I absolutely love rollercoasters and often imagine what it would be like to experience the world’s 5,000 rollercoasters. And I’m not alone. Each year, these amusement park magnets support 900 million rides in the United States alone.
Historians and enthusiasts debate the origins of rollercoasters. Some attribute the first rollercoaster construction, Russian Ice Slides, to Catherine the Great in the Gardens of Oranienbaum in Saint Petersburg in the year 1784. Another school of thought first dates rollercoasters the French who took back to their country, the idea of what they called Russian Mountains. The development of rollercoasters stalled until an unrelated business need of coal-mining companies to haul mineral along long passageways. In the early 1800s, the Mauch Chunk raised railroad was built in Pennsylvania to move coal from mines deep within mountains to barges along nearby canals. These operations used mules to pull empty cars up hill, then gravity returned cars filled with coal down hills. Ultimately, coal-hauling systems motivated the next engineer wave of rollercoasters. On January 20, 1886, LaMarcus Adna Thompson patented the first design, on as an entertainment rail system with raised tracks and hook miniature riding cars. Thompson’s Gravity Pleasure Switchback Railway debuted at Coney Island in New York. Thompson’s design featured dual tracks, one track taking the rollercoaster in one direction, and the second track used to to carry the cars along a return trip. In 1959, The Matterhorn Bobsled tubular steel roller coaster was built for Disneyland, in Anaheim, California. And after a low period, in 1972, Kings Island, in my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, unveiled an amazing wood structure rollercoaster, The Racer, that stimulated the growth and next engineering era of rollercoasters.
- In 2010, 102 roller coaster enthusiasts set a new world record at Adventure Island in Essex, for the most amount of people riding a roller coaster nude.
- Richard Rodriguez holds the world record for the longest time spent on a roller coaster, a total of 401 hours.
- Most conventional roller coasters do not have engines, instead they work by converting potential energy into kinetic energy.
- The Fastest. Formula Rossa at Abu Dhabi’s Formula One theme park reaches 149 MPH.
- The Tallest. Kinga Ka at The Six Flags Great Adventure Park is 465 feet.
- The Longest. The Steel Dragon 2000 at Nagashima Spa Land stretches 8,133 feet.
- Highest Number of Inversions. The Colossus in England’s Thorpe Park as 10 inversions.