51 Facts About Roller Coasters

Roller Coasters have been a major feature in theme parks for years, all thanks to us adrenaline seekers. Its earliest incarnation was a 70-feet high ice slide built in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1750. 50 years later, a Frenchman brought the idea to Paris, building a more permanent structure out of rails and wheels. Now, roller coasters can be found all over the world! Keep on reading to learn 51 thrilling facts about Roller Coasters. 

Fact 1: A roller coaster is a type of amusement ride that uses elevated tracks designed with tight turns, steep slopes, as well as drops, to give thrill-seekers a good time!

  • Roller coasters are all about taking passengers on a journey of sudden dips, drops, loops and speeds – they’re there to give riders an adrenaline kick – these rides are not for the faint-hearted! 

Fact 2: They are found mostly in amusement/theme parks and are often seen today as a popular leisure activity.

Fact 3: In 1885, LaMarcus Adna Thompson obtained one of the first known patents for a roller coaster design. 

  • The patent was related to the Switchback Railway that opened at Coney Island a year earlier. 

Fact 4: Most roller coaster designs involve some sort of multiple car layout, where passengers must sit/stand for the ride. Obviously proper restraints are used for safety. 

Fact 5: Generally, the cars you see on most roller coasters are held together and are collectively called a train. 

Fact 6: Some roller coasters like the ‘Wild Mouse’ roller coasters, run with only single cars.

Fact 7: On August 16, 1898, roller coaster designer Edwin Prescott was granted a patent for an additional feature for roller coasters: the vertical loop. 

  • The simple roller coaster vertical loop is when the riders complete a 360-degree turn during the ride. This was quite a feature in its heyday, but now we have rides with multiple loops going on! 

Fact 8: Each year National Roller Coaster Day is on August 16th, on this day people flock to amusement parks for a thrilling roller coaster themed day! 

  • The day commemorates the first vertical loop roller coaster which was patented by Edwin Prescott on this day in 1898.

Fact 9: The oldest roller coaster type ride is the “Russian Mountains” ride.

Fact 10: The ‘Russian Mountains’ were specially constructed hills of ice located in the area that is now Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Fact 11: The ice slides were built in the 17th century, had a height of 21 to 24 m, they had a 50-degree drop, and were reinforced by wooden supports. Health and safety was clearly different back in the day!

Fact 12: The longest roller coaster in the world is Japan’s ‘Steel Dragon 2000’.

Fact 13: The ‘Steel Dragon 2000’ is a steel roller coaster located at Nagashima Spa Land in Nagashima, Kuwana, Mie, Japan. 

Fact 14: The ‘Steel Dragon 2000’ opened on August 1, 2000, and it became the tallest and fastest full-circuit roller coaster in the world, surpassing ‘Millennium Force’ at Cedar Point, which opened three months earlier.

Fact 15: John Miller developed the first underfriction roller coaster in 1919. 

  • Underfriction on a rollercoaster is what helps the car to actually stay on the track as it goes around all the bends, and through all the humps. Imagine what roller coasters were like without this invention!!

Fact 16: In 1959, Disneyland’s “Matterhorn Bobsleds” became the first roller coaster to use a tubular steel track. 

Fact 17: Unlike wooden coaster rails, tubular steel can be bent in any direction, allowing designers to incorporate loops, corkscrews, and many other manoeuvres into their designs.  

Fact 18: The fastest roller coaster in the world is Abu Dhabi’s ‘Formula Rossa’ ride.

Fact 19: Formula Rossa is a launched roller coaster located at Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Fact 20: The ‘Formula Rossa’ was manufactured by Intamin.

Fact 21: Formula Rossa is the world’s fastest roller coaster with a top speed of 240km/h.

Fact 22: The tallest roller coaster in the world is “Kingda Ka” located at the Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. 

Fact 23: The ‘Kingda KA’ ride reaches a height of 456feet.

Fact 24: The ‘Kingda Ka’ can accelerate up to 128 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds.

Fact 25: Featuring fourteen upside-down moments, ‘The Smiler’ at Alton Towers in the United Kingdom, holds the world record for the most number of loops on a roller coaster.

Fact 26: You’ll travel at around 85km/h through the loops on ‘The Smiler’. It’s probably best to stay away from the food court if you’re going to go on this one!!

Fact 27: The world’s actual oldest roller coaster, ‘Leap-The-Dips’ in Altoona, PA, was built in 1901. 

Fact 28: The ‘Leap-The-Dips’ was almost destroyed when it shut down in 1985, but 11 years later it was named a National Historic Landmark and it was restored to working order several years after that.

Fact 29: ‘Six Flags Magic Mountain’ in California holds the world record for the most number of roller coasters in a theme park. 

Fact 30: There are 19 roller coasters at ‘Six Flags Magic Mountain’ and it is the amusement park of choice for a thrill-seeking day out!

Fact 31: In 2012, Richard Rodriguez set the world record for the most number of days spent riding a roller coaster worldwide. 

Fact 32: Roller coaster record breaker Richard Rodriguez got off the ‘Big One’ in Blackpool after riding it for 112 consecutive days, beating the previous record of 102.

Fact 33: 52 people died on amusement park rides between 1990 and 2004.

Fact 34: The deadliest roller coaster accident in history happened on May 30, 1972, when the lift chain of Battersea Park’s “Big Dipper” prematurely released at the top of the first incline, sending the cars plummeting backwards down the hill and into a turn.

Fact 35: America’s first roller coaster rolled at a snail’s pace.

Fact 36: Coney Island’s ‘Switchback Railway Roller Coaster’ reached a breakneck speed of only 6 mph, a ride would cost you a nickel.  

Fact 37: ‘Switchback Railway’ roller coaster was a side-saddle coaster. 

  • This meant that people didn’t ride it straight on, they rode it sideways.

Fact 38: Walt Disney World’s ‘Expedition Everest’ is the world’s most expensive roller coaster. 

Fact 39: It took six years to design and create the ‘Expedition Everest’ ride.

Fact 40: It cost a hefty $100 million to build the ‘Expedition Everest’ at Walt Disney.

Fact 41: You’re more likely to die by falling out of bed in the morning than getting seriously injured on a roller coaster. 

Fact 42: According to the National Safety Council, you’ve got a 1 in 24 million chance of getting seriously injured on an amusement park ride.  

Fact 43: “Cyclone” was the most popular roller coaster back in the 1920s.

Fact 44: The “Cyclone” is a famous wooden track roller coaster, that is in Coney Island, New York.

Fact 45: The “Cyclone” can travel at a top-speed of 60mp/h around its track – which is a major feat in itself.

Fact 46: Wooden rides can no longer be built in some places like NYC, because new laws stipulate that rides must be built in certain ways and they must use certain materials.

Fact 47: The “Cyclone” was actually an inspiration for the name of a local basketball team – Brooklyn Cyclones.

Fact 48: As of 2017, China has 1119 steel roller coasters throughout the country.

Fact 49: As of 2017, the United States has 624 steel roller coasters in the country.

Fact 50: China reportedly only has 12 wooden roller coasters, as of 2017.

Fact 51: The United States has 117 wooden roller coasters as of 2017.


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