Ride Review: Top Spin

Top Spin

Top Spin – Strates Shows

Top Spin is a massive amusement ride manufactured by Huss Rides of Germany. The ride debuted in 1990 and has not only been a hit on European midways, but also at theme parks around the world.

The ride is made up of two arms with a large gondola slung between the two. On the opposite ends of the arms are two counterweights. On portable Top Spin 1 models, two large tanks flank the supports that act as a ballast for the ride. Top Spin 2 models do not have this feature.

Most traveling Top Spin rides retain their original name or add something onto the name such as “Top Spin Fresh.” Themeing usually consists of surfing artwork despite “top spin” not being a term used in surfing. Conversely, theme park Top Spin rides almost never keep their original name. Some names chosen include Twister, Hang Time, and Tomb Raider: The Ride (now The Crypt) among others.

The Ride

Top spin 2

Top Spin 2 model formerly at Funtown Pier

The riders choose one of the two rows, and move all the way to the end so others can get into the seats. Riders are secured by two restraints, a shoulder harness and T-style lapbar. When the lapbar comes down, it’s almost standard fare to hear at least a few riders wail in exaggerated pain. They are indeed very snug, but considering how much hangtime riders are subjected to, I’d rather they be tight!

The cycle on a Top Spin can vary wildly. If you’re riding a theme park version, especially one in the US, you can expect a very tame ride with only a couple of inversions over the course of a minute or so. A carnival will offer a cycle scores better than any theme park. Finally, a European funfair Top Spin will basically test the endurance of riders with multiple inversions and cycles approaching five minutes or more!

While cycles are different, they all contain similar elements in different orders and intensity such as:

  • Locking the gondola, moving the arms in one direction, and then releasing the gondola brake to make it flip. Every time the gondola goes upsidedown, the arms are moved down or up to keep it flipping.
  • Racing the arms over the top with the gondola unlocked to provide a negative-G sensation.
  • Locking the gondola upsidedown at the top for various lengths of time.
  • Locking the gondola right side up at the top and then slowly lowering the arms. If the particular Top Spin is equipped with water jets, then the jets are usually turned on high, leaving riders to edge closer and closer to them.

Other Info

Top Spin comes in four flavors with a different capacity for each one:

  • Top Spin 1: 40 passengers
  • Top Spin 2: 28 passengers
  • Giant Top Spin: 56 passengers
  • Suspended Top Spin: 38 passengers
Hang Time

Hang Time at Dorney Park – a permanently mounted Top Spin

There are two traveling carnivals in the US that own Top Spin rides. The first is James E. Strates Shows’ Top Spin 1 model that has been traveling with them since 1997. The second is Deggeller Attractions who acquired a Top Spin 2 model in 2013.

A portable Top Spin 1 has a main load of around 121,000lbs. This makes the ride unable to traverse US roadways without costly permits (for reference, the maximum gross weight on US roads is 80,000lbs.) As I noted before, Strates Shows owns a Top Spin 1, however they are able to move the ride as they travel by railroad.


Top Spin at the Orange County Fair in 2013. The ride is owned by Strates Shows

Top Spin 2 at Astroland. This ride went to Funtown Pier in Seaside Park, NJ and was then bought by Deggeller Attractions.


  • Bruce says:

    I am looking to break the record by a healthy margin of the number of flips by a group from On Ride De, where they did 107 non-stop flips on the Top Spin. If anybody sees this and has connections, so this possible record setting ride could possibly take place my e-mail is bdbell1940@yahoo.com. Target is 250 flips or more.

  • Brittany says:

    I believe this is the same ride as “hells gate” at the PNE Vancouver.

  • Max says:

    Yeah, we know this ride on German funfairs well! One of the all time classics, together with the Huss Breakdancer.
    Mostly the new KMG rides and some of the Huss rides make a funfair here in Germany. I was on “Night Style”, one of the newest Top Spins (by KMG, Netherlands), recently. It has two independent arms, as can be seen here:


    If you thought the normal Top Spin is intense… ride THIS. It’s living hell, really. After some spins I just wanted to get off… and I’m an adrenaline junkie.

    In Europe we seem to be addicted to thrills with rides getting more and more extreme… 😉

  • Corey says:

    i love this ride!!..I hope funtown pier will purchase another top spin for 2014!!

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