern stands 155 feet (47 m) tall and features a top speed of 63 miles per hour (101 km/h). The 4,155-foot-long (1,266 m) ride features five inversions and a duration of approximately 21⁄2 minutes. This steel coaster was designed and built by Swiss manufacturer Bolliger & Mabillard.
The Riddler's Revenge is a stand-up roller coaster located at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard, the ride opened as the park's eleventh roller coaster on April 4, 1998, setting multiple world records among stand-up coasters. Originally located in the Movie District section of the park, which later became Metropolis in 2017, The Riddler's Revenge was also the park's single biggest investment at a cost of $14 million. It features a height of 156 feet (48 m), a maximum speed of 65 mph (105 km/h), six inversions, and a track length of 4,370 feet (1,330 m).
Demon is a multi-looping roller coaster at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois and California's Great America in Santa Clara, California. Both coasters opened in 1976 as Turn of the Century, when each Great America park was owned by Marriott Corporation. Following the 1979 season, they were slightly modified and renamed Demon, which introduced a new theme.
Viper is a steel roller coaster located in the Baja Ridge area of Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California. Viper is the last operating roller coaster with seven inversions to be built by American manufacturer Arrow Dynamics. The other two, Shockwave at Six Flags Great America and the Great American Scream Machine at Six Flags Great Adventure, were demolished in 2002 and 2010, respectively. The roller coaster replaced a HUSS ride type named Condor.
Viper is a steel roller coaster located at Six Flags Darien Lake amusement park in Darien, New York, United States. Built by the newly-formed Arrow Huss, the ride opened in 1982 as the first roller coaster in the world to feature five inversions, surpassing Carolina Cyclone at Carowinds which featured four. Viper retained the inversions record until Vortex opened at Kings Island in 1987.
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.
The Jester is a steel roller coaster located at the abandoned Six Flags New Orleans amusement park in New Orleans. Built and designed by Vekoma, the ride originally opened at Six Flags Fiesta Texas in 1996 as The Joker's Revenge. After its closure in 2001, the coaster was sent to Six Flags New Orleans where it became The Jester. The ride opened to the public at Six Flags New Orleans on April 13, 2003. Following the devastation to the amusement park in August 2005 by Hurricane Katrina, the roller coaster ceased operation following the park's closure but remains standing.
Zoomerang is the name of a boomerang steel roller coaster located at Lake Compounce in Bristol, Connecticut. Zoomerang is one of the forty-five functioning Vekoma boomerang style roller coasters in the world. They all feature a cobra roll and a loop, but the Lake Compounce Boomerang was the first boomerang to receive a Vekoma designed train. Early models used trains designed by Arrow Dynamics. In September 2007, due to paint deterioration, the ride was repainted with a new color scheme with purple tracks and teal supports.
Anaconda is a steel roller coaster located at Kings Dominion, in the Jungle X-Pedition section of the park. 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.
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".
Goliath is an inverted roller coaster located at Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio, Texas, United States. Designed by Werner Stengel and Swiss manufacturer Bolliger & Mabillard, Goliath initially opened in 1995 at an amusement park in Japan, and has been operating at Six Flags Fiesta Texas since 2008. It stands at a height of 105 feet (32 m), reaches a maximum speed of 50 mph (80 km/h), and features multiple inversions.
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.