People that ride the rides in amusement parks seldom think of all the complex science that goes into designing these rides. The design of amusement park rides is a tour de force of concepts that you were exposed to in your high school physics class such as centripetal force, inertia, potential and kinetic energy, momentum, mass, and friction, to name a few. In many amusement park rides the human body gets accelerated and decelerated continuously often in many directions. This has effects on blood flow, the skeleton, the muscles, and the internal organs. Ride designers must take into account not just how the ride’s forces can affect the physiology of bodies of different sizes, shapes, and ages, but also how the body reacts to the forces of the ride. Failing to do so can result in injury or death.
Most serious amusement park accidents are produced by a disregard of the safety rules by operators or lack of preventive maintenance of the equipment, and there have been several high profile amusement park accidents that have led to fatalities. However, the most common injuries are non-fatal such as head, neck, and back injuries, but some injuries occur as a result of the rider having a preexisting condition. In 2016, out of the 335 million people who visited amusement parks in the United States, it is estimated that about 30,000 sustained injuries severe enough to require a visit to the emergency room.
The video below shows a ride called Khaos at the Montgomery County Fair in Maryland. This ride is a pendulum-type ride which produces a feeling of weightlessness in the rider during the upswing.