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A Gravitron at an amusement park in the 1980s

The Gravitron[a] is an amusement ride, most commonly found as a portable ride at fairs and carnivals. The Gravitron first appeared at Morey's Piers in 1983, originally designed and manufactured by Wisdom Industries. It is a modification of an earlier ride called the Rotor.


The Gravitron is known by a variety of names, including:

  • Starship
  • Starship 2000
  • Starship 3000
  • Starship 4000
  • Starship Area 51
  • Starship Gravitron
  • Starship Exodus
  • Alien Abduction
  • Alien Invasion
  • Twister
  • Devil's Hole
  • Area 51
  • Flight To Mars
  • Enterprise

Design and operation[edit]

A Starship 2000 at Night at The Western Fair in London, Canada in September 2004

The Gravitron first appeared at Morey's Piers in 1983 and quickly became a fixture at amusement parks in many countries.[1] It is a modification of an earlier ride called the Rotor. The ride was originally designed and manufactured by Wisdom Industries.

The ride is completely enclosed, with 48 padded panels lining the inside wall. Riders lean against these panels, which are angled back. As the ride rotates, the rider experiences a centrifugal force pointing outward from the ride's center. This force, along with the slant in the walls, allows riders to be completely supported by the walls, without their feet touching the ground.

The ride can rotate at a maximum frequency of 24 rpm. It reaches that frequency in less than 20 seconds, due to the 33 kW 3-phase motor. At this point, the riders are experiencing centrifugal force equivalent to three times the force of gravity.

There is usually a light-up sign saying "THRILLER" on the ride, but sometimes the sign says the name of the show. On some models, this is not on the ride.

The ride operator is located in the center of the ride. Part of the operator's duty is to control lighting and music in addition to the ride itself. Some variants include closed-circuit television cameras, allowing waiting riders and passersby to observe the ride in action.

There are a few versions of this ride that do not have a ceiling (i.e. the top canvas is not installed).

The entire ride racks on a single 15-metre (50 ft) trailer for transport. The ride can be assembled in less than six hours, and packed up in three.


On August 20, 1991, a Gravitron spun itself apart at the Missouri State Fair, injuring seven children.[2] The accident led to a multi-party lawsuit against Murphy Enterprises, the operator of the ride, and Wisdom Manufacturing, resulting in modifications to the rides and stricter safety standards.[3]

In April 2004, an accident occurred at the Dade County Youth Fair in Miami, Florida, when a panel came off and three riders were ejected. One of these ejected riders was a 16-year-old girl who was critically injured. Seven people were injured, including two people outside the ride that were hit by debris. As a result, DCYF strengthened their safety guidelines and removed the ride from the park.[4][5]

On September 8, 2007, a teenage boy was injured while riding a Gravitron at the Spokane County Interstate Fair in Washington State. The boy hit his head on a metal part of the ride and needed two staples in his scalp to close the wound. Witnesses reported that the boy ignored safety warnings and climbed the walls of the ride while it was in motion. State investigators determined that the ride was safe and that the accident was the result of the victim's behavior.[6]

At the Smith County, Tennessee, Fair on July 7, 2023, a worker was decapitated while servicing a gravitron. [7]


  • Australia: At least six; Vortex at Dreamworld (removed in 2009)[8] and five traveling models.
  • Oahu, Hawaii: One traveling model owned by Wood Ent. Co.; named Area 51[citation needed]
  • North America: Believed to be upwards of 40.[9]
  • Bahamas: The Holiday Carnival hosts this ride.
  • United Kingdom: Alton Towers had this ride for three seasons from 1990 to 1992; it later moved to Pleasure Island.[10] This ride is now located at the Barry Island Pleasure Park near Cardiff.
  • Finland: Suomen Tivoli hosts this ride.[11]
  • New Zealand: Two are owned by Mahons Amusements, mobile.[12]
  • Canada: One is owned by Hinchey's Rides and Amusements, another by West Coast Amusements under the name Alien Abduction, one is owned by Puck's Farm near Toronto,[13] and another is in Vancouver's Pacific National Exhibition, and is called Starship 3000 instead of Gravitron.[citation needed] Another tours Newfoundland every summer with Thomas Amusements, and is called Starship 3000 (previously Starship 2000 before refurbishment).[14] One more Starship 3000 is owned by Albion Amusements, which makes a stop at Wasaga Beach, Ontario.[15] One is also owned by Wild Rose Shows Attractions[16] traveling all over Alberta some places in Saskatchewan, and it is called Area 51. One is owned by World's Finest Shows,[17] and it is called Alien Abduction.
  • Italy: Movieland (Caneva World) hosts this ride, called "Antares"


See also[edit]


  1. ^ known by many other names, see § Names


  1. ^ Futrell, Jim (2004). Amusement Parks of New Jersey. Stackpole Books. p. 171. ISBN 0-8117-2973-7. Archived from the original on January 23, 2023. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  2. ^ Miller, Tom (August 22, 1991). "Ride that failed at state fair sent back to factory". The Kansas City Star.
  3. ^ "Gravitron Mobile Amusement Rides To Be Modified". U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. March 19, 1992. Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
  4. ^ "Gravitron Rides to Get More Stringent Safety Inspection". ConsumerAffairs. June 9, 2004. Archived from the original on December 1, 2008. Retrieved April 4, 2009.
  5. ^ "Bronson Cites Fair Ride Owner in Miami Accident This Spring". Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. July 26, 2004. Archived from the original on September 25, 2006.
  6. ^ " Teenager injured on Gravitron at Washington fair". 2007. Archived from the original on November 26, 2009. Retrieved October 23, 2009.
  7. ^ Baird, Brittney (July 7, 2023). "Employee killed while servicing ride at Smith County Fair in TN". WKRN. Retrieved July 25, 2023.
  8. ^ "Vortex (Dreamworld)". Theme Park Database. Archived from the original on June 6, 2012. Retrieved June 16, 2012.
  9. ^ "Gravitron – Amusement Ride Extravaganza". Retrieved March 18, 2023.
  10. ^ "Gravitron". TowersTimes. Archived from the original on May 14, 2012. Retrieved April 2, 2013.
  11. ^ Lehtonen, Samu (July 19, 2015). "Poika menetti tajuntansa Suomen Tivolin hurjassa nuorisolaitteessa – vietiin sairaalaan". Ilta-Sanomat (in Finnish). Retrieved March 18, 2023.
  12. ^ "Mahon's Australian-built Gravitron, New Zealand – Amusement Ride Extravaganza". Retrieved March 18, 2023.
  13. ^ "Puck's Farm". October 10, 2011. Archived from the original on October 15, 2011. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  14. ^ "Attractions". Thomas Amusements. Archived from the original on July 2, 2012. Retrieved July 13, 2012.
  15. ^ "Attractions". July 29, 2015. Archived from the original on August 10, 2015. Retrieved July 29, 2015.
  16. ^ "Attractions". Wild Rose Shows. Archived from the original on September 2, 2019. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  17. ^ "Alien Abduction – Worlds Finest Shows". Archived from the original on July 2, 2022. Retrieved June 5, 2022.

External links[edit]