Roller Coasters and the Weather

It is always a good idea to check the weather forecast before setting out for a theme park. Not only will it help you to decide what to wear, it could save you a wasted journey or a very disappointing trip. When the weather is more Scandinavian winter than tropical summer there can be issues with the rides and they may not be able to run.

The Rain

Riding roller coasters in wet weather is never pleasant. The rain goes right through you as it is hitting you at high speed and you can end up soaked even in what appears to be light drizzle. When the rain gets really severe it is often necessary to close coasters as conditions can go from unpleasant to downright painful. The faster the ride, the more it hurts as the water really slams into you. Even if the rides are open it is worth waiting until the downpour eases. Some coasters also have a tendency to run faster in wet weather. If they are completing the circuit at too high a speed they may fail to stop in the break course and so the rides can be shut down. Rain can also shut down a ride if it interferes with sensors on the track.

The Cold

You get cold very quickly riding roller coasters in low temperatures and things seem a lot colder when the wind is rushing past you at 80mph! On very cold days you may not even get the chance to ride in the first place. Any rides which utilise hydraulics struggle to operate below 5 degrees and most rides will be affected adversely when temperatures drop below freezing. Think carefully about the attractions you want to experience before travelling on a very cold day because the chances are many will be shut.

dragster close

High Winds

High winds are very troublesome for thrill rides. Severe head winds can slow down launch coasters to the extent that they cannot make it over the first hill and any type of coaster can lose sufficient momentum to become stranded on the circuit. Some rides with very light vehicles like inflatable boats will close in case the boast are flipped either on the circuit or whilst being lifted by the attendants.

Electrical Storms

Lightning is the worst case scenario for theme parks and they will always close their rides as soon as an electrical storm in the area is detected. Clearly you wouldn’t want to be exposed out on a metal structure during a storm and if the ride receives a direct hit the electrics can fail and the ride will shut down with the guests stranded on the circuit. It takes a long time to carry out a rescue when the power fails and so it is unwise to climb aboard during a storm even if the ride is still running.

When working at a theme park I have been confronted by many angry guests when I have been forced to close a ride due to the weather. They didn’t really understand the implications of the conditions and I was only saving them form themselves!


Article by Sally Stacey