Roller coaster

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Colossos wooden roller coaster in Heide-Park

A roller coaster is an amusement ride in which one or more cars or trains traveling on rails travel along a route designed in such a way that passengers can safely experience extraordinary g- forces . Roller coasters are among the classic and greatest attractions at public festivals and in amusement parks .

The German name roller coaster originated from the designation Figure-8-Bahn . In Austria roller coasters are also called Hochschaubahn after the railways in the Vienna Prater . The also common name Berg-und-Tal-Bahn derives from the mountains and valleys along the route. The origin of today's English name Roller Coaster is controversial. It is made up of the terms roller - for rolling / rolling and coaster - from to coast, which can be translated as freely driving . Already LaMarcus Adna Thompson in 1884 used the term in the patent application for its roller coasting Structure . In many Romance languages, the name refers to the Russian mountains , for example Montagnes russes in French or Montagne russse in Italian, while in Russian it is spoken of American mountains (Американские горки).


Promenades Aériennes in the Jardin Beaujon, ca.1820

Russian mountains

The first forerunners of the roller coaster emerged in Russia in the 17th century , especially in the area around today's Saint Petersburg and in Moscow . At low temperatures in winter, wooden ramps were covered with snow and ice so that one could slide down these artificial "mountains" on a layer of ice several centimeters thick. To keep the ice layer in place, it was poured over daily with freezing water. Initially, blocks of ice were used as "sleds", on which a seat made of wood and wool was attached for the passengers. The railways were particularly popular with the wealthy population and the nobility and were sometimes lavishly designed, decorated and planted with trees.

It is often said that Napoleon's soldiers got to know the invention , which became known under the name of Montagnes Russes (“Russian Mountains”), during the Russian campaign and brought it with them to Western Europe, especially to France . However, there are reports that a Russian mountain was in operation in the Quartier des Ternes in Paris as early as 1804 . Due to frequent accidents, however, it quickly gained a bad reputation and was immediately shut down.

Russian troops brought them to Paris again in 1813, from where they spread for a certain time in German-speaking countries. Soon, even without ice, people were riding on sleds that slid on rails, "... which at the end of the path often formed an upright loop, which, held by centrifugal force, one drove through with the head hanging down".

In the literature you can also find various information about where sleds on wheels were first developed. Some authors already see this development in Russia, according to others, cars were only used in France. Allegedly, however, as early as 1784 a train called Switchback in the amusement park Katalnaya Gorka in Orienbaum Park in Saint Petersburg is said to have been equipped with wheels. It is assumed that because of the milder winters in France and in order to be able to extend the use to the warmer months of the year, fewer ice slides were built there, but rather wooden slopes on which wagons could descend guided by wooden rails. It is certain that two larger plants were in operation in Paris in 1817 , Les Montagnes Russes in Belleville and Promenades Aériennes in Jardin Beaujon. The second was 30 meters high, had an undulating descent and was retrofitted with a simple chain elevator in 1826. The Spanish term for roller coaster Montaña rusa still bears the original origin in the name.

Centrifugal Railway

Looping tracks

In 1846 the first inversion train was presented in the Frascati Gardens in Paris . On these lines called Centrifugal Railway or Loop-the-Loop , there was a circular vertical loop between two uniform, straight descents . Since very high forces acted on the passengers during the round loopings with relatively small radii, which resulted in injuries, the tracks designed in this way did not stay in operation for long.

In 1895 Lina Beecher built the Flip Flap Railway in Sea Lion Park in Brooklyn, the first roller coaster with an elliptical loop. Here the occurring g-forces, especially when entering the loop, have been reduced. But even on this track, too small a loop often caused injuries; mainly damage to the cervical spine occurred. The railway was dismantled before 1903. Subsequent attempts to construct looping tracks were also only moderately successful. On the one hand, the railways had a low capacity, as a rule only two people could drive per car; on the other hand, the journey seemed too extreme for many people, so that more onlookers were attracted as passengers. So they were not very profitable. There have been other attempts to make tracks with rollover; However, this was not permanently successful until the mid-1970s with the corkscrew tracks from Arrow Development and Werner Stengels introduction of clothoid looping, which was then implemented very successfully by Schwarzkopf .

Elevator of the Mauch Chunk Railway at Mount Pisgah

Switchback Railways

Josiah White and Erskine Hazard built in 1827 in Pennsylvania , the Mauch Chunk Switchback Railway , one of the first railway lines of the United States to coal from about 14 kilometers away in mines at Summit Hill in the City Mauch Chunk to bring (now Jim Thorpe). The route made use of the continuous gradient and thus managed without a drive. The wagons were pulled by mules on the way back . The descent took about 30 minutes, and the uphill journey took three to four hours. Shortly after the opening, visitors were interested in the novelty and so from 1829 a limited number of rides for passengers were offered. The increasing demand for coal due to the emerging railroad traffic in the 1840s made an expansion of the formerly single-track line necessary. In 1846 a second section was added to the line, which made it a closed figure eight. For the two steeper uphill passages, two 89 kW steam engines were purchased, which carried the wagons up with a cable. Since the descent was exciting and gave a good view of the beautiful landscape, the passenger transport increased more and more. After the coal mines were connected directly to the railway system in 1872, the Mauch Chunk Railroad had become superfluous for coal transport. Now it has become one of the most popular excursion destinations in the USA, with up to 35,000 visitors at times. As a tourist attraction, the route was in operation until 1932.

Switchback Railway 1884

The simple downhill construction principle of the Mauch Chunk Railway was the inspiration for LaMarcus Adna Thompson to use this construction to plan what is now considered the first American roller coaster. The so-called Gravity Pleasure Switch Back Railway on Coney Island was opened in 1884. The track consisted of two parallel 180-meter-long straight stretches with hilly descents, each of which started from a 15-meter-high platform. The cars were pushed manually for departure and reached a top speed of 11 km / h. For the most part, the wagons drove up the slope leading to the platform opposite with their momentum, the rest of the way they were pushed with muscle power. A transfer track then took them to the other route for the next departure (switchback). The carriages were provided with simple benches with side handles and without backrests, so the passengers could sit with a view in both directions and there was no need to turn the car around. Thompson was granted a patent for his Switchback Railway in 1885 .

Scenic Railway in Luna Park on Lake Auensee near Leipzig , around 1918

Scenic Railways

A short time later, in 1885, the first train with a closed oval track and an elevator was built by Phillip Hinkle, also in Coney Island . A number of other railways followed, above all from Thompson, who had secured patents for the design of the railways with tunnels and pavilions. Sometimes these were elaborately themed , especially as artificial mountain massifs, and were therefore called Scenic Railways in the German Mountain Scenic Railway . The first roller coaster in the shape of the number 8 opened on Coney Island in 1898 .

To prevent the wagons from derailing, side guides, wheels and running surfaces were installed. This is how the side friction tracks came about , for which Thompson also received a patent in 1913. The railways were very successful and were built in large numbers in the USA and also exported to various European countries. At the beginning of the 20th century, the number of roller coasters, especially in the USA , grew rapidly until the Great Depression in the early 1930s put an end to this development. The last remaining Side Friction Scenic Railway from Thompson is the slide rail built in 1914 in Tivoli in Copenhagen .

The first roller coaster in Germany, the giant car-air train made of wood , was presented in 1908 by the Munich-based showman Carl Gabriel together with the German-American Bartling in the amusement park of the Munich exhibition. The train had an electric elevator for the four-person cars and was designed as a figure-8 train, also known as a loop train . A year later, Carl Gabriel presented the automobile mountain and valley railway at the Oktoberfest . It was not designed to be transportable and was torn down again after the festival.

In order to be able to realize more exciting tracks, at the end of the 1910s John A. Miller developed tracks with underfriction wheels , wheels that grip appropriately shaped rails from below. Miller was initially a Thompson employee, but later built roller coasters and other rides with various other partners. The invention of the underfriction wheels , for which Miller received a patent in 1919, pioneered the development of high-speed roller coasters . Since it was impossible for the vehicles to derail, steeper descents, hills with more airtime and more sloping curves could be realized than with railways with only lateral guidance. To this day, the chassis of most roller coasters is based on the principles of Miller's invention.

Steel coasters

Steeplechase ride in Steeplechase Park on Coney Island

The Matterhorn Bobsleds , which opened in 1959 at Disneyland in Anaheim, are usually regarded as the first steel roller coaster with rails made of steel tubes. But there were roller coasters with metal rails much earlier. There are only a few written documentation from the first wedding of the roller coasters, and specialist literature is often based on the only surviving postcard images. It is therefore not entirely clear whether, in addition to profiles, tubes were sometimes used for the rail construction in the early steel roller coasters.

The steeplechase tracks, first devised by John W. Cawdrey in 1893, represented a special curiosity . Instead of carriages, wooden horses drove next to each other on several tracks made of metal rails, thus engaging in a “horse race”. The largest facility with eight lanes was operated from 1898 to 1907 in Steeplechase Park on Coney Island. The vehicles offered space for two people in a row.

In 1902, Albert F. and Alvin T. Smith presented Bisby 's Spiral Airship, not only an early steel roller coaster , but also wagons hanging under the rails long before the first suspended coaster appeared in 1975 .

Probably the oldest steel roller coaster still in operation is the Rodelbaan in the Dutch amusement park De Waarbeek . The track, which is only a maximum of four meters high, consists of an oval with rails made of steel profiles and a lateral guide. It was built in 1930 by the park operators themselves.

Also before the Matterhorn Bobsleds , a transportable steel roller coaster known as the R2000 with triangular tubular steel rails was operated in Paris as early as 1956 . The Italian manufacturer Pinfari built roller coasters with steel rails made of tubes under the model name Zyklon very successfully from 1960 at the latest . From this model series alone, more than 100 trains were sold.

Today there is a trend towards ever faster, more spectacular and dizzying roller coasters - this explains nicknames like organized vomiting or vomiting mills . On the other hand, there is a trend towards ever more unusual constructions that offer a special experience even in a small space and without records.


A spinning coaster in the Immelmann Turn
List of the various roller coaster types and models (incomplete)
model Manufacturer Examples
Dive Coaster B&M Griffon ( Busch Gardens Williamsburg ), Octopus ( Heide-Park Soltau )
Wing Coaster B&M GateKeeper ( Cedar Point ), Flight of the Demons ( Heide-Park Soltau )
Flying Coaster B&M Tatsu ( Six Flags Magic Mountain ), Manta (SeaWorld Orlando)
Floorless coaster B&M Kraken (SeaWorld Orlando), Rougarou ( Cedar Point )
Hyper Coaster B&M Silver Star ( Europa-Park ), Fury 325 ( Carowinds )
Inverted Coaster B&M Nemesis ( Alton Towers ), Afterburn ( Carowinds )
Sitting Coaster B&M Kumba ( Busch Gardens Tampa Bay ), Dragon Khan ( PortAventura )
Stand-up coaster B&M Vortex ( Carowinds ), Green Lantern ( Six Flags Great Adventure )
Strata Coaster Intamin Top Thrill Dragster ( Cedar Point ), Kingda Ka ( Six Flags Great Adventure )
Wing rider Intamin Furius Baco ( PortAventura )
Accelerator Coaster Intamin Desert Race ( Heide-Park Soltau ), Formula Rossa ( Ferrari World )
LSM Launch Coaster / Blitz Coaster Intamin Maverick ( Cedar Point ), Cheetah Hunt ( Busch Gardens Tampa ), Taron ( Phantasialand ), Taiga ( Linnanmäki )
Giga Coaster Intamin Intimidator 305 ( Kings Dominion ), Millennium Force ( Cedar Point )
Mega coaster Intamin Expedition GeForce ( Holiday Park ), Hyperion ( Energylandia )
Prefabricated Wooden Coaster Intamin Colossos ( Heide-Park Soltau ), El Toro ( Six Flags Great Adventure )
Wing Coaster Intamin Skyrush ( Hersheypark ), Flying Aces ( Ferrari World Abu Dhabi )
Topper track RMC Lightning Rod ( Dollywood ), Wildfire ( Kolmården )
IBox Track RMC Steel Vengeance ( Cedar Point ), Untamed ( Walibi Holland )
Raptor Track RMC Wonder Woman Golden Lasso Coaster ( Six Flags Fiesta Texas ), RailBlazer ( California's Great America )

There are now countless different types of roller coaster, which are differentiated according to various criteria. Basically, a distinction is made between wooden coasters and steel coasters , whereby the material of the rail construction, not that of the supports, is decisive. There are roller coasters with wooden rails and metal supports and vice versa.

Another fundamental distinguishing feature is the division into transportable and stationary trains.


In addition to the classic seated roller coaster (sit-down coaster), a distinction is made between steel railways and the shape of the car. There are types in which you drive under the rails ( Inverted Coaster and Suspended Coaster ), stand in the car ( Stand-Up Coaster ) , lie down ( Flying Coaster ) or where the pulling floor is missing ( Floorless Coaster ) . There are also roller coasters with carts that can rotate horizontally ( spinning coaster ) and those where the seats of the carts can roll over themselves (e.g. 4th Dimension Coaster and Ball Coaster ).


Classically, the wagons or trains are driven by gravity after being transported up a hill ( lift hill ) . There are also roller coasters powered by electric motors in the train ( Powered Coaster ) and launched roller coasters ( Launched Coaster ) with catapult launch .


In addition to the railways with a closed route, there are so-called shuttle coaster , where the route is open and the cars drive through it twice, forwards and backwards.

There are also roller coasters with several lanes . Depending on the type of construction, one speaks of a racing roller coaster when the tracks run parallel, or of dueling roller coaster when the routes are similar and of the same length, but largely do not run parallel. In both cases, the vehicles deliver a “race” or a “duel”. With so-called Möbius roller coasters , the route describes an infinity in the manner of the Möbius strip . Two trains start in two different stations and at the end of the journey both trains are in the station where the other started. Möbius roller coasters can be set up as racing or dueling systems . There are also multiple systems in which the vehicles on the routes do not interact in a special way and the departures are not synchronized.

Roller coasters in buildings

Some roller coasters are built inside buildings. On the one hand, there are trains that belong to a larger complex located in a building, such as an indoor amusement park (e.g. Adventuredome , Las Vegas ; Galaxyland , Edmonton ) or a shopping center (e.g. Mall of America ). The railways, which are protected from the weather in this way, are usually operated all year round.

On the other hand, railways are operated as a dark roller coaster . With such roller coasters, a large part of the route is in a mostly unlit building that is shielded from daylight. Often music and light effects as well as figures and objects are used as thematic elements in such tracks . The topic of space was particularly popular. Examples are Space Mountain in various Disney parks or the Space Center in Phantasialand .


Furthermore, large roller coasters are often divided into stages based on their height. In particular, Mega Coaster (over 150  ft ≈ 46 m), Hyper Coaster (over 200 ft ≈ 61 m), Gigacoaster (over 300 ft ≈ 91 m) and Teracoaster (over 400 ft ≈ 122 m) should be mentioned. However, these names are partially blurred with the manufacturer's type designations.

Poseidon water
rollercoaster in Europa-Park


In addition, water coasters are a combination of roller coaster and whitewater run or shoot the chutes .

Purists often do not recognize powered and water coasters as "real" roller coasters, as they lack the classic features of a roller coaster. Classic features include, for example, at least one uphill ride under one's own steam (not available with the powered coaster) and constant driving on rails (with the water coaster sometimes not available).

The alpine coasters belonging to the summer toboggan runs are also often viewed as related to roller coasters. Although they are driving on a closed rail route, they lack the alternation between incline and incline sections in the course of the route, because the course of the route only goes downhill continuously. Alpine coaster also differ from classic roller coasters in the ability to control the speed of the car yourself by braking. Above all, these systems are classified as sports facilities according to DIN 33960, while roller coasters fall under DIN 13814 as flying structures and systems for event locations and amusement parks. The world's longest Alpine Coaster is the 3,525 meter long and 450 meter high Alpine Coaster in Imst, Austria.

Of course there are also combinations of the different types, for example Inverted Launched Shuttle Coaster such as Wicked Twister in Cedar Point , Ohio .

Technology and security

In order to guarantee the safety of passengers and outsiders at all times, various partly redundant safety mechanisms and systems are used on roller coasters. Although the ride on roller coasters is supposed to convey the feeling of danger, in fact, statistically speaking, they are among the safest companions in the world. The journey to the amusement park or fairground is significantly more risky than the ride on the roller coaster. The main aim of the technology used is to prevent passengers from falling out or falling and collisions between vehicles.

Barriers and fences prevent unauthorized access to the route. Injury to passengers caused by objects falling or falling out or being thrown at passengers is usually prevented by nets, grids, walls or canopies near the route.

Wheels and rails

Undercarriage of a modern roller coaster
Sketch of the last generation of rails by Intamin
Sketch of the B&M rails
Sketch of the Vekoma and Arrow rails

With the first railways (e.g. switchbackrailways) there were only straight stretches without curves with simple steel rails, such as those used in field railways. Further developments then had side friction wheels, which ran on bars attached to the rails and prevented the train from jumping off the rails in the curves. In order to avoid derailing on steep downhill sections and hills, axles that were extended laterally were initially used in the cars, which ran under planks next to the rails. In 1912 John A. Miller developed a third pair of wheels that grips under the special rail, called Up-Stop or Underfriction Wheels . The first European ropeway to use this technology is the Big Dipper , which opened in 1923 in Pleasure Beach Blackpool .

Modern roller coaster trolleys almost all have, in addition to the running wheels, two pairs of wheels that run laterally and in opposite directions on the rails. Additional pairs of wheels attached diagonally below the running wheels are less common. Only this wheel arrangement made it possible to safely drive through rollover elements on steel roller coasters from 1975 onwards.

On wooden roller coasters, the rails are glued together from wooden strips with metal pads on the running surfaces of the wheels. The rails of steel roller coasters consist of bent steel tubes or H-profiles.

Restraint systems

While there were no strong g-forces on early roller coasters, which would have brought the risk of throwing passengers out of their seats, and thus also making restraint systems superfluous, this changed with the advent of railways with up-stop wheels. In addition to the function of securing the passengers from falling out by standing up, the belts or lap bars now used kept them securely in their seats even during Airtime .

In steel roller coasters with rollover, shoulder straps are usually used, which, in addition to being fixed on the seats, are also intended to prevent injuries from twisting the upper body. Although the locking mechanism of the bracket is double-sided with notches or hydraulic cylinders to prevent failure , additional belts are often used between the seat and shoulder bracket, especially with inverted coasters . The main purpose of these belts is to increase the guests' subjective perception of safety.

More sophisticated restraint systems available at the Flying Coastern where passengers ride under the train with the face down lying experience. Due to the driving position, not only the upper body but also the passenger's legs have to be held.

In recent years there have been new developments in the field of personal security on roller coasters. For example, the X-Car roller coaster cars from Maurer AG and new cars from Zierer , despite the complicated inversions they have passed through, get by without the shoulder bars, which are unpopular with many roller coaster fans, thanks to specially shaped seats and bars.


Eddy current brakes on the Intamin Goliath roller coaster in Walibi Holland

Modern roller coaster vehicles, with the exception of powered coasters , have neither their own drive nor their own brakes. Both acceleration and braking are external. The brakes are designed so that they are closed when switched off and stop the train. Thus, even if the power supply fails, the vehicles are always stopped without the risk of a collision. For the brakes mainly come block brakes are used in which one or laterally under the carriage-mounted metal bar between the brake pads and is guided thus serves as engagement surface. Due to their failure safety, practically maintenance-free eddy current brakes are increasingly being installed, which also offer the advantage of more gentle braking.

Even today there are trains on Scenic Railways with their own brakes. In each case, a brakeman drives along on the train, who, in addition to regulating the speed, is also responsible for driving without colliding with other trains.


Roll-back protection on a
Gerstlauer roller coaster

In addition to different forms of drive for launching roller coasters, there are also different concepts for the types of lifts. Chain lifts, cable lifts, friction wheel lifts, drum lifts and vertical lifts can be found.

Against rolling backwards on the lift hill of the so-called will Safety Dog used, which snaps into short intervals in a row of saw teeth and thereby causes the characteristic for many lifts clacking. Many newer systems have special mechanisms that prevent the clacking by only triggering the detent when the train actually rolls back. The manufacturer Vekoma , however, does not use a safety dog . Instead there are brake plates that run up the whole lift. The brake plates then run on the trains through a gap in which there is also a wedge that is pressed into this gap with a spring. If the train should roll back, for example due to the tearing of the drive chain, the wedge will be pinched in the train and pressed against the brake plate so strongly that it will not roll back. The clearly audible difference to the Safety Dogs is that when entering the lift, a “clack” sound can be heard, which turns into a metallic grinding that can be heard all the time on the lift. With the roller coasters of the Suspended Looping Coaster type - as with the “Limit” roller coaster in Heide-Park - three wedges prevent the train from rolling back on the lift.

In addition to pulling the trains up to the highest point of the roller coaster, the lift hills of all roller coasters where there is more than one train have another task that contributes to safety: when a train is pulled up the lift hill and the train in front applies the first block brake has not yet completely left the lift hill, then the PLC switches off the drive of the lift hill before the pulled train can reach the highest point of the lift hill. This is a safety function prescribed by the TÜV , which is intended to prevent dangerous rear-end collisions, as a block is always completely cleared before the next train passes through it.

Roll back

An example of deliberate rolling back: a boomerang

In roller coasters, rollback is the process in which an incline is not made and the train rolls back the incline.

This happens due to the insufficient speed either with insufficient acceleration by the launching system of launched coasters or due to excessive rolling friction of the wheels of the roller coaster car, triggered by wear or too high viscosity of the lubricant at low outside temperatures.

Especially with launch roller coasters with a route that rises perpendicular to the top hat, such as B. Kingda Ka occasionally rolls back. However, braking swords for the eddy current brakes deploy on these railways on the starting straight after the cars have passed the respective section. In the event of rolling back, the train is safely braked.

Shuttle coasters are designed to roll back on purpose.

Train control

Today, the programmable train controls - as they are used in a similar way in production engineering - are the most important safety technology to prevent the roller coaster cars from colliding.

Similar to rail traffic, the route is divided into several blocks that can only be driven when the vehicle in front has left the following block section. The sections are separated from one another by elements that enable the vehicle to stop in a defined manner - brakes or transport elements.

The entry and exit of the trolleys is recorded by sensors and transmitted to the central computer control. As soon as the section is free, the brake is released or the transport system is put into operation.

In the station, the release of the route is indicated by light signals. After checking the safe positioning of the passengers, the departure is triggered manually on the control panel. With many modern systems, trains can only depart after all restraint systems have reported the status "closed" to the control system via sensors, the access gates are closed and the controllers signal "station free" by pressing a button on both sides of the station.

Driving elements

A loop

Main article: Roller coaster elements

There are also countless driving elements these days. The classic element of a roller coaster is the downhill descent - the first, usually also the highest descent is called the first drop - and the ride over hills. Depending on the form and characteristics, English terms are mostly used here as well. For example, high parabolic hills are often referred to as camelbacks , while small, flat hills are referred to as bunny hops (rabbit jumps).

Systems with curves were also implemented early on with the figure eight and twister roller coasters. Initially flat, they were built increasingly inclined in order to reduce the forces acting on the passengers from the side. The Wilde Maus roller coasters are an exception, where the uneven, tight mouse curves are the main feature.

The technology for calculating and bending the rails has been continuously improved over the years, and the burden on passengers has been further reduced in this way. The introduction of the so-called heart line and the space curve by Werner Stengel contributed to this. The rails are designed in such a way that the axis of rotation does not lie on the rail axis, as was previously the case, but is at the height of the middle of the body, i.e. the heart of the passengers. This reduces the lateral paths that the passenger's upper body has to cover and the forces that occur.

Thanks to the advanced calculation models and manufacturing techniques, simple steep curves and helices were made possible, as well as more complex routes such as turns, sloping curves (over-banked turn) , hills with change of direction and air-time (EGF-Flip) or vertical curves (Immelmann Turn) .


As early as the end of the 19th century, attempts were made to build a looping into the wooden tracks. However, some of the guests suffered injuries such as whiplash injuries from the high forces involved.

The first modern roller coaster with rollover elements was the Corkscrew designed by Ron Toomer in 1975 in Knott's Berry Farm , USA. The Arrow Dynamics track, sold to Silverwood Theme Park in 1989, had two of the eponymous screws.

Only the German designer Werner Stengel found a solution for the far too high g-forces and torques in circular loops. He calculated a looping in the form of a clothoid , in which the radius when entering and exiting the loop is significantly larger than in the upper part of the loop. In this way he was able to optimize his strength and in 1976, together with the manufacturer Anton Schwarzkopf from Münsterhausen , he realized the first looping at the Railway Revolution ( Six Flags Magic Mountain , USA).

In addition to the classic looping and the corkscrew, there are also variations such as the dive loop , the zero-g-roll or the boomerang or cobra roll , to name just a few. Many of the names have been adopted from comparable aerobatic figures .

Record holder

Highest roller coaster in the world: Kingda Ka
Silver Star  - Germany's highest roller coaster
At 121 ° the steepest first drop in the world: Takabisha in Fuji-Q Highland
The second steepest wooden roller coaster in the world after the T Express : El Toro

In order to attract the visitors, many operators of roller coasters rely on the most unusual features possible, with which one can conduct good marketing and give the visitors the feeling of having experienced something special and unique. In addition to elaborate theming, records are a popular means of achieving this. In the race for the highest roller coaster, US parks and park chains in particular have outbid each other for a long time in order to have the world record holder in their own park. Even without an official Guinness world record, many operators advertise with unofficial or local records such as “highest roller coaster in Germany” or the like.

The exact definition and delimitation of a record is often problematic. So Colossos was the highest pure wooden rollercoaster until 2006, as Son of Beast had a looping made of steel, which is why it was not always recognized as a wooden rollercoaster. In the case of Colossos, the steepest descent on a wooden roller coaster is still advertised, although there has been a steeper descent with Balder since 2003 . The crux of the matter is that the Guinness Book of Records continues to list Colossos as the track with the steepest descent.

Sometimes information such as the height is also embellished in order to make the tracks look better.

Steel coasters

Wooden coasters

Oldest roller coasters

The oldest roller coaster in operation is the side-friction wooden rollercoaster Leap The Dips from 1902 in Lakemont Park in Altoona , Pennsylvania / USA. The toboggan run built in 1930 in the Dutch amusement park De Waarbeek is considered to be the oldest steel roller coaster still in operation .

Endurance records

In addition to the records of the railways, there are also regular attempts to set endurance records in roller coaster rides. While some of the record attempts were previously only carried out during parking opening times, today they are carried out around the clock and only interrupted by precisely defined short breaks.

The American Richard Rodriguez in particular is known for his many record drives, some of which have been researched by doctors and scientists. He is also the long-time holder of the Guinness Record , which was taken from him by the German Stefan Seemann in the meantime from August 2006 to August 2007. The current record, set by Rodriguez in August 2007, is 9.5 days.


The list shows an incomplete selection of well-known roller coaster manufacturers.

Coaster Count

It is very popular among some roller coaster fans to count the roller coasters they have already ridden and to compare the number with each other. To facilitate this, international various websites have emerged that the counting and comparing the counts simplify. For this purpose, the roller coasters are arranged in a list based on various criteria, for example by country and amusement park or transportable / stationary. You can tick what was driven. The results can then be compared with one another in a ranking list. The roller coaster database operated by Duane Marden, which lists all of the world's known stationary roller coasters or roller coasters installed in amusement parks, including technical data, is generally used as a reference for the lists. There is no such international directory for the transportable trains on the journey, here the pages usually have their own databases. In the fan scene there is always a dispute about what can and cannot be counted as a roller coaster when counting. The powered coasters , water roller coasters , butterflys and alpine coasters are the most controversial .

Influence on everyday culture

A small roller coaster in Čakovec , Croatia

Roller coaster or roller coaster ride has developed into a metaphor for moving up and down, or any kind of strong movement. The words appear particularly often in connection with feelings and the course of life. Its use is particularly popular as a component of book, song or music album titles. A search for books with the word roller coaster in their title will yield several hundred results in online bookstores, and very few books found actually deal with roller coasters. The saying from the Werner comics and films "... otherwise this is a rollercoaster!" As a warning against evoked anger has also become known. The publishing house of comic artists Rötger Feldmann and Jens Nieswand , in which the Werner Comics appeared, was also called the roller coaster .


  • Books:
    • Elisabeth Buchner: When bodies and emotions play a rollercoaster ... , Kleinsendelbach FVB, 2007, ISBN 978-3-934246-03-4
    • Frido Mann : Roller coaster: A way of life , Rowohlt-Taschenbuch-Verl. 2009, ISBN 978-3-499-62392-9
    • Thomas Bock: roller coaster of emotions. Learning to live with mania and depression , Psychiatrie-Verlag, 2005, ISBN 978-3-88414-373-5
    • Claudia Hammond: Emotional Rollercoaster: A Journey Through the Science of Feelings , Harper Perennial, London, 2006, ISBN 978-0-00-716467-7
  • Music:
    • The Invincible Spirit: The Rollercoaster Revolution , Album, 1990
    • Wolfgang Petry : roller coaster , album a. a. with song You turn me into a roller coaster , 2001
    • Mary Roos : roller coaster , album a. a. with song Wir Fahr'n Achterbahn , 2003
    • Ronan Keating : Life Is a Rollercoaster , Single, 2000 - reached number one on the music charts in several countries

In film and television roller coasters are often used as tension member. In some cases, the railways even play an important role, for example in the thriller roller coaster and in the crime scene Death Rides Roller Coaster blackmailers threaten to sabotage roller coasters.

Roller coasters are also often used in advertising when a dynamic element is to be represented. For example, Barclays advertised its contactless payment system with a fictional roller coaster ride through Manhattan.

In addition to toys that directly simulate a roller coaster, such as ball tracks and pull-up tracks, the roller coaster was also a theme in board games such as The Hippopotamus in the Roller Coaster (Bertram Kaes, Ravensburger, 1988). Furthermore, model kits for more or less realistic roller coaster models are or have been offered by various companies. Examples include Faller and Coasterdynamix with more realistic models and the K'Nex construction system with fantastic construction options .

Roller coasters are often used in physics classes to illustrate the principles of energy conversion . Even Albert Einstein used a roller coaster, more precisely a switchback railway, as an object of illustration in his book The Evolution of Physics .

Implementation in video games

There are various video games that have the main or partial task of building roller coasters. The best known are the series RollerCoaster Tycoon (four games and various add-ons) and Theme Park (also three games), in which the roller coaster construction is usually only part of the management of an amusement park. Sometimes there is the possibility to use a pure roller coaster mode. In these games, the focus is less on realism than on simple construction.

NoLimits Rollercoaster aims in a different direction , with a simplified CAD- like editor in which you can design the tracks in detail, which you can later drive in the simulation mode. Due to the high level of realism, good results are not achieved so quickly, but the program is used by various roller coaster manufacturers as presentation software for their new rides for the same reason.

In 2016 Frontier released the game Planet Coaster .

Medical aspects

In 2008, US researchers used a silicone model to determine that riding a roller coaster in some cases led to the loss of kidney stones of different sizes . The size of the stones played no role in the success rate, but the seat within the row of cars did. The outflow rate in the front car was 16.7 percent and in the last of the five cars 63.9 percent. The success rate also differed depending on whether it was an upper or lower kidney calculus. The tests could not find out why the stones came off when riding a roller coaster. The trials came after some patients reported passing stones after a roller coaster ride. The tests were carried out on two and a half minute runs without looping. In 2018, the scientists received the Ig Nobel Prize for the experiment .


There are event restaurants where food is delivered from the kitchen to the dining areas via a model roller coaster.

See also

 Wikipedia: WikiProjekt amusement parks and rides - Wikipedia-internal editorial department on the subject of amusement parks and rides

Technically similar:


  • Klaus Schützmannsky: Roller Coaster. The roller coaster designer Werner Stengel. Kehrer, Heidelberg 2001, ISBN 3-933257-39-5 .
  • Frank Lanfer: 100 years of the roller coaster . On the occasion of the exhibition “700 Years of Stoppelmarkt - 100 Years of Roller Coaster.” Gemi, Reichertshausen 1998, ISBN 3-9803977-7-7 .
  • Florian Dering: Popular amusements. A richly pictorial cultural history of the driving, amusement and skill deals of the showmen from the eighteenth century to the present. Greno, Nördlingen 1986, ISBN 3-89190-005-8 .
  • Sacha-Roger Szabo: Intoxication and hype. Attractions at fairs and amusement parks. A sociological cultural history. Transcript, Bielefeld 2006, ISBN 3-89942-566-9 .
  • David Bennett: Roller Coaster. Wooden and Steel Coasters, Twisters, and Corkscrews. Quintet Publishing Limited, London 1998, ISBN 0-7858-0885-X .

Web links

Commons : Roller coaster  album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: roller coaster  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b US Patent 310966, Roller Coasting Structure. Retrieved February 8, 2013 .
  2. a b c d David Bennett: Roller Coaster: Wooden and Steel Coasters, Twisters and Corkscrews Edison, Chartwell Books, New Jersey 1998, ISBN 0-7858-0885-X .
  3. a b c d e f g Robert Cartmell: The Incredible Scream Machine: A History of the Roller Coaster Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1987, ISBN 0-87972-341-6
  4. Meyers Konversations-Lexikon, 1888.
  5. Instruction and entertainment sheet for the farmer and small tradesman in Bohemia, Volume 3, Haase Söhne, 1840. = de & sa = X & ved = 0CDkQ6AEwBWoVChMIo-yx9JraxwIVCroaCh3LiAYT # v = onepage & q = slip mountains & f = false
  7. Switchback Railroad History - Switchback Gravity Railroad Foundation, Inc. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on February 18, 2008 ; Retrieved February 8, 2013 .
  8. CNJ, The Mauch Chunk, Summit Hill & Switchback Railroad. Retrieved February 8, 2013 .
  9. Phillip Hinkle in the Enzyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved February 8, 2013 .
  10. US Patent 1070208, Pleasure Railway. Retrieved February 8, 2013 .
  11. brand eins , issue 09, September 2006.
  12. Florian Dering: Volksbelustigungen: a richly illustrated cultural history of the driving, amusement and skill businesses of the showmen from the 18th century to the present , Greno, Nördlingen 1986, ISBN 978-3-89190-005-5 .
  13. a b Carmen Finkenzeller, Angelika Dreyer: Let's go, to d'Wiesn! : a walk through the Oktoberfest , Allitera Verlag, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-86906-101-6 .
  14. US Patent 1319888, Pleasure railways structure. Retrieved April 14, 2013 .
  15. Steeplechase Park: The Steeplechase Ride at History House Photos . Retrieved February 15, 2013 .
  16. David W. and Diane De Mali Francis (2003). The Golden Age of Roller Coasters in Vintage Postcards. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-2338-0 .
  17. Data and pictures of the Rodelbaan - De Waarbeek in the RCDB. Retrieved April 25, 2013 .
  18. ^ Robert Coker: Roller Coasters: A Thrill Seeker's Guide to the Ultimate Scream Machines , New York: Metrobooks, 2002, ISBN 1-58663-172-1
  19. Ralph Latotzki et al. a .: Zyklon, TL59, Z47, Z64, Zyklon Loop 47; Pinfari in Achterplan³ The standard work , special edition of the club magazine park + ride of the Freundeskreis Kirmes und Freizeitparks eV
  20. Intamin product page LSM Launch Coaster. Retrieved August 12, 2020
  21. Driving video of the “Blue Tornado” roller coaster in Gardaland
  22. ^ Corkscrew (Knott's Berry Farm) in the RCDB. Retrieved August 5, 2011 .
  23. List of the longest indoor roller coasters on RCDB
  24. Most Track Inversions in a Roller Coaster ( Memento from September 24, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) (English). Entry on, accessed June 1, 2013
  25. More roller coaster records. Retrieved August 6, 2010 .
  26. MV: Long Live the King! In: Parkscout. August 9, 2007, accessed August 10, 2007 .
  27. a b Incomplete list of roller coasters in film and advertising at (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on September 24, 2014 ; Retrieved April 26, 2013 .
  28. Information and table of contents for the episode Death rides a roller coaster of the Tatort television series at Tatort fundus. Retrieved March 31, 2016 .
  29. Barclaycard Rollercoaster TV Advert on YouTube. Retrieved April 26, 2013 .
  30. The hippopotamus in the roller coaster at Retrieved April 26, 2013 .
  31. Roller coaster from Faller's H0 fairground program. Retrieved April 26, 2013 .
  32. website of Coasterdynamix. Retrieved April 26, 2013 .
  33. K'Nex Thrillrides on the K'Nex company website. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on April 27, 2013 ; Retrieved April 26, 2013 .
  34. Roller coaster in physics lessons - Martin Kurz's teacher blog. Retrieved April 26, 2013 . - Example for use in schools.
  35. ^ Albert Einstein & Leopold Infeld: The Evolution of Physics , Cambridge University Press, 1938, German: Die Evolution der Physik , ISBN 3-499-19921-1 .
  36. Doctors newspaper: Wunderwaffe: roller coaster ride shakes off kidney stones. Retrieved October 8, 2018 .
  37. Ig Nobel Prize: Between kidney stones on the roller coaster and sniffing fruit flies . In: ZEIT ONLINE . ( [accessed on October 8, 2018]).
  38. Bottom light: Ig Nobel Prize for kidney stones in the roller coaster. Retrieved October 8, 2018 (German).
  39. WEIGHTLESS roller coaster restaurant . Guarantee community Hamburg GmbH. Retrieved August 20, 2019.