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Dissecting the Ride – Lift Hill

Ever wonder why rides make certain sounds? Wonder why it takes a mechanic to “clear” a ride and restart it? In the next few posts, I’ll be highlighting questions people always ask me at parks – so you’ll be an educated park guest!

In it’s essence, the lift hill is the engine of the roller coaster. It give the cars the potential energy they need in order to complete the circuit. The greater the height of the lift, the more potential energy the ride has (I.E. the longer the ride can go)

Traditionally, the lift hill is at the start to the ride, angled at about a 20-25 degree pitch, and has a chain that runs along a trough built into the track.

Graphic by: SyntaxError55

Graphic by: SyntaxError55

Once you’re on the lift, you’ll hear the familiar click-click sound – that’s actually a brilliant safety device called an anti-rollback strip. Simply put, if the ride stops suddenly, or heaven forbid) the chain breaks – the car will simply rest in the position it was last in. It’s a similar principle to those common “zip ties” you might have laying around your home. They, just like a coaster – only roll on one direction.

These devices may also be placed at other key areas of the ride, where the chance of a rollback is higher (usually in a slower section of the ride – at the top of a hill)

There are some rides that either do no or cannot have these devices, usually because the action of the ride requires forwards and backwards motion.

So, the next time you’re on a ride – know that a century-old safety device is right under (or above you), making sure your train safely makes it up the lift and subsequent hills time and time again.

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