You might think that there are just two types of roller coaster – metal and wood, but there are many more shades of grey in thrill ride design. WIRED met up with engineer Korey Kiepert of The Gravity Group for an explanation of the main types of coaster, what makes them different, and what goes into designing a coaster.
THE BEST Thrill Rides
It’s been a while since we’ve been on a waterslide, but this insane looking ride at Belgium’s Plopsaqua De Panne looks like something we’d want to work our way up to. Riders start out in a nearly vertical position, then the floor drops out from under their feet for a speedy descent straight down into the tube.
Thrill ride builders are always trying to up their roller coaster design game. The guys from Coaster Studios went for a spin on a prototype of Axis, a unique ride being developed by S&S Worldwide that can tumble its riders above or below the track as they zoom along its twisty track.
If you’ve ever been a passenger on one of those drop tower rides, you know how the combination of speed and plummeting toward Earth can be quite the thrill. Art of Engineering talks us through the history of these rides, and the different techniques that have been used to bring a hurtling mass of steel and people to a safe stop.
Artist and designer Daniel DeBruin created this interactive thrill ride, which gives its rider some control over their destiny by using biometric feedback to adjust the speed at which it flings them around. The 7-meter-tall ride uses sensors to measure heart rate, muscle tension, body temperature, as well as orientation and gravity.
We’ve seen some pretty awesome backyard rollercoaster builds over the years. Now learn about the physics and complexities of building one, courtesy of NightHawkInLight and engineer Paul Gregg, who shows how to create a gravity-powered thrill ride for less than $500. We also recommend checking out Gregg’s books on the subject.
Car hacker Master Milo decided to take an old Ford Ka and give it new life as a thrill ride. By slicing it up, adding a roll cage, and setting it into a set of round tracks, he transformed the subcompact car into a dizzying ride for two. Check out Milo’s original video here.
Water slides can be fun, but they take up a lot of real estate – especially if you want to build up any speed. Thrill ride maker Wigand Maelzer is testing an insane new water slide that spins like a ferris wheel, providing faster, longer rides in a very small space.
If flying down a zipline isn’t thrilling enough, Skywalker Adventure Builders‘ crazy ride suspends a bendy track from an overhead structure, adding twists and turns to the mix. We’re not sure if it’s made by the same guys, but this one in Australia is 2.5 mi. long.