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Definitions of Commonly-Used Terms

Discussions among coaster enthusiasts can soon become awash in jargon. Below is a list of coaster terms used by enthusiasts when discussing their favorite subject. This should help in following along with the discussions of Coasters. It'll also help you impress friends and relatives with your knowledge of roller coasters.


Air Gates: Gates in the queueing area that hold riders back from the loading platfom. These operator-controlled gates open and close to let passengers board the train when it is safely stopped in the station.
Air Launch: A method of launching roller coasters down a straight section of track using compressed air. This method was pioneered by S&S Power, Inc. for freefall towers and was adapted into a roller coaster design in 2000.
Airtime: The sensation of coming out of your seat while riding a coaster. This is usually raved about like it is a coaster's most important attribute. Often found while cresting a hill, if sitting in the front, or in the back of the train, during a drop.
American Coaster Enthusiasts: American coaster club founded on the preservation and appreciation of the rollercoaster.
Anchor Strap: Metal strip used to connect the bent posts to the concrete footers, or foundation. Found on modern coasters; older coasters don't have this part.
Animatronics: Robotic devices used on themed coasters and dark rides. They imitate people, animals, or creatures and are part of the theming.
Anti-Rollback Device: Device found on a coaster to prevent the trains from rolling backwards. These are found on almost all lift hills, but can also be used on high or steep ascents as well as the final approach to the brake run. This device works by having a pawl 'ratchet dog' which is mounted to the underside of the train, mech or glide over a 'toothed' or graded strip located on the track. This device usually does not interfere with the ride's operation, but the pawl would engage in the toothed strip and prevent the train from going backwards, if need be. This device causes the customary "click-click-click..." sound heard while climbing the lift hill.
Arched Hill: A coaster hill which is shaped like an arched bridge, often used when a walkway has to be built underneath.
Arrow Pipeline Coaster: A prototype coaster which Arrow has been working on since the late 80's. The concept is to have the track be along the sides of the car, rather than above or below. This would allow the train to execute perfect barrel rolls and flips, as well as other aerobatic manuevers. To date no park has installed a ride of this type, although Arrow has a prototype 'test track' and has shown the ride to run successfully. It's fault lies in the problem of getting the riders in and out of the train, while protecting the rider from the track.
Auto Coaster: An early 20th century novelty. Instead of using a train and tracks, you drove your own car, at high speed, over a series of dips.


Backbone: The pipe or box like sub-structure that supports the rails on a steel coaster. Oftentimes called a "spine."
Back-To-Back Seatng: A seating arrangement Vekoma has used on its Invertigo coasters that places riders in seats that alternately face forwards or backwards.
Backwards Riding: A novelty where coaster trains (or sometimes just selected cars from a train) are turned around to face backwards. This produces weird sensations which cause the ride to be different. Can be a special event for a coaster event, a promotional gimmic run for short time-spans, or in a few cases trains have been reversed on a permanent basis.
Ball and Socket: One method of coupling coaster cars together. Similar to the system used on motor vehicle trailer hitches.
Banked Turn: A coaster turn, where the track is tilted laterally. This allows the train to turn at high speeds without causing undue stress on the riders. Designed to eliminate/reduce lateral forces, or the sensation of being tossed to the side.
Barrel Roll: A much sought-after coaster element, that would turn riding completely around sideways. Similar to the aerobatic manuever. A 360 roll.
Batter Bracing: Diagonal strips of wood used to stabilize the laminated track in curved sections against movement.
Batwing: 1)Arrow's name for an element, similar to it's boomerang except that the train enters the first inversion from below, levels out at top, rights itself, travels a short distance and forms another inversion. In essence this element forms a turnaround. Identical to B&M's cobra roll.
2)A B&M element which is similar, except B&M's features two vertical loops placed at 45 angles, and face each other in a mirror image pattern. Also a turnaround. Identical to Arrow's boomerang.
Bench Seat: A seat usually used on older wooden roller coasters in which there is one long seat for both riders to sit on without a seat divider.
Bents: The vertical beams, or posts on a wooden coaster.
Big Old Brake Lever: Large levers which actuated the brakes before pneumatic or computer control.
Block: A "segment" of track which is separated from the rest of the track by brakes, lift hills or other devices capable of halting the train. The concept is that only one train can enter a block at one time, a safety feature which is standard on all multi-train coasters.
Block Safety System: Standard equipment on multi-train coasters. The block safety system prevents train collisions by ensuring that two trains can never get close enough to each other. This system is often computerized on modern coasters, and it controls the lift hill, and brake areas. If a train attempts to enter a segment, or "block" of track that still has another train in it, the approaching train will be halted.
Bobsled: A style of coaster, where the cars/trains travel through a steel u-shaped trough, instead of on a track. This allows the train to fly up the sides of the trough during curves. This ride is meant to simulate a bobsled run.
Boneyard: Area of an amusement park where old rides or ride parts are stored that have been removed from the park.
Boogie: The chassis of a coaster car. The underside. The foundation on which the seats are built. The bogie holds the couplings to other cars, the wheels, brake fin (if fin brakes are used), as well as the chain dog, and ratchet dog.
Boomer See Boomerang
Boomerang: 1 A coaster element that functions as a turnaround; the train heads back the way it came. It consists of two inversions. You enter the first inversion from the top, are flipped upside down, then righted to go through a low piece of track to come back up into another inversion, which is then exited back in the same general direction from which you came. Identical to B&M's batwing and Vekoma's sidewinder.
2)A Vekoma Rollercoaster- This is the modern equivalant to the shuttle loop. Manufactured by Vekoma, this 'off the shelf' coaster starts by having your train winched backwards up the lift, behind the station. The winch is then disengaged, and you fall back down the same hill, through the station, through the inversion element described above, then a vertical loop. You then engage the chain lift which takes you up a second hill where you are released to do it all over again, backwards! Often referred to simply as a "boomer."
Booster Wheels: Track mounted wheels, used to push, or help the train through flat pieces of track, such as in the station, or to the lift hill.
Bowtie: An element similar to a boomerang, except that the track twists the other way after the second inversion, so you continue on instead of turning around.
Braces: The diagonal beams used to stiffen the structure of a wooden coaster.
Brake Fin: A metal fin attached to the underside of some roller coaster cars that slides between brakes mounted to the track which, in turn, slows the train.
Brakeman: A staff member, who rides on a coaster with the riders, who contols a train-mounted brake. His job is to keep the speed reasonable. Most often found on Scenic Railways.
Brakes: Devices used to slow or stop the train. These are placed at strategic places along the track to keep the train within reasonable speed (as in the ride's specs., or within park tolerances, which are often not the same as the enthusiasts' tolerance.) Brakes are almost always located on the track instead of the train. Brakes come in many different varieties - see Check Brake, Fin Brake, Magnetic Brake, Scarf Brake, Skid Brake, and Trim Brake.
Brake Run: A flat section of track, usually 2-3 trainlengths long, which is used to halt the train after a ride, so it can then be eased into the station.
Brake Box: A shed where controls to manually set mid-track brakes are housed.
Bull Wheels: The large wheels located below the chain lift, at top or bottom. Their purpose is to reduce friction on the chain.
Butterfly Element: A Vekoma element shaped like a butterfly. Yet another turnaround element. This one features two normal vertical loops, set at angles to each other, so that that the entrance of the first loop and exit of the second loop are next to each other. Identical to Arrow's boomerang and B&M's batwing.


Camelback: 1) A series of two or more hills, each slightly smaller than the last.
2) A B&M element on their sit-down and floorless coasters. It features an 'in-line' inversion.
Cable Lift: A wire rope used to haul coasters up the lift hill. Once used on early coasters, this device was unreliable and thus replaced by the chain lift. Modern cable lifts function in a way similar to elevators, in which pulleys are used to pull a small car or catch attached to the train up the lift.
Capacity: The number of riders a coaster can carry per hour when using all of it's trains. (Its maximum persons per hour)
Car: Part of a coaster train. On some coasters the car is by itself, and not connected in a train-like fashion. Where the riders sit (or stand, as the case may be.)
Catapult: A system of giving a coaster momentum without a chain lift. Can be as simple as pushing it off the top of a steep hill, to using weights or flywheels to build speed, to the latest variant which uses linear induction.
Centrifugal Force:: Sideways force. The sensation of being pushed or thrown to the sides on a coaster turn. Also known as Lateral Gravity.
Chain Dog: The part of the bogie that engages the lift chain.
Chain Lift: A moving chain that carries the train up to the top of a lift hill.
Check Brake: A brake that is generally not active, but is part of the Block Safety system. If a train attempts to pass these brakes, before the next checkpoint is cleared, the check brake will stop the train in order to prevent a collision.
Circuit: One lap of a coaster, from leaving station to re-entering.
Circumferential Coaster: A coaster that meanders around an amusement park, rather than having its own designated area.
Classic Coaster: A coaster that is operated in the "traditional" sense. These coasters use traditional trains, without added safety features, like ratcheting lap bars, headrests, seat dividers, etc. Also an award given by ACE to coasters that operate in this manner.
Closed Circuit Television: A system of TV cameras that are used to monitor riders behavior. Now, often linked to printers in order to sell 'on-ride' souvenir photos.
Clothoid Loop: The mathematical name for the successful vertical loop. Uses a teardrop shaped loop which is less stressful on riders.
Coaster: Abbreviation for Roller Coaster.
Cobra Roll: B&M's name for Arrow's boomerang - A coaster element that functions as a turnaround; the train heads back the way it came. It consists of two inversions. You enter the first inversion from the top, are flipped upside down, then righted to go through a low piece of track to come back up into another inversion, which is then exited back in the same general direction from which you came.
Code of Safe Practices: Guidelines/rules set up by a park to ensure safe operation of their rides.
Compressed Air: Used to power pneumatic pistons which are used to operate brake mechanisms.
Computer-Aided Design: Modern way of designing roller coasters using a computer. Not only can it help design the layout, but it can calculate all forces and stresses on both riders and ride.
Computer Control: A series of sensors that monitor the train's progress. It also controls the chain lift, brakes, and queue gates. The computer prevents train collisions, and after the ride is started the computer controls the ride, ensuring each ride is equal.
Corkscrew: A coaster element that features a horizontal spiral in which riders are turned upside down. Looks like the kitchen appliance of the same name. Similar to B&M's flatspin.
Cutback: Arrow element consisting of a single inversion in a 180 turnaround.
Crest: The top of a coaster hill.
Crossover: A point where a portion of track crosses another part of the same track.


Damping: The process of minimizing the noise emitted from a coaster.
Dark Ride: 1) A coaster which is totally enclosed, most of the time in complete darkness.
2) A genre of ride which involves riding through a building, often used for haunted house style rides.
Dead Spot: Part of a coaster ride where the train looses all momentum and intensity, and just rambles along. Too much of this can ruin a coaster. Oftentimes a long, straight, and flat piece of track.
Desiger: The person or firm who creates a coaster. Although we have had several designers, only a few have gained 'legend' status.
Dip: A descending slope which quickly 'shallows' into an ascending slope.
Dive Machine: B&M's term for their vertical rollercoasters, unique in that they feature cars that seat 16 (eight across arranged in two rows).
Diving Loop: A B&M element taken from a stunt plane trick. A forward section of track which arcs to the side, eventually inverting the rider, and then righting them again. This element is used on their stand-up, sit-down, and floorless models.
"Do Not Stand Up": Traditional final warning given on a roller coaster. Usually on a sign over the lift hill, or announced on the PA while climbing the lift.
Dog Leg: A sharp bend in an otherwise straight piece of track.
Double Dip: A drop that has been divided into two drops, by having a flat section mid-way down. Very effective airtime producer.
Double Down: See Double Dip.
Double Hill: An upwards section of track that has been divided into two by a flat piece of track mid-way.
Double Loop: Two back-to-back vertical loops in the same direction of travel; a vertical loop immediately followed by a second vertical loop.
Double Up: See Double Hill.
Drop: A downwards slope on a roller coaster.
Drop Height: The distance the train drops during its largest (usually first) drop, often a much requested roller coaster stat.
Dual Lifts: A roller coaster with two lift hills.
Dual-Position Lapbar: See Single-Position Lapbar
Dueling Coaster: A twin track coaster where both sides appear to make several near-miss head-on collisions.
Duration: The time it takes for a train to complete one ride cycle.
Dynamics: Branch of mechanics which deals with the various forces encountered on a coaster ride.


Ejector Airtime: A sharp, extreme, and sudden amount of airtime, usually found on steep, abrupt drops. Like the name implies, it feels as if you are being ejected upwards out of the train. Sometimes called a "slammer" because it slams you up into the lapbar, and then back down into the seat. Most enthusiasts like ejector air, except in cases where contact with the lapbar causes pain.
Element: A distinct part of a coaster track. Often used to describe types of inversions, helixes, spirals, and turnarounds.
Elevated Curve: A banked curve that also descends slightly as it curves. Most often found on Out and Back designs.
Elevator Lift: 1)A lift in which the roller coaster car rolls onto a piece of track in an "elevator" and is then lifted vertically until the elevator track lines up with the tallest piece of track on the coaster's course, at which point the roller coaster is released from the elevator and travels the course.
2)A lift system which uses elevator cables wrapped around large wheels to haul a small car or catch that attaches to the train up the inclined lift. See: Cable Lift
Enclosed Coaster: A roller coaster in which the entire course is inside of a building or tunnel.
Exclusive Ride Time/Session: Time set aside, by a park, for a select group of people, usually a coaster or ride club to be able to ride the ride as a club/group, without the general public. Participants usually try to cram as many rides as they can into one of these sessions. Ocasionally, a park may make special effort to have the ride in question operating in 'above average' conditions.


Fan Curve: A curve where the track ascends while entering the curve, but descends while exiting the curve. These curves are heavily banked and are usually braced by 'spokes' that look like a bike wheel. The term is also used for any curve that has this style of bracing.
Figure Eight: Early coaster layout. This compact design allows turns to both left and right. It often crosses itself 2-3 times as it descends. The forerunner of the Twister.
Fin Brake: Newer form of coaster brake. Consists of mounting a 'fin' on the underside of each car. These fins pass through a set of calipers that can squeeze shut, thus stopping the train. These brakes are very effective and can cause harsh stops.
Find' Del Capo: Italian term "off with the head". A portion of track that quickly ducks under some other support structure, giving the fear of decapitation. Also used to describe tunnel and brake shed entrances. Usually referred to as a "headchopper."
First Drop: Usually the largest and most significant drop on a roller coaster. These are often angled at approximately 50 or steeper.
Flanged Wheels: The type of wheels used on regular railroad trains. Used only on the earliest rollercoasters.
Flat Spin: A B&M element that features a horizontal spiral in which riders are turned upside down. Also called a corkscrew.
Flat Turn: A curve in which the track remains practically flat. Causes severe lateral forces at high speeds.
Flex: The characteristic bending movement of wooden coasters.
Floater Airtime: The feeling that you are floating above and out of your seat when a roller coaster travels over hills or drops.
Floorless Coaster: Newer innovation from Bolliger & Mabillard. A sitdown coaster in which the train lacks a floor; riders' feet dangle above the track.
Flying Dutchman: Devloped by Vekoma, this ride features 4 across trains with reclining seats that face backwards. This seats tip back to the horizontal. After the lifthill, the ride rolls 180, leaving the riders in a "superman" type position.
Flying Turns: The original Bobsled coaster. Features a U-shape trough made of Cypress wood.
Flywheel Catapult/Launch: A method of launching roller coaster trains down a straight section of track using energy stored in a cable wound around a large motorized wheel.
Footers: The foundations of a roller coaster, where the uprights or bents "rest".
Footprint: The shape of a roller coaster circuit, if traced on the ground, under the ride. The view shown on plan diagrams.
Fourth Dimension Roller Coaster: A new type of coaster designed by Arrow Dynamics. It featurs trains that seat the riders on the sides of the track (two on each side) with their feet dangling. The coaster actually features two sets of track - the train runs one, while the second causes the seats to rotate forwards or backwards, depending on the position of the rails in relation to the train.
Free Fall: A coaster-type ride. In it's first version a car was taken up in an elevator shaft, moved forwards and then dropped down a vertical piece of track that had a curved 'run-out' brake run at the bottom. Newer versions use a magnetic braking system and do not need the 'run-out', and combine both up-and down motions in one shaft.
Friction Wheels: Additional wheels added at right angles to the main wheels. These prevent the train from jumping sideways off of the track. And more recently, under the rails, to prevent the train from lifting off the track. An essential safety feature which allows today's looping coasters, as well as for older coasters to gain speed and intensity.


Gates: Safety feature involving mechanically operated gates that keep waiting riders back away from the track until the train is safely stopped.
G-Forces: The various forces your body encounters on a coaster ride. Such as negative G, "airtime" or coming out of your seat, positive G, or being pushed into your seat, and lateral G's, or being pushed to the sides.
General Public: Literally, any non-staff member who visits a park. Coaster enthusiasts use this term to describe non-enthusiasts, people who tend to like their coasters milder than the enthusiast does. Just because you don't belong to a coaster club does not mean you fall into this category however.
Giga Coaster: A term coined by Intamin AG and Cedar Point to describe full circuit roller coasters that are over 300 feet high.
Gravity Railway: Descriptive name sometimes used for roller coasters. Also used for transport systems in mines and quarries. As in the Mauch Chunk Gravity Railway.
Grease: Lubricant applied to the metal running strips on wooden coasters to reduce friction and excessive noise. It also helps lessen wear on the track work. Unfortunately, not all parks use grease on a regular basis.
Guide Rails: Extra rails added to the inside of the track of flanged wheel coasters, to prevent the cars from overturning.
Guide Wheels: Extra wheels which govern the lateral movement of a car.
Gulley Coaster: A coaster whose trackwork makes good use of the natural topography (or terrain) of the land. These often feature gullys, valleys and hillsides. They are often built low to the ground to increase the speed sensation. Also known as a terrain coaster.


Hairpin Turn: A sharp 180 curve, joined by two straight pieces of track that are either both ascending or descending, in relation to the turn.
Half Loop Element: A vertical rotation of 180 which has the effect of turning you upside down.
"Hands Up!": A common method of accentuating the G-Forces by allowing your body to be thrown with them, rather than fighting back. Also a universal symbol of being daring. "Look Ma, no hands!"
Header Beams: Steel beams used to support a part of a coaster whose lower parts have been cut away either for a crossover or for a pathway.
Head Rest: A padded extension of the seat back which serves the purpose of providing extra support to the riders' neck and head.
Heartline Coaster: A coaster made by TOGO of Japan. The center of gravity is about the rider's heartline. This design can incorporate drops and inversions similar to Arrow's pipeline coaster, but the trains ride on top of the rails.
Heartline Spin: A B&M element that closely resembles a barrel roll, but not quite there.
Height: A measure of how tall a coaster is, taken from the highest point of the coaster to ground level.
Helix: A spiral section of track through which the train either ascends or descends.
Horsecollar Restraints See Overhead Restraints
Hump: A relatively small coaster hill.
Hypercoaster: A roller coaster 200' or taller.


Immelman: B&M's term for the reverse of its diving loop - looks identical to a diving loop, but the train travels through the element in the opposite direction.
Inclined Loop: B&M element featuring a vertical loop angled at 45. Also see Oblique Loop.
Inline Twist: An elemen similar to a barrel roll, usually following an ascent and followed by a descent.
Intensity: A subjective term referring to how rapidly the coaster changes direction, elements, or can disorient you. From a scientific standpoint, it is how rapidly the G forces fluctuate.
Interlocking Corkscrews: A section of track where two separate corkscrews (or flatspins) spin around each other; one flips over the other.
Interlocking Loops: A section of track where two separate vertical loops are threaded together like links in a chain.
Inside Track: An amusement park magazine that has ceased publication. Note that the unscrupulous editor will still take subscription money, and not refund it!
Inversion: Any part of a roller coaster that turns the rider upside down.
Inverted Roller Coaster: A relatively new type of coaster, where the trains hang below the track; loops can be accomplished with this design because the cars are rigidly attached and do not swing out.


Junior Coaster: A gravity powered coaster that is a small replica of a traditional roller coaster, with smaller hills and slower speeds. A coaster built with the kids in mind.


Kamikazee Curve: The original name Arrow gave to its boomerang element. The name was only used for the element on Worlds of Fun's Orient Express and most still refer to that ride's boomerang by its original name.
Kinetic Energy: The scientific force that "powers" a coaster, it deals with gravity and inertia. It states that as kinetic energy is gained by going down the drop, the coaster has energy to propel itself.


Laminated Track: The track style used on a wooden coaster. The track is formed of several parallel flexible planks, which are bolted onto the curved surface. The track is actually wider at the top to accomodate the safety wheels, which limit sideways motion. Thin metal "running strips" are then added to this to reduce wear.
Lap Bar: A safety device, which restrains the rider by keeping them in their seats. It is composed of a padded metal bar that is pulled down, accross the rider's lap. It features a locking mechanism that holds it in place until released at the unloading platform. Their purpose, other than safety, it to provide a sense of security to the riders, please insurance companies, and restrain those riders who want to stand up. Lap bars used to be single position bars that, when lowered. locked into only one set configuration, and was still loose enough to allow for airtime. In recent years, a ratcheting form of these bars has been devised, where each rider is secured by his/her own bar, which can be adjusted to the size of the rider. In theory this is to lock the bar even tighter on the rider, killing airtime for added safety, but with skill these bars can be set looser than the old bars. In addition most looping rollercoasters use an over the shoulder restraint system, where the bars ratchet down on your shoulders, and cross in front of your stomach (called "Over the Shoulder Restraints").
Lateral Gravity: The force that pulls or slams you against the side of the car.
Launched Coaster: A roller coaster that, instead of a lift and drop for inital speed, has a section of track that accelerates the coaster to a certain speed. Often, but not always, launches are used on roller coasters that are not a complete circuit; then the energy the train has runs out, it repeats the previously traveled course in reverse. There are many different types of launches; see: Linear Induction Motors, Linear Synchronous Motors, Tire Driven Launch, Air Launch, Weight Drop Launch, and Flywheel Launch.
Layout: The footprint of a coaster. Can also refer to the sequence of elements involved.
Ledger Beam: The beam that supports the trackwork on a wooden coaster.
Length: The distance a coaster travels in one ride, measured station-to-station.
Lift Hill: A upwards sloping piece of track, equipped with a motorized device capable of hauling the train from the bottom to the top. This is most often found on the tallest hill of the ride. Some rides require the use of multiple lift hills, however. A chain lift is the most common method.
Line: The group of people waiting to ride a coaster.
Linear Induction Motors: A method of launching a roller coaster train down a straight section of track using electromagnets mounted on the track and on the train. Magnets on the track attract the magnets on the train, accelerating it forwards, until the magnets on the train pass those on the track, at which point the magnets on the track reverse polarity and work to repell the train forwards. This process is repeated with each magnet on the track, effectively launching the train forwards or backwards, as the case may be.
Linear Synchronous Motors: A method of launching roller coaster down a straight section of track using electromagnets mounted on the train. These magnets on the train create a magnetic field around a metal rail that slides between the magnets, which pushes the train forwards.
Loading Platform: Part of the coaster station where riders board the coaster train.
Looping Coaster: A roller coaster that turns the rider upside down; one that includes inversions.
Loop Screw: Enthusiast "slang" for an older model of Arrow looping coasters which feature a vertical loop and two corkscrew loops.


Manual Brake: A coaster brake that is directly controlled by the operator. On older coasters, this is usually by means of large levers, located in the station. On newer coasters, these levers have been replaced by a console with power-actuated brakes, but still require the operator to turn them on.
Marathon Riding: Endurance coaster riding, or awards set up for long term coaster riding, say 100 circuits, or 24 hrs., etc.
Mag-Lev: A newer catapult system, which accelerates the train at great speed due to linear induction.
Magnetic Brakes: A roller coaster braking system that involves polar opposite magnets mounted on the sides of the track and the cars. The magnets on the track create a magnetic field, which the magnets on the train slide through, effectively slowing the train.
Mega Coaster: Intamin A.G.'s term for any of their coasters that is over 200 feet high.
Metal Fatigue: A weakening and then breakdown of metal parts caused by constant flexing.
Mine Train: A type of roller coaster usually built with tubular steel tracks and a wooden or steel structure. Usually there is an element of mine or wild west theming to the coaster and it usually features one or more tunnels, wooden landscape, and often more than one lift.
Moebius Racer: A racing coaster where both sides are actually one long track, cleverly designed so that the left hand train returns to the right hand station and vice-versa. A rare type of coaster.
Motion Sickness: Illness caused by sudden direction changes and disorientation.
Motion Simulator: A "ride," in which people sit in a cabin and watch a film (sometimes of a roller coaster). While the movie runs, computer controlled hydraulics move either the cabin or your seat to match those motions you would experience in a real situation. People tend to either love these or despise them.
Multi-Element: A coaster with multiple types of inversions.


Name: What a coaster is called, in order to distinguish it from others. While some parks are very creative with this, others tend to use the same name over, or even worse, just use the name "Coaster" or "Roller Coaster."
Negative G's: Force that makes you feel light. Often causes you to come up out of your seat. Note that what you are actually experiencing are not negative G's, just a smaller-than-usual amount of positive G's (less than 1.0).
Night Riding: Riding a coaster after dark. The experience can be quite different because of one's inability to judge speed and distance. Also the coaster may perform better since it has warmed up all day.
Noggins: Vertical wood blocks used to bolt the ledger beams to the trackwork.


Oblique Loop: B&M element consisting of two parallel inclined portions of track, joined at the top by a 180 curve, so you go up into the curve, and then right back down. Oftentimes referred to as an "inclined loop" or "inclined helix." Some coaster enthusiasts consider this an inversion, while others do not.
Out and Back Coaster: A style of rollercoaster, in which you start out at a station, travel out to some point and then turnaround and head right back to the station parelling the original course (track before the turnaround).
Overbanked Curve/Turn: A curve or turn in the track that is banked at more than 90.
Overhead Restraints: The form of safety restraint found on most looping coasters. It is a heavy padded metal U-shaped bar that is pivoted so it comes down over your shoulders, and looks like a yoke or horsecollar (and is, in fact, sometimes called a "horsecollar restraint").
Overrun: When a coaster train goes past the station. Most likely to happen on an older coaster with manual brakes. Not a dangerous situation, and gets you another ride without lining up again.
Over the Shoulder Restraints: See Overhead Restraints


Paint and Protective Coatings: Wooden coasters will rot, and steel coasters will rust unless some form of protectant is applied. Old wooden coasters are generally painted white (other colors do exist, however), while steel coasters come in every color possible and use a resin coating. Lately, to save on the expense of painting wooden coasters, they are built of pressure treated lumber, with long life preservatives, resulting in a brown or green look.
Parabolic Hill/Drop: A coaster hill that contains a lot of curved track and little, if any, straight track. A parabolic hill or drop is designed to match a roller coaster train's natural falling arc, providing maximum airtime.
Pay One Price: An amusement park admission ticket/package which includes all rides or shows, as opposed to a pay-per-ride scheme.
Pay Per Ride: An amusement park admission method, requiring you to pay a separate fee for each ride or show. These parks may charge little or no up-front grounds admission. Some parks are more flexible with this and will offer a Pay One Price wristband or handstamp at an additional price.
"Pillow" Lapbar/Restraint: Slang term given to the lapbar used on B&M's speedcoasters, used because the bar is shaped like a pillow.
Planning Permission/Building Permit: Legal document that must be obtained from a local authority before construction can begin on a roller coaster or other building. Sometimes, these are hard to come by for environmental, height, or noise reasons.
Pipeline Coaster: An as-of-yet unopened coaster style. It promises a ride between the rails where true barrel rolls and flips can be produced. A full-sized prototype still stands at Arrow's Utah facility, but the ride was never produced for any park for safety reasons.
Platform: The area in a station where riders board/exit a coaster train.
Point of View: A view of a roller coaster from the perspective of what the rider would see. Often describes pictures and video. Companies will sometimes use computers to simulate a Point of View in order to show the park what a yet unconstructed ride will be like.
Portable Roller Coaster: See Traveling Coaster
Positive G's: Forces that make you feel heavier, pushing you into your seat. Multiplying your weight by the amount of positive G's will tell you how much you will feel like you weigh during a ride.
Powered Ascent: A coaster which uses motors in the cars to power you up the lift. After the lift however, the motors shut off and you have a gravity ride again.
Powered Coaster: A coaster-like ride where the train is powered through the circuit by motorized wheels.
Pretzel Knot/Loop/Turnaround: A double looping element that looks like a pretzel. This can either be an inversion (usually called a "Pretzel Loop", which is similar to an Arrow boomerang) or a turnaround element (usually called a "Pretzel Turnaround", which is similar to 1.5 helices).
Profile: The vertical cross section of a coaster.
Protective Coatings: See Paint and Protective Coatings


Queue: 1) The wait in line to board a coaster.
2) The area where you wait in line.
Queue-to-Ride-Ratio: Coaster stat invented by Alan Baldwin to determine what ratio of your time do you spend waiting for a coaster, as oppoosed to riding it. It is arrived at by dividing wait time by ride time. The higher the Q.R.R. the worse the wait, and the more unbearable the wait is going to be due to slow lines.


Racer: A coaster with two parallel tracks designed so that two trains can leave the station at one time and race each other. Note that not all racing coasters actually race.
Rakers: The diagonal beams that buttress the banked turns on a roller coaster.
Ratchet: A claw tooth bar located on the track (most often on the lift hill) into which the anti-rollback device, or ratchet dog, engages, which will prevent the train from rolling backwards.
Record-Breaking: What parks vie for their coasters to be. Coasters are judged in all sorts of categories.
Re-Ride: Being allowed to ride a coaster more than once in a row without having to get out of your seat. Most commonly happens during overruns, or when there is no queue. However, pay-per-ride parks may still come and collect another ticket from you, before sending you on your re-ride. (Most common on the Coney Island Cyclone. "Ride Again! Only $3.00! One More Time! Only $3.00!")
Restraints: Safety bars, OTS harnesses, and other devices which secure a rider to his seat, not allowing him to get out or stand up and also preventing the rider from falling out. These bars are locked before the ride, and cannot be unlocked except by a lever or button that is out of the rider's reach, most commonly in the station on newer coasters with electric/mechanical bar releases. Other systems require a key to unlock the bars.
Return Wheel: The wheel at the top of the lift hill that the lift chain rolls around to go back down.
Reverse Curve: The curve where the trains switch sides on a moebius racer.
Ribbons: The horizontal beams of a wood coaster's structure.
Ride: A term for any mechanically operated amusement device where users are subjected to a variety of motions. Sometimes used by enthusiasts to denote any amusement park device that is not a roller coaster.
Ride Costs: The amount of money the park forked out to build the roller coaster.
Ride Operators: The staff members of the park who "operate" the ride. Everything from ticket collection, seating, safety checks, to the actual running of the ride, and often cleaning the ride.
Ripple: A series of small humps, taken at low speed.
Road Wheels: The main on-track wheels of a coaster. Also called "Running Wheels."
Roller Coaster: A gravity railway in which riders are sent along on a track powered only by sheer gravity, after an initial start (lift hill, catapult, LIM launch, etc. An amusement park device
Roller Coaster Ride: The act of riding a roller coaster.
Rolling Stock: A term that describes the type of cars and train a roller coaster has.
Runaway Mine Train: A themed coaster, made to look like a mine railway. Usually, these rides do not feature large drops or hills or inversions, but rather focus on helices and ground-hugging turns.
Running Wheels: The wheels on a coaster that carry the train's weight.


S-Turns: See Serpentine Curves
Scab: See Splice.
Scarf Brakes: Used to slow the train down. These are usually pre-set and are consistent. A scarf brake can only slow the train down, however, they can't stop one.
Scenic Railway: A "themed" wooden roller coaster. These rides often had dioramas or even automata of exotic or mountain scenes. Usually ridden at low speed, since the "scenes" were more important than the thrills of the ride.
Seatbelt: A strap, usually just like the type found in an automobile. Usually used as a secondary backup to the main restraint system, but there are coasters that use setbelts as the primary restraint. Usually a lap-belt with an aircraft style buckle (lift flap to release). Also known to be made out of nylon webbing or leather.
Set-Up: When a train is purposely stopped before completing the circuit. This can be caused by either the operator, or the computer system. It is usually done for safety reasons.
Serpentine Curves: A series of flat (unbanked) curves in opposite directions, creating several rapid direction changes. This looks like a zig-zag pattern that generates severe lateral forces. This is the key element on 'Wild Mouse' style coasters.
Shuttle Coasters: A style of coaster where after the train leaves the station, it rides forward out to some distant point, then stops, and then rolls backwards through the same section of track to the station.
Shut-Down: See Set-Up
Side Friction Coaster: An early style of coaster that relied on flanged wheels, similar to regular railroad wheels, to keep the trains on the track. Later, additional sets of wheels were developed to lock the train to the track.
Side Slammer: Name for a less-than-adaquately banked turn that results in the riders being slammed into the sides of the cars.
Side Wheels: See Guide Wheels.
Sidewinder: An Arrow element, producing a 90 turn; one half of it's boomerang element.
Single-Position Lapbar: A restraint bar found on wooden roller coasters that only has one ratcheting position; the bar is either open or closed. Usually, there is only one bar for both riders in a seat. It is also noteworthy that these are somtimes referred to as "dual-position lapbars", since technically the bar has two positions (open and locked).
Slammer: See Ejector Airtime
Snap Roll: See Barrel Roll
Space Diver: A type of coaster designed to mimick the diving motions of jets by featuring several steeply dropping hairpin turns. Only one of these coasters was ever built (by Intamin AG) and is currently located at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California.
Spacers: Wooden beams used to keep the track gauge on a wooden coaster consistent.
Spaghetti Bowl: A section of track, or an entire roller coaster layout, that tightly wraps, twists, and weaves around and through itself.
Speed Bump/Dip/Run: A small hill, taken at high speed. Creates airtime. Also known as a speed dip or bump.
Speed Coaster: B&M's term for their hypercoasters. These feature unique, extremely open trains with comfortably reclined seats.
Spine/Spineback: See Backbone.
Spinning Cars: A style of coaster car which is free to spin or rotate while traversing the track. Usually, the car is round with passengers facing inwards or forwards (similar to that of a tilt-a-whil).
Splashdown Finale: See Water Splash
Spiral: A turn of at least 360. Also called a helix.
Splice: A piece of wood used to connect two small posts, so that they form one large one. Also known as a scab.
Sprocket Wheels: The toothed wheels that drive the lift chain.
Standing But Not Operating: A coaster that is no longer in operation, but has not been demolished yet.
Stand-Up Coaster: A style of coaster on which the riders stand up during the ride, rather than sit down. Riders stand up against vertical columns, and are secured to them by either an overhead restraint (newer models) or a complex series of stomach/shoulder bars (older models).
Station: The building-like portion of a coaster. This area houses the loading and unloading areas, train storage area, control booth, and often a maintenance area.
Station Brakes: Brakes placed in the unloading/loading area of the station, in order to hold the train in place while riders board and get off and to stop the train in the correct place as it rolls back into the station.
Steel Coaster: Coasters that use steel track, usually tubular in shape. These rides are generally built on a steel structure, but can also be built on a wood structure.
Steeplechase: A small rollercoaster with 3 or more narrow tracks. Riders ride alone on the backs of "carousel-like horses" mounted on tiny bogies. These horses race each other around the circuit. Only one example is still in operation, at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
Steepness: The angle of a coaster drop, measured in degrees, in relation to the horizontal. The larger the number, the steeper the drop, up to 90 which is straight up, or straight down. Most coaster first drops are in the 55-60 zone.
Straight Roller Coaster: A roller coaster that does not feature a turn; the layout is essentially a straight line.
Structure: The framework that supports a roller coaster.
Sub-Structure: The backbone that supports the running track on a steel coaster.
Suspended Coaster: A style of rollercoaster where the trains hang down from the rails. Usually when a roller coaster is referred to being "suspended" only, it referrs to a train with cars that are free to swing out to the sides in the curves.
Suspended Looping Coaster: Vekoma's name for an inverted coaster. Developed so that they can say they made the first "suspended looping rollercoaster."
Switchback Railway: A very early type of wooden coaster. The riders would climb up a flight of stairs to board the car, then ride down a series of slight hills, until they reached the other end. Then the riders would get out, and walk up another staircase, while workers hoisted the car back up, and then using a railroad switch moved the car over to another identical, parallel track, except that it rode in the opposite direction, back to the station. Riders faced out sideways on these rides, and their purpose was primarily a sightseeing ride.
Swoop Turn: A high speed turn, where the ride descends into the turn, but ascends out of the turn.


Terrain Coaster: A roller coaster that follows the natural terrain and contours of the land it sits on. Usually, the land around terrain coasters is left wooded and natural.
Theming: Special effects or props, added to a coaster, intended to increase riders' enjoyment. These often involve special lighting effects, scenery, sound effects, smoke/fog effects, and sometimes even water.
Theme Park: An amusement park that has been divided into several sub-sections, each with a distinctive concept, such as the Old West or the Future.
Theme Park Mentality: A slang, negative term, referring to parks or coasters that have excessive safety rules, precautions, or policies. Also refers to a ride which has been "toned-down" by adding extra brakes, extra safety restraints, etc. Note that, despite the name, you don't have to be at a theme park to experience TPM: it can happen at traditional parks as well. Also some theme parks have little-to-no TPM.
Thrust Air 2000: The logical development of S&S's tower rides into roller coaster form. The prototype layout features a 0-80, 2.0 sec launch, a 165ft tower with 90 climb and drop.
Tire-Driven Launch: A method of launching roller coaster trains down a straight section of track using strips of fast rotating tires.
Tire Lift: A form of lifting the train up an inclined slope using a train-mounted fin sliding between rotating tires mounted on the track. Used instead of the more traditional chain.
Top Hat Inversion: An inversion featured on a handful of Premier's shuttle coasters. The train enters the element by climbing up a vertical section of track, twisting 90 right or left, flipping completely over forwards so that the train is now pointing vertical towards the ground, twisting another 90 in the opposite direction that it preformed its first twist.
Track: The running rails, which the coaster rides on.
Track Gauge: The distance between the centers of the running rails. A wood coaster gauge is usually 42-44 inches, and a steel coaster is approx. 27.5 inches, up to 47.5 inches on the 4-abreast models.
Track Sensors: Devices that determine the position of the trains on the circuit, and usually speed as well. Modern coasters have numerous sensors, linked to the computer system, that can pinpoint just where everything is, and how it is operating. These sometimes were used on older coasters, as just a trip switch, which would sound a bell to warn the brake attendant.
Traditional Amusement Park: A park that is still operated in the "traditional" sense. These parks often have long histories as being "picnic parks" or "trolley parks." They often run older, classic rides, don't have themed sections, and often use pay-per-ride pricing schemes.
Train: A series of coaster cars that are coupled together, for the purpose of riding the ride.
Transfer Track/Table/Lift: On multi-train coasters, spaces for holding spare and/or unused trains. These are built such that trains can be swapped easily, to replace a "broken" train. Often this area also holds the train maintenance area, as well as a way to work under the train.
Traveling Coaster: A coaster that is designed to be taken apart, and moved to other sites. Most often used by travelling carnivals. These rides are mostly found in central Europe, where multi-looping and even inverted models exist.
Tree Topper: A coaster built in the woods, such that it runs along the tops of the trees. This enhances the sensation of speed.
Trick Track: A section of straight track that quickly banks left, then right (or vice versa) several successive times, causing the car to wildly rock from side to side.
Trim Brakes: A brake used to slow the train down. These brakes are variable, and can adjust to keep the train within certain speed limits. A trim brake can also stop a train if needed.
Tunnels: A popular part of a coaster, that involves going "inside" or underground for a brief moment. Tunnels are often dark, and give headchopper effects. In some coasters special effects take place in the tunnels.
Turnaround: A 180 curve. Found most often on out-and-back coasters at the half-way point.
Turnstile: A mechanical device that serves as a gate, which counts how many people pass through it, since it is designed so only one person can go through it at a time. Most often found at pay-per-ride parks, as a way of auditing the ticket count at the end of the day. Also these can be locked, so they prevent a person from entering a ride or park until payment has been made. Also used to prevent people from getting close to the ride, until it is time to load it. These devices come with an optional "one-way" ratchet mechanism, so they are often found at park and ride exits to prevent unauthorized access.
Twin Track Coaster: A coaster with twin, but separate, tracks, designed for the purpose of racing two trains through a similar layout. Unfortunately, parks rarely run twin-track coasters in racing fashion anymore, instead running them as two identical coasters.
Twister: A coaster with lots of direction changes and crossovers. A good twister should disorient you.


Underside Wheel: See Upstop Wheel
Upstop/Underside Wheel: The undertrack wheels that lock a car to the track.
Unloading Platform: The part of the station where riders get off out of the coaster cars. On older rides this was often in a different place than the loading platform. On newer rides the loading/unloading areas are in the same place, on opposite sides of the coaster track.


Vertical Coaster: Common name given to a roller coaster that B&M pioneered. The main feature of this coaster is a 90 drop.
Vertical Loop: A 360 turn in a vertical plane; it turns the riders upside down. What is most commonly thought of as a "loop."
Virginia Reel: An "extinct" type of wooden roller coaster that featured round, spinning cars.


Walkway/Walk Boards: A passageway, to the side of or between the tracks of a coaster, to provide a means of access for the maintenance crew to inspect the trackwork. Also used as a way to evacuate the train in case of mechanical/electrical failure.
Water Splash: A steep drop, then the track after the drop runs under a tank of water, so that the water slows down the train, creating big waves that drench the riders and bystanders.
Weight Drop Launch: A method of accelerating a roller coaster train down a straight section of track using stored potential energy. It works by dropping a large weight down a tower and using that energy to launch the train forwards through a system of attached cables.
Wheels: Several type of wheels exist on a coaster. See Flanged Wheels, Friction Wheels, Guide Wheels, Running Wheels, Upstop Wheels.
Whiplash: An injury to the neck caused by sudden forward/backward direction changes, or rapid starts/stops on a coaster. Headrests are often added to prevent this injury from happening.
Wild Mouse: A style of rollercoaster, often using individual two or four seat cars. It features a section of several sharp unbanked, serpentine curves followed by a section of sharp, sudden drops.
Wind Drag: Energy lost by a coaster due to air resistance.
Wind Load: The force of a strong wind against a coaster structure.
Wingover: B&M's name for its flatspins or corkscrews on its inverted models.
Wooden Coaster: A coaster with a track made of laminated wood. These generally are built on a wooden structure, however a few examples exist of a wood coaster built on a steel structure.
Woodie: Slang for wooden coaster.
Wristband: A device used by parks with an admission scheme that is more flexible than either of the two extremes (Pay One Price or Pay Per Ride). This consists of buying a bracelet, designed either of plastic, string, or Tyvek (untearable, water proof paper). These are designed so that they can be put on the rider easily, but taking them off requires destroying the wristband. The wristband serves as an "unlimited" ticket and is treated like a Pay One Price arrangement. This allows parks to admit both ride-lovers and park-lovers, and charge fair prices to both.


Josh Gould 2003-2015
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