Roller coaster
Overview
 
The roller coaster is a popular amusement ride
Amusement ride
Amusement rides are large mechanical devices that move people to create enjoyment. They are frequently found at amusement parks, traveling carnivals, and funfairs.-Notable types:*Afterburner*Ali Baba*Balloon Race*Booster...

 developed for amusement park
Amusement park
thumb|Cinderella Castle in [[Magic Kingdom]], [[Disney World]]Amusement and theme parks are terms for a group of entertainment attractions and rides and other events in a location for the enjoyment of large numbers of people...

s and modern theme parks. LaMarcus Adna Thompson
LaMarcus Adna Thompson
LaMarcus Adna Thompson was a US inventor and businessman most famous for developing many highly enjoyable gravity rides.-Early years:...

 patented the first coasters on January 20, 1885. In essence a specialized railroad system, a roller coaster consists of a track
Rail tracks
The track on a railway or railroad, also known as the permanent way, is the structure consisting of the rails, fasteners, sleepers and ballast , plus the underlying subgrade...

 that rises in designed patterns
Roller coaster elements
Roller coasters are composed of various elements, the individual parts of the design and operation, such as a track, hill, loop, turn, etc. Variations in normal track movement that add thrill or excitement to the ride are often called "thrill elements."...

, sometimes with one or more inversions (such as vertical loops) that turn the rider briefly upside down. The track does not necessarily have to be a complete circuit, as shuttle roller coaster
Shuttle roller coaster
A shuttle roller coaster is any roller coaster that ultimately does not make a complete circuit, but rather reverses at some point throughout its course and traverses the same track backwards...

s exhibit.
Encyclopedia
The roller coaster is a popular amusement ride
Amusement ride
Amusement rides are large mechanical devices that move people to create enjoyment. They are frequently found at amusement parks, traveling carnivals, and funfairs.-Notable types:*Afterburner*Ali Baba*Balloon Race*Booster...

 developed for amusement park
Amusement park
thumb|Cinderella Castle in [[Magic Kingdom]], [[Disney World]]Amusement and theme parks are terms for a group of entertainment attractions and rides and other events in a location for the enjoyment of large numbers of people...

s and modern theme parks. LaMarcus Adna Thompson
LaMarcus Adna Thompson
LaMarcus Adna Thompson was a US inventor and businessman most famous for developing many highly enjoyable gravity rides.-Early years:...

 patented the first coasters on January 20, 1885. In essence a specialized railroad system, a roller coaster consists of a track
Rail tracks
The track on a railway or railroad, also known as the permanent way, is the structure consisting of the rails, fasteners, sleepers and ballast , plus the underlying subgrade...

 that rises in designed patterns
Roller coaster elements
Roller coasters are composed of various elements, the individual parts of the design and operation, such as a track, hill, loop, turn, etc. Variations in normal track movement that add thrill or excitement to the ride are often called "thrill elements."...

, sometimes with one or more inversions (such as vertical loops) that turn the rider briefly upside down. The track does not necessarily have to be a complete circuit, as shuttle roller coaster
Shuttle roller coaster
A shuttle roller coaster is any roller coaster that ultimately does not make a complete circuit, but rather reverses at some point throughout its course and traverses the same track backwards...

s exhibit. Most roller coasters have multiple cars in which passengers sit and are restrained. Two or more cars hooked together are called a train
Train (roller coaster)
A roller coaster train or car describes the vehicle 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 joint. It is called a "train" because the cars follow one...

. Some roller coasters, notably Wild Mouse roller coaster
Wild Mouse roller coaster
A Wild Mouse roller coaster is a type of roller coaster characterized by small cars that seat four people or fewer and ride on top of the track, taking tight, flat turns at modest speeds, yet producing high lateral G-forces...

s, run with single cars.

Russian mountain

The oldest roller coasters are believed to have originated from the so-called "Russian Mountains
Russian Mountains
Russian rollercoaster were a predecessor to the roller coaster.The earliest roller coasters were descended from Russian winter sled rides held on specially constructed hills of ice, sometimes up to 200 feet tall...

", which were specially constructed hills of ice, located especially around Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

. Built in the 15th century, the slides were built to a height of between 70 and 80 feet (24 m), consisted of a 50 degree drop, and were reinforced by wooden supports.

Some historians say the first real roller coaster was built under the orders of Russia's Catherine the Great in the Gardens of Oranienbaum in Saint Petersburg in the year 1784. Other historians believe that the first roller coaster was built by the French. The Les Montagnes Russes à Belleville (The Russian Mountains of Belleville) constructed in Paris in 1812 and the Promenades Aeriennes both featured wheeled cars securely locked to the track, guide rails to keep them on course, and higher speeds.

The name Russian Mountains to designate a roller coaster is preserved in most Latin languages. Ironically, the Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 term for roller coasters is американские горки ("amerikanskie gorki") "American Mountains".

Scenic gravity railroads

In 1827, a mining company in Summit Hill, Pennsylvania
Summit Hill, Pennsylvania
Summit Hill is a borough in Carbon County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 2,974 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Summit Hill is located at ....

 constructed the Mauch Chunk gravity railroad
Gravity railroad
A gravity railroad or Gravity railway is a railroad on a slope that allow cars carrying minerals or passengers to coast down the slope by the force of gravity alone. The cars are then hauled back up the slope using animal power or a stationary engine and a cable, chain or one or more wide, flat...

, an 8.7 mi (14 km) downhill track used to deliver coal to Mauch Chunk (now known as Jim Thorpe
Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania
Jim Thorpe is a borough in Carbon County, Pennsylvania, USA. The population was 4,804 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Carbon County. The town has been called the "Switzerland of America" due to the picturesque scenery, mountainous location, and architecture; as well as the "Gateway to...

), Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

. By the 1850s, the "Gravity Road" (as it became known) was providing rides to thrill-seekers for 50 cents a ride. Railway companies used similar tracks to provide amusement on days when ridership was low.

Using this idea as a basis, LaMarcus Adna Thompson began work on a gravity Switchback Railway
Switchback railway
The original Switchback Railway at Coney Island was the first roller coaster designed as an amusement ride in America. It was designed by LaMarcus Adna Thompson in 1881 and constructed in 1884. It appears Thompson based his design, at least in part, on the Mauch Chunk Switchback Railway which was a...

 that opened at Coney Island
Coney Island
Coney Island is a peninsula and beach on the Atlantic Ocean in southern Brooklyn, New York, United States. The site was formerly an outer barrier island, but became partially connected to the mainland by landfill....

 in Brooklyn, New York in 1884. Passengers climbed to the top of a platform and rode a bench-like car down the 600 ft (182.9 m) track up to the top of another tower where the vehicle was switched to a return track and the passengers took the return trip. This track design was soon replaced with an oval complete circuit. In 1885, Phillip Hinkle introduced the first full-circuit coaster with a lift hill
Lift hill
A lift hill, or chain hill, is often the initial upward-sloping section of track on a typical roller coaster that initially transports the roller coaster train to an elevated point or peak in the roller coaster ride...

, the Gravity Pleasure Road, which was soon the most popular attraction at Coney Island. Not to be outdone, in 1886 LaMarcus Adna Thompson patented his design of roller coaster that included dark tunnels with painted scenery. "Scenic Railways" were to be found in amusement parks across the county, with Frederick Ingersoll
Frederick Ingersoll
Frederick Ingersoll was an inventor, designer, and builder who created the world's first chain of amusement parks and whose manufacturing company built 277 roller coasters, fueling the popularity of trolley parks in the first third of the Twentieth Century...

's construction company building many of them in the first two decades of the 20th century.

Popularity, decline and revival

By 1919, the first underfriction
Underfriction
On a roller coaster train, the underfriction, up-lift, or up-stop wheels are a device to keep the train from jumping off the track under intense movement. The design was patented in 1919 by John Miller....

 roller coaster had been developed by John Miller
John Miller (entrepreneur)
John A. Miller was a roller coaster designer and builder. He held over 100 patents, many of which were for roller coaster safety devices , that remain key components of present-day roller coasters...

. Soon, roller coasters spread to amusement parks all around the world. Perhaps the best known historical roller coaster, The Cyclone
Coney Island Cyclone
The Coney Island Cyclone is a historic hybrid roller coaster in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn, New York City. On June 18, 1975, Dewey and Jerome Albert, owners of Astroland Park, contracted to operate the Cyclone under an agreement with New York City...

, was opened at Coney Island in 1927.

The Great Depression marked the end of the first golden age of roller coasters, and theme parks in general went into decline. This lasted until 1972, when The Racer was built at Kings Island
Kings Island
Kings Island is a amusement park located northeast of Cincinnati in Mason, Ohio. Opened in 1972 by Taft Broadcasting Company and now owned by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, Kings Island is the most visited seasonal amusement park in the U.S...

 in Mason, Ohio (near Cincinnati). Designed by John Allen, the instant success of The Racer began a second golden age, which has continued to this day.

Steel roller coasters

In 1959 the Disneyland theme park introduced a new design breakthrough with the Matterhorn Bobsleds
Matterhorn Bobsleds
The Matterhorn Bobsleds or the Matterhorn is an attraction composed of two intertwining steel roller coasters, which opened in 1959 at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. It is modeled after the Matterhorn, a mountain in the Swiss Alps...

. This was the first roller coaster to use a tubular steel track. Unlike conventional rails set on wooden railroad ties, tubular steel can be bent in any direction, which allows designers to incorporate loops, corkscrews, and many other maneuvers into their designs. Most modern roller coasters are made of steel, although wooden coasters are still being built.

New designs and technologies are pushing the limits of what can be experienced on the newest coasters. Electromagnetically launched coasters are examples of such technologies.

Etymology

There are several explanations of the name roller coaster. It is said to have originated from an early American design where slides or ramps were fitted with rollers over which a sled would coast. This design was abandoned in favor of fitting the wheels to the sled or other vehicles, but the name endured.

Another explanation is that it originated from a ride located in a roller skating rink
Roller rink
A roller rink is a hard surface used for roller skating or inline skating. This includes roller hockey, speed skating, and recreational skating...

 in Haverhill, Massachusetts in 1887. A toboggan
Toboggan
A toboggan is a simple sled which is a traditional form of transport used by the Innu and Cree of northern Canada. In modern times, it is used on snow to carry one or more people down a hill or other slope for recreation. Designs vary from simple, traditional models to modern engineered composites...

-like sled was raised to the top of a track which consisted of hundreds of rollers. This Roller Toboggan then took off down gently rolling hills to the floor. The inventors of this ride, Stephen E. Jackman and Byron B. Floyd, claim that they were the first to use the term "roller coaster".

The term jet coaster is used for roller coasters in Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, where such amusement park rides are very popular.

In many languages, the name refers to "Russian mountains". Contrastingly, in Russian, they are called "Russian mountains". In Scandinavian languages, the roller coaster is referred as "mountain-and-valley railway".

Mechanics

The cars on a typical roller coaster are not self-powered. Instead, a standard full circuit coaster is pulled up with a chain or cable along the lift hill to the first peak of the coaster track. The potential energy
Potential energy
In physics, potential energy is the energy stored in a body or in a system due to its position in a force field or due to its configuration. The SI unit of measure for energy and work is the Joule...

 accumulated by the rise in height is transferred to kinetic energy
Kinetic energy
The kinetic energy of an object is the energy which it possesses due to its motion.It is defined as the work needed to accelerate a body of a given mass from rest to its stated velocity. Having gained this energy during its acceleration, the body maintains this kinetic energy unless its speed changes...

 as the cars race down the first downward slope. Kinetic energy is then converted back into potential energy as the train moves up again to the second peak. This hill is necessarily lower, as some mechanical energy is lost to friction
Friction
Friction is the force resisting the relative motion of solid surfaces, fluid layers, and/or material elements sliding against each other. There are several types of friction:...

.

Not all rides feature a lift hill, however. The train may be set into motion by a launch mechanism
Launched roller coaster
The launched roller coaster is a modern form of roller coaster which has increased in use in the last decade. In place of a traditional chain lift, the launched coaster initiates a ride with high amounts of acceleration via one or series of Linear Induction Motors , Linear Synchronous Motors ,...

 such as a flywheel launch, linear induction motors, linear synchronous motors, hydraulic launch, compressed air launch or drive tire. Such launched coaster
Launched roller coaster
The launched roller coaster is a modern form of roller coaster which has increased in use in the last decade. In place of a traditional chain lift, the launched coaster initiates a ride with high amounts of acceleration via one or series of Linear Induction Motors , Linear Synchronous Motors ,...

s are capable of reaching higher speeds in a shorter length of track than those featuring a conventional lift hill. Some roller coasters move back and forth along the same section of track; these are known as shuttles and usually run the circuit once with riders moving forwards and then backwards through the same course.

A properly designed ride under good conditions will have enough kinetic, or moving, energy to complete the entire course, at the end of which brakes bring the train to a complete stop and it is pushed into the station. A brake run
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 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...

 at the end of the circuit is the most common method of bringing the roller coaster ride to a stop. One notable exception is a powered roller coaster
Powered coaster
A powered roller coaster is a roller coaster which relies on a motor in the train to complete the course, often replacing a traditional chain lift hill. This allows for both compact layouts that start out with curving hills, or long, extended layouts that would need too many lifts to be feasible....

. These rides, instead of being powered by gravity, use one or more motors in the cars to propel the trains along the course.

If a continuous-circuit coaster does not have enough kinetic energy to completely travel the course after descending from its highest point (as can happen with high winds or increased friction), the train can valley: that is, roll backwards and forwards along the track, until all kinetic energy has been released. The train will then come to a complete stop in the middle of the track. This, however, works somewhat differently on a launched coaster. When a train launcher does not have enough potential energy to launch the train to the top of an incline, the train is said to "roll back.
Rollback (roller coaster)
A rollback occurs on a launched roller coaster when the train is not launched fast enough to reach the top of the tower. It will roll backwards down the tower, and will be stopped by brakes on the launch track. Any roller coaster on which it is possible for a rollback to occur will have these brakes...

" On some modern coasters, such as Top Thrill Dragster
Top Thrill Dragster
Top Thrill Dragster is a steel, Hydraulic-launched roller coaster located at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. It was the first "Strata Coaster", loosely defined as a complete circuit coaster that is over tall. It was built by Intamin and debuted to the public on May 4, 2003...

 at Cedar Point
Cedar Point
Cedar Point is a 364 acre amusement park located in Sandusky, Ohio, United States on a narrow peninsula jutting into Lake Erie. Cedar Point is the only amusement park with four roller coasters that are taller than...

 in Sandusky, Ohio
Sandusky, Ohio
Sandusky is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Erie County. It is located in northern Ohio and is situated on the shores of Lake Erie, almost exactly half-way between Toledo to the west and Cleveland to the east....

, Kingda Ka in Jackson, New Jersey and Stealth
Stealth (roller coaster)
Stealth is a steel roller coaster built by Intamin of Switzerland. The coaster is located in the Amity Cove area of Thorpe Park in Surrey, England, UK and opened in 2006. The ride reaches a maximum height of 62.5 m...

 at Thorpe Park
Thorpe Park
Thorpe Park is a theme park located in Chertsey, Surrey, England, UK. It was built in 1979 on the site of a gravel pit which was partially flooded, the intention of creating a water based theme for the park. The park's first large roller coaster, Colossus, was added in 2002...

 in Surrey, UK this is an occurrence highly sought after by many coaster enthusiasts.

In 2006, NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 announced that it would build a system using principles similar to those of a roller coaster to help astronauts escape the Ares I
Ares I
Ares I was the crew launch vehicle that was being developed by NASA as part of the Constellation Program. The name "Ares" refers to the Greek deity Ares, who is identified with the Roman god Mars...

 launch pad in an emergency.

Safety

Many safety systems are implemented in roller coasters. One of these is the block system. Most large roller coasters have the ability to run two or more trains
Train (roller coaster)
A roller coaster train or car describes the vehicle 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 joint. It is called a "train" because the cars follow one...

 at once, and the block system prevents these trains from colliding. In this system, the track is divided into several sections, or blocks. Only one train at a time is permitted in each block. At the end of each block, there is a section of track where a train can be stopped if necessary (either by preventing dispatch from the station, closing brakes, or stopping a lift). Sensors at the end of each block detect when a train passes so that the computer running the ride is aware of which blocks are occupied. When the computer detects a train about to travel into an already occupied block, it uses whatever method is available to keep it from entering. The trains are fully automated.

The above can cause a cascade effect when multiple trains become stopped at the end of each block. In order to prevent this problem, ride operators follow set procedures regarding when to release a newly loaded train from the station. One common pattern, used on rides with two trains, is to do the following: hold train #1 (which has just finished the ride) right outside the station, release train #2 (which has loaded while #1 was running), and then allow #1 into the station to unload safely.

Another key to safety is the control of the roller coaster's operating computers: programmable logic controller
Programmable logic controller
A programmable logic controller or programmable controller is a digital computer used for automation of electromechanical processes, such as control of machinery on factory assembly lines, amusement rides, or light fixtures. PLCs are used in many industries and machines...

s (often called PLCs). A PLC detects faults associated with the mechanism and makes decisions to operate roller coaster elements (e.g. lift, track-switches and brakes) based on configured state and operator actions. Periodic maintenance and inspection are required to verify structures and materials are within expected wear tolerances and are in sound working order. Sound operating procedures are also a key to safety.

Roller coaster design requires a working knowledge of basic physics
Kinematics
Kinematics is the branch of classical mechanics that describes the motion of bodies and systems without consideration of the forces that cause the motion....

 to avoid uncomfortable, even potentially fatal, strain to the rider. Ride designers must carefully ensure the accelerations experienced throughout the ride do not subject the human body to more than it can handle. The human body needs time to detect changes in force in order to control muscle tension. Failure to take this into account can result in severe injuries such as whiplash
Whiplash (medicine)
Whiplash is a non-medical term describing a range of injuries to the neck caused by or related to a sudden distortion of the neck associated with extension. The term "whiplash" is a colloquialism...

. The accelerations accepted in rollercoaster design are generally in the 4-6Gs
G-force
The g-force associated with an object is its acceleration relative to free-fall. This acceleration experienced by an object is due to the vector sum of non-gravitational forces acting on an object free to move. The accelerations that are not produced by gravity are termed proper accelerations, and...

 (40–60 m s−2) range for positive vertical (pushing you into your seat), and 1.5-2Gs (15–20 m s−2) for the negative vertical (flying out of your seat as you crest a hill). This range safely ensures the majority of the population experiences no harmful side effects. Lateral accelerations are generally kept to a minimum by banking curves. The neck's inability to deal with high forces leads to lateral accelerations generally limited to under 1.8Gs. Sudden accelerations in the lateral plane result in a rough ride.

Despite safety measures, accidents
Amusement park accidents
Amusement park accidents can result in serious injury or death to somebody visiting or working at an amusement park.Most amusement park accidents are required to be reported to regulatory authorities. They usually fall into one of the following categories:...

 can, and do, occur. Regulations concerning accident reporting vary from one authority to another. Thus in the USA, California requires amusement parks to report any ride-related accident that requires an emergency room visit, while Florida exempts parks whose parent companies employ more than 1000 people from having to report any accidents at all. Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts has introduced legislation that would give oversight of rides to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Ride accidents can also be caused by riders themselves or ride operators not following safety directions properly, and, in extremely rare cases, riders can be injured by mechanical failures. In recent years, controversy has arisen about the safety of increasingly extreme rides. There have been suggestions that these may be subjecting passengers to translational and rotational accelerations that may be capable of causing brain injuries. In 2003 the Brain Injury Association of America concluded in a report that "There is evidence that roller coaster rides pose a health risk to some people some of the time. Equally evident is that the overwhelming majority of riders will suffer no ill effects."

A similar report in 2005 linked roller coasters and other thrill rides with potentially triggering abnormal heart conditions that could lead to death. Autopsies have shown that recent deaths at various Disney parks
Incidents at Disney parks
The following lists of Incidents that occurred at various Walt Disney Parks and Resorts are organized by resort area:*Incidents at Disneyland Resort*Incidents at Walt Disney World Resort*Incidents at Tokyo Disney Resort*Incidents at Disneyland Paris...

, Anheuser-Busch parks
Incidents at Busch parks
This is a summary of notable incidents that have taken place at various SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment-owned amusement parks, water parks or theme parks...

, and Six Flags parks
Incidents at Six Flags parks
This is a summary of notable incidents that have taken place at amusement parks, water parks, or theme parks currently owned or managed by Six Flags. This list is not intended to be a comprehensive list of every such event, but only those that have a significant impact on the parks or park...

 were due to previously undetected heart ailments.

Statistically, roller coasters are very safe compared to other activities. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Consumer Product Safety Commission
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission is an independent agency of the United States government created in 1972 through the Consumer Product Safety Act to protect "against unreasonable risks of injuries associated with consumer products." The CPSC is an independent agency that does...

 estimates that 134 park guests required hospitalization in 2001 and that fatalities related to amusement rides average two per year. According to a study commissioned by Six Flags, 319 million people visited parks in 2001. The study concluded that a visitor has a one in one-and-a-half billion chance of being fatally injured, and that the injury rates for children's wagons, golf, and folding lawn chairs are higher than for amusement rides.

Types of roller coasters

Today, there are two main types of roller coaster:
  • Steel roller coaster
    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...

    s
  • Wooden roller coaster
    Wooden roller coaster
    A wooden roller coaster is most often classified as a roller coaster with laminated steel running rails overlaid upon a wooden track. Occasionally, the 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...

    s


Steel coasters are known for their smooth ride and often convoluted shapes that frequently turn riders upside-down via inversions. Wooden coasters are typically renowned by enthusiasts for their rougher ride and "air time" produced by negative G-forces when the train reaches the top of hills along the ride. There are also hybrid roller coasters that combine a steel structure with wooden tracks, or a wooden structure with steel tracks.

Modern roller coasters take on many different forms. Some designs take their cue from how the rider is positioned to experience the ride. Traditionally, riders sit facing forward in the coaster car, while newer coaster designs have ignored this tradition in the quest for building more exciting, unique ride experiences. Variations such as the stand-up roller coaster
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. These roller coasters are very intense, and generally carry taller height restrictions than other rides.-History:...

 and the flying roller coaster
Flying roller coaster
A flying roller coaster is a variation of roller coaster meant to simulate the sensations of flight by harnessing riders in a prone position during the duration of the ride. The roller coaster cars are suspended below the track, with riders secured such that their backs are parallel to the track...

 position the rider in different ways to provide different experiences. Stand-up coasters involve cars that have the riders in a standing position (though still heavily strapped in). Flying coasters have the riders hanging below the track face-down with their chests and feet strapped in. Vekoma
Vekoma
Vekoma Rides Manufacturing B.V. is a roller coaster and thrill ride designer with its facilities based in the Netherlands. The company was founded in 1926 by Hendrik op het Veld under the name "Veld Koning Machinefabriek" and had first manufactured agricultural machinery and mining equipment...

 "Flying Dutchman" coasters have the riders starting out sitting above the track, then they fully recline so that the riders are looking at the sky. Eventually, they twist into the "flying" position. B&M
Bolliger & Mabillard
Bolliger & Mabillard Consulting Engineers is a roller coaster design consultancy based in Monthey, Switzerland. The company was founded in 1988 by Walter Bolliger and Claude Mabillard, with Bolliger acting as president and Mabillard as vice-president...

 flying coasters have the riders hanging below the track like in an inverted (hanging) coaster
Inverted roller coaster
An inverted roller coaster is a roller coaster in which 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 coaster, which runs under the track, but "swings" via a pivoting bar attached to the...

. To go into the flight position, the section of the car where the riders' feet are raised to the track. That way, they start in the flight position. In addition to changing rider viewpoint, some roller coaster designs also focus on track styles to make the ride fresh and different from other coasters.

See Roller coaster elements
Roller coaster elements
Roller coasters are composed of various elements, the individual parts of the design and operation, such as a track, hill, loop, turn, etc. Variations in normal track movement that add thrill or excitement to the ride are often called "thrill elements."...

 for the various parts of a roller coaster and the types of thrill elements that go into making each roller coaster unique.

By train type

  • 4th Dimension roller coaster
    4th Dimension roller coaster
    A 4th Dimension roller coaster is a type of steel roller coaster whereby riders are rotated independently of the orientation of the track, generally about a horizontal axis that is perpendicular to the track. The cars do not necessarily need to be fixed to an angle.-History:John F...

  • Bobsled roller coaster
    Bobsled roller coaster
    A Bobsled roller coaster is the generic name given to any roller coaster that uses a track design that is essentially a "pipe" with the top half removed and has cars that are sent down this pipe in a freewheeling mode...

  • Diving Machine roller coaster
  • Floorless roller coaster
    Floorless roller coaster
    A floorless roller coaster is a roller coaster with trains that ride above the track and allow the passenger's legs to dangle. It is a fairly new concept in roller coaster design brought forth by manufacturers Bolliger & Mabillard. The first ever floorless coaster debuted in 1999 at Six Flags Great...

  • Flying roller coaster
    Flying roller coaster
    A flying roller coaster is a variation of roller coaster meant to simulate the sensations of flight by harnessing riders in a prone position during the duration of the ride. The roller coaster cars are suspended below the track, with riders secured such that their backs are parallel to the track...

  • Inverted roller coaster
    Inverted roller coaster
    An inverted roller coaster is a roller coaster in which 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 coaster, which runs under the track, but "swings" via a pivoting bar attached to the...

  • Inverted Impulse roller coaster
    Inverted Impulse roller coaster
    An Inverted Impulse roller coaster is a form of a launched inverted roller coaster manufactured by Intamin. The first Inverted Impulse roller coaster appeared in Japan, and the ride type has since evolved to include 4 specific layouts, 3 of these varieties being built in the USA. It uses LIMs to...

  • Mine Train roller coaster
    Mine Train roller coaster
    A Mine Train roller coaster is a steel roller coaster whose trains depict a set of mine carts, sometimes pulled by the reproduction of a steam locomotive which is often designed in a cartoon style...

  • Motorbike roller coaster
    Motorbike roller coaster
    A motorbike roller coaster is a type of steel roller coaster designed with motorcycle type cars. Booster Bike at Toverland was the world's first motorbike roller coaster...

  • Pipeline roller coaster
    Pipeline roller coaster
    The Pipeline Coaster was a roller coaster developed by Japanese ride company TOGO. Pipeline roller coasters position riders between the rails, rather than above or below. TOGO was the first and only company to produce this type of roller coaster successfully...

  • Side friction roller coaster
    Side friction roller coaster
    A side friction roller coaster is an early roller coaster design that does not have an extra set of wheels under the track to prevent cars from becoming airborne. Before the invention of up-stop wheels, coaster cars were built to run in a trough, with wheels under the car and side plates to help...

  • Spinning roller coaster
    Spinning roller coaster
    A spinning roller coaster is a roller coaster with cars that rotate on a vertical axis.- Virginia Reel :The first spinning roller coaster was the Virginia Reel, first built in 1908 by Henry Riehl. Instead of trains, the ride had "tubs" with seats built around the perimeter facing inward...

  • Stand-up roller coaster
    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. These roller coasters are very intense, and generally carry taller height restrictions than other rides.-History:...

  • Steeplechase roller coaster
    Steeplechase (roller coaster)
    A Steeplechase roller coaster has several side-by-side tracks in a dueling "racing" arrangement. Riders straddle horse-shaped single cars and launch simultaneously, as from a horse-race starting line....

  • Suspended roller coaster
  • Virginia Reel roller coaster
    Virginia Reel roller coaster
    The Virginia Reel roller coaster was an older style of coaster characterized by spinning circular "tubs" that zig-zagged down a flat-bottomed track.-Description:...

  • Flying Turns
  • Terrain roller coaster
    Terrain roller coaster
    Terrain roller coasters are roller coasters which, as their name suggests, take advantage of the natural undulations of the land upon which they are built. Such rides may often weave through forests, and some may even dive down cliffs...



By track layout

  • Corkscrew roller coaster
  • Dueling roller coaster
    Dueling roller coaster
    A dueling roller coaster features two roller coasters, usually with a similar layout, built close to each other. The rides are designed to do just as the name indicates: to duel...

  • Figure 8 roller coaster
    Figure 8 roller coaster
    A Figure 8 roller coaster is the generic name given to any roller coaster where the train runs through a figure 8 shaped course before returning to the boarding station. This design was one of the first designs to be featured in roller coaster design, along with the out and back roller coaster...

  • Möbius Loop roller coaster
  • Out and Back roller coaster
    Out and Back roller coaster
    Out and back refers to the layout of a roller coaster. An out and back coaster is one that climbs a lift hill, races out to the far end of the track, performs a 180 degree turn and then races its way back to the station....

  • Racing roller coaster
    Racing roller coaster
    A racing roller coaster, sometimes referred to as a dual track coaster, consists of one whole track or two separate coasters that travels along parallel or mirrored tracks to simulate a race between the trains. The coaster trains travel along tracks just a few feet apart of one another...

  • Shuttle roller coaster
    Shuttle roller coaster
    A shuttle roller coaster is any roller coaster that ultimately does not make a complete circuit, but rather reverses at some point throughout its course and traverses the same track backwards...

  • Twister roller coaster
    Twister roller coaster
    A twister roller coaster is the generic name given to any roller coaster layout which tends to twist or interweave its track within itself several times. It is essentially the opposite of an Out and Back roller coaster, which is often a much more simplistic layout...

  • Wild Mouse roller coaster
    Wild Mouse roller coaster
    A Wild Mouse roller coaster is a type of roller coaster characterized by small cars that seat four people or fewer and ride on top of the track, taking tight, flat turns at modest speeds, yet producing high lateral G-forces...

  • Vertical Drop roller coaster


By mechanics

  • Chain-lift/cable lift/Elevator lift/Ferris Wheel lift roller coaster
    Lift hill
    A lift hill, or chain hill, is often the initial upward-sloping section of track on a typical roller coaster that initially transports the roller coaster train to an elevated point or peak in the roller coaster ride...

  • Launched roller coaster
    Launched roller coaster
    The launched roller coaster is a modern form of roller coaster which has increased in use in the last decade. In place of a traditional chain lift, the launched coaster initiates a ride with high amounts of acceleration via one or series of Linear Induction Motors , Linear Synchronous Motors ,...

  • Powered roller coaster
    Powered coaster
    A powered roller coaster is a roller coaster which relies on a motor in the train to complete the course, often replacing a traditional chain lift hill. This allows for both compact layouts that start out with curving hills, or long, extended layouts that would need too many lifts to be feasible....


By height

A Kiddie roller coaster is a roller coaster specifically designed for families and children not able to ride the larger rides.
Several height-related names have been used by parks and manufacturers for marketing their roller coasters. While often used among coaster fans, their definitions are not always agreed upon, nor are the terms necessarily accepted industry wide.

A Mega Coaster or Hyper Coaster is a complete-circuit roller coaster with a height or drop greater than 200 feet. The first roller coaster to be classified as a hyper coaster is Magnum XL-200 at Cedar Point built by Arrow Dynamics. Ever since its debut, hyper coasters have been among the most popular style of rollercoasters worldwide. Bolliger and Mabillard and Intamin AG are the most prominent hyper coaster manufacturers.

A Giga Coaster is a complete-circuit roller coaster with a height or drop greater than 300 feet. The term was coined by a Cedar Point and Intamin AG partnership after the construction of Millennium Force. So far, there are only three Giga coasters worldwide: Millennium Force
Millennium Force
Millennium Force is a steel roller coaster built by Intamin located at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, United States. It is the fourteenth roller coaster built at the park since the Blue Streak opened in 1964. Standing 310 feet tall at its highest point, the coaster overlooks Lake Erie.On a clear...

 at Cedar Point
Cedar Point
Cedar Point is a 364 acre amusement park located in Sandusky, Ohio, United States on a narrow peninsula jutting into Lake Erie. Cedar Point is the only amusement park with four roller coasters that are taller than...

, Steel Dragon 2000
Steel Dragon 2000
is a roller coaster at Nagashima Spa Land amusement park in Mie Prefecture, Japan. Built by Morgan Manufacturing, this gigacoaster opened, appropriately, in 2000—"The Year of the Dragon" in Asia. It debuted only months after Millennium Force at Cedar Point, and surpassed that as the world's tallest...

 at Nagashima Spa Land
Nagashima Spa Land
is a major amusement park in Kuwana, Mie Prefecture, Japan. It features several roller coasters, a giant Ferris wheel, and a water park.-Roller coasters:*Children Coaster*Corkscrew*Jet Coaster*Looping Star*Shuttle Loop*Steel Dragon 2000*Ultra Twister...

 in Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, and Intimidator 305
Intimidator 305
Intimidator 305 is a steel roller coaster designed and built by Intamin located at Kings Dominion in Doswell, Virginia in the United States. Standing at tall and reaching speeds of , it is the tallest, fastest roller coaster at Kings Dominion...

 at Kings Dominion. Millennium Force and Intimidator 305 were built by Intamin AG
Intamin AG
Intamin Worldwide is a designing and manufacturing company in Wollerau, Switzerland. It is best known for creating thrill rides and roller coasters worldwide. The U.S. division of the company is located in Glen Burnie, Maryland, and is headed by Sandor Kernacs. The Intamin brand name is an...

 while Steel Dragon 2000 was built by Chance-Morgan
Chance-Morgan
Chance Morgan, a roller coaster and amusement ride manufacturer, was formed in 2001 with the merger of Chance Industries and D. H. Morgan Manufacturing . The main office is D. H. Morgan's former location in La Selva Beach, California and they utilize Chance Industries' former manufacturing...

. However, there will be more Giga coasters to come in the future like Leviathan
Leviathan (roller coaster)
Leviathan is a steel giga coaster currently under construction at Canada's Wonderland in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada It will be the first giga coaster made by Swiss manufacturer Bolliger & Mabillard. At long, tall, and with a top speed of , Leviathan will be the tallest and fastest coaster in Canada...

 at Canada's Wonderland that is being built by Bolliger & Mabillard
Bolliger & Mabillard
Bolliger & Mabillard Consulting Engineers is a roller coaster design consultancy based in Monthey, Switzerland. The company was founded in 1988 by Walter Bolliger and Claude Mabillard, with Bolliger acting as president and Mabillard as vice-president...

.
Name Park Manufacturer Status Opened Height
Millennium Force
Millennium Force
Millennium Force is a steel roller coaster built by Intamin located at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, United States. It is the fourteenth roller coaster built at the park since the Blue Streak opened in 1964. Standing 310 feet tall at its highest point, the coaster overlooks Lake Erie.On a clear...

 
Cedar Point
Cedar Point
Cedar Point is a 364 acre amusement park located in Sandusky, Ohio, United States on a narrow peninsula jutting into Lake Erie. Cedar Point is the only amusement park with four roller coasters that are taller than...

 
Intamin AG
Intamin AG
Intamin Worldwide is a designing and manufacturing company in Wollerau, Switzerland. It is best known for creating thrill rides and roller coasters worldwide. The U.S. division of the company is located in Glen Burnie, Maryland, and is headed by Sandor Kernacs. The Intamin brand name is an...

 
Operating May 13, 2000 310 feet (94.5 m)
Steel Dragon 2000
Steel Dragon 2000
is a roller coaster at Nagashima Spa Land amusement park in Mie Prefecture, Japan. Built by Morgan Manufacturing, this gigacoaster opened, appropriately, in 2000—"The Year of the Dragon" in Asia. It debuted only months after Millennium Force at Cedar Point, and surpassed that as the world's tallest...

 
Nagashima Spa Land
Nagashima Spa Land
is a major amusement park in Kuwana, Mie Prefecture, Japan. It features several roller coasters, a giant Ferris wheel, and a water park.-Roller coasters:*Children Coaster*Corkscrew*Jet Coaster*Looping Star*Shuttle Loop*Steel Dragon 2000*Ultra Twister...

 
Chance Morgan  Operating August 1, 2000 318 feet (96.9 m)
Leviathan
Leviathan (roller coaster)
Leviathan is a steel giga coaster currently under construction at Canada's Wonderland in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada It will be the first giga coaster made by Swiss manufacturer Bolliger & Mabillard. At long, tall, and with a top speed of , Leviathan will be the tallest and fastest coaster in Canada...

 
Canada's Wonderland  Bolliger & Mabillard
Bolliger & Mabillard
Bolliger & Mabillard Consulting Engineers is a roller coaster design consultancy based in Monthey, Switzerland. The company was founded in 1988 by Walter Bolliger and Claude Mabillard, with Bolliger acting as president and Mabillard as vice-president...

 
Under Construction May 2012 306 feet (93.3 m)
Intimidator 305
Intimidator 305
Intimidator 305 is a steel roller coaster designed and built by Intamin located at Kings Dominion in Doswell, Virginia in the United States. Standing at tall and reaching speeds of , it is the tallest, fastest roller coaster at Kings Dominion...

 
Kings Dominion  Intamin AG
Intamin AG
Intamin Worldwide is a designing and manufacturing company in Wollerau, Switzerland. It is best known for creating thrill rides and roller coasters worldwide. The U.S. division of the company is located in Glen Burnie, Maryland, and is headed by Sandor Kernacs. The Intamin brand name is an...

 
Operating April 2, 2010 305 feet (93 m)


A Strata coaster is a complete-circuit roller coaster with a height or drop greater than 400 feet. The term was adopted and attributed by Intamin. Only two Strata coasters have been built worldwide, both using Intamin's hydraulically launched Accelerator Coaster
Accelerator Coaster
The Accelerator Coaster is Intamin AG's term for their hydraulically-launched roller coaster model. These models are the tradename for some of the fastest rides on earth....

 design. The first was Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point, which opened in 2003 and stands at a height of 420 feet (128 m). The second was Kingda Ka
Kingda Ka
Kingda Ka is a roller coaster located at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, USA. It is the world's tallest roller coaster, and was the world's fastest until Formula Rossa opened in November 2010. The train is launched by a hydraulic launch mechanism to in 3.5 seconds. At the end of...

 at Six Flags Great Adventure
Six Flags Great Adventure
Six Flags Great Adventure is a theme park in Jackson Township, New Jersey, owned by Six Flags Entertainment Corp., the world's largest amusement park corporation...

, which opened in 2005 with a record-breaking height of 456 feet (139 m).
Name Park Manufacturer Status Opened Height
Top Thrill Dragster
Top Thrill Dragster
Top Thrill Dragster is a steel, Hydraulic-launched roller coaster located at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. It was the first "Strata Coaster", loosely defined as a complete circuit coaster that is over tall. It was built by Intamin and debuted to the public on May 4, 2003...

 
Cedar Point
Cedar Point
Cedar Point is a 364 acre amusement park located in Sandusky, Ohio, United States on a narrow peninsula jutting into Lake Erie. Cedar Point is the only amusement park with four roller coasters that are taller than...

 
Intamin AG
Intamin AG
Intamin Worldwide is a designing and manufacturing company in Wollerau, Switzerland. It is best known for creating thrill rides and roller coasters worldwide. The U.S. division of the company is located in Glen Burnie, Maryland, and is headed by Sandor Kernacs. The Intamin brand name is an...

 
Operating May 4, 2003 420 feet (128 m)
Kingda Ka
Kingda Ka
Kingda Ka is a roller coaster located at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, USA. It is the world's tallest roller coaster, and was the world's fastest until Formula Rossa opened in November 2010. The train is launched by a hydraulic launch mechanism to in 3.5 seconds. At the end of...

 
Six Flags Great Adventure
Six Flags Great Adventure
Six Flags Great Adventure is a theme park in Jackson Township, New Jersey, owned by Six Flags Entertainment Corp., the world's largest amusement park corporation...

 
Intamin AG
Intamin AG
Intamin Worldwide is a designing and manufacturing company in Wollerau, Switzerland. It is best known for creating thrill rides and roller coasters worldwide. The U.S. division of the company is located in Glen Burnie, Maryland, and is headed by Sandor Kernacs. The Intamin brand name is an...

 
Operating May 21, 2005 456 feet (139 m)


Tower of Terror II at Dreamworld
Dreamworld
Dreamworld is a large theme park situated on the Gold Coast in Queensland. It is currently Australia's largest theme park with over 27 rides including 4 roller coasters. The park is made up of several themed lands: Ocean Parade, Kid's World, Wiggles World, Gold Rush Country, Rocky Hollow, Tiger...

 Australia, and Superman: Escape From Krypton at Six Flags Magic Mountain
Six Flags Magic Mountain
Six Flags Magic Mountain is a theme park located in Valencia, California north of Los Angeles. It opened on Memorial Day weekend on May 30, 1971 as Magic Mountain, by the Newhall Land and Farming Company. In 1979, Six Flags purchased the park and added the name Six Flags to the park's title. In...

, respectively, were the first roller coasters to break the 400 feet (121.9 m) barrier, but are not considered Strata coasters, since they are shuttle roller coasters and their cars travel only 328 feet (100 m) high.

See also

  • List of roller coaster rankings
  • Amusement park
    Amusement park
    thumb|Cinderella Castle in [[Magic Kingdom]], [[Disney World]]Amusement and theme parks are terms for a group of entertainment attractions and rides and other events in a location for the enjoyment of large numbers of people...

     (List of amusement parks)
  • RollerCoaster Tycoon
    RollerCoaster Tycoon (series)
    RollerCoaster Tycoon is a trilogy of computer games that simulate amusement park management. Each game in the series challenges players with open-ended amusement park management and development, and allowing players to construct and customize their own unique roller coasters.RollerCoaster Tycoon...

  • Thrillville: Off the Rails
    Thrillville: Off the Rails
    Thrillville: Off the Rails is a theme park simulation video game developed by Frontier Developments. The sequel to the 2006 game Thrillville, it is again published by LucasArts...

    - video game with roller coaster design simulator

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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