The design and development of amusement rides requires a mastery of physics, engineering, and mathematics.
As technology has improved to include computers, advanced materials, and certain design innovations, the result has been an increasingly rigorous, complex, and precise creative process.
This process has contributed to an extraordinary safety record proving amusement rides are one of the safest forms of recreation available to the public.
The amusement park industry's tradition of continual improvement greatly enhances ride safety. For example, the introduction of force reactive supports, headrests, comfort padding, seat dividers, ratcheted restraints, computer controls, and magnetic braking systems.
Modern-day ride designers employ a steady stream of advances to create new, unique, and safe amusement rides and attractions.
Amusement ride manufacturers appled the industry's biodynamic knowledge as it relates to G-forces to the design and construction of rides to ensure a safe experience.
While technological gains have led to the development of bigger and faster rides, overall G-force levels have generally remained the same because riders’ tolerance levels have not changed.
Time-Tested Technological Principles and Breakthroughs
Fail-safe defaults ensure in the case of a power outage or other external event, vehicles come to rest in a safe position and remain there until passengers are evacuated according to a pre-arranged plan or the ride is re-started.
Redundant safety mechanisms in critical areas provide backup in case the primary system malfunctions.
Impact of the Computer
Perhaps the most crucial advancement is the computer and its far-reaching impact on ride design, manufacture, and operation.
Designers employ modeling software to manipulate a large number of elements quickly and easily, optimizing a ride’s final layout, and providing a complete analysis of its performance, structural integrity, and g-force parameters.
The fabrication of various ride and attraction components are now even more technically precise.
Park personnel use central control units and numerous high-tech sensors to constantly monitor all aspects of a ride. Mid-ride adjustments, activation of themed elements, and automatic system shutdowns occur faster and more accurately.
Amusement Ride Enhancements
Roller coaster manufacturers are still exploring the possibilities that opened to them with the advent of tubular steel tracks and polyurethane wheels.
Lightweight fiberglass and plastics has contributed to the improvement of various rides and attractions, including carousels, animatronics, and bumper cars.
Several types of amusement rides, especially roller coasters, employ vibration-dampening material to provide structural enhancement.
“Locking” roller coasters on the track via a three-wheeled device (top, side, and bottom) produces a whole new world of twists, turns, and inversions.
Modern catapult-type launch systems powered by pneumatics and linear electric motors have expanded the creative options available to ride manufacturers.
The integration of special effects, motion simulation, and/or theming within ride environments has resulted in a wider array of guest experiences.