Amusement Park Physics Links

  • California's Great America home page!
  • Canada's Wonderland
    A sister park to California's Great America, Canada's Wonderland operates educational days similar to Physics/Science/Math Days including a model coaster contest
  • Resources from NASA
    Several pages that contain resources that are useful in understanding amusement park rides. A middle school resource packet is included in pdf format. Keyed primarily to two other parks but definitely worth the look.
  • St. Louis Physics Day
    The St. Louis Area Physics Teachers go all out to support Physics Day at Six Flags. This page contains a great deal of information that may also be keyed to similar rides at California's Great America.
  • How Roller Coasters Work
    A set of pages from TLC and How Things Work. Includes several videos to help explain how roller coasters work.
  • An interactive page where you can learn about forces on a roller coaster and construct your own virtual coaster
  • Good look at forces in a vertical loop
    And check out the whole physics classroom website from Glenwood South HS:
  • How to make roller coasters work
    An interesting take on the physics of roller coasters. Interactive with ability to vary simple roller coaster parameters and see the results.
  • A middle school project-based learning project - Wild Ride
    This project was carried out in Idaho, away from a park with real coasters. It's a good example of project-based learning and the web site includes excellent resources.
  • Scream Machine - A Roller Coaster Web Quest
    A webquest activity on roller coasters. Great idea!  
  • The Ultimate Roller Coaster Contest
    A Discovery Channel lesson plan with many resources. Geared to grades 6-8.
  • An experiment that could be done with more URL's and other information that can be obtained before going to the park
  • The web page for the National Amusement Park Historical Association Several good links off of this page, too.
  • On-Line Guide to Theme Park Resources
    An extensive set of links to various resouces for people interested in amusement parks.
  • Roller Coaster DataBase
    The RCDB is a comprehensive, searchable database with information and statistics on over 1700 roller coasters throughout the world.
  • The Ultimate Roller Coaster Site
    A site devoted to all sorts of information about roller coasters. Check out the section on roller coaster history and the section on roller coaster records.

  • Big Links Page from
  • Funderstanding Roller Coaster A Java applet that allows you to change the characteristics of a roller coaster and see the end results. Requires a Java-enabled browser.
  • Encyclopedia Britannica has an excellent page highlighting several key steps in the evolution of roller coasters. If you click on some of the included links, there is an excellent page on the physics of roller coasters. Shockwave is required.

  • Highs & Lows: History of Roller Coasters
    A page with a visual history of roller coasters. Nice place to start a preview of the subject. Suggested by Jaclyn, a student in upstate New York.
  • Coaster Gallery
    A site with pictures of roller coasters from many parks, including California's Great America.
  • Coaster Grotto
    Coaster Grotto provides an extensive reference for the amusement park industry including a roller coaster database, over 3000 original photographs, and 100 detailed theme park reviews, and over 36,000 ratings of roller coasters.
  • American Coaster Enthusiasts
    ACE is an organization of amusement park junkies. They love to ride. Bigger and faster are better! But they are also interested in preserving the best of amusement park rides from the past, too.
  • Roller Coaster Media Library
    A free site where you can find information about amusement park media items including videos. Worth looking into.

    Videotapes and DVD's

  • Robb Alvey's Roller Coaster Videos
    You can preview some of his work, download previews of several videos, then order online. Cost is very reasonable!

    Roller coaster products

  • Enter "Roller Coaster" in any search engine Follow up links going to online shopping sites. Products available include toy models from companies like K'NEX, video simulation games like Sim Theme Park, and board games like Roller Coaster Tycoon. One search engine gave 536,000 hits!
  • A Crash Course in Forces and Motion with Max Axiom, Super Scientist by Emily Sohn. This 32-page comic book explains much of roller coaster physics in an entertaining way. Available from many sources for around $8. A portion is available online at this address:,+Super+Scientist&source=gbs_navlinks_s
  • NoLimits Roller Coaster Simulator
    A computer simulation of roller coasters for PC or Mac with a free trial version that can be downloaded from the Internet.
  • K'NEX Roller Coaster Kits
    K'NEX makes several roller coaster kits, and also kits which are designed to be used in science classrooms.
  • Arbor Scientific
    They have become sellers for a very nice coaster kit designed for education. Not cheap, but good stuff generally isn't.
Links last checked 2/2015. If you learn of other useful pages, or if a page doesn't work for you, please forward to the author.

Physics Day Steering Committee
Updated February 2015