Forget VR. The Future of Roller Coasters Is About Maglev
Some people think the future of the amusement is all about virtual reality. I think it’s about a mix of electromagnetic acceleration, free falls, and untethered jumps into water.
Traditional roller coasters use a combination of potential and kinetic energy to sling riders over a track system to keep the momentum going. The technology has evolved, with metal wheels replacing wood, then losing their place to polyurethane, always for a faster, smoother ride.
But what if there was no friction at all? What if there were no rails or wheels? What if electro magnets propelled the cars? This is the idea behind the Sfrear Mountain Coaster.
The concept would mark an entirely new rider experience, combining a cushy ride, incredible speed, free falls, underground tunnels, water diving, and heart-racing turns and loops.
A 6-foot-wide, transparent sphere replaces the traditional open-top car. All three passengers, strapped in with conventional padded restraints, would get a clear view of their fellow riders’ gawking faces, along with the world spinning by.
The majority of the track would be tubular with an open top, to keep the sphere on the right path. Like a maglev train, the sphere would ride just above the track, with powerful magnets levitating and propelling it. Gyroscopic technology would let the sphere roll along the tracks, without exposing riders to dangerous g-forces.
The sphere’s shell would contain super magnets, placed to correspond with the location of the seats, limiting any unnecessary obstructions of the rider’s view.
To start the ride, the magnets would propel the sphere like a fighter jet launching from an aircraft carrier, hitting a three-tiered corkscrew after a short straightaway. From the top, the sphere would ride to the top of a tower, then free fall through a sort of funnel. In an emergency, the magnets would stop the sphere and hold it in place.
The magnets would work as airbrakes, slowing the sphere to a safe speed as the riders dive underground. After riding up another ramp, the sphere would leave the track as it jumped into a second, much larger funnel, or maybe a water filled basin. This jump would be the central attraction of the ride, advertised as “the ultimate in extreme rider experiences.”
Sure, virtual reality is a safer bet than something as wild as this. But amusement parks aren’t about safe bets, they’re about experiencing the unreal.