A drop tower or big drop is a type of amusement ride, based around a central structure or tower. Drop towers vary in height, passenger capacity, lift type, and brake type. Many are custom made, although there are some mass-produced designs. Riders experience free-fall initially, followed by rapid heavy deceleration.
With most drop towers, a gondola carrying riders is lifted to the top of a large vertical structure, then released to free-fall down the tower. Brakes activate to slow the gondola as it approaches the bottom of the ride. Some designs expand on this concept with features such as rotating gondalas, or several bounces before coming to rest.
Most drop towers require child riders to exceed a minimum height; limits vary widely depending upon the nature of the tower, with a 30 feet (9.1 m) tower for smaller children from 37 inches (95 cm) tall, and a 115 feet (35 m) tower having a 51-inch (130 cm) restriction.
A drop tower type of ride is distinct from an observation tower ride.
Mass-produced tower rides include:
- Double Shot (air-powered blast up and down)
- The Piledriver
- Space Shot (air-powered blast up)
- Spring Ride / Family Tower
- Super Shot
- Turbo Drop (air-powered blast down)
- Intamin Drop Tower
- Z-Force (Zamperla shot'n'drop tower)
- Flash Tower (Zamperla shot'n'drop tower)
- Hurakan Condor (Multi-ride with variants)
Tallest Vertical Drop Towers
|Rank||Name||Park||Location||Drop Height||Structural Height||Manufacturer||Record Holder|
|*||Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom*||Six Flags Great Adventure||Jackson, New Jersey, USA||415 feet (126 m)||456 feet (139 m)||Intamin|
|1.||Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom||Six Flags Magic Mountain||Valencia, California, USA||400 feet (120 m)||415 feet (126 m)||Intamin||July 2012 – Present|
|2.||The Giant Drop||Dreamworld||Coomera, Queensland, Australia||377 feet (115 m)||390 feet (120 m)||Intamin||December 1998 – July 2012|
|3.||Blue Fall||Sea Paradise||Yokohama, Japan||328 feet (100 m)||351 feet (107 m)||Intamin||N/A|
|La Venganza del Enigma||Parque Warner Madrid||Madrid, Spain||328 feet (100 m)||390 feet (120 m)||S&S Worldwide||N/A|
|4.||Falcon's Fury*||Busch Gardens Tampa Bay||Tampa Bay, Florida, USA||310 feet (94 m)||335 feet (102 m)||Intamin||N/A|
|5.||AtmosFear||Liseberg||Gothenburg, Sweden||300 feet (91 m)||381 feet (116 m)||Intamin||N/A|
|6.||Hurakan Condor||PortAventura||Salou, Catalonia, Spain||283 feet (86 m)||330 feet (100 m)||Intamin||N/A|
|7.||Drop Tower: Scream Zone||Kings Dominion||Doswell, Virginia, USA||272 feet (83 m)||305 feet (93 m)||Intamin||N/A|
|8.||Drop Tower: Scream Zone||Kings Island||Mason, Ohio, USA||264 feet (80 m)||315 feet (96 m)||Intamin||N/A|
|Big Tower||Beto Carrero World||Brazil||264 feet (80 m)||328 feet (100 m)||Intamin||N/A|
|9.||Fritt Fall||Gröna Lund||Stockholm, Sweden||262 feet (80 m)||328 feet (100 m)||Intamin||N/A|
|10.||Supreme Scream||Knott's Berry Farm||Buena Park, California, USA||252 feet (77 m)||312 feet (95 m)||S&S Worldwide||July 1998 - December 1998|
* denotes that the drop tower is scheduled currently under construction.
- Big Shot on the top of the Stratosphere Las Vegas reaching 1,081 feet (329 m) is the highest situated drop tower ride in the world, with a drop of 160 feet (49 m) to a base 921 feet (281 m) above ground level
- Space Probe located at Wonderland Sydney in Australia
- The Cliff Hanger located at Cliffs Amusement park
- Drop Tower: Scream Zone at five Cedar Fair parks
- Super Shot often found at Midway (fair)
- Volcanic Eruption at Fantasy Island (UK amusement park), Skegness
- Apocalypse at Drayton Manor
- Detonator at Thorpe Park
- Tango Ice Blast at Pleasure Beach Blackpool
- Scream Machine[disambiguation needed] at Coney Island
- The Megadrop owned by RCS Fair Rides
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at multiple Disney parks worldwide.
- Scream! at Six Flags Fiesta Texas and Six Flags New England
- Dominator at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom
- EKstreme at Enchanted Kingdom (Laguna, Philippines)
Injuries and accidents
- In August 1999, 12-year-old Joshua Smurphat, who had a mental disability, fell from the tower and died. Smurphat's family claimed the harness was not locked properly.
- Following the Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom incident, all the towers were closed and the Carowinds model was found to have "stretched" cables.
- On February 24, 2012, 14-year-old Gabriella Yukari Nichimura died in an accident at Hopi Hari, Vinhedo, São Paulo State, Brazil. She fell from the drop tower ride "La Tour Eiffel" suffering cranial trauma and died on the way to the hospital. Local police are investigating the accident, initial investigations suggest the possibility of mechanical failure in the restraint latch.