Rollercoaster expert warns people not to close their eyes on rides

There are plenty of

in the UK and many of us are junkies for the adrenaline-pumping rides.

Whether you're into big drops, high speeds or gentler slopes there's something for everyone.

To get an insight into the world of rollercoasters, we spoke to the creative lead for Merlin magic-making, John Burton, who was challenged with creating Chessington World of Adventure’s new World of Jumanji.

READ MORE: Inside Chessington's World of Jumanji with new rollercoaster that opens in spring

John has been working tirelessly to create the new land which opens on May 15.

This included designing and commissioning the park’s exciting new rollercoaster Mandrill Mayhem.

It’s the first Jumanji-themed rollercoaster in the world and it combines elements that Chessington hasn’t had before –including a launch start, inversions (going upside down) and it goes backwards and forwards.

As John is such a rollercoaster expert – and one of the only people in the UK who designs and creates them – Daily Star asked him for some mind-blowing facts about rollercoasters…

Check them out below:

1. Don't close your eyes

Many of us close our eyes when we're afraid or feeling sick on a ride – but according to John, this is the exact opposite of what you should be doing!

He noted: "I think there's a misconception that if you close your eyes or make it better, I think actually makes it worse. You should always look where you're going because you can't see where you're going your body doesn't know how to react. So it actually makes it feel a lot worse than it actually is."

2. There's a trick to not feeling your stomach drop

Plenty of people love to feel their stomach flip as they swoop and glide through the air on a rollercoaster.

However, for some coaster-fans it's the worst part and can make them feel nauseous. Fortunately, John has some advice to prevent your tum from turning.

He explained: "When it comes to the tickling feeling you get in your stomach that when you do a big drop, there is a way to counter that.

"If you tense your stomach muscles really, really tightly it helps restrict the blood flow down to your feet.

"So it stops you from getting that kind of stomach flip feeling – I hate that feeling!"

3. Top speeds

Chessington’s Mandrill Mayhem gets to "42 miles an hour all together", but that’s far from the fastest coaster out there.

Mandrill Mayhem is a family ride for heights of 1.20m so they chose not to make it as scary as some rides.

However, the fastest rollercoaster in the world is Formula Rossa in Abu Dhabi, UAE, which reaches a whopping 240km/h – that’s 149mph.

John noted: "There are very, very scary ones that even I haven't been on."

4. G-Force

A major part of fun while on rollercoasters is the G-Force applied – a combination of force and acceleration that adds the scary, but fun feelings we experience on a rollercoaster.

John explained: "G-force is absolutely applied as different types of G-forces that we put guests through. You have what we call positive and negative.

"So you've got the ones that make you feel like you're floating like you're in space and then you've got the ones that make you feel like you've been kind of squished down where you've been pushed into your seats."

He added: "There's a degree of how far you can go with those. Normally, on a rollercoaster, you wouldn't go too much into the G force that makes you float – rarely past negative one-G.

"Then when you're done pushing people into their seats, when it gets to around four or five, you're really on the pushing it at that point."

5. They take years to make

As you'd expect, a rollercoaster isn't quick to design, plan, build and test, but did you know it can take several years?

John explained: "It takes a long time from concept through to reality because we’re working with Sony Pictures as our partner on this project.

"They have to agree with everything we're doing as well to make sure we're staying on brand. We started this project, just around when COVID was becoming a thing. So it's kind of a bit of a lockdown project.

"I was given a brief that said, ‘We need this rollercoaster, but we want to create something that is totally different for Chessington'. It's quite a long process.."

On top of designing the rollercoaster, they also plug it into VR programming before building it which can take months.

6. They're expensive

Most of us would assume naturally that rollercoasters aren't cheap, but turns out they can be mind-blowingly expensive.

"It's multimillions," John noted. "I mean this whole project is multimillions, they're not cheap!"

Mandrill Mayhem is a winged, launch, shuttle ride, with an inversion that leads to a 55ft Jaguar Shrine… so it was bound to cost a fortune.

But, Chessington has gone all-out by using the "Rolls Royce of manufacturers" according to John hence part of the enormous cost.

7. Testing takes weeks

John commented: "We have we have rigorous testing that goes in, we normally do like 200 hours worth of cycling with special external people that come in, check everything to make sure everything's completely safe.

"Safety's number one priority at all our theme parks over everything."

One journalist even got to watch the testing of Chessington's Mandrill Mayhem and couldn't wait to take a ride after pressing the button to launch the rollercoaster.

8. They're taken apart in winter

As part of ensuring rollercoasters are safe, the enormous machines are taken apart during the colder months.

This likely happens when theme parks close down until Spring.

John noted: "So everything is checked daily, annually, everything stripped down over winter rebuilt again."

9. Ideas often start on a napkin

Rollercoaster design doesn't always start off in high-tech labs or warehouses – it can be as easy as a napkin sketch, according to John.

For the new Jumanji land, he started by "sketching away" and then designers "go and talk to manufacturers".

The creative added: "Most of them are European based, like Switzerland and Germany and they are very clever engineers who know how to turn my ideas into a reality.

"They then create 3d simulations, like animations that look like a computer game. And we can ride them virtually."

After that, the parts are ordered – this time from the US and Europe – and then "it's all built like a jigsaw puzzle on the site."

10. They're extremely heavy

As you'd expect, an enormous ride is going to weigh a lot.

Speaking about Mandrill Mayhem, John said: "It weighs 144 tons, which, in Chessington terms is, I believe, equivalent to 96 hippopotamuses."


  • Theme park expert's tips for getting cheap tickets and beating queue

  • First look inside Chessington's new Jumanji land and rollercoaster

  • Theme parks ban iPhones as emergency 999 calls triggered on rides

  • Universal Studios is getting epic new Mario-themed land and gamers will love it

Source: Read Full Article