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CoasterSpeak: E to I

Glossary of Roller Coaster Terminology


E through I


The generic word for the turnarounds, corkscrews and other effects designed into coasters.

Elevator Cable Lift
Instead of a traditional chain lift, coasters with elevator cable lifts (which use a technology similar to the mechanisms found in building elevators) move considerably faster up their lift hills--and do not exhibit the click-clack-click of a chain lift's anti-rollback device.

ERT (Exclusive Ride Time)
The special "members-only" time parks establish for coaster clubs or other groups to ride coasters.

A model name of a coaster manufactured by the German ride company Gerstlauer. They feature single-car trains, 90-degree (straight up) lift hills, and "beyond vertical" (greater than 90 degrees) first drops. An example of a Euro-Fighter coater is Dare Devil Dive at Six Flags Over Georgia.


Family Coaster (or Junior)
A generally more tame ride than the thrill-seekers' behemoths.

First Drop
The initial and (generally) the biggest and fastest descent on a coaster.

A coaster whose train has no floor. Essentially "flying seats," the train sits above the track and riders have nothing above or below them other than the seat itself.

Flying Coaster
On first-generation flying coasters, the seats recline into a prone position and face backwards so that when the train inverts, riders are in a superhero-like flying position. The cars include harness-type safety restraints that can be a bit unnerving at first. The seats on later models simply pivot 45 degrees down in the loading station to get passengers into flying mode and leave facing forward.

Fourth Dimension
A type of coaster in which the seats are placed on the outside of the tracks and are able to spin, independent of the trains. Six Flags Magic Mountain has two examples of fourth dimension coasters: the pioneering X2 and the more compact Green Lantern, which its manufacturer dubs a "ZacSpin" model.

Rides that are powered up and then freefall straight down. Are they coasters? That's a matter of some disagreement as some say the 400-plus foot Superman attraction at Six Flags Magic Mountain is either one of the world's tallest roller coasters or a very tall freefall attraction.


The forces, either negative or positive, that force riders out or pin them down into their seats. Brief bursts of moderate G-forces are coaster nirvana. Too little or too much is coaster purgatory.

If a hypercoaster refers to coasters that surpass 200 feet, what do you call ones that break the 300-foot threshold? Cedar Point and ride manufacturer, Intamin AG, coined the term, Giga-Coaster, for mold-breaker Millennium Force. Like most hypercoasters, these behemoths are built for height, speed, acceleration, and intense G-forces. While they may have highly banked turns, they generally do not have any inversions.

Grab Bars
The handles to the side or front of riders that allow them to hang on for their dear lives.

Guide Wheels
Ever wonder why coaster trains don't fly off of their tracks? They have an extra set of guide wheels under the train that lock the cars to the track.


Head Choppers
A lovely expression used to describe the narrow openings into which Twister Coasters send their riders. Duck!

Heartline Roll (or Zero-G Roll)
An element in which the train twists but the riders' hearts stay roughly in line with the center of the curve.

A spiral section of track that turns into itself and is typically highly banked. It delivers high doses of lateral (side-to-side) G-forces. A double helix completes two 360-degree turns.

Hydraulic Launch
Most launched coasters use magnetic propulsion to shoot the trains out of the loading stations. Coasters such as Cedar Point's Top Thrill Dragster, however, use hydraulics to achieve the same effect.

Loosely defined as any coaster whose height exceeds 200 feet. Generally does not include any inversions. Hypercoasters are all about height, speed, acceleration, G-forces and airtime. Especially airtime.


Immelmann Roll
A half-loop that inverts coaster cars for a half twist and sends them in the reverse direction. Named after a World War 1 German ace who popularized the flying maneuver.

Impulse Coasters
Uses magnetic induction to launch trains forwards and backwards up a U-shaped track. Typically, one side of the track is a spiral, and the other side is straight. The ride usually cycles through five launches, each one progressively faster.

Inverted Coaster
The train hangs underneath the tracks, but unlike a suspended coaster, it cannot pivot freely. Also, inverted coasters have no floors and riders' legs dangle. Think of a ski lift gone haywire.

An element that turns riders upside down

Like a Boomerang Coaster, but with inverted trains.

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