Like bricks and mortar are elements of every masonry wall, these are elements that are the building blocks of roller coasters. The list below is of non-inverting elements and elements that turn riders upside down can be found on our Inversions page.
A hill that provides riders with a coming-out-of-your-seat sensation caused by a change in G-Force as the train travels over the crest or down the drop. These elements can be seen on coasters like Goliath at Walibi Holland in the Netherlands and El Toro at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, USA.
A type of track that is tilted while turning to reduce the lateral G-Forces on riders. Banked Curves can be seen on dozens of coasters, including on Ravine Flyer II at Waldameer in Pennsylvania, USA and Aérotrain at Parc Saint Paul in France.
A stretch of flat track with brakes installed that slow or stop the train. They are located before the train entrance to the station and are used to control loading and dispatching of the trains. Almost every coaster has a Brake Run, which can be seen on Anaconda at Kings Dominion in Virginia, USA and Thunderbird at Holiday World in Indiana, USA.
A series of small, short hills, that often appear towards the end of the circuit, designed to induce brief bursts of airtime. Bunny Hops can seen on Mamba at Worlds Of Fun in Missouri, USA as well as on kiddie and family coasters like Wild Waves at Playland’s Castaway Cove on the Jersey Shore, USA.
Similar to Bunny Hops, Camelbacks are a series of two or more medium to large hills, usually each slightly smaller than the preceding one. They can be seen on dozens of coasters including Goliath at La Ronde in Canada and El Toro at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, USA.
Usually associated with Twister wooden coasters, it’s a section of track that crosses above or under another section. Crossovers can be seen on Twister at Knoebels Amusement Resort in Pennsylvania, USA and Thunderhead at Dollywood in Tennessee, USA.
Dual Loading Station
Dueling or racing coasters, like Joris en de Draak at Efteling in the Netherlands, have Dual Stations to accommodate loading both trains at the same time, but many types of coasters use switch tracks for dual loading stations as can be seen on Superman: Ultimate Flight at Six Flags Over Georgia and Storm Runner at Hersheypark in Pennsylvania, USA.
A type of banked curve where the track either descends or ascends as it curves. Elevated Curves can be seen on Wild Thing at Valleyfair in Minnesota, USA and Steel Force at Dorney Park in Pennsylvania, USA.
Often found on wooden coasters, it’s a curve with spoke reinforcements radiating from a central point to the circumference of the track and can be seen on Excalibur at Funtown Splashtown USA in Maine.
Typically the first element of a traditional roller coaster, it’s the big drop immediately after the lift hill or launch and can be seen on Expedition GeForce at Holiday Park in Germany and Cannibal at Lagoon in Utah, USA.
An element on dueling coasters where two trains race towards one another, only to pass by each other at the last moment. Multiple Fly-Bys can be can be seen on Lightning Racer at Hersheypark in Pennsylvania, USA.
Based on a flying maneuver by the same name, it’s similar to an elevated 180° banked turn. The element begins with a steep slope up and a slight curve in the direction opposite that of the overall turn. The train then banks heavily to the side opposite the initial curve and finishes its climb as it negotiates the overall turn, beginning its descent midway through the turn. The second half of the element mirrors the first half, so the turn is completed in reverse order. A Hammerhead can be seen on Nitro at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, USA and Mako at SeaWorld Orlando in Florida, USA.
The part of a coaster as it narrowly enters a tunnel or goes through/under another structure, creating the illusion that the rider might hit their head. Head Choppers can be seen on El Toro at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, USA.
A balanced spiral track, generally exceeding 360°. Helixes can spiral upward or downward and can be seen on Nitro at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, USA and Goliath at Six Flags Over Georgia, USA.
First designed by The Gravity Group in 2012 for Dauling Dragon at Happy Valley in Wuhan, China, this element is found on dueling coasters where both dueling tracks are banked 90° so that the raised hands of the riders in one train appear to touch those of the riders in the other train as they pass. This illusion of a “high five” can also be seen on Twisted Colossus, at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California, USA.
This element is just before the first drop on a dive coaster where the car is held at the cusp of the vertical drop for a few seconds before being released. Holding Brakes can be seen on Valravn at Cedar Point in Ohio, USA and HangTime at Knott’s Berry Farm in California, USA.
Commonly found on Maurer spinning coasters and B&M or Vekoma flying coasters, the Horseshoe is essentially a 180° Turnaround with high banking so that riders are tilted at a 90° angle or more at the top at the turn. On Spinners the cars are tilted inward, whereas the trains are tilted outward on Flyers. This can be seen on Sky Spin at Skyline Park in Germany and Firehawk at Kings Island in Ohio, USA.
The area where a roller coaster train accelerates quickly, usually from a standstill. There are many types of Launches, including Catapult, Compressed Air, Hydraulic, LIM, LSM and Tire Propelled. Launches can be seen on GaleForce at Playland’s Castaway Cove on the Jersey Shore and Powder Keg at Silver Dollar City in Missouri, USA.
Lift Hill (Chain)
The inclined section of track at the start of the ride where the car or train is pulled to the highest point of the coaster. Manufacturers use a variety of Lift Hills, including chain, cable or drive tire. A chain lift hill can be seen on Nitro at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, USA and Roar-O-Saurus at Story Land in New Hampshire, USA.
Lift Hill (Drive Tire/Booster Wheel)
The inclined section of track at the start of the ride where the car or train is pulled to the highest point of the coaster. Manufacturers use a variety of Lift Hills, including chain, cable or drive tire, where wheels between the tracks are used to propel the train up the hill. A drive tire lift hill can be seen on Aérotrain at Parc Saint Paul in France and Cobra’s Curse at Busch Gardens Tampa in Florida, USA.
Mid Course Brake Run (MCBR)
A multi-brake section partway through a roller coaster circuit to either slow or stop the train. Used as a block brake for multi-train operations, a MCBR can be seen on Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit at Universal Studios Florida and New Texas Giant at Six Flags Over Texas, USA.
A variety of vertical loop that, when ascending, twists similar to a heartline roll, leaving riders completely right-side-up at the top of the loop. A Non-Inverting Loop can be seen on Shock at Rainbow MagicLand in Italy and Tempesto at Busch Gardens Williamsburg in Virginia, USA.
Common on large steel coasters, it’s a turn in which the track tilts beyond 90° and is usually somewhere between 100-120°. Overbanked Curves can be seen on Cú Chulainn at Tayto Park in Ireland and Expedition GeForce at Holiday Park in Germany.
Pre-Drop (aka Tester Hill/Trick Hill)
A small hill following the lift hill that precedes the first drop that is used to reduce the tension and stress on the lift mechanism prior to the train‘s release. A Pre-Drop can be seen on Dragon Khan at PortAventura Park in Spain and Goliath at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, USA.
Unlike a chain or cable lift hill, this type of lift continuously curves upward before until reaching the highest point before the first drop. There are two types of Spiral Lifts, with common one using drive tires/booster wheels to propel the train upward. Vekoma Volare inverted coasters utilize a rotating swing arm to push a car up the spiral. The two variations can be seen on Tornado at Selva Mágica in Mexico and Soarin’ Eagle at Luna Park in New York City, USA.
A visual element in which the ride vehicle physically interacts with a body of water, forcefully spraying or jetting water on impact. Splashdowns can be used as a natural braking system and some coasters feature areas for non-riders to view or get wet from the element. In addition to the standard Splashdown, B&M created a variation where trains are equipped with two tubes on the rear sides of each train. These scoops are angled upward, causing water to spray as the train passes close to a body of water. Splashdowns can be seen on Vliegende Hollander at Efteling in the Netherlands and Diamondback at Kings Island in Ohio, USA.
Found on suspended coasters, this simple track maneuver is designed to swing the ride vehicle to one side and then the other. S-Turns can be seen on Vortex at Canada’s Wonderland and Bat at Kings Island in Ohio, USA.
As the name suggests, this section of track moves or rotates to connect to one side or the other of two parallel tracks. This element can be found at the entrance and exit of dual loading stations or the entrance of a Switchback (below) station. Switch Track can be seen on many coasters, including Superman Ultimate Flight at Six Flags Over Georgia and Storm Runner at Hersheypark in Pennsylvania, USA.
The original Switchback Railways of the 1800’s had two parallel tracks where the ride vehicle at the end of the outgoing track was pushed over to the return track for the backwards journey to the station. The modern Switchback is a single track that the train travels forwards to a vertical spike and then backwards on, before entering a switch track (above) to maneuver back into the station. Currently only one can be seen – Switchback at ZDT’s Amusement Park in Texas, USA.
Typically found on launched coasters, Top Hats start with a 90° ascent up a hill followed by a 90° descent with the train exiting in the same direction from which it entered. Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey features the world’s tallest Top Hat and a smaller version can be seen on Sky Rocket at Kennywood in Pennsylvania, USA.
Named after the music symbol it resembles, it’s a B&M designed Turnaround (below) where the train enters a Horseshoe and at the top tilts to a beyond angle before dropping toward the ground. A Treble Clef can only be seen on Fury 325 at Carowinds in the Carolinas, USA.
Trim Brake (aka Trims)
A brake positioned somewhere on the track, usually on the ascent of an airtime hill, to slow the train down, but does not function as a block brake. These are often added on coasters after they are built to control unexpected or overbearing G-Forces and speed. Trim Brakes can be seen on many coasters, including Intimidator 305 at Kings Dominion in Virginia, USA and Raging Bull at Six Flags Great America in Illinois, USA.
Like many roadway or railway tunnels, some roller coasters have Tunnels that go underground. However most coaster Tunnels are structures made of wood or aluminum that the train passes through, which can be seen on Leviathan at Canada’s Wonderland and Ravine Flyer II at Waldameer in Pennsylvania, USA.
Usually a turn of at least 180° located farthest from the station after which the trains begin their return. The Treble Clef and most Hammerheads are both Turnarounds, which are common to Out &Back coasters and can be seen on Hoosier Hurricane at Indiana Beach and Wild Thing at Valleyfair in Minnesota, USA.
Vertical Spike (aka Vertical Rollback)
First designed by Intamin in 1998 for their LIM shuttle loop coaster, it’s a tall 90° ascent that is used to send the train on a backwards return to the station. Found on about a dozen coasters, a Vertical Spike can be seen on Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast at Six Flags St. Louis in Missouri, USA and Switchback at ZDT’s Amusement Park in Texas, USA.
Vertical Spiral (aka Twisted Vertical Rollback)
There are two variations of this element, both designed by Intamin. The 90° downward spiral on both of their strata coasters are referred to as Vertical Spirals, but the term is used most for the upward 90° spiral spike on the company’s LIM launched impulse coasters, although it’s technically called a Twisted Vertical Rollback. The two variations can be seen on Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, USA and Wicked Twister at Cedar Point in Ohio, USA.
Designed by RMC in 2013, it’s basically a 90° Banked Curve that incorporates a small Camelback Hill with the train exiting in the opposite direction that it entered. The feature that separates Wave Turns from normal banked turns is the airtime riders experience while banked at 90°, which can be seen on Outlaw Run at Silver Dollar City in Missouri, USA and Lightning Rod at Dollywood in Tennessee, USA.