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The forces that are acting on the human body when experiencing a theme park ride.

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Investigation into theme park rides from a scientific viewpoint

By Sarah Walker


In this essay investigation will be made into the forces that are acting on the human body when experiencing a theme park ride.

Theme park rides have developed considerably within the last twenty years, it is not only the physics of the ride that needs to be considered during the design process but safety aspects also need to be considered, tests need to be taken to find what conditions such as G-forces, speeds and pressure can be withstood by the body.

This investigation will be studying the velocity and breaking force of the ride known as ‘The Detonator’. Gravitational force, potential energy and kinetic energy all play a role in the experience of the ride and in the right environment can create a situation where the body is in freefall. ‘The Detonator’ is a ride where passengers are strapped into a car at the bottom of a 30.

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Large adult-                90.00kg

In an 8:3:1 ratio

Mass of car-                        10000kg

Height of free-fall tower-30.78m

Braking distance-                9.32m


All working will be shown in full as an aid to appreciating the full physics of the ride.


Due to the ride being in a free-fall situation the acceleration downwards is therefore equal to the gravitational force-9.81ms-2

Initial velocity-                


Final velocity-


v2=02+2 X 9.81 X 30.77




Breaking Force-

The detonator car holds 12 riders at one time. When studying the ride it was noticeable that the average rider ratio is 8 Children:3 Adults:1 Large Adult. I will calculate the braking force for a car full of large adults, a car full of adults and a car full of children. I will then work out what the average braking force would be using the average user ratio.

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When riding the detonator accelerations of up to 5.5g can be experienced (G-force) this means that the person riding the detonator has a force acting on them 5.5 times the size of gravitational force.

In the future rides such as this may be made taller or faster, there are however many limitations to designers; if the ride is made taller:

  • It will be less stable.
  • More power will be need to lift the car to the top of the tower.
  • A larger breaking distance will be needed.
  • More safety equipment will be needed

All in all, the detonator has many forces acting upon it and its rider making it an exciting and enjoyable ride.


Sang,David-Gibbs,Keith-Hutchings,Robert-Physics 1,pgs 71,33.

Thorpe Park Website -http://www.thorpeparkguide.com/parktour/attracts/detonator/index.shtml

The Physics Classroom Website-http://www.glenbrook.k12.il.us/gbssci/phys/Class/1DKin/U1L5b.html

Amusement Park Physics- http://www.learner.org/exhibits/parkphysics/freefall.html

Physics Day at a Theme Park Website-http://ali.apple.com/ali_sites/ali/lessonideas/PhysicsDay.html

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