Train (roller coaster)

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El Toro (2006), a wooden roller coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, uses traditional lap restraint trains. El Toro station.jpg
El Toro (2006), a wooden roller coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, uses traditional lap restraint trains.

A roller coaster train is a vehicle made up of two or more cars connected by specialized joints which transports passengers around a roller coaster's circuit.


It is called a train because the cars follow one another around the track, the same reason as for a railroad train. Individual cars vary in design and can carry from one to eight or more passengers each.[ citation needed ]

Many roller coasters operate more than one train, sometimes several, simultaneously. Typically they operate two trains at a time, with one train loading and unloading while the other train runs the course. On the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster at Walt Disney World, for example, there are five trains, but only four operate at a time (the trains are rotated out on a regular basis for safety reasons).

Basic safety features


Roller coaster wheels Roller coaster wheels.jpg
Roller coaster wheels

Roller coaster trains have wheels that run on the sides (side friction or guide wheels) and underneath the track (upstop, underfriction, or underlocking wheels) as well as on top of it (road or running wheels); these lock the train to the tracks and prevent it from jumping the track. The side wheels can be mounted on the outside or inside of the train, depending on the manufacturer (although outside-mounted wheels are more common). The wheels are sometimes located between the cars, as well as at the front and rear of the entire train.


An inverted roller coaster car with over-the-shoulder restraints Vekoma-otsr.jpg
An inverted roller coaster car with over-the-shoulder restraints

Roller coaster trains also have restraints that keep the passengers in their seats. There are two major types of restraints: lap bar and over-the-shoulder. (Most modern over-the-shoulder restraints come into contact with riders at the lap; however, older so-called "horsecollar" ones actually restrain riders by the shoulders). Restraints always use two locking mechanisms, one on each side, for redundancy. If one fails, the restraint will remain locked. Most modern roller coasters also have seat belts that may act as secondary safety devices. On over-the-shoulder restraints, this seatbelt is mostly cosmetic as the restraint locks on its own.

Lap bars were first used in 1907 with the Coney Island coaster Drop the Dip. [1] Lap bar restraints consist of a padded bar mounted to the floor or side of the train that swings backwards into the rider's lap. These restraints are usually found on roller coasters that lack inversions. Some inverting roller coasters, notably ones created by Anton Schwarzkopf safely operate without the need for shoulder restraints. Historically, inverting roller coasters with lap bars could only perform vertical loops, as the higher centripetal force (and low lateral force) exerted while traversing a simple clothoid loop helps to keep riders safely in the train. However, with modern advances in engineering, more roller coasters with complicated inversions are able to run without over-the-shoulder restraints. For example, most of Premier Rides' LIM-launched roller coasters (the vast majority of which have multiple inverting elements) operate with only lap bars. Lap bar restraints, like buzz bars give the rider much greater freedom of movement than over-the-shoulder restraints, enhancing the feeling of danger for some.

Blackbeard's Lost Treasure Train (1999) at Six Flags Great Adventure has trains composed of 20 cars. BBLTT.jpg
Blackbeard's Lost Treasure Train (1999) at Six Flags Great Adventure has trains composed of 20 cars.

Over-the-shoulder restraints, the most common type, consist of a roughly U-shaped padded bar mounted to the top of each seat that swings downward. Roller coasters that have inversions usually have this type of restraint. Additionally, almost all inverted and floorless roller coasters have this type of restraint, since it is difficult to mount a lap bar restraint. One disadvantage of over-the-shoulder restraints is that they can provide discomfort to the rider (known among coaster enthusiasts as headbanging), especially on rougher roller coasters. It is recommended that earrings should be removed before riding roller coasters with over-the-shoulder restraints. Some rides, such as Maverick at Cedar Point, require that guests must remove earrings before riding.

However, there are some operating roller coasters that do not have either restraint systems. Rollo Coaster at Idlewild and Soakzone is a good example of this. Usually roller coasters with little to no air-time (being lifted out of your seat) do not have restraints. Until early 2006, The Rollercoaster at Blackpool Pleasure Beach in the UK also operated without any restraints, although seatbelts were added to the ride in the 2007 season. During 2008, trains from the Big Dipper Rollercoaster were installed on the ride. "The Rollercoaster" now operates with lap bars, although the original train is still stored on the transfer track in the station.

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Stand-up roller coaster

A stand-up roller coaster is a roller coaster designed to have the passengers stand through the course of the ride.

Mindbender (Galaxyland)

The Mindbender is an Anton Schwarzkopf looping roller coaster located at Galaxyland Amusement Park, a theme park located in West Edmonton Mall, in Alberta, Canada. The ride officially opened to the public on December 20, 1985 at a cost of $6 million. At 44.2 m (145 ft) in height, it is the tallest indoor roller coaster in the world as of 2020.

Corkscrew (Cedar Point)

Corkscrew is a steel roller coaster built by Arrow Development at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, United States. When built in 1976, it was the first roller coaster in the world with 3 inversions. The coaster, which features Arrow's first vertical loop, was built during the same time period as The Great American Revolution at Magic Mountain. However, Revolution opened seven days prior and is therefore credited as the first modern-day coaster to feature a vertical loop.

<i>Superman: Ultimate Flight</i> Series of roller coasters at Six Flags parks, USA

Superman: Ultimate Flight is the name of three flying roller coasters currently operating at three Six Flags amusement parks in the United States, those being Six Flags Over Georgia, Six Flags Great Adventure and Six Flags Great America. Each of these steel coasters were designed and built by Swiss manufacturer Bolliger & Mabillard and opened in 2002 and 2003. Since 2003, Six Flags has installed Superman: Ultimate Flight in three of their parks. Themed to the popular comic book character, Superman: Ultimate Flight simulates flying by positioning its passengers parallel to the track, supported by harnesses and facing the ground through most of the ride. In the station, riders board the train sitting down. After the train is locked and checked, the trains are raised into the flying position. After the ride, the seats are lowered back into the sitting position for the next round of riders.

Giant Inverted Boomerang Steel roller coaster

A Giant Inverted Boomerang is a type of steel shuttle roller coaster manufactured by the Dutch firm Vekoma. The ride is a larger, inverted version of Vekoma's popular Boomerang sit down roller coasters. As of June 2021, five installations of the model are operating, with another one under construction.

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 as a successor to the Suspended Looping Coaster. The Odyssey is the largest, fastest and tallest SLC ever built at Fantasy Island in the UK.

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 Roller coaster model by Intamin

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.

Galactica (roller coaster)

Galactica is a flying roller coaster located in the Forbidden Valley area of Alton Towers amusement park in Staffordshire, England and is the first flying coaster manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard. Guests ride in a prone position and experience the feeling of flight by "flying" close to the ground, under footpaths, and narrowly past trees and rocks.

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.

Phantoms Revenge Amusement ride

Phantom's Revenge is a steel roller coaster at Kennywood amusement park in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania. When it opened as Steel Phantom in 1991, it featured the fastest speed and longest drop of any roller coaster in the world. The ride was originally manufactured by Arrow Dynamics but was later modified and renovated by D.H. Morgan Manufacturing prior to the 2001 season, when it reopened as Phantom’s Revenge. The changes included an increased drop and track length, as well as the removal of its four inversions. It features a unique characteristic of having a second drop that is longer than its first.

Tower of Terror II

The Tower of Terror II was a steel shuttle roller coaster located at the Dreamworld amusement park on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. When the Tower of Terror opened on 23 January 1997, it was the first roller coaster in the world to reach 100 miles per hour (160 km/h), making it the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world of its time. The ride was situated on the Dreamworld Tower, which also houses The Giant Drop free fall ride. The ride was originally known as the Tower of Terror until it was modified and relaunched in September 2010.

Suspended Family Coaster

A Suspended Family Coaster is a steel inverted roller coaster built by Vekoma designed for families with no inversions. Just like all inverted roller coasters the train runs under the track with the seats directly attached to the wheel carriage. This latter attribute is what sets it apart from the older suspended swinging coaster, which runs under the track, but "swings" via a pivoting bar attached to the wheel carriage.

Silver Bullet (Knotts Berry Farm)

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.

Le Monstre

Le Monstre is a wooden roller coaster at La Ronde amusement park in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Le Monstre is the largest wooden roller coaster in Canada and is also the tallest two-track wooden roller coaster in the world.

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".

Jubilee Odyssey

The Odyssey is a roller coaster at Fantasy Island in Ingoldmells, England. Built by Vekoma of the Netherlands in 2002, it was named to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. It is Vekoma's tallest example of their Suspended Looping Coaster (SLC) design in the world. Standing at 167 feet, it is the third tallest roller coaster in the UK, after the Pepsi Max Big One and Stealth .And the joint second tallest full circuit inverted rollercoaster in the world. It has a maximum speed of 63 mph and is capable of forces up to 4.8g.

Blue Fire

Blue Fire is a launched roller coaster at Europa-Park. The coaster opened in 2009 as part of a new Iceland-themed expansion to Europa-Park. As the first launched coaster built by Mack Rides, Blue Fire was the park's tenth roller coaster and the first to feature inversions. The ride's tagline is "Discover Pure Energy".

Maxx Force Steel roller coaster at Six Flags Great America

Maxx Force is a launched steel roller coaster at Six Flags Great America amusement park in Gurnee, Illinois United States. It opened on July 4, 2019, and was manufactured by S&S - Sansei Technologies. The ride holds the record for fastest accelerating launch in North America at 78 miles per hour (126 km/h) in 1.8 seconds, as well as the fastest inversion in the world at 60 miles per hour (97 km/h), and the tallest double inversion in the world at 175 feet (53 m).

The Ride to Happiness is an upcoming steel spinning roller coaster located at Plopsaland in Adinkerke, near the town of De Panne in Belgium. It is Europe's first Mack Rides Xtreme Spinning Coaster, and upon opening, the coaster will hold the record for the most inversions on a spinning coaster. The attraction is themed after the Tomorrowland Music festival.


  1. Cartmell, Robert (1987). The Incredible Scream Machine: A History of the Roller Coaster. Fairview Park, OH and Bowling Green, OH: Amusement Park Books, Inc. and Bowling Green State University Popular Press. ISBN   0879723416.