For lovers of the classic theme park roller coaster the question never seems to arise as to what exactly makes a roller coaster a roller coaster – after all there are numerous types that are a fixture of theme parks across the world.
For many the classic roller coaster brings to mind the ride that features a gondola with multiple seats that follows a set track through numerous bends, dips and ascents, coming to a stop where patrons of a theme park disembark and allow others to embark on a hair raising adventure featuring high G turns and unexpected surprises.
This is without doubt the classic roller coaster – the first patent of which was applied for by LaMarcus Adna Thompson on January 20, 1885. However, the multiple car roller coaster took many years to reach the level which it now enjoys in theme parks throughout the world.
If one were to reduce the essence of the modern roller coaster down to its very core there would be a number of different components as outlined above – however the execution of the roller coaster experience in today’s modern theme park can be classified as either traditional or new style.
The traditional railroad system of the roller coaster has been turned on its head – in some cases literally.
There are the traditional roller coasters which still rely on the cars being upright – although with some inversions such as the much loved loop the loop configurations which have been around for generations. These provide a high G thrill for all passengers and continue to be made from wood with the addition of other sorts of building materials such as stainless steel.
These traditional roller coasters although built of modern day materials such as stainless steel can provide thrills that are unmatched by other theme park rides. For instance the Kingda Ka at Six Flags Adventure in the United States in the largest traditional roller coaster. This world beating roller coaster has a height of 456 feet – making it a world beater. Those who choose to become passengers will be suffering (or enjoying) G forces comparable to early astronauts. This is certainly not for the faint of heart.
However there are also new era roller coasters that will cause even the bravest of roller coaster lovers to pause before they hand their tickets to those allowing entry.
Imagine if you will being suspended from a seat attached to a roller coaster track. From this position you are exposed to the G forces and sheer terror of imagining no seat under you and no escape from the sheer terror of watching the ground flash past at miles per hour.
To add another version of terror there are also roller coasters which take the suspended type to the next level where each individual is suspended in a ‘gravity chair’ and free from his or her partner is encouraged to enjoy the experience isolated from partners.
Fear raises adrenaline levels and roller coasters are a great way to enjoy this elevated level, take the chance – you won’t regret it.