Tech

How are roller coasters designed?

Roller coasters comprise many elements, each with its
own specifi c physical characteristics. Designers give a
ride character by applying an understanding of physics
to build up a sequence of thrills. These are all
interrelated and mean the experience of every ride is
exciting and unique.
Computer models can analyse the forces that will be
produced by each twist and turn, ensuring they are kept within specifi c boundaries. Roller coasters may
look like just a random snake of track, but the reality is
actually years of scientifi c calculations to provide just
the right eff ects.

Zero gravity roll
Riders experience 0g – gravity is
cancelled out by opposing forces so
there is a feeling of weightlessness. It is
often felt on uphill 360-degree twists.
Train
Two or more cars linked up are
called a train. The position of the
car in a train dictates the eff ects
on the riders.
Brake run
These are sections of track, usually at
the end, that incorporate a braking
device to slow the roller coaster. These
can be skids, a fi n on the car or, more
recently, magnetic eddy current brakes.

 

Train
Two or more cars linked up are
called a train. The position of the
car in a train dictates the eff ects
on the riders.

Dive loop
A dive loop is a type of roller coaster
inversion where the track twists upwards
and to the side, and then dives toward the
ground in a half-vertical loop.

Corkscrew
Among the most famous roller
coaster elements – trains enter the
corkscrew and are twisted through
360 degrees to emerge travelling in a
diff erent direction.

Lift hill
The lift hill is the fi rst rising
section of track containing
the drive mechanism to
raise the roller coaster to
the summit.

Headchopper
Designers build the layout tightly
so they ‘appear’ to risk chopping
passengers’ heads off as they
approach! The reality is there’s
ample clearance, but it’s a big part
of the thrill.