Ride Review: Drop Towers

Dominator

Dominator

Drop Towers are any rides that have a tower structure in which a set of seats is either launched up the tower only to free fall back down or the car is slowly hoisted to the top and then dropped. There are so many different makes of drop towers that I’m just bunching them all together.

There are so many different types that I’ll just group them into three categories: Air Powered Towers, Drop Towers, and First Generation Towers.

Air Powered

Double Shot

Air powered towers, as the name suggest, operate using air pressure.  They launch the seats using air pressure and stop them using air as well. These types of towers are typically manufactured by S&S Power but a couple of other companies also produce them.

Larger S&S towers will have a smooth up and down motion while smaller counterparts, such as Keansburg Amusement Park’s ‘Double Shot,’ have abrupt changes in direction.

Some S&S towers feature a drop, rather than launch, mechanism. Dominator at Dorney Park is one of these, utilizing two towers; one that blasts the car upwards and another that hoists the car to the top at which point it simply drops.

Some S&S towers can do both, such as Funtown Pier’s Drop of Fear. A cycle on Drop of Fear consists of a launch followed by a slow hoist to the top of the tower. Once at the top, the seats momentarily pause before dropping.

Drop Towers

AtmosFEARThese are the purist form of drop towers; you’re hoisted to the top and then dropped! Unlike air pressurized towers that use cables and pulleys, drop towers typically have little resistance and are only stopped by means of magnetic brakes.

Examples of pure drop towers include the Intamin ‘gyro drops’ which hoist a large, rotating ring of seats up to a substantial height. ARM rides offer drop towers that rise a 12 person car up to about 140 feet. Other drop towers seat riders in individual rows of seats. The seats are all raised to the top and dropped at approximately the same time. Zumanjaro at Six Flags Great Adventure, the tallest drop tower in the world currently (as of 2016 at least) is an example of a multiple seat drop tower.

First Generation

Demon DropOne final type of drop tower are the Intimin “first generation” free fall towers which very few parks currently have. They use cars with wheels on the back and bottom which are hoisted to the top via an elevator system. At the top, the car is pushed forward onto the drop track where they fall after a brief pause. After a moderate vertical drop, the track levels out, leaving riders looking skyward. The car then enters a transfer track where it’s flipped back to its original position and sent backwards into the loading platform. It’s like of like a giant Rube Goldberg machine; it does all this stuff simply to drop people. Demon Drop at Dorney Park is a first generation drop tower.

Multimedia

Here’s a video of Demon Drop at Dorney Park, and Intamin “first gen” drop ride.

4 Comments

  • wavymouth says:

    can’t breathe when falling and it is a nice feeling too

  • Mike Ford says:

    For everybody’s information the Demon Drop that resided at Cedar Point from 1983 to 2010 is now at Dorney Park. The scariest air-powered tower I’ve been on has got to be the ‘Big Shot’ at the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas. Basically it is a space shot ride which is located at the very top of the tower. It’s a whole different ballgame from riding one of these at ground level because you are already 921 feet above the street at the start, and then it shoots you up the spire another 160 feet at 45 mph and 4 Gs. Those with a fear of heights beware! It really is ten times as terrifying when you are already over 900 feet up. I never hollered so loud in my life and I did it without an once of shame.

    Then I went on the tallest drop tower in the world this summer. This is Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California. It is attached to the Superman: Escape from Krypton tower. It takes you up slowly to 400 feet, parks there for several seconds, then without warning drops straight down at 85 mph. Sometimes a Superman car will come racing up the tower around the corner from you whil you’re going up. This causes the tower to sway a couple of feet in each direction.

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