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Roller Coasters – Our Favorite Thrill Ride Has a “Thrilling” History Behind It

Megan Roche December 16, 2018

Next to baseball, martinis, and pizza, roller coasters are one of our favorite things. There’s just something about relinquishing control to the stomach churning drops and brain mixing loops that make up a classic or modern roller coaster.

Maybe it’s the adrenaline, or perhaps it’s the brief sabbatical from reality. Whatever feeling a roller coaster ignites in a person, one thing is for certain – it’s addicting.

With new technology there are more incredibly crazy roller coasters than ever. It’s hard to imagine a time without the towering monstrosities, yet roller coasters haven’t existed for all that long.

A Brief History of Roller CoastersThunderbolt Roller Coaster

As far as American roller coaster history goes, let’s take a quick trip to the iconic day of June 16, 1884.

On this important day, the very first roller coaster in America had its grand opening at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York.

Yes, it was a roller coaster, but few to none would find it exciting this day in age. The coaster was a switchback railway invented by LaMarcus Thompson.

It traveled six miles an hour, and the charge to ride was a nickle. At that time, the ride was massively popular and shortly thereafter roller coasters started popping up around the entire country.

Between the Great Depression and World War II, free time and money were difficult to come by, and as such roller coasters fell by the wayside. This time period is known by some as the dark ages of roller coasters.

Hello Disneyland!

It wasn’t until 1955 when Disneyland opened in Anaheim, California, that a renewed fervor for roller coasters began.  With all of the competing coasters and theme parks today, it begs the question – what makes a good roller coaster?

There’s no perfect recipe for the perfect coaster, because different folks enjoy different features, but there are a few categories of coasters and features that have brought adrenaline-filled pleasure to theme park goers for decades now.

The Classic Wooden Coaster

The only type of roller coaster that existed until the Matterhorn at Disneyland. A roller with tracks made of wood, typically fashioned with the classic two-seater karts. To this day, wooden roller coaster are extremely popular.

Steel Roller Coasters

A major point of excitement in roller coaster history, this happened in 1959 with the opening of the Matterhorn. Steel allowed for bigger and better coasters, and this was the starting point for the true coaster creativity to begin.

The Inverting Feature

With the invention of a steel coaster, next came the first steel inverting coaster. Knott’s Berry Farm partnered with Arrow Development to bring this to fruition.

Roller coasters that invert are a dime a dozen today. In fact, these days it’s more challenging to find a roller coaster that doesn’t invert!

Loop-de-Loop Feature

It’s one thing to invert, it’s another to go on a loop-de-loop. You know, the one circle followed by another? HangTime Coaster at Knott's Berry Farm California Attractions

Yeah, you might remember gazing at those as a kid, either terrified or excited beyond measure. The first loop-de-loop happened 1976 at Magic Mountain.

The Launched Coaster

Coaster fanatics these days have an intense need for speed. That speed was made possible with the technology of launched roller coasters. Essentially instead of using the traditional chain lift, the launched coaster uses high amounts of acceleration via linear induction motors. These coasters are the fastest and most intense in the world!

Two of our favorite coasters are: Flight of the Hippogriff at Universal Studios, Hollywood and the Xcelerator at Knott’s Berry Farm.

What are some of your favorite features on a roller coaster? Which roller coasters are your favorite? With so many spectacular coasters in the U.S., there’s no shortage of adrenaline.

So next time you’re been whizzed through the air, think about the incredible engineering and creativity that went on for decades to create the coaster you’re riding on! Incredible!

As you plan your Coaster Adventures, be sure to visit 365 Tickets Canada for deals on all of your theme park and attraction tickets.

Go crazy with the coasters, stay safe and have fun!

Megan Roche

My name is Megan and traveling is my game! I love riding rollercoasters, exploring new theme parks, visiting some of the most historical sites in the US, and writing.

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