Updated: Oct 7
Roller Coasters. A ride that has track designed with tight turns, steep slopes, and even inversions. The freedom to make them higher and faster is one reason why millions of people flock to amusement parks every year. Roller coasters are a major part of this attraction, and the people who run the parks keep looking for ways to make coasters taller, faster, and scarier.
Whether for the thrill, the rush, or just to say you did it once, the whole point of roller coasters is to experience a seemingly close brush with danger. They can be found all over the world, and range from light and fun to bone-chilling and death-defying. The engineers behind these extreme coasters are truly pushing the limits with their outrageous designs, because after all, us adrenaline junkies always want more, right?
10 epic facts 😮
The loops on roller coasters are so well designed that if you (for some insane reason) chose to ride without a safety harness, you wouldn’t fall out! But just because the science checks out, its probably best to stick with the harness, just in case.
America’s first roller coaster rolled at a snail’s pace. In June 1884, at Coney Island in Brooklyn, thrill-seekers could ride the Switchback Railway roller coaster, which reached a breakneck speed of six mph, for the cost of a nickel—not quite what we’re used to today!
Another cool thing about the Switchback Railway roller coaster: people didn’t ride it straight on, they rode it sideways! Doesn’t seem like the obvious choice, but hey, I’m not a 19th-century roller coaster engineer, and neither are you!
When the Big One opened at Blackpool Pleasure Beach in the UK, it was the tallest roller coaster in the world, reaching 67 meters high. One million people ride it every year, and its trains and track are tested every single morning before operation. Although it has been surpassed by other coasters in height, it’s still the tallest in the UK, even 26 years after its construction.
While stories about accidents are widespread, coasters are statistically far safer compared to other common activities we engage in on a daily basis. Of course there’s a random incident here and there, but according to the National Safety Council, there’s a one in 24 million chance of getting seriously injured on an amusement park ride. You have a way better chance of dying from falling out of bed in the morning—a one in 423,548 chance to be exact.
That clicking you hear while going up the lift-hill on a roller coaster? It’s actually an intricate anti-rollback device, a standard safety feature consisting of a continuous, toothed metal ratchet on the track that fits into teeth on the bottom of the train. This system ensures that the train can’t roll backward in the event of a power failure or broken chain. So that clacking is a very good sound to hear!
August 16 is National Roller Coaster Day. To celebrate, people are encouraged to head on over to any amusement park, ride a coaster and snap a pic using #RollerCoasterDay on social media. Hey, I don’t need an excuse!
Roller coasters have highly sophisticated braking systems that can stop precisely at the end of the ride or in an emergency. In order to accomplish such an accurate and immediate halt, the brake system is actually built into the track rather that the train itself.
The fastest roller coaster in the world today can be found at Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi, in the UAE. It’s called the Formula Rossa and it reaches 150 mph in just under five seconds!
Opened in 2005 as “the tallest and fastest roller coaster on earth” reaching 456 feet and accelerating at speeds of 128 miles per hour in only 3.5 seconds, Kingda Ka was designed to be one of the world's most dangerous roller coasters.
Roller Coaster Games 🎮
There are many roller coaster games on the market including multiple Roller coaster Tycoon games and (My favourite!), Planet Coaster which I will be writing about in another blog. In these games, you have to develop, operate and manage your own dream theme park while keeping the NPC (Non-player character) characters rolling in. You can also add in food and drink places, first aid and decorate the theme park to your hearts contempt!
So, let's face it roller coasters are great, there's no doubt about it. They may be terrifying on that first hill climb, but every nerve flies away while you pretzel loop your way back to the station. It's a great experience and that's what I think life is all about!