Vertical loop

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Vertical loop on the Shockwave coaster at Six Flags Over Texas Shockwave coaster sfot.jpg
Vertical loop on the Shockwave coaster at Six Flags Over Texas
An early looping roller coaster, the Flip Flap Railway at Coney Island Flipflaprailway.jpg
An early looping roller coaster, the Flip Flap Railway at Coney Island
Edwin Prescott's Loop-the-Loop Ci loop.jpg
Edwin Prescott's Loop-the-Loop
Loop in Disney California Adventure's Incredicoaster CalifScrmLoop.jpg
Loop in Disney California Adventure's Incredicoaster

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.



The vertical loop is not a recent roller coaster innovation. Its origins can be traced back to the 1850s when centrifugal railways were built in France and Great Britain. [1] [2] The rides relied on centripetal forces to hold the car in the loop. One early looping coaster was shut down after an accident. [3] Later attempts to build a looping roller coaster were carried out during the late 19th century with the Flip Flap Railway at Sea Lion Park. The ride was designed with a completely circular loop (rather than the teardrop shape used by many modern looping roller coasters), and caused neck injuries due to the intense G-forces pulled with the tight radius of the loop. [4] [5]

The next attempt at building a looping roller coaster was in 1901 when Edwin Prescott built the Loop the Loop at Coney Island. This ride used the modern teardrop-shaped loop and a steel structure, however more people wanted to watch the attraction, rather than ride. Vertical loops weren't attempted again until the design of Great American Revolution at Six Flags Magic Mountain, which opened in 1976. Its success depended largely on its clothoid-based (rather than circular) loop. The loop became a phenomenon, and many parks hastened to build roller coasters featuring them.[ citation needed ]

In 2000, a modern looping wooden roller coaster was built, the Son of Beast at Kings Island. Although the ride itself was made of wood, the loop was supported with steel structure. Due to maintenance issues however, the loop was removed at the end of the 2006 season. The loop was not the cause of the ride's issues, but was removed as a precautionary measure. It is the only successful installation of a loop on a wooden roller coaster. Due to an unrelated issue in 2009, Son of Beast was closed until 2012, when King's Island announced that it would be removed. [6] [7]

On June 22, 2013, Six Flags Magic Mountain introduced Full Throttle, a steel launch coaster with a 160-foot (49 m) loop, the tallest in the world at the time of its opening. [8] As of 2016, the largest vertical loop is located on Flash, a roller coaster produced by Mack Rides at Lewa Adventure in Shaanxi, China. [9] [10] The record is shared by Hyper Coaster in Turkey's Land of Legends theme park, built in 2018, which is identical to Flash at Lewa Adventure. [10] [11]

Loops on non-roller coasters

In 2002, the Swiss company Klarer Freizeitanlagen AG begun working on a safe design for a looping water slide. [12] Since then, multiple installations of the slide, named the AquaLoop and constructed by companies including Polin, Klarer, Aquarena and WhiteWater West, have appeared in many parks. This ride does not feature a vertical loop, instead using an inclined loop (a vertical loop tilted at an angle), which puts less force on the rider. AquaLoop slides feature a safety hatch, which can be opened by a rider in case they do not reach the highest point of the looping.

For a vertical loop field, a number of holes approximately four inches in diameter are drilled down 100 to 400 feet and about 20 feet apart. U-shaped pipes carry the antifreeze solution into the holes to absorb the earth's warmth then transport it back along a trenched horizontal line to the house. [13]


Most roller coaster loops are not circular in shape. A commonly used shape is the clothoid loop, which resembles an inverted tear drop and allows for less intense G-forces throughout the element for the rider. [14] The use of this shape was pioneered in 1976 on The New Revolution at Six Flags Magic Mountain, by Werner Stengel of leading coaster engineering firm Ing.-Büro Stengel GmbH.

On the way up, from the bottom to the top of the loop, gravity is in opposition to the direction of the cars and will slow the train. The train is slowest at the top of the loop. Once beyond the top, gravity helps to pull the cars down around the bend. If the loop's curvature is constant, the rider is subjected to the greatest force at the bottom. If the curvature of the track changes suddenly, as from level to a circular loop, the greatest force is imposed almost instantly (see jerk). Gradual changes in curvature, as in the clothoid, reduce the force maximum (permitting more speed) and allow the rider time to cope safely with the changing force. [4]

Obviously this "gentling" runs somewhat contrary to the coaster's raison d'être. Schwarzkopf-designed roller coasters often feature near-circular loops (in case of Thriller even without any reduction of curvature between two almost perfectly circular loops) resulting in intense rides—a trademark for the designer.[ citation needed ]

It is rare for a roller coaster to stall in a vertical loop, although this has happened before. The Psyké Underground coaster (then known as Sirocco) at Walibi Belgium once stranded riders upside-down for several hours. The design of the trains and the rider restraint system (in this case, a simple lap bar) prevented any injuries from occurring, and the riders were removed with the use of a cherry picker.[ citation needed ] A similar incident occurred on Demon at Six Flags Great America. [15]

Related Research Articles

Wooden roller coaster Type of roller coaster

A wooden roller coaster is most often classified as a roller coaster with running rails made of flattened steel strips mounted on laminated wooden track. Occasionally, the support structure may be made out of a steel lattice or truss, but the ride remains classified as a wooden roller coaster due to the track design. The type of wood typically used in the construction of wooden coasters is Southern Yellow Pine, usually grown in the US and the rest of North America.

Steel roller coaster

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.

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.

Anton Schwarzkopf was a German engineer of amusement rides, and founder of the Schwarzkopf Industries Company, which built numerous amusement rides and large roller coasters for both amusement parks and traveling funfairs.

Bolliger & Mabillard, officially Bolliger & Mabillard Consulting Engineers, Inc. and often abbreviated as 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, who supplied rides for Intamin.

Werner Stengel

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


A hypercoaster is any complete circuit roller coaster with a height measuring greater than 200 feet (61 m). The term was first coined by Arrow Dynamics and Cedar Point in 1989 with the release of the first full-circuit hypercoaster in the world, Magnum XL-200 followed by the Pepsi max big one 5 years later at 235ft. Other roller coaster manufacturers developed their own models with custom names, including Mega Coasters from Intamin, Hyper Coasters from Bolliger & Mabillard, and Hyper-Hybrid Coasters from Rocky Mountain Construction. The competition between amusement parks to build increasingly taller roller coasters eventually led to giga coasters which exceed 300 feet (91 m) and strata coasters which exceed 400 feet (120 m).

Superman: Escape from Krypton

Superman: Escape from Krypton is a steel shuttle roller coaster located at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California. When it opened in 1997, it was the tallest roller coaster in the world, and its speed of 100 mph (160 km/h) was tied for the fastest with Tower of Terror II, a similar roller coaster which opened two months earlier at Dreamworld in Australia. These two coasters were the first to utilize Linear Synchronous Motor (LSM) technology to propel vehicles to top speed. As of November 3, 2019, it is the only reverse freefall coaster left in operation after the closure of Tower of Terror II.

Green Lantern (Six Flags Great Adventure)

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 2​12 minutes. This steel roller coaster was manufactured by Swiss firm Bolliger & Mabillard.

The Riddlers Revenge Steel roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain

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. Located in the Movie Town area of the park, The Riddler's Revenge was also the park's single biggest investment at a cost of $14 million. It stands 156 feet (48 m) tall and features a top speed of 65 mph (105 km/h). The 4,370-foot-long (1,330 m) coaster also features six inversions and a ride duration of approximately three minutes.

Superman: Krypton Coaster Steel roller coaster

Superman: Krypton Coaster is a steel roller coaster located at Six Flags Fiesta Texas amusement park in San Antonio. Manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard, the Floorless Coaster model opened to the public in 2000 as one of the first of its kind in the world. The well-received ride held the title for the world's tallest vertical loop from its opening until 2013. Superman: Krypton Coaster stands 168 feet (51 m) tall and reaches a maximum speed of 70 mph (110 km/h).

Bizarro (roller coaster)

Bizarro, formerly known as Medusa, is a steel roller coaster located at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson Township, New Jersey. Manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard, the ride debuted as the world's first floorless roller coaster on April 2, 1999. It was repainted and rethemed at the end of the 2008 season, reopening in 2009 as Bizarro.

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 January 2021, five installations of the model are operating, with another one under construction.

The New Revolution (roller coaster)

The New Revolution is a steel roller coaster located at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California. Manufactured by Anton Schwarzkopf and designed by Werner Stengel, the roller coaster opened to the public on May 8, 1976. The New Revolution is the world's first modern roller coaster to feature a vertical loop and has been recognized for that accomplishment by American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE), who awarded the roller coaster its Coaster Landmark status.. However, there were earlier examples of roller coasters with a full vertical loop, such as the steel roller coaster called "Looping the Loop" in Parque Japonés in Buenos Aires, which operated from 1911 to 1930.

Viper (Six Flags Magic Mountain) Steel roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain

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.

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 (Six Flags Fiesta Texas)

Goliath is an inverted roller coaster located at Six Flags Fiesta Texas amusement park in San Antonio, Texas. Designed by Werner Stengel and Swiss manufacturer Bolliger & Mabillard, Goliath initially opened in 1995 and has been operating at Six Flags Fiesta Texas since 2008. It rises to a height of 105 feet (32 m) and reaches top speeds of 50 miles per hour (80 km/h) through multiple inversions.

History of the roller coaster

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.

Full Throttle (roller coaster) Roller coaster

Full Throttle is a steel launched roller coaster located in Six Flags Plaza at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California.It was designed and manufactured by Premier Rides, and opened on June 22, 2013.

Loop the Loop (Olentangy Park)

Loop the Loop was an early looping steel roller coaster which operated at Olentangy Park in Columbus, Ohio during the first decade of the 1900s. It was one of the first looping roller coasters to operate in North America, and it was designed and built by noted inventor Lina Beecher.


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