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This article is about the amusement park ride. For the band formerly known as Tilt-A-Whirl, see Arcwelder.
A Tilt-A-Whirl

Tilt-A-Whirl, also known as Waltzer in Europe, is one of the best-known flat rides, designed for commercial use at amusement parks, fairs and carnivals in which it is commonly found.[1] The rides are manufactured by Larson International of Plainview, Texas.

The Tilt-a-Whirl is a platform-type ride, consisting of seven freely-spinning cars that hold three (sometimes four) riders each, which are attached at fixed pivot points on a rotating platform. As the platform revolves, parts of the platform are raised and lowered, and the resulting centrifugal and gravitational forces on the cars cause them to spin in different directions and at variable speeds. The weight of passengers in these cars may intensify or dampen the spinning motion of the cars, adding to the unpredictable nature of the motion. Mathematicians call this unpredictable nature chaotic motion.

Physicists Bret M. Huggard and Richard L. Kautz came up with a mathematical equation that approximates the motion of the Tilt-A-Whirl.[2] Although it was without knowledge of chaos theory that Herbert Sellner invented the ride, in his patent text he clearly demonstrates an appreciation of chaos – "A further object is to provide amusement apparatus wherein the riders will be moved in general through an orbit and will unexpectedly swing, snap from side to side or rotate without in any way being able to figure what movement may next take place in the car."


Herbert Sellner, a woodworker and maker of water slides, invented the Tilt-A-Whirl in 1926, at his Faribault, Minnesota, home. Over the next year, the first 14 Tilt-A-Whirls were built in Herbert's basement and yard. In 1927, Sellner Manufacturing opened its factory in Faribault, and the ride debuted that year at the Minnesota State Fair.

Family legend states that Herbert experimented with a chair placed on the kitchen table. Herbert's son Art sat in the chair, and Herbert rocked the table back and forth.

The earliest Tilt-A-Whirls were constructed of wood, powered by a gas motor, and featured nine cars. Today, the ride is constructed of steel, aluminum and fiberglass, is powered by seven small electric motors, and features seven cars.

Tilt-A-Whirls today[edit]

Since 1927, Sellner has manufactured more than 1000 Tilt-A-Whirls. Some of the rides produced in the 1940s and 1950s are still in operation. The rides were originally designed and built at the factory in Faribault, Minnesota. In January 2011 the company was purchased by Larson International, Inc. of Plainview, Texas.[3]

A new Tilt-A-Whirl costs in excess of USD $300,000 to purchase.

The oldest currently operating Tilt-A-Whirl is a 1927 model, still traveling with Tom Evans United Shows in the midwest. Between 600 and 700 Tilt-A-Whirls are still in operation.

Conneaut Lake Park in Conneaut Lake, Pennsylvania still has its original Tilt-A-Whirl from 1949.


Name Appearance Status
Tilt A Whirl United States Joyland SBNO
Waltzer United States Morey's Piers Operating
Tilt A Whirl United States Waldameer Operating
Tilt a Whirl United States Six Flags Great Adventure Closed
Tilt a Whirl United States Chippewa Lake Closed
Tilt A Whirl United States Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom Operating
Tilt A Whirl United States Cedar Point Operating
Tilt A Whirl United States Elitch Gardens Operating
Tilt A Whirl United States Lagoon Operating
Tilt A Whirl United States Decatur County Fair (Kansas) Operating
Tilt A Whirl United States Camden Park Operating
Tilt A Whirl United States Lake Winnepesaukuh Operating
Tilt A Whirl United States Poor Jack Amusements (Indiana) Operating
Tilt A Whirl Canada Atlantic Playland (Nova Scotia) Operating[4]
Turkey Whirl United States Holiday World Operating
Harley Quinn Spinsanity United States Six Flags Over Georgia Announced
Tilt-A-Whirl United States Hersheypark Operating
Turtle Whirl United States Dutch Wonderland Operating
Tilt-A-Whirl United States DelGrosso's Amusement Park Operating
Tilt A Whirl United States Lakemont Park Operating
Tilt - A - Whirl United States Knoebels Amusement Resort Operating


  1. ^ Rides for Amusement Parks, Carnivals, and Fairs – Made in the USA
  2. ^ Kautz, R.L., and B.M. Huggard. 1994. Chaos at the amusement park: Dynamics of the Tilt-A-Whirl. American Journal of Physics 62(January):59.
  3. ^ "Sellner Sale is Finalized." Faribault Daily News, 20 Jan. 2011. Web. 11 Mar. 2011.<http://www.faribault.com/news.php?viewStory=104510>.
  4. ^ Personal Obesrvation

Further reading[edit]

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