Although Kevin Hart and Jimmy Fallon may have exaggerated their fear of roller coasters for humors sake in the above video, there are many people that do actually share anxiety over the experience. While some have this roller coaster phobia, others are constantly looking for the adrenaline rush that these rides can provide. Why is that?
With technology making so many advances in the last few decades, coaster engineers have been able to safely design and implement roller coasters that were once thought to be a mission of impossible extremes. So, what does the timeline of roller coaster models look like?
There are thousands of roller coasters located all over the world today. Thousands of people still flock to these coasters for a thrilling experience. What are the tallest and fastest roller coasters in the world?
Whether you are a roller coaster enthusiast or you are skeptical of these large contraptions or you are just somewhere in between these two extremes, here is everything you need to know about roller coasters… and more.
The science behind roller coasters
There’s science behind you screaming at the top of your lungs and throwing your arms in the air? Yes, of course! And I’m not referring to the physics involved in designing roller coasters (although that is a pretty important part), I’m talking about the psychological and biological aspects.
Recent research done by Frank Farley, a psychologist at Temple University has identified genes that may incite individuals to pursue new experiences. The U.S. National Library of Medicine defines a gene as “the basic physical and functional unit of heredity.” Traits are passed from each parent to their offspring through genes. Genes determine characteristics of your personality, as well as characteristics of your physical appearance.
A biochemist for the University of California, Irvine, Robert Moyzis suggests that the gene that causes humans to seek new adventures and acclimate to different challenges was very advantageous when our ancestors began to explore the world. Moyzis has conducted some research on the DRD4 gene, which he believes was more frequently found in those that traveled farther to settle in new lands than in those who stayed behind. DRD4 is also the gene associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. Those that have this chronic disorder often experience problems with paying attention for longer periods of time and hyperactivity.
Genes might be part of the reason why you love or hate roller coasters. However, past experiences and the people that you surround yourself with can also be to blame for how you feel about thrills.
Coasting through history
1400s- The “Russian Mountains” were constructed in the area of St. Petersburg, Russia. These were handmade hills built out of ice, in which people would sled down them.
1817- Wheels are added to the ride for the first time in Paris.
1840- The first looping coaster was assembled in Britain.
1884- The first commercial roller coaster is accessible at Coney Island, New York and is called “The Switchback”.
1902- “Leap-The-Dips” opens at Lakemont Park in Pennsylvania. It is the oldest operating coaster presently.
1955- Walt Disney opens Disneyland in California.
1979- “The Beast”, the world’s longest roller coaster is accessible in Ohio. Today it is still the longest wooden ride (7,400 feet).
1982- The first stand up roller coaster is introduced in Japan.
2005- The world’s tallest and fastest roller coaster is unveiled at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. The Kingda Ka stands 456 feet tall and travels at 128 mph.
2015- The “Fury-325” located in North Carolina is the world’s tallest and fastest giga roller coaster.
Your safety matters
Thousands of people entrust their lives to the designers and maintenance keepers of roller coasters as they plummet from hundreds of feet in the air and travel at high speeds. Some might wonder as they reach the top of the first incline, is this safe?
The answer to that is ultimately yes. While there have been some incidents associated with roller coasters, extreme measures have been taken to ensure that these incidents are extremely rare and limited.
Not only do parks have their own inspection programs, the government has additional codes and requirements that must be met and checked on a regular basis. Technicians test rides every day several times before the park opens. “We inspect every length of track, every car and every lap bar,” stated Dan West, the rides maintenance manager for Paramount Kings Dominion Park in Doswell, Virginia.
Every coaster goes through monthly and yearly inspections too. These are more extensive and often involve taking apart the roller coaster and rebuilding it, and replacing wood or steel on the track.
Park officials must make rider safety a top priority, not just because it is the moral thing to do but also because they cannot afford to have the parks reputation destroyed by a major accident.
And although there are codes and regulations installed by officials to handle your safety, make sure you do what you can to provide for your own safety. These measures might include
- Secure your clothing, hair, jewelry, and any other loose articles before getting on the ride.
- Do not ignore the listed age, weight, height, and health conditions.
- Keep your head, arms, and legs inside the ride at all times.
- Always have your head and eyes facing forward to prevent neck injuries.
- Wait until you are told to unbuckle.
And the “more”
Have you ever dreamed of having your wedding on a roller coaster? Probably not, but good news! You can get married on a roller coaster and many couples have done just that.
The New York-New York Casino and Resort in Las Vegas has a special wedding package. It grants couples the chance to tie the knot on a 67 mph roller coaster. For a cost between $600 and $700, the resort will direct a 15 minute ceremony with a minister included.