A waltzer is a fairground ride that consists of a number of cars which are free to spin individually while rotating around a central point like a carousel. The floor of the ride is not flat and the cars rise and fall gently as the ride spins, the offset weight of the riders causing each car to rotate unpredictably. Sometimes an operator will ride the platform and spin the cars by hand providing a more intense ride. Because of the combination of the ride spinning and the spinning cars, large varying g-forces are perceived as the spin of the car lines up with the rotation of the carousel and at other times opposes it. Most amusement parks and carnivals require the rider to be at least 42 inches tall unless accompanied by an adult. Reasons for this include that a small child might otherwise be thrown out onto the waltzer platform, causing serious injury or death, and may not be able to hold on sufficiently tightly to avoid this.
The first waltzer, completed in 1933, was built for English showman Charles Thurston.
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Travelling fairground waltzers are controlled by an operator in a booth at the centre of the ride, who controls the ride's speed and duration. Often, assistants will stand on the rotating floor of the ride and spin the cars manually. Would-be riders usually gather around the edge of the ride's platform to wait for a turn rather than forming a queue.
Waltzers originally had 10 cars. However, several ARK rides have been converted into a waltzer, therefore 9 and 11 car variations can be found. Sometimes Waltzer cars have brakes that activate automatically when the safety bar is open. Modern Waltzers usually have a complex braking system that stops each car, making them face outwards automatically once the car is stationary. This is mainly a feature of Scottish Waltzer rides.
Waltzers are common at travelling funfairs, but less common at static amusement parks. At the latter, there are often differences in the operation, such as an organised queue system and ride controls located away from the ride platform. It is also unusual for amusement park Waltzers to have staff on the moving platform spinning the cars during the ride.
- "Waltzer W1". National Fairground Archive.
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