Vote of the week: Do you put your hands in the air on roller coasters?

May 7, 2010, 7:05 AM · The ubiquitous theme park safety spiel is "Please keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle at all times. Mantenga sus manos y brazos dentro del vehĂ­culo en todo moment, por favor."

But walk over to just about any roller coaster, and what do you see?

Intimidator 305 at Kings Dominion

People failing their hands in the air like they're at a hip-hop concert.

Most coasters I've ridden have posted explicit instructions that you should hold the grab bar when riding. Obviously, parks don't want you to fall out (or climb out) of a coaster while riding, and a firm grip on the grad bar helps ensure that you remain in place. One park last year went so far as to explicit ban raised arms - not for safety reasons, but to keep riders from having to endure others' smelly pits. So you've got that reason, too.

Me? I always hold the grab bar. I like to feel the train while I'm riding, to feel part of the track, and holding the grab bar helps me have more physical contact with the coaster. Others prefer the sense of flying free from that track, which is why they put up their arms and try to minimize contact with the train itself.

So now we've got our vote of the week:

Make your case in the comments, please. And have a great weekend!

Replies (39)

May 7, 2010 at 7:48 AM · Usually I'm going hands-up, or hands and feet up if the train design allows for that. Trying to touch your toes while going down Nitro's first drop is QUITE the rush and visual effect. But, when it comes to wooden coasters, I'm usually holding on. I love laterals, but my skinny frame doesn't take the rib-bashing too well.
May 7, 2010 at 7:55 AM · It mostly depends on the coaster but the more intense it is the more likely it is that I hold on to the bar. For the same reason as Robert, I like to feel the ride and the track.
May 7, 2010 at 8:14 AM · Hands up on coasters that are outdoors, holding on for dear life on any woody or indoor coasters. Woodies because I try to stabilize myself from being jerked around so much, and on indoor because it's usually dark and you can't see everything.
May 7, 2010 at 8:22 AM · I find it makes the experience either better or worse. Space Mountain is 10 times better with hands up. But I found it more thrilling to hold on during Rock n' Rollercoaster. Just my opinion.
May 7, 2010 at 8:29 AM · I made a pact with a friend some years back when I was afraid of big coasters. My friend told me for every new coaster I ride, for at least the first ride through, I must keep my hands raised in the air. After that day, I keep my hands up for every coaster every time I ride because the air time feels significantly better when you are not holding on with your hands. And of course on the flying coasters like Manta at SeaWorld or Batwing at Six Flags America, you must stick your hands up on those coasters or else, to me, you are not truly getting the full sensation of flying. So my vote is Hands Up....all the way baby!!!
May 7, 2010 at 9:01 AM · It really depends on the Rollercoaster. For example: Hands up on Apollo's Chariot but hand bar for M. Force. Inverted coasters I grab the harness.
May 7, 2010 at 9:17 AM · Not really but I will say I put them up for superman at sfga. You lay down though
May 7, 2010 at 9:19 AM · Space Mountain is the one ride where not only would I never put my hands up, but I also scrunch down as far as I can in the car.

Yeah, I know there's plenty of clearance around the track. I've seen the track with the lights on, even. But whenever I ride Space, I'm convinced that the track frame's ready to lop off a body part if I don't stay small.

May 7, 2010 at 9:38 AM · Ha ha Robert. I do the same thing on Space Mountain. I am 6'4" and though I know that no one has been decapitated on Space Mountain, I don't want to be the first. So I scrunch down as low as I can go.

Because of my height and my long arms, I don't put my arms up on any ride. Oh plus I am a chicken, which probably has more to do with me not putting up my arms than the height issue.

May 7, 2010 at 9:44 AM · For most of the coasters I've been on in my life time, hands up on the first drop, then usually hold on after that. And from a program I watched on TV about coaster safety, restraints are designed to hold a rider in, even if they pass out.

And I get that same feeling on Space Mountain too Robert, although I don't sink down in the seat. It's one of the few coasters I have yet to put my hands up.

May 7, 2010 at 10:12 AM · I usually hold onto the bar, but I can't help but put my arms up on all the good B&M megas (Diamondback, Apollo's Chariot, Nitro). How can you not put your arms up on those coasters? It feels like you're flying!
May 7, 2010 at 10:29 AM · Hands up for AIR TIME always! Woo hoo!
May 7, 2010 at 10:39 AM · I always grab on the hand bar not because it causes a stink (Remember the ridiculous rule in Thorpe Park that says "Say NO to BO?), but it's for my safety. 'Nuff said.
May 7, 2010 at 11:02 AM · I always hold on. I never understood why people hold their hands in the air while riding a roller coaster.
May 7, 2010 at 11:14 AM · It really depends on the ride. I've got a semi-complex set of rules to determine what the best way to ride something is based on experience. For example, on steel coasters, I'll put my hands up if it only has a lapbar and hold on if it has a shoulder harness unless it is a B&M (hands up always on B&M coasters). If the ride is known for being rough I will hold on during the ride. If the ride is indoors I will typically put my hands up but not above my head. On launched rides, I usually will hold on until after the launch because I don't like the feeling of my arms being jerked backward.

On wooden coasters, I usually hold on unless I know personally the ride is smooth, in which case I will raise my hands but not above my head.

May 7, 2010 at 11:31 AM · I hold on. I feel strongly about this. It was made so you would hold on to it. It wasn't build to put your hands up. Plus i don't remember the ride, but i went on it and the person sitting next to me kept trying to stay with their hands up the against physics, and the elbows kept hitting my arms. Elbows up then the ride would spin elbows would come down forced by gravity, and they would hit my arms over and over. I wasn't thrill to say the least.

~By the way Robert you said they do it as if they where "at a hip-hop concert" I think they look more like there seats just caught fire and they where burning they behind's off. Like they where screaming putting there hands up like: Help me, heeeelp me, my but is burning up!!

May 7, 2010 at 11:53 AM · Sorry, but I don't think raising my arms in the air adds to an experience, and as a rule follower, I am pretty sure it is against the rules of most parks for safety reasons...
May 7, 2010 at 12:36 PM · Even after walking Space Mountain's track on a nightly basis (I'm 6'3"), I still would keep my hands down for the longest time. It wasn't until a lights-on ride that I started keeping my hands out. Even with my +6 foot wingspan, I can't reach the supports above. On the side however...thank goodness for the hand deflectors. They make a lot of noise, but not much pain. Then again, I smacked it on purpose to show the guests it doesn't hurt. A little extra entertainment during a breakdown is fun. :)
May 7, 2010 at 12:43 PM · Hands up. I don't want to be made fun of for being the only guy in the group without his arms up.
May 7, 2010 at 1:40 PM · Robert, perhaps you should redo this vote and add a choice of "It depends on the coaster." I do both, as do many in here. It depends on the size, type, and especially on the restraint design. Some restraints are so, uh, restraining that putting your hands up is not only uncomfortable but silly-looking.
May 7, 2010 at 2:05 PM · Hands up all the way. on pretty much ANY coaster. Hyper coasters give you more airtime when doing it and the same with woodies. others like rock n roller coaster and everest just make it more thrilling. Not putting your hands up takes away a lot of things in a ride (for me or unless your scared to death).
May 7, 2010 at 2:36 PM · Hands in the air
Hands in the air
You'll look like a rookie
Without your hands in the air
May 7, 2010 at 2:58 PM · I thought about that, James, but decided to push the leaners and see how they went. Love the discussion!
May 7, 2010 at 2:58 PM · I don't do either. I don't like riding with my arms up in the air, but I also don't usually grip the handrails.

On smooth coasters, I just let my arms sit in front of me, and float up and down as they see fit.

On harsh rides, I tend to push myself up with my arms and legs, to take the weight off my back, to minimize any back-related problems. Or I'll just use my legs, in which case I will sometimes hold UNDER the lap bar and pull it up so it doesn't accidentally get pushed down and hold me too tightly in the seat.

I will sometimes throw my arms up right before a tunnel or low-haning obstacle, just because that's when most people pull their arms down.

May 7, 2010 at 5:10 PM · I had thought putting your hands in the air was suppose to show everyone how unafraid you were of the coaster or eithor to show how much fun you were having (is it the same as being the guy at the party wearing the lamp shade?). To me it's a little bit of a show off move..... lol.
May 7, 2010 at 7:35 PM · If you are a little above avg. height, there are are a couple of spots in space mountain where you will hit your hands if you hold them up. They have rounded shields covering the spots to minimize the blow. There are also a couple of places towards the end where you can hit out to the side. I had a seasoned cast member scare me during a *ahem* "show quality check" ride one time. He knows exactly where the shield is and intentionally banged it as hard as he could when we rode by. I thought something broke!
May 7, 2010 at 11:20 PM · Hands up, first drop......sometimes up the rest of the way, depending on the ride.
May 7, 2010 at 11:37 PM · I usually put it up except on Space Mountain. I feel like my arms are gonna hit the tracks on that ride! it looks so low!
May 8, 2010 at 3:46 AM · I tend to find it much more confortable with my arms down rather than up. It feels like your being jerked around a lot more when you keep your arms up, plus it's nearly impossible on a number of coasters anyway, like B and M's where the restraints restrict how high you can get them.

I'll normally casually place my arms on the restraint. rather than grabbing religiously onto the lap bar.

May 8, 2010 at 4:46 AM · I'll put my hands up for moments of airtime, and sometimes on big drops. I don't generally hold on tight to the bar most of the time either. I just kind of have my arms folded.

The whole "hands in the car" rule has been broken for a hundred years. Saying it now only serves to cover the parks butt for insurance and lawsuit purposes.

May 8, 2010 at 5:43 AM · I normally will just sit there with my hands clasped together. Sometimes I'll put my hands up, just depends who I'm with. I find the 'bar' to hold onto to be gross and sticky, so I try not to touch it.
May 8, 2010 at 7:23 AM · I like to follow the rule and keep my hands on the grab bars. I know many people who have been hurt because of holding their hands up in the air. They have back problems, bruises, and sometimes injuries like broken bones. The rules are there for your safety so abide by them. There's nothing worse that I hate is when a customer tries to sues a park for an injury that could've been prevented if they had followed the safety rules.
May 8, 2010 at 8:17 AM · I usually hang on or put my arm on the side rail because it's more comfortable than holding my arms up for long periods. Being an old military pilot, I don't feel the need to put my hands up in the air just to show I can do it (and it creates extra drag)! :)
May 8, 2010 at 11:08 AM · Only wimps hold on!
May 8, 2010 at 12:23 PM · Funny to see this, because a newish on-line friend just asked me this the other day after I "surveyed" her about her amusement park "habits."

I go hands up probably about 65-70% of the time. If I'm solo, I'll sometimes drape my arm around the empty seat on a two-across woodie. Sometimes I'll use the grip bar, sometimes rest my hands at my side or in my lap. On El Toro, I'll occasionally pull back on the grip seems to increase the air time I get..I dunno why, physics is not a strength of mine...hell, it's not ANYTHING of mine! If I'm with a woman, and she'll let me, my arm may be around her shoulders or we'll both do the hands up thing while holding hands, forming a flying "W!" What can I say? I'm a romantic at heart....


May 8, 2010 at 6:05 PM · There are a few where I just *can't* put my hands up...
Sheikra/Griffon. Apollo's Chariot/Diamondback (but I will put my hands *out* on Diamondback). Top Thrill Dragster (if you do, you leave them behind...)
May 8, 2010 at 6:50 PM · I put my hands up if it seems safe to do so. If there's a part of the track overhead that seems a bit low and might give me a manicure, I definitely lower my hands. Also, if the coaster seems a bit unstable and shakes you a lot, you probably should hang on for dear life. Other than that, if you are well strapped in and feel safe, why not raise your hands?
May 10, 2010 at 8:12 AM · I voted that I put my hands up, but it really depends on the coaster. Most, if they're not too wild/rough, I will try and raise my hands. However, there are a few that I hold on for dear life. One that I remember the most, is the Boardwalk Bullet at Kema, just south of Houston, TX. This is one of the roughest, wildest, wooden coasters I've ever ridden.
May 10, 2010 at 1:53 PM · If the coaster has zero gravity rolls or is a giga coaster or about hills.. hands in the air. I always think its funny to see people on a coaster that is all about g-forces (hulk, kumba etc.) with there hands up... learn the physics behind a ride before you break your arms off!

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