Each year amusement parks around the world try to one-up one another by building bigger, faster and more intense amusement rides. Here, Sinorides
takes a look at some of the strangest, scariest and most innovative non-roller-coaster rides.
Manufacturers have been looking for ways to make rides more interactive since the late ‘40s, and SkyRoller, designed by German ride maker Gerstlauer, is a fine example of how far the industry has advanced. This swing-type contraption allows rides to control the number of barrel rolls they do by manipulating the positioning of the wings as they spin around. The concern often is subjecting riders to high g’s for a sustained period, but points out that SkyRoller is self-limiting in many ways, according to Edward Pribonic, an engineering consultant for theme parks and a former design manager at Walt Disney Imagineering.
X-Scream is essentially a teeter-totter for adrenaline junkies that tilts riders 27 feet off the edge of the Stratosphere Las Vegas. Rides like X-Scream take advantage of a built environment to create new thrills. Pribonic explains that the ride uses a relatively low-tech magnetic braking system, based around a copper blade that is attached to the bottom of the car. As the ride rolls forward, the blade slips in between a row of magnets before hitting a rubber bumper that brings it to a standstill. As the ride is tilted backwards, the blade slips out and heads toward an identical row if magnets at the other end.
DiggerLand is a U.K.-based chain of theme parks that transforms used construction equipment into rides. The concept may seem odd, but the chain is actually a subsidiary of H. E. Services, one of the U. K.’s largest excavating companies. Dump trucks, loaders and excavators are among the types of equipment that visitors as DiggerLand can expect to ride and operate. The Spin Dizzy is a modified JCB tracked excavator, where the bucket has been retrofitted to sit eight passengers.
4. Giant Discovery
This spin-and-swing ride hits nearly 70 mph and is large enough to accommodate 40 people per session. The pendulum-like motion subjects riders to both g’s and negative g’s as it takes them 150 feet into the sky and drops them back down. The mechanical stresses that riders like Giant Discovery produce are particularly grueling and require constant oversight.
5. Wild Gorge Swing
Wild 5, a South Africa-based adventure company, has built its business by finding ways to extract adrenaline rushes from the natural environment. The Wild Gorge Swing is situated on top of Lehrs Falls within South Africa’s Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve. Riders strap into a harness and plunge themselves off the top of the gorge, which is equivalent to jumping from a 33-story building. According to bloggers who’ve made the jump, top speed comes in at over 70 mph and the entire experience lasts a mere 25 seconds.
New Zealand-based Agroventures is home to a slew of unique rides, but the Shweeb stands out because of its eco-friendly approach to getting riders’ adrenaline pumping. Riders climb into translucent, pedal-powered tubes that hang from a monorail and face off in head-to-head races or complete against the clock. The 2000-feet-long course snakes through scenic farmland and can be powered through in less than a minute.
7. Flying Fury
This massive machine is one of the most interactive rides on the market. A joystick gives riders control of the four-passenger miniature planes, allowing them to pull barrel rolls and rotate 360 degrees which the arms lift them to heights in excess of 120 feet. On the autopilot setting, riders will sacrifice control of the aircraft for higher speeds, approximately 15 rpm, while the interactive setting slows things down to about 7 rpm.
8. Nothin’ but Net
The concept behind Nothin’ but Net is simple: take riders 100 feet up and drop them into a suspended net. This particular version of the ride, which is often referred to as a SCAD Tower, is found at the Zero Gravity Thrill Amusement Park in Dallas. A specially designed harness is meant to ensure that rides land on their backs, but Pribonic, who is leery of these types of riders, cautions that nothing is foolproof.
9. The Zipper
Anyone who has attended a carnival in the past 40 years likely encountered this notorious ride. A dozen two-person cage are simultaneously pulled around an oval boom, and riders who need that extra thrill can rock the cages during standstills. The Zipper has a reputation for being rough on riders, and there have been several accidents and lawsuits. In 1997, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning after four deaths and two serious injuries resulted from the doors of the cages unexpectedly opening mid-ride.
10. Insanity: the Ride
Also located on top of Vegas’ Stratosphere, Insanity the Ride lives up to its name by dangling passengers 65 feet over the edge of the building. The giant inverted centrifuge can apply as much as 3 g’s to rides as it spins at speeds up to 40 mph. attaching a giant mechanical arm to a skyscraper is no easy task. Outward-facing rides are tilted at 70-degree angle, making for some of best and most frightening views anywhere in Sin City.