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CoasterSpeak: Roller Coaster Terms A to D

A Glossary of Roller Coaster Definitions

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What's your favorite type of coaster? Inverted? Suspended? Multi-element linear induction shuttle? Say what? In the old days, wood coasters were fairly standard, and you didn't need to know a heck of a lot of buzzwords to be conversant. With today's technology and design expertise, new varieties of coasters complicate matters considerably. Following is a handy glossary to help you decode the thrills.

A through D

A

Airtime

Anti-Rollback Device
You know that "click-clack-click" sound you hear when traditional roller coasters climb the first hill? It is caused by "dogs" under the cars that ratchet into place and prevent the trains from falling back down the hill in the event of a lift chain failure.

B

Bank (or Banked Curve)
When the track causes the cars to lean in one direction. In a curve, it can be used to reduce the sensation of riders being thrown to the side of the car.

Barrel Roll
Taken (as many coaster elements are) from airplane acrobatic maneuvers. Indicates a complete sideways twist.

Block
A necessity on coasters that run more than one train of cars. Refers to a section of track that can be blocked from others using brakes. Built-in safety systems prevent collisions by allowing only one car to enter a block at any one time.

Bobsled
As the name suggests, bobsled coaster cars don't sit on a track but navigate through a course much like a rider would on a waterpark slide.

Boomerang
A type of shuttle coaster found at many parks that sends its cars first forward, then backwards through the same circuit.

Brake Run
A section of track with brakes built in to it used to slow a train before it returns to the loading platform at the end of a run.

Bunny Hops (Also called Camelbacks)
A series of short hills, usually towards the end of a run, designed to induce brief bursts of airtime.

C

Camelback (See Bunny Hops)

Catapult (or Launched)
The use of linear induction motors, powered pneumatic tires, compressed air or anything else ride designers can come up with to launch coaster trains from a standing start. An alternative to a traditional chain lift system.

Chain Lift
The device that lifts the train of cars to the top of the first hill. From there, gravity takes over.

Corkscrew
A coaster element, so named because the track looks like the thing you use to remove wine corks. Causes the train to twist completely around, often two times in a row.

Cyclone
A coaster that turns and twists into itself. Named after Coney Island's famous woodie. As opposed to an out-and-back coaster. Also known as a twister coaster.

D

Dark Ride
Generic term used to describe any park attraction that moves riders through an indoor environment. Enclosed coasters, such as Space Mountain, are dark rides.

Dead Spot
A portion of a coaster ride, typically near the end, where the forces seem to peter out.

Diving Coaster
As the name implies, diving coasters climb a lift hill, momentarily hang precariously at the top, and then dive 90 degrees (that's straight down folks).

Double Out and Back
An "out and back" coaster whose track follows a similar route for a second time.

Double Down Drop
A drop that is immediately followed by a second drop. Passengers generally Aren't able to anticipate the second drop.

Dueling Coaster (or Racing)
A coaster with two tracks and two sets of trains that are launched together and "duel" or "race" one another to the finish.

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