Roller Coaster Know How!

The website that tells you everything about roller coasters!

Roller Coaster Dictionary

Ver. 2.0


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Check out this cool table of roller coaster elements. It has every element ever made in roller coaster history and the designer company that first brought it before us:

Coaster Elements Chart

Here you can look up difficult roller coaster "lingo" words and see what they mean. All the current words in the dictionary are shown below in alphabetical order. If you came here just see what this page is you can just look around. But if you came from a different webpage and wanted to know what a word ment, just find your word, click on it and it will take you to that word. The actual dictionary is not in alphabetical order but the words are here to help you find the words easier. Some words are defined by me and some by The words defined by will have this symbol next to them: .

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Roller Coaster:

  A small gravity railroad, esp. in an amusement park, having a train with open cars that moves along a high, sharply winding trestle built with steep inclines that produce sudden, speedy plunges for thrill-seeking passengers.


Another term for a wooden roller coaster. May also be used to describe old, classic wooden roller coasters.


Side-Friction Wheels :

Wheels (mostly found on roller coasters) that sit inside the track and run alongside the track. Their purpose is to prevent the car from sliding off the track in a horizontal motion. Also see: Upstop wheels, main wheels.

upstop wheels:

Wheels (mostly found on roller coasters) that sit under the track and ride against the underside of the track. Their purpose is to keep the vehicle from leaving the track virticaly from negative g-forces acting apon the car during the ride. Also see: G-forces.

Main Wheels:

Wheels that are the essencial wheels of a roller coaster and ride upon the top of the track. Supports the main weight of the train and its cars and allows the train to roll on the track.


The process or event in which a roller coaster's car, cars, or whole train becomes disconected with the track and the wheels come off the track.


  An element of a roller coaster track that turns riders upside-down and then rights them. The degree to which it must invert riders is nebulous and a point of contention when it comes to elements like overbanked turns, which turn riders such that their heads are below their feet, but are not considered inversions. The first inversions, built in the early 1900s, were circular vertical loops that accumulated massive g-forces, causing stress on riders' necks. In 1975, designers from Arrow Dynamics developed the corkscrew, and the inversion was revived. Since then, elements have evolved from the simple vertical loop to massive Cobra rolls.


A phenomna experienced by riders that is described as "weightlessness" or "being sucked out of your seat" because of negative vertical g-forces being acted upon the car when it goes over a "hump" in the track or some uniqe inversion. Track designers use this universal effect to their own demise to make their ride more fun and full of motion for your enjoyment. The reson it is called air-time is because it is the total time you feel this phenomna which is also called "getting air."

g-forces (Gravitational Forces):

  A force acting on a body as a result of acceleration or gravity, informally described in units of acceleration equal to one g. For example, a 12 pound object undergoing a g-force of 2g experiences 24 pounds of force. See more at acceleration of gravity.


  Designed with rounded edges so as to reduce wind drag and thereby increase [speed] efficiency.


The scientific word to describe a certain effect of air (wind) on an object and its speed. Drag occurs when wind hits a moving object and slows its speed because of in-aero-dynamic design or having a large surface area. Having a larger surface area will not always create more drag. For example, a plane has a huge surface area, but, because it is very aero-dynamic it is able to reduce its drag and be able to continue at a fast speed.  Also see: Aero-dynamic.

Lap Bar:

A safty feature that, today, close to every amusment ride in the world has. It is a bar that piviots down to your lap and locks in place to keep you from comming out of your seat while the ride is in motion. In most states, the lap bar is a law to have on a public amusment ride, so, if you see a ride with out one and you go on it, you are either:

  1. Not in the United States...
  2. On a ride with a seat belt or advanced restraintment system...
  3. ...or you are really dumb.

Shoulder Harnest:

Another safty feature, like the one above, that keeps you from comming out of your seet. But instead of it coming down on your lap, it comes down over your shoulders. It is mostly used on more extreame coasters or coasters with inversions because for most coasters with inversions, a lap bar isn't good enough or it would be very discomforting to the rider. All the shoulder harnest does is add yet another measure of safty to amusements.


Point Of View. Usually a camera angle for a roller coaster. This camera angle gives you the perspective of riding the ride itself.

Lift Hill:


lift hill
, or
chain hill
, is often the initial upward-sloping section of track on a typical
roller coaster
that initially transports the
roller coaster train
to an elevated point or peak in the roller coaster ride.



When a section of track is angled laterally.

Block Brakes:

A section of track separated from the rest of the track a check brake, a lift hill, or any other place on the circuit where the train can be halted if required. This allows the safe operation of multiple trains on one circuit. One train is not allowed to enter a block unless the train ahead has already exited that block. If that train, for any reason, fails to make it through it's block, the next train will be stopped before it enters the next block.


Applied where needed along a coaster's track in order to slow down a train when it passes over that section.

Centrifugal Force:

The force which the rider has on his or her seat (or as a train has on its tracks) as they experience positive g forces due to vertical accelerations. From a physics standpoint, this force does not actually exist, and is only an effect of inertia.

Centripital Force:

The force pushing inward around a curve, for example, the force exerted on the train by the track in a loop.

Guide Rail:

A third rail, commonly found on older wild mouse type coasters. It is used in place of guide wheels and upstops, to guide the car along the running rails and to keep it on the tracks.

Juinor Coaster:

A roller coaster that is intended for younger riders. They are most often very small , and tame.


The waiting area for a roller coaster or other ride. These are often themed to build story, or to entertain visitors while they wait.


The wheel assemblies and wheels. These are often free to rotate so that the provide a smoother ride.

4th Dimension

Term used to describe Arrow Dynamics 4th Dimension roller coaster where the individual cars of the roller coaster train are designed to independently flip on a horizontal axis in a controlled manner. An example is the X2 roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain.


Describes when the coaster's cars or trains are gaining speed. The term is most commonly used to describe how fast a train reaches a specific speed on a launch coaster (i.e. the train accelerates from zero to XX mph in X number of seconds).

American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE)

American Coaster Enthusiasts is the largest club of roller coaster and amusement park enthusiasts. Membership is open to all. The club's annual fee includes a membership card, access to club sponsored events and a publication.

Anti-Rollback Device

A ratcheting mechanism used on a lift hill or section of a roller coaster that prevents the cars or trains from rolling backwards. This is the device that causes the familiar clicking sound on many lift hills.


To rise up a hill, tower or any incline.

Barrel Roll

An inversion term most frequently used by Bolliger and Mabillard to describe what is basically a corkscrew inversion on their roller coasters. Also refered to as a corkscrew.

Exclusive Ride Time (ERT)

The term used by coaster clubs to describe the exclusive period of time where only members may ride the thrill ride or roller coaster. ERT usually occurs before the park opens or after the park closes.

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