Per reader request and to celebrate National Roller Coaster Day, we are building a roller coaster glossary to help new fans understand all the terms that we throw around here to describe our favorite thrill rides.
We will start with some of the major coaster types, but I would like to invite readers to submit or request additional definitions, in the comments. I will use those to update the main post as the week goes on. Example videos follow most definitions.
Hyper coaster: A coaster with a drop of 200 feet or more. Manufacturer Bolliger and Mabillard described its hyper coasters as "high speed, no inversion coasters specially designed to create air time."
Mega coaster: Manufacturer Intamin's name for its model of hyper coasters.
Giga coaster: A hyper coaster with a drop of 300 feet or more.
Strata coaster: A coaster with a drop of 400 feet or more.
Inverted coaster: A coaster where the train is mounted under the track. (Think of a ski lift.)
Inversion: Any track element in which riders are upside down.
Suspended coaster: An inverted coaster where the train is mounted to the track via a fulcrum or hinge. Suspended coaster trains feel like they are swinging below their track.
Flying coaster: A coaster where guests ride in a prone position, usually on trains mounted under the coaster track.
Wing coaster: A coaster where the seats are mounted on the sides of the track.
4D coaster: A wing-style coaster where the seats rotate as the train moves along the track.
Spinning coaster: A coaster where train cars spin atop their track mountings. The spinning can be a function of weight and gravity or programmed.
Floorless coaster: A coaster with traditional seating but no floor between rows, allowing riders' feet to dangle above the track. A temporary floor rises from the "pit" below the coaster in the station to allow riders to board and depart the train.
Stand-up coaster: A coaster without seats, where riders stand against back supports, upon which their over-the-shoulder restraints are mounted.
Dive coaster: A coaster with a 90-degree vertical drop where riders face straight down for a hold before the drop. This is typically associated with a specific Bolliger & Mabillard model (shown below), but other manufacturers now use the term.
Launch coaster: A coaster that achieves its speed from some form a mechanical launch rather than being dragged up a lift by a chain to use the conversion of potential to kinetic energy to move the train.
Wooden coaster: One where the track and its supports are made of wood rather than steel.
Hybrid coaster: A coaster with a mix of wood and steel, typically with a steel track atop wood supports, but it can be the opposite, too.
Family coaster: A coaster with a relatively low height restriction, smaller hills, and no inversions.Tweet
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