As with almost everything, the roller coaster wars, where theme parks across the country try to top each other with wilder attractions every Summer, were put on hold for 2020. But that hasn’t stopped coaster designers from continuing to toy with the laws of physics. If you love to spend your weekends vomiting, the Axis looks like it will eventually be worth lining up for.
Coaster Studios, a YouTube channel for roller coaster enthusiasts, visited S&S Technologies, a Utah-based company that designs and builds thrill rides for theme parks and amusement parks. Part of the company’s manufacturing facilities includes a large chunk of land where the company can build prototype coasters on a smaller scale (a nearby airport prevents them from building towering structures) for real-life testing purposes, and that’s where Coaster Studios was given a demonstration of S&S’ latest creation: the Axis.
Roller Coasters that allow riders to roll forwards and back have been in operation for a few years now, including The Joker which began operation at several Six Flags parks across the country back in 2016. As the vehicles make their way around the track, the riders’ seats don’t remain in a fixed position, allowing them to freely rotate 360 degrees either forward or backward. Every ride provides a different experience, and while the idea sounds similar to this new prototype, the Axis provides an entirely different ride experience.
On the Axis, the seats the riders are strapped into are free to roll from side to side, like a fighter jet performing a barrel roll but minus all the technologies that help fighter pilots keep their lunches down. As the ride vehicle rolls down a twisted track, transitioning from being on top to the underside, it causes the riders to roll independently so they’re not necessarily being flipped upside down too.
The video, which includes ride-along footage, obviously does a much better job at conveying what a unique ride experience the Axis provides. But unlike roller coasters like the Joker, the movements of the rolling riders aboard the Axis are mostly predictable and reproduce-able, allowing ride designers to customise a specific experience depending on how a track is laid out, including loops, corners, and twists. It also means, at least in theory, a smoother ride is guaranteed, if, for some reason, you’re not thrilled with the idea of puking shortly after the ride’s complete. But where’s the fun in th — (dashes to a garbage can.)