Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Top 50 Most Terrifying Roller Coasters - Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit

I'm starting a new series examining what I believe to be the top 50 most terrifying roller coasters ever built. We start with number 50:
Known for: World’s first track elements
Park: Universal Studios Florida
Location: United States
Type: Steel
Opened: 2009
Designer/Manufacturer: Maurer Söhne
Height (ft.): 167
Speed (mph): 65

Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit is a radically innovative steel coaster that includes one-of-a-kind track elements, cutting-edge technology, and an interactive audio element. Sprawling across a large section of the park, the skyline of Universal Studios Florida was changed forever when the Rockit began thrilling in August of 2009. Riders board a train consisting of two six passenger cars before ascending the 167 foot tall vertical lift hill. After reaching a speed of 65 miles per hour the ride soars into a mammoth non-inverting loop (a loop that twists at the top so the vehicles never turn upside down). This crazy maneuver is followed by the Treble Clef, where guests burst through a building façade on track shaped like the music symbol; and later followed by the Jump Cut, a spiraling, negative-gravity move. If nothing else, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit is surely one of the coolest looking coasters around, especially at night when the lights on the vehicles are lit up.
top 50 terrifying roller coaster hollywood rip ride rockit

The most unique aspect of Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit is the ability to choose your own song to rock out to. That is if you can hear it over your own screaming. The music selection is broken up into 30 songs in five categories; Classic Rock/Heavy Metal, Club/Electronica, Country, Rap/Hip-Hop, and Pop Music/Disco. In addition to these 30 songs, Universal has also included a number of “hidden” tracks that are accessible via entering secret codes into the ride’s touchpads before your journey begins. A personalized take-home music video is also available for purchase for those wanting to remember and share their terrifying ordeal with their friends.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Theme Park Android Apps

I recently created and released two Android Apps for roller coaster enthusiasts and Disney theme park fans.
disney theme park quiz

  • Guess the Coaster - This app is intended for hard core roller coaster fanatics. Try to guess the identity of each mystery coaster.
  • Disney Park Picture Quiz - How well do you know your Disney Theme Parks? Scratch off the picture of a Disney theme park attraction, guess what it is and choose the right answer. The less you reveal, the more points you score! Each quiz is composed of ten randomly selected images. Play multiple times and get different pictures.

You can download both for free from Google Play. Please let me know what you think. Do you like this style of app? Would you like to see more? How could they be improved?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

New Universal Orlando Book

There are countless books out there about the history and development of Walt Disney World and Disneyland (such as Project Future and the Disneyland Story just to name a few of the more recent ones I've read) but what about Universal Orlando? You would have been hard pressed to find a book about it until now. Universal Orlando: The Unofficial Story is the only book currently available that covers the complete history and creation of the resort, from the onset to the present day. I was a bit skeptical because it is a self-published book but I was blown away with how good it was. I learned many interesting tidbits I never knew before, like how the Jaws attraction was essentially built twice! The author does a great job of explaining how the park transition from "see how movies are made" to "ride the movies." If you're a Universal fan I highly recommend you check out Universal Orlando: The Unofficial Story.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Holiday Gift Guide for Amusement Park Fans

The 2013 holiday shopping season is upon us and if you’re on the hunt for that special gift for a friend or family member who happens to be a fan of amusement parks and roller coasters then you’ve come to the right place! Listed below are my recommended gifts to give or receive this holiday season.

  • Coasters 101: An Engineer’s Guide to Roller Coaster Design. Learn how roller coaster designers spend hundreds of hours creating, tweaking, and re-imagining ride paths to push the exhilaration envelope while carefully maintaining the highest safety standards. Features design example problems real roller coaster engineers face in the field today as well as career advice for any aspiring theme park engineers. Available in Kindle or paperback formats from
  • American Coasters: A Thrilling Photographic Ride is a  relatively new book by photographer Thomas Crymes. The pictures are large and crisp. The colors are vivid. The book’s simple design places more emphasis on the photographs. Nothing beats seeing pictures of roller coasters printed on a physical page (sorry, internet).
  • Creating My Own Nemesis by John Wardley. The story follows John’s professional career beginning with how he got out of the boring family business and into the crazy world of theme parks If by any degree you’re into magic, illusions, theater production, theme park design, or roller coasters I highly recommend you read this thoroughly entertaining book. See the making of RCT3 with John Wardley.
  • Theme Park Design by Steve Alcorn. Take a peek behind the scenes, with a theme park engineer, and learn about the multitude of roles and skills needed to design a world class theme park attraction – a must read for all aspiring theme park designers!
  • RollerCoaster Tycoon Triple Thrill Pack Instant Download.  This compilation of RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 and expansion packs Time Twister and Wacky Worlds brings together all the rides, building tools, as well as five real-world Six Flags amusement parks and 25 of their signature coasters. My personal favorite of all the RollerCoaster Tycoon games.
  • Transport Tycoon for tablets. Chris Sawyer’s Transport Tycoon is now available on tablet devices everywhere. Reviewers say they managed to bring this classic game to mobile devices extremely well.
  • K’nex Rippin Rocket Coaster. Loaded with over 500 KNEX pieces including classic parts, this model boasts over 20 feet of twists, turns, and daring loops. A special motorized blaster launches the coaster car into its exciting journey around the track.
  • Coaster Dynamix Models. The most realistic working roller coaster models currently available. Choose from Wooden coasters, steel coasters, Tumble Bugs, and Lego coaster sets.
  • Cincy Amusement Park Shirts. From the early days of Chester Park to Americana and Kings Island, these vintage shirts will be a nice stroll down memory lane. This shop not only sells The Bat shirts, but also a few other defunct Kings Island coasters, including Son of Beast, Phantom Theater, and King Cobra!

I highly recommend joining Amazon Prime. If you order something off of Amazon on average once per month then it pays for itself, or if you're ordering a bunch of gifts this holiday season it probably will too. The FREE two day shipping is awesome and everything I've ordered really has come in two days or less. You can also stream movies, TV shows, and get a Kindle book every month. Great alternative for Netflix or Hulu and well worth the investment in my opinion. Cheers!

What's on your 2013 holiday gift list? Share in the comments below!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Ultimate Coaster Design Book Updated

roller coaster wheel carrier cad model 3d rendering
Roller coaster wheel carrier
I've just released the new edition of my book, Coasters 101: An Engineer’s Guide to Roller Coaster Design. If you purchased the Kindle version previously you get free updates. If you purchased the paperback version, you can get the latest digital version for free now too! The latest edition (third) has pictures, diagrams, new content, a better layout, and other general improvements. My goal is to make this book simply the best, most complete, most detailed guide to designing roller coasters you can find. A few of the most recent reviews tend to agree:

“Very impressive! What a great resource to have..for anyone.” - John S.

“Thanks for writing a very good book. I could not put it down. Lot's of great information. I am a technology and engineering teacher and the information I found here is very helpful in trying to get students more excited about engineering.” Amazon reviewer
roller coaster track rotation diagram
Rotation about the track spine

Some of the questions about roller coaster design you will have answered after reading include:

What software do roller coaster engineers use?
What college major is best to become a coaster designer?
How many engineers does it take to design a coaster?
How do roller coasters reach their highest point?
Why don’t coaster cars roll backwards down the lift hill?
Why do wheels on steel coasters come in pairs?
Why do we see so many clones of the exact same ride built at multiple parks?
How does a 4D coaster work?
How much does a roller coaster cost?
How much time does it take to design a roller coaster?
What is the difference between LIM and LSM propulsion?
What sort of background is necessary to get into the roller coaster engineering field?
How do you calculate the amount of power needed for the lift hill?

Currently, there are three options to purchase: 

Paperback - $11.99
Kindle - $9.99
Digital PDF - $5.99

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Dollywood's FireChaser Express Layout

Dollywood recently released the full layout of their new family roller coaster debuting in 2014, FireChaser Express. The layout includes a foward launch, a chain lift, and a backwards launch out of an exploding fireworks factory. Here's the complete ride animation:

The very cool and unique Adventure Mountain climbing structure and ropes course had to be partially removed but it looks like a lot of the towers are going to be reused in the theming for FireChaser. I've taken a overhead image of the site and drew the layout on it based on the renderings available and the POV video.
firechaser express layout
I think FireChaser Express looks like a fun little ride and and a great addition to Dollywood. Dare I say it might even be better than Wild Eagle (due to potentially more airtime)?! What say you?


Friday, August 23, 2013

Read John Wardley's Book

john wardley's bookIf you're a fan of theme parks and want to know more about how attractions are designed then you must read John Wardley's book, Creating My Own Nemesis. John Wardley is the designer of several world class roller coasters including Vampire at Chessinton World of Adventures and Nemesis, Oblivion, and Air at Alton Towers. He talks about his early beginnings in the theatre, circus and magical cabaret, his time working on some of the most incredible special effects in the James Bond films (including the famous bus crash scene in Live and Let Die), and how he became associated with Madame Tussauds, the world's most famous wax museum.
If you're a fan of magic, illusions, theater production, theme park design, or roller coaster design then you simply must read this book.
Purchase the paperback or Kindle Edition of John Wardley's book, Creating My Own Nemesis, from