THRILL RIDE:  The Science of Fun

Do you jump at the chance to go to Kennywood? Do you have an urge to try sky diving or bungee jumping? Do you know where to find the tallest roller coaster, or the longest, or the fastest? (Answers at end of story.) If you’ve answered “yes,” or if you just like to have fun, then this film is for you.

Taking full advantage of the OMNIMAX large format, Thrill Ride: The Science of Fun puts viewers in the front seat in rides many would never dare to attempt. You’ll be careening down the slopes of wild rides like “Big Shot” at the Stratosphere in Las Vegas, and roller coasters “Kumba” and “Montu” in Busch Gardens.

This film also shows that the possibilities for thrill-making are endless, thanks to the capabilities of computer graphics imagery (CGI). You’ll see how animators use this tool to make viewers feel they’re flying down the slope of the steepest roller coaster.

Also detailed in Thrill Ride is the fascinating history of amusement park rides over the past 250 years. It all began in 1750 Russia, where a showman constructed a wood-frame ice slide for sledding in St. Petersburg. While visiting Russia in 1804, a Frenchman was so intrigued by the popularity of the wooden ice slides that he set to work adapting the ride for Parisians. He built a large wooden hill with tracks instead of ice, and designed a vehicle with wheels rather than sled runners to roll down the incline. With that ride, the roller coaster was born.

It wasn’t until 1870 that the ride first began in the U.S. An inclined railway used to haul coal down a mountain in Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania, was converted to carry people up Mt. Pisgah and drop them at a mild rate of speed.

We’ve come a long way to the high-tech thrill machines found in today’s amusement parks, yet gravity and momentum remain the basis of even the most sophisticated roller coaster. You’ll delve into all this and more in Thrill Ride: The Science of Fun.

—Kathryn M. Duda


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