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A drop tower or big drop is a type of amusement ride incorporating 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 slow the gondola as it approaches the bottom of the ride. Some designs expand on this concept with features such as rotating gondolas, 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 9-metre (30 ft) tower for smaller children from 95 centimetres (37 in) tall, and a 35-metre (115 ft) tower having a 130-centimetre (51 in) restriction.
Drop towers use a magnetic braking system to slow the carriage quickly and smoothly once it reaches the bottom of the tower. This system is fail-safe because magnets do not need to be powered by electricity or other sources; they work intrinsically by the laws of magnetism.
Drop tower designs
Mass-produced tower rides include:
- Double shot (air-powered blast up twice)
- Space shot (air-powered blast up)
- Super shot (drop down ride slowed by magnetic or air-power)
- Turbo drop (drop down ride slowed by air-power)
Tallest drop towers
|Rank||Name||Park||Location||Drop height||Structural height||Manufacturer||Record holder|
|1.||Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom||Six Flags Great Adventure||Jackson, New Jersey, USA||126 metres (415 ft)||139 metres (456 ft)||Intamin||July 2014 – Present|
|2.||Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom||Six Flags Magic Mountain||Valencia, California, USA||120 metres (400 ft)||126 metres (415 ft)||Intamin||July 2012 – July 2014|
|3.||The Giant Drop||Dreamworld||Coomera, Queensland, Australia||115 metres (377 ft)||120 metres (390 ft)||Intamin||December 1998 – July 2012|
|4.||Highlander||Hansapark||Sierksdorf, Germany||103 metres (338 ft)||120 metres (390 ft)||Funtime||N/A|
|5.||Blue Fall||Sea Paradise||Yokohama, Japan||100 metres (328 ft)||107 metres (351 ft)||Intamin||N/A|
|La Venganza del Enigma||Parque Warner Madrid||Madrid, Spain||100 metres (328 ft)||115 metres (377 ft)||S&S Worldwide||N/A|
|6.||Donjon de l'Extrême||Nigloland||Dolancourt, France||95 metres (312 ft)||105 metres (344 ft)||Funtime||N/A|
|7.||Falcon's Fury||Busch Gardens Tampa Bay||Tampa Bay, Florida, USA||94 metres (310 ft)||102 metres (335 ft)||Intamin||N/A|
|8.||Hurakan Condor||PortAventura Park||Salou, Spain||86 metres (282 ft)||115 metres (377 ft)||Intamin||N/A|
|10.||Drop Tower||Kings Dominion||Doswell, Virginia, USA||83 metres (272 ft)||96 metres (315 ft)||Intamin||N/A|
|11.||Drop Tower||Kings Island||Mason, Ohio, USA||80 metres (264 ft)||93 metres (305 ft)||Intamin||N/A|
|Big Tower||Beto Carrero World||Penha, Santa Catarina, Brazil||80 metres (264 ft)||100 metres (328 ft)||Intamin||N/A|
Other notable examples
- Big Shot on the top of the The Strat reaching 329 metres (1,081 ft) was the highest situated drop tower ride in the world, with a drop of 49 metres (160 ft) to a base 281 metres (921 ft) above ground level
- Space Probe located at Wonderland Sydney in Australia
- Drop Tower at five Cedar Fair parks
- Apocalypse at Drayton Manor
- Detonator: Bombs Away at Thorpe Park
- Ice Blast at Pleasure Beach Blackpool
- AtmosFEAR at Morey's Piers, Wildwood, New Jersey
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at multiple Disney parks worldwide.
- Acrophobia at Six Flags Over Georgia
- Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: Breakout! at Disney California Adventure Park
- Mystery Castle at Phantasialand
- The High Fall at Movie Park Germany
Injuries and accidents
- Following the Kentucky Kingdom (then-Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom) incident, all Intamin towers were temporarily 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.[needs update] Initial investigations suggested the possibility of mechanical failure in the restraint latch.
- "Ride with 95cm height requirement". Archived from the original on 2012-07-02. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
- "Ride with 130cm height requirement". Archived from the original on 2016-04-03. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
- "Carowinds Thrill Ride Closed for Inspection". (Wire Report). The Herald Online. June 22, 2007. Archived from the original on 2016-02-08. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
- "Adolescente more após acidente em parque de diversões no interior de SP" [Teenager Dies after an Amusement Park Accident in the Interior of SP] (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2012-02-24.