Roller coaster elements
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Roller coaster elements are the individual parts of roller coaster design and operation, such as a track, hill, loop, or turn. Variations in normal track movement that add thrill or excitement to the ride are often called "thrill elements."
- 1 Basic elements
- 2 Thrill elements
- 2.1 Batwing
- 2.2 Bowtie
- 2.3 Butterfly inversion
- 2.4 Cobra roll
- 2.5 Corkscrew
- 2.6 Cutback
- 2.7 Dive drop
- 2.8 Dive loop
- 2.9 Double Dip and Double Up
- 2.10 Hammerhead turn
- 2.11 Heartline roll
- 2.12 High speed section
- 2.13 Horseshoe
- 2.14 Immelmann loop
- 2.15 Inclined dive loop
- 2.16 Inclined loop
- 2.17 Inline twist
- 2.18 Interlocking corkscrews
- 2.19 Interlocking loops
- 2.20 Non-inverted loop
- 2.21 Norwegian loop
- 2.22 Overbanked turn
- 2.23 Pretzel knot
- 2.24 Pretzel loop
- 2.25 Raven turn
- 2.26 Sea serpent roll
- 2.27 Top hat
- 2.28 Twisted horseshoe roll
- 2.29 Vertical loop
- 2.30 Wraparound corkscrew
- 2.31 Wraparound Immelmann
- 2.32 Zero-gravity roll
- 3 Visual elements
- 4 Tunnels
- 5 See also
- 6 References
A brake run on a roller coaster is any section of track meant to slow or stop a roller coaster train. Brake runs may be located anywhere or hidden along the circuit of a coaster and may be designed to bring the train to a complete halt or to simply adjust the train's speed. The vast majority of roller coasters do not have any form of braking on the train but rather forms of braking that exist on track sections. One notable exception is the scenic railway roller coaster, which relies on an operator to manually control the speed of the train.
On most roller coasters, the brakes are controlled by a computer system, but some older wooden roller coasters have manually operated brakes. These are controlled by large levers operated by the ride operators.
Single-position lap bars on wooden roller coasters are sometimes referred to as "buzz bars," a slang term named for the buzzing sound that some bars make as they lock or release. The term can be misleading as the buzzing sound only occurs on Philadelphia Toboggan Company (PTC) trains when the solenoid that releases the bar is out of alignment. There are other train types, such as NAD and even some PTC trains, that feature a single-position lap bar that has a mechanical release and therefore does not produce a buzzing sound. Most parks have switched to individual ratcheting lap bars, similar to the lap bars found on steel coasters. Ironically some of the earlier ratcheting lap bar conversions use a solenoid release and can also produce a buzzing sound. It can be argued that single-position buzz bars give more air time on roller coasters, as ratcheting lap bars tend to lock further during the ride in many installations.
A drive tire, or squeeze tire depending on its usage, is essentially a motorized tire used to propel a roller coaster train along a piece of track. Although they are most often used in station areas and brake runs, they can also be used to launch trains at greater speeds. However, they are generally used to propel the train at speeds between 5-8 mph. The Incredible Hulk Coaster at Universal's Islands of Adventure is notable for using drive tires to launch the train up an incline. Some roller coasters, most noticeably Vekoma Roller Skaters (Vekoma's version of a junior coaster) also use drive tires instead of a chain on lift hills. Drive tires are also used to power other types of amusement rides, such as ferris wheels and other spinning rides. The Olympia Looping traveling roller coaster at Barth and Mindbender at Galaxyland at the West Edmonton Mall also feature a drive tire instead of a chain on their lift hill.
Drive tires are often used in one of two ways on roller coasters. When oriented horizontally, drive tires are often put in pairs so as to "squeeze" a portion of the train as it crosses that section of track. In this case, it is usually the brake fin that is used to propel or slow the train with the tires. When oriented vertically, they contact the underside of the train as it crosses a particular section of track. This underside area is a flat area which often has a grated metal surface to increase friction between the car and the tire. One disadvantage of vertical drive tires is that rainy weather can greatly reduce friction between the tire and the train, possibly causing the train to slightly overshoot its intended position and cause an emergency stop.
A headchopper is any point on a roller coaster where the support structure of the ride comes very close to the passengers' heads, or at least appears to do so. All headchoppers are, of course, designed so that even the tallest rider, with both hands up, would be unable to touch the structure; although if a rider exceeding the maximum height does board the coaster it could be potentially dangerous. Headchoppers are most common on wooden roller coasters but are also found on many steel roller coasters.
The inverted roller equivalent is a footchopper. Footchoppers are designed such that rider's legs appear to come close to the ride's support structure, water, or other ride surroundings. Suspended Looping Coasters, such as Vekoma's Mind Eraser, are known for their footchopper effects because of their compact layout. For example Dragon Challenge at Islands of Adventure has many footchoppers, where the rider's feet come within feet of the ride's supports. Vekoma's Suspended Looping Coasters also feature an intense footchopper during an in-line-twist, in which the train approaches a section of track directly below, making it appear that the riders' feet will impact the track if the train remains on that course; but the train undergoes an in-line-twist right before the obstruction, twisting the riders onto their backs as the above track crosses safely over the track below.
On Bolliger & Mabillard Wing Coasters, keyhole elements are present. These elements feature the effects of both headchoppers and footchoppers. The train, which seats riders in pairs on either side of the track, passes through the centre of an object just big enough for the train and required clearances to fit.
A launch track is a section of a launched roller coaster in which the train is accelerated to its full speed in a matter of seconds. A launch track is always straight and is usually banked upwards slightly, so that a train would roll backwards to the station in the event of a loss of power.
A launch track serves the same basic purpose as a lift hill—providing energy to the train—but accomplishes it in an entirely different manner. A lift hill gives the train potential energy by raising it to the highest point in the track (and not significantly accelerating it). A launch track gives the train kinetic energy by accelerating it to the maximum designed speed (while not significantly raising it).
A launch track normally includes some form of brakes. Depending on the type of coaster, these brakes may be used in every run of the coaster (this is normally found on a shuttle roller coaster where the launch track also serves as the main brake run) or they may only come into play when a rollback occurs, normally on a complete-circuit coaster such as Stealth, Top Thrill Dragster, Kingda Ka, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith and Xcelerator. In either case, the brakes are retracted to allow trains to launch and are engaged at all other times.
A lift hill, or chain lift, is often the initial upward section of track on a typical roller coaster that initially transports the roller coaster train to an elevated point. Upon reaching the top, the train is then disengaged from the lift hill and allowed to coast through the rest of the roller coaster's circuit.
Lift hills usually propel the train to the top of the ride via one of a few different types of methods: a chain lift involving a long, continuous chain which trains hook on to and are carried to the top; a drive tire system in which multiple motorized tires push the train upwards; a cable lift system as seen on Millennium Force; or a linear synchronous motor system as seen on Maverick.
Launch lift hills are like launch tracks, but instead of having it flat, it is rather at an incline. Sometimes, launch lift hills serve the same purpose as lift hills but faster transport to the top of the lift hill; or they are sometimes used to power the train up into an element, like the Incredible Hulk Coaster at Universal Orlando. Launch lift hills use mostly linear synchronous motors or linear induction motors but sometimes use drive tires.
Linear induction motor
The linear induction motor is a simple but powerful type of electric motor used to propel the cars. Rather than using a standard enclosed spinning rotor and drive wheels, there is a long flat magnetic pole plate with closely spaced electric coils. This pole plate mounts on the track underneath the car and a matching metal plate attached to the car moves across the magnetic pole faces. By applying a multiphase alternating current to the poles, the pole plate induces eddy currents into the moving plate and can be used to accelerate or brake the car.
Compared to other drive mechanisms, the linear motor is typically maintenance-free. The pole faces on the track and moving plate attached to the car do not need to touch, and the gap between them can be quite wide to accommodate any side-to-side car motion, so there is no friction or wear between them. Further, the magnetic coil assembly on the driving pole plates are either potted or sealed in a weathertight enclosure, so that rain, vibration, and dust do not affect motor performance or cause drive motor slippage.
An on-ride camera is a camera mounted alongside the track of a roller coaster that automatically photographs all of the riders on passing trains. They are usually mounted at the most intense part of the ride, to capture the best possible pictures. The pictures are available for viewing and purchase at a booth outside the ride's exit. On some rides, such as the Saw: The Ride at Thorpe Park, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit at Universal Studios Florida, and the Sierra Sidewinder at Knotts Berry Farm, video as well as still photographs can be purchased upon exiting the ride.
A roller coaster train describes the vehicle(s) which transports passengers around a roller coaster's circuit. More specifically, a roller coaster train is made up of two or more "cars" which are connected by some sort of specialized joint. It is called a "train" because the cars follow one another around the track as a railroad train. Individual cars often vary in design and can carry anywhere from one to eight or more passengers each.
Some roller coasters, notably Wild Mouse roller coasters operate with individual cars instead of trains.
A tester hill, or trick hill, is any small hill following the lift hill or brake run. After a train is hauled up the lift and begins to descend down the hill, the force of gravity pulls the trains that are still hooked to the lift. When a tester hill is used, the tension and stress on the lift mechanism is reduced prior to the train's release. Not all roller coasters use tester hills.
The alternative name "trick hill" comes from the illusion created from the tester hill, which "tricks" riders into thinking they have already started the main descent, when in fact they haven't.
A batwing is a heart-shaped roller coaster element that inverts (turns riders upside down) twice. The train goes into a reverse sidewinder, followed by a sidewinder. This inversion is the inverse of a cobra roll.
Like other inversions, the batwing has different names depending on the manufacturer. This element is called a batwing on Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M) coasters, such as Afterburn at Carowinds or Montu at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay in Tampa, Florida. On Arrow Dynamics coasters, such as The Great American Scream Machine (no longer operational; torn down and replaced with Green Lantern) at Six Flags Great Adventure, was called a boomerang.
A butterfly inversion is sometimes found on Vekoma roller coasters. A butterfly begins like a normal loop, but as the track goes up it twists 45 degrees to one side or the other, and then when it is headed down the track twists back. The maneuver is then repeated but in reverse. It is essentially the same in construction as a batwing / boomerang, however the coaster exits the element traveling in the same direction as it began. An example of this is found on Goudurix in Parc Astérix in Plailly, France, or Ninja at Six Flags Over Georgia.
The cobra roll is a roller coaster inversion which resembles a cobra's head. Riders traverse forward through an upwards half-vertical loop, corkscrew perpendicular to the first direction, enter another corkscrew that merges into a downward half-vertical loop that exits in the parallel but opposite direction of the entrance. It takes riders upside-down twice.
There is much confusion pertaining to the correct naming of this inversion. This is because different roller coaster manufacturers give their own names to inversions. Cobra roll is the standard name used by Intamin and B&M for this type of inversion. The first coaster to use a cobra roll was Vekoma's Boomerang model, the first of which was installed at Morey's Piers in Wildwood, New Jersey, in the year 1984. All Vekoma Boomerangs, Tornado at Särkänniemi in Tampere, Finland, Huracan at Belantis in Leipzig, Germany, and almost all B&M 7-inversion coasters have a cobra roll.
A corkscrew inversion resembles a spiral, which rotates riders 360° perpendicular to the track. It was named for its resemblance to a corkscrew tool used to remove corks from bottles. Unlike a vertical loop, riders remain facing forward for the duration of the corkscrew element.
Corkscrews are normally found towards the end of roller coaster layouts and often exist in pairs, where the end of one leads straight into the next. It is also common to see interlocking corkscrews, where the entrances and exits are parallel, but both corkscrews cross over each other's track.
The corkscrew was the first modern-day inversion element to be featured on a roller coaster. It debuted with the release of Corkscrew, a roller coaster designed by Arrow Dynamics that opened in 1975 at Knott's Berry Farm. Due to its success, the element became a staple of many steel, inverting roller coasters for more than a decade. A variation of the element was created by Bolliger & Mabillard, which the company refers to as a "flat spin". Flat spins snap riders quickly through the inversion at varying speeds, whereas a typical corkscrew element rotates riders at a slower, constant speed.
A cutback element is a roller coaster inversion similar to a corkscrew; however, the two half-corkscrews are in opposite directions causing the train to exit the inversion in the same direction from which it entered. The defunct Drachen Fire at Busch Gardens Williamsburg was the first roller coaster to feature a cutback. Drachen Fire was closed on July 11, 1998, and subsequently demolished. Only a handful of roller coasters with cutback elements remain in operation such as Sky Rocket at Kennywood Park and SpongeBob SquarePants Rock Bottom Plunge at Nickelodeon Universe in the Mall of America.
A dive drop (also known as a Wing Over Drop) is a roller coaster inversion in which a half-inline twist is performed at the top of a lift hill, leading into the initial drop. The dive drop is currently only found on three B&M Wing Coasters; The Swarm at Thorpe Park, X-Flight at Six Flags Great America and GateKeeper at Cedar Point.
A dive loop (also, diving loop) is a type of B&M roller coaster inversion whose inspiration was taken from a stunt plane maneuver. The track twists upwards and to the side and then dives toward the ground in a half-vertical loop. This element is seen on B&M sit-down, stand-up, inverted and floorless coasters. There are six Gerstlauer Euro-Fighter coasters to feature a dive loop: Dare Devil Dive at Six Flags Over Georgia, Mystery Mine at Dollywood, SAW - The Ride at Thorpe Park, Takabisha at Fuji-Q Highland in Yamanashi, Japan, The Smiler at Alton Towers, and Abyss at Adventure World. Arrow and Vekoma use a similar element known as a reverse sidewinder. Just as a dive loop is the reverse form of an Immelmann loop, the reverse sidewinder is the reverse form of a sidewinder element (Arrow and Vekoma's version of an Immelmann). It can be seen in Arrow's Cyclone at Dreamworld in Australia and Vekoma's Ninja at Six Flags over Georgia.
Double Dip and Double Up
A double dip (a.k.a. Double-Drop, and double down) is created when a hill is divided into two separate drops by a flattening out of the drop midway down the hill. The most notable coaster with this element is the 1921 John Miller classic Jack Rabbit at Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The inverse of this element is known as a double up, where two inclines are separated by a level piece of track.
A hammerhead turn is based on a flying maneuver by the same name and is similar to, but not the same as, a 180-degree overbanked turn. The train enters the element with a steep slope up and a slight curve in the direction opposite that of the overall turn (a so-called "priming" of the turn). The train then banks heavily to the side opposite the initial curve and finishes its climb while it negotiates the overall turn, beginning its descent mid-way through the turn. The second half of the element is the same as the first half, but in reverse order. While negotiating a hammerhead turn element, the train makes a turn of more than 180 degrees; however, because of the entry and exit curves, the overall effect is that of a 180-degree turn that exits toward the direction from which it entered, roughly parallel to the portion of track preceding the hammerhead turn. Hammerhead turns are found on some B&M hypercoasters. Examples of these coasters are Nitro at Six Flags Great Adventure, Behemoth at Canada's Wonderland, and Diamondback at Kings Island.
A heartline roll is a roller coaster inversion in which the rider performs a 360-degree roll. The center of the train rotates on one axis. The track changes in elevation to keep the train moving in the same line in which it entered the element. In an inline twist, a similar element, the track remains straight at the same elevation. The point of rotation is either above or below the rider's point of view, unlike a heartline roll which keeps the point of rotation near the middle.
High speed section
A high speed section is an element which appears in Bolliger & Mabillard steel roller coasters and Rocky Mountain Construction wooden roller coasters. It is best described as a mini camelback which is entered at a high speed resulting in higher negative G-forces than a normal camelback. Appearances of this element include Shambhala: Expedición al Himalaya at PortAventura, Leviathan at Canada's Wonderland and Outlaw Run at Silver Dollar City.
A horseshoe is a type of turnaround maneuver found on Maurer Sohne coasters. The horseshoe is essentially a 180-degree turnaround with high banking so that riders are tilted at a 90-degree angle or more at the top at the element. The horseshoe is named that way because the element is shaped roughly like a horseshoe, with a semicircular shape at the top. It is found on coasters such as Sonic Spinball at Alton Towers.
An Immelmann is a popular inversion found on many roller coasters. In an Immelmann, riders enter a half loop and then go through a half twist and curve out in the opposite direction in which they came. The inversion is very similar to the sidewinder. A sidewinder consists of a half loop and a half corkscrew and comes out closer to 90°, while the Immelman comes out in more of a straight line back to where it started. An Immelmann traveled in reverse is a diving loop. It is most commonly found on B&M inverted and diving roller coasters.
Inclined dive loop
An inclined dive loop is essentially a dive loop that has been tilted. Instead of exiting vertically, an inclined dive loop exits at an angle. The only two examples are on Hydra the Revenge at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom and GateKeeper at Cedar Point.
An inclined loop, also known as an oblique loop, is a 360° loop that has been tilted at an angle. It is not entered vertically, like a vertical loop, or horizontally like a helix. Instead, it is usually entered at an angle between 45° and 80°. inclined loops can be found on B&M stand-up roller coasters, B&M Wing Coasters and Top Fun sit down roller coasters. Examples include: Mantis at Cedar Point; Green Lantern at Six Flags Great Adventure; Riddler's Revenge at Six Flags Magic Mountain; and The Swarm at Thorpe Park
An inline twist is a roller coaster inversion in which the rider performs a 360-degree roll. The inline twist is often found on flying coasters and wing coasters, such as Air at Alton Towers, Batwing at Six Flags America, Superman: Ultimate Flight at Six Flags Over Georgia, Firehawk at Kings Island, Manta at SeaWorld Orlando, Raptor at Gardaland and The Swarm at Thorpe Park. It can be confused with a heartline roll. In a heartline roll the center of the train rotates on one axis so the height of the average rider's heart never changes, whereas during an inline twist the train rotates around the track and there is usually little to no elevation difference in the track. Inline twists are sometimes also known as "barrel rolls".
Interlocking corkscrews are a type of roller coaster inversion found on B&M coasters. In this inversion, two separate corkscrews spin around each other; one turns riders upside down over the other. Despite being close to each other, the two corkscrews are not necessarily taken consecutively.
Examples of coasters with interlocking corkscrews:
- Nemesis Inferno at Thorpe Park is the only inverted coaster to feature interlocking corkscrews on the same track. (A set of duelling inverted coasters, Dragon Challenge at Universal Studios' Islands of Adventure, is another example. One corkscrew on the "Chinese Fireball" track interlocks with the corkscrew on "Hungarian Horntail".)
- Dominator at Kings Dominion
- Kumba at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
- Bizarro at Six Flags Great Adventure
- Batman – The Dark Knight at Six Flags New England.
- Scream! at Six Flags Magic Mountain
- Dragon Khan at Port Aventura
Interlocking loops are an element which consists of two vertical loops. This element has been used on only two complete-circuit roller coasters. The first is Loch Ness Monster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and the second was Orient Express at Worlds of Fun. A pair of shuttle coasters, Lightnin' Loops at Six Flags Great Adventure, also had interlocking loops. With the closing of Orient Express and Lightnin' Loops, Loch Ness Monster is the only coaster in the world to have this element. All three of these coasters were built by Arrow Dynamics.
The non-inverted loop is a variety of loop that, when coming up, twists similar to a heartline roll, leaving riders completely right-side-up when at the top of the loop. Some roller coasters with this element include Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit at Universal Studios Florida, Shock at Rainbow MagicLand and Superman: Ultimate Flight at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.
A Norwegian loop is an element made out of two elements: a dive loop, then an Immelmann; forming an inversion that looks like two side by side loops. This element is similar to the flying coasters pretzel loop, except that the train goes through a twist when entering and exiting the loop. It may also been seen as a normal loop entered from the top. It was first introduced on Speed Monster in TusenFryd, Norway. Other examples of a Norwegian Loop can be found on Hersheypark's roller coaster Fahrenheit and Helix at Liseberg
An overbanked turn is an element common on large steel roller coasters, particularly those built by Intamin of Switzerland. This element is a turn or curve in which the track tilts beyond 90 degrees, usually in the 100-120 degree range. Two examples of an overbanked turn in the United States are the first turn-around on Bizarro at Six Flags New England, and Millennium Force at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, which features four separate and two consecutive overbanked turns.
A Stengel Dive combines an overbanked turn with a camelback hill. The train first goes up a regular camelback hill, then quickly tilts beyond 90 degrees at the very top. It is the only roller coaster element named after its designer, in this case Werner Stengel. Examples of roller coasters that feature this element include Goliath at Walibi Holland and Thunderbolt at Luna Park
A pretzel knot is an element similar to the batwing, except the entrance and exit of the inversion is much larger. The defunct Moonsault Scramble at Fuji-Q Highland in Fujiyoshida, Japan was the first coaster to feature this element.
The pretzel loop is a large inversion found on flying coasters from B&M such as Crystal Wing at Happy Valley and Tatsu at Six Flags Magic Mountain. It consists of a downward half loop and upward half loop. The entrance and exit points of the loop overlap at its peak forming a shape resembling a pretzel.
A raven turn is a half-inversion which looks like half a loop followed by a drop and then levels out near the same height as it began. The raven turn is only usable on either flying roller coasters or 4D roller coasters at the moment and has only been used on three 4D coasters.
The general term raven turn refers to any inversion that follows the design described above; however, there are two types of raven turns. Assuming the train is going round the half-loop first, an inside raven turn is where the rails are below the train at the start whereas an outside raven turn is one in which the rails are above the train at the start of the element. X² at Six Flags Magic Mountain, Eejanaika at Fuji-Q Highland, and Dinoconda at China Dinosaurs Park are examples of raven turns.
Sea serpent roll
A sea serpent roll (Vekoma: roll over) is a roller coaster inversion related to the cobra roll, except the two halves face in opposite directions. It can also be viewed as a reverse sidewinder followed by a sidewinder. The trains exit the track element facing the same direction as they entered, unlike a cobra roll in which the trains get turned around 180°.
The sea serpent roll is not as common as many other inversions, like the vertical loop, corkscrew, or cobra roll. It is a common element on most suspended looping coasters. Medusa at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom was the first roller coaster with a sea serpent roll.
A top hat (also known as top cap) is an element common to launched coasters. A standard top hat consists of what is essentially a hill with a 90 degree ascent and descent; the train exits going in the same direction from which it entered. The track twists and the train does not go upside down. Top Thrill Dragster (2003) at Cedar Point and Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure are examples of a top hat.
In a top hat inversion, also called an inside top hat, the "hat" makes a 90 degree twist when the train approaches the top so that the train is on the inside of the element (hence the name), and once it reaches top hat's apex the train is upside down under the track. An example for an inside top hat is a roller coaster named Mr. Freeze at Six Flags St. Louis.
At Six Flags Magic Mountain a launch roller coaster named Full Throttle has the world's tallest and largest vertical loop at 160 ft and also features the first top hat over a loop. However, the top hat featured on Full Throttle is approached and left in the same direction, and thus more akin to a normal hill than a true top hat.
Twisted horseshoe roll
A twisted horseshoe roll is an element that begins with a corkscrew that leads into a 180-degree banked turn and ends with another corkscrew that rotates in the opposite direction as the first. Two roller coasters that feature this element are Maverick at Cedar Point (United States) and Blue Fire at Europa-Park (Germany).
The generic roller coaster vertical loop is the most basic of roller coaster inversions. Specifically, the loop refers to a continuously upward-sloping section of track that eventually results in a complete 360 degree circle. At the top-most piece of the loop, riders are completely inverted. Typically, these loops are not actually "circles" but more of an teardrop shape, with the top of the loop being a tighter arc. This shape makes the loop more comfortable for riders than a true circle shape would be.
A wraparound corkscrew is a roller coaster inversion by Arrow Dynamics. It begins as a corkscrew, then transforms into a 180-degree downwards curve. The defunct Drachen Fire at Busch Gardens Williamsburg was the only coaster to ever have a wraparound corkscrew; this element was incorporated into the coaster’s first drop.
The wraparound Immelmann is a roller coaster inversion which is similar to an immelmann loop except that it has a sharper pull-out curve. This element is currently unique to the Chinese Fireball track of Dragon Challenge at Islands of Adventure.
A zero-gravity roll is a roller coaster inversion found on B&M, Intamin, Vekoma, Zierer, S&S, RMC and Gerstlauer roller coasters. On inverted coasters, this inversion is alternately called a "heartline spin" because its center of gravity is near the rider's heart. On sit-down and floorless coasters, it is alternately called a spiraling camelback. The name for the roll comes from that fact that the rider feels a zero g-force, giving the feeling of weightlessness.
A splashdown is a visual element used on roller coasters in which the vehicle physically interacts with a body of water, forcefully spraying or jetting water in a particular direction. Splashdowns can often be used as a natural braking system due to the force of the water slowing the vehicle, and pathways can be constructed allowing non-riding visitors to either view or, in some cases, get wet from the splashdown element.
- A natural splashdown, in which the track of the vehicle is actually a few centimeters underwater (and thus, the train must come crashing into the water, spraying water from both sides), is apparent on a few roller coasters, first and foremost, Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland Park in California. This element was also present on Buzz Saw Falls at Silver Dollar City before the ride's reconfiguration into Powder Keg: A Blast into the Wilderness.
- A scoop splashdown is an element in which each train is equipped with two tubes, called scoops, on the rear sides of each train. The scoops are angled upwards such that, as the train passes along a track with water on either side, the scoops (which hang off the final car on either side) dip into water and, traveling at high speed, force water up into the air in two distinct spouts. This element can be found on a number of Bolliger & Mabillard coasters, such as Griffon (pictured right) at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, SheiKra at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, and on Diamondback located at Kings Island. The scoops can be angled differently on different trains to produce different splash effects and between coasters, the splash differs greatly. Because of Griffon's extra-wide seating (pictured right), the splashdown is visibly two distinct spouts, whereas with Diamondback's traditional-style trains, the scoops are much closer together and thus, the splash appears to be one large plume. The boats of the Flying Dutchman water coaster at the Efteling are also equipped with such tubes.
A water spout is a visual element used to simulate a roller coaster's interaction with a body of water (without the ride vehicle actually coming in contact with the body of water in question), encompassing a number of different methods. Water spouts are useful in the roller coaster world as they are visually appealing (and can even draw a crowd with the sole intention of seeing the effect take place when a train passes) while having no actual interaction with the track and therefore, saving on maintenance. Below are some of the more famous and well-known water spouts, offering a sampling of the many different forms this element can take on.
- Maverick at Cedar Point contains a water spout when, as rounding a large sweeping helix, four water blasts fire upwards, as if the train is being shot at with a shotgun (matching the ride's Western theme). However, these jets do not operate all the time.
- Manta at SeaWorld Orlando contains a water spout when the manta-ray-shaped train cars pull down towards the water and appear to onlookers and riders to "skim" the surface of the water with the tip of their wing. This is synchronized to a system of fountains that run the entire length of the trains visual "interaction" which spray water as the train passes overhead.
- All three Backlot Stunt Coaster roller coasters at Kings Island, Canada's Wonderland and Kings Dominion featured a finale "splashdown" in which the Mini Cooper themed cars burst out of a billboard and fall down into a "Los Angeles aqueduct" where various water hoses spray out to each side simulating a splashdown (see above). (After the sale of the Paramount Parks to Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, all three roller coasters were renamed Backlot Stunt Coaster, and all water effects were removed.
- Incredible Hulk Coaster at Universal's Islands of Adventure contains a water spout immediately following its zero-G roll in which the coaster dives to the water beneath it, sending out a large spray again simulating a splashdown (see above) before pulling up into a cobra roll.
- Atlantis Adventure at Lotte World, (Jamsil-Dong, Songpa-Gu, Seoul, South Korea) contains quite a few water spouts, the biggest being when the ride dips down very close to the water, then the speed is trimmed slightly by linear synchronous motors on a small hill, or bump, then the ride quickly banks almost 90 degrees and runs through a fast turn. Synchronised water jets can be seen following the car on this close to the water turn.
The most common tunnel is the above-ground tunnel, mostly because it costs less to build than the underground tunnels. Above-ground tunnels usually include lighting effects.
As the name implies, underground tunnels are segments of the ride which not only go below the ride itself, but also what would be considered ground level of the park. Depending on the intended atmosphere of the ride, the tunnels may or may not be lit.
- MacDonald, Brady (11 April 2012). "X-Flight wing coaster premieres at Six Flags Great America in May". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
- Chavez, Jon (14 August 2012). "Park's 1st 'winged' coaster to debut at Cedar Point in 2013". Norwalk Reflector. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
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