W.T. Carny Ride #3: Zipper

ZipperZipper is quite possibly the most feared carnival ride in existence. One might question if they are able to handle the total vertical assault of Zipper’s motion. Others may question whether this ride that looks and sounds like it was built from leftover parts is even safe to ride. However, those who dared to ride it are left with an unforgettable, and extremely exhilarating experience.

Zipper was designed by Joseph Brown and manufactured in 1969 by Chance Rides. The ride consists of a large rotating boom mounted on a support arm. The support arm is itself mounted onto a trailer which acts as transport when folded up and a counterweight for when the ride is erected. Free-rotating pods are pulled along the boom via pulleys. The movement of the pulleys is powered by two tire drives that run along the bull-wheels on either end of the boom. Older Zipper rides also utilized a tire drive to rotate the main boom; newer variants use electro-hydraulic motors.

The name ‘Zipper’ most likely comes from the shape and movement of the pods. I mean, ‘Zipper’ sure as hell couldn’t have been the name all throughout the design process…right? In any event, it’s a wonderfully nonthreatening name for possibility the most wild ride on the midway.

As far as appearance goes, the ride is coldly machine-like. A new paint scheme and LED lighting can make the ride more pleasing to the eye but there’s simply no hiding the unforgiving metal framework, spinning guide wheels, and flexing metal joints. The sounds generated by the ride cap off the holistic experience of Zipper. In full motion, the ride sounds like a cacophony of hundreds of rolling wheels, rubber-farting tires, electric whirs, and steel doors jingling as the pods tumble end over end.

In 2005 I saw this Zipper at the Meadowlands Fair. It was most likely undergoing a lighting rehab but its lack of lighting made its appearance amazingly threatening. Medieval torture devices have nothing on that Zipper.

The Ride

Riders hop into a pod and the door is closed and locked. The lapbar is on the door, which I’m sure is comforting for most riders. The door also features sets of padded bars. Riders must hold onto these unless they want their face to meet the door. After a lengthy loading process, the ride operator usually starts by just allowing the pods to move around the track. The ride along the boom isn’t exactly fast, but there is a whip-like effect when the pod travels around the bull wheel. The additional movement of the boom is when things start to get seemingly out of control. Both the pods and boom travel in the same direction and the combined movement is very forceful.

At full bore, riders generally have no idea where they are in relation to the boom or when they’re about change direction. Some riders may not even know if they’re rightsideup or upsidedown due to the constant rolling movement. Due to the random action of the free-rotating pods, no two Zipper rides are the same. For instance, one cycle could see minimal flipping while next cycle could see the same pod constantly tumbling end over end. I think my record for most consecutive flips in a row is around seven.

In the following quote, DoD3 reader Timberman describes the now dismantled Zipper at Coney Island Attractions in excruciating detail…

Zipper in Coney Island

Coney Island’s old Zipper

“The combination of its location, its condition, and the virtuosity of its motley collection of ride ops provided for an unsurpassed impression of peril. I’ve had several garden variety near-death experiences, including being hit by cars, attacked by dogs, mauled by farm equipment, and, once, grazed in the face by a bullet. Only two times, however, have I really considered myself to be on the threshold of a violent, ugly death. Once was on an airplane that appeared destined for a crash-landing. The other was during my first ride on the Coney Island Zipper. To feel, all at once, the fragility of the mortal coil is an intense, revealing experience. On the plane, I felt resigned to my fate and grateful that my brief life had in many respects exceeded my expectations. On Zipper, in the midst of a seemingly endless forward free-spin, I felt blind, animal panic; even though I knew the odds favored my survival, I could not bring logic to bear on the sensations I was experiencing. That’s something I probably won’t get to experience again from a $3.00 flat ride…”

Other Info

A great looking Zipper owned by Blue Sky Amusements

One Zipper ride worth noting was at a local fair; the Feast of Mount Carmel Festival in Berkley Heights, NJ to be exact. I was on it with my friend, who had never been on it before. He was screaming phrases like “we’re gonna die”, “oh my god,” and “oh shiiiittt” (ie. standard Zipper fare.) Midway through the ride, the entire contents of his pockets emptied into the pod, mostly coins. Every time we flipped some coins would hit us which prompted my friend to scream out “there are coins in the car! Coins…in the car!” The tone he said this in sounded as if the car were full of lit firecrackers rather than coins. To top it off, my ridiculously long wallet chain (back when I used to dress like some Hot Topic worshiping tool) got stuck in some crack between the seat and cage. I had to feverishly yank it loose or risk holding up the massive line.

Zipper rides are mostly found in the United States. They’re so popular here that nearly every traveling carnival has one. Conversely you almost never find them at amusement parks, most likely due to the slow loading. Australia, Canada and some South and Central American countries also have Zippers. European countries, despite their penchant for massive fun fairs and wild rides, don’t seem to have any Zipper rides Nope, there’s at least one, complete with an over-the-top American theme.

In the past, concerns about the safety of this ride were warranted. Due to a design flaw the doors could, although rarely, be jostled open over the period of the ride. After a couple of incidents every Zipper is now closed using the normal latch, a redundant backup lock, and an R-key (it looks like a big bobby-pin) that blocks the door from opening in case both latches fail. Newer model Zippers have re-worked latches, eliminating the need for R-keys. They also feature heavier cars to reduce spinning, causing less stress on the doors…of course that also makes the ride less fun!

According to Ride Extravaganza, the first model Zipper rides ran at nearly twice the speed of today’s counterparts. I had always thought that none of these models existed anymore or were all adjusted at some point, however it seems that there is at least one left, albeit not a true Chance model. This video (*required viewing*) shows an Australian built Zipper that seems to go much faster than any other I’ve seen. It looks like an absolute blast!

zipperfilmZipper is also the focal point of a documentary by Amy Nicholson called ‘Zipper: Coney Island’s Last Wild Ride.’ The film tells about the famed Coney Island Zipper and how it, along with many other operators and businesses in the area, fell victim to the real estate land grab by Thor Equities back in the late 2000s, a topic that has been covered quite a bit here at The DoD3. Further, the film explores the changing face of Coney Island from a gruff yet charming community to that of one with an increasingly polished atmosphere with corporate interests setting up where decades old establishments once were.


Here’s some photos of Blue Sky Amusement’s Zipper. It’s almost hard to call it a white trash carny ride after looking at this ride but the WT spirit is still there I guess!

Here’s a video of Blue Sky’s Zipper:


10: Yo Yo | 9: Trabant | 8: Hustler | 7: Cobra | 6: Ring of Fire | 5: Paratrooper | 4: Scat | 3: Zipper | 2: Hi-Roller | 1: Sky Diver | WTCR Home


  • Chakote says:

    I have ridden the Zipper many times, I have to say it is the most intense ride I have even been on that didn’t make me sick. The one I rode at our local annual fair as as fast or almost as fast as the “fast” australian Zipper in your video. People shift their weight in the cars to see who can do the most consecutive flips. I saw one car do over 20 backflips in a row while moving before, and when they started to empty the ride car by car, they did another 40 or so backflips before theirs got to the bottom.

    • DoD3Brian says:

      I agree on how the Zipper is very intense yet doesn’t really cause motion sickness. It must be the vertical motion because I know some people that have no problem on the Zipper but cannot take something like a Huss Breakdance which is all lateral motion.

      Thanks for dropping by Chakote!

  • zipperlover/halo says:

    Will any zippers ever again have to worry about compartment doors flying open because i might have second thoughts about going on it a third time.

    • DoD3Brian says:

      Hey Zipperlover,

      I doubt it; Zippers now use a large, steel, bobby pin looking device as a backup lock. It’s nearly impossible for the door to fly open while the pin is in place. I wouldn’t worry about it.

      • Mike says:

        Yeah… it’s got that triple door lock, with that big R-clip, or bobby pin as you call it. I’d be more worried with cracks in the hinges on the OTHER side of the door. πŸ˜‰

        I say this as the former ride op of the first zipper ever made, thus the most metal fatigued. (Model 1800, serial no. 1801, mfg in 1968)


  • BACH says:

    dude i wish the zipper at our carnival would go as fast as that Austrailian one. lol its not even scary, its probally one of the best carnival rides ever in existance and if you dont like thrill dont go on it everyone knows who dares to go on it knows that ther is a risk thats what makes it awesome dude fo sho πŸ˜€

  • Bruce says:

    If I could, I would like to attempt to take a four hour non-stop ride on the fastest Zipper in Australia. The thing is that I live in the US. If there is anyone who has this ride and is willing to set it at the fastest speed, I would really like to attempt to take at least a four hour non stop ride. What’s great is that you are at the mercy of the dynamics of the ride, where you have no control of the rocking and flipping. Anybody that is willing to speed up their Zipper ride and permit me to attempt a four hour ride can contact me at bdbell1940@yahoo.com.

    • David says:

      Hi kind seen you like to find someone who can ride zipper with you for that long here in person if i was close to you here or i could i would do that for you and ride on xipper with you for that long in person and take ever bit of it as much as you can handly it for ride zipper for that long with you in person i would that be so nice you know get to ride on zipper for that long be so cool in person get to you know.David

  • Bruce says:

    I still can’t figure out what this person in the comment above is trying to bring out. Anyway my aim is to attempt to ride the Zipper for three or four hours, riding solo. The less weight in the cage results in more action. Hopefully some day this could have the possibility of happening.

  • Bruce says:

    Just give me a four hour non-stop ride on the fastest, most intense Zipper ride. Besides breaking the record for the longest ride, add in 250 non-stop flips,breaking the old record of 167, during the four hour ride. I’m ready to go for it. I’m sure that there is somebody that can acommodate me on this. My e-mail is bdbell1940@yahoo.com

  • jeannie cline says:

    im going to get on the zipper for the first time and im nervous can anyone tell what feels like to be on it would help email at tmcline904@aol.com

  • Bruce says:

    Jeannie nothing to be nervous about. You’re rocking and flipping as the cage goes forward and backwards. I’m sure that you’ve seen the ride operate. If you read my comments and I’m very serious that I want to attempt these marathon rides, your taking a three minute ride should be a piece of cake.
    Go for it.

  • Bob says:

    As I child my cousin and I went on the zipper repeatedly at the local fair, until one fateful ride when we flipped 40+ times over the course of the ride. Our previous record was 10 or so. I just remember a ton of loose change flying around our cart, my cousin counting the flips out loud, and me laughing hysterically at every flip. I don’t know what it is, but I absolutely love the Zipper. It’s the only ride I’ve ever been on that actually makes me laugh. It’s not scary at all. Every time I see it, I have to stop and go on it.

    Unfortunately, the newer models have heavier cages to decrease the amount of spin and thus decrease the amount of pressure on the door. I went on what I’m assuming was a newer model about a year ago and barely spun at all, it was very disappointing. I guess the fact that it’s been 10+ years since that fateful 40+ spin ride and I’m probably twice as big now didn’t help. Never the less, I will stop and ride the Zipper any chance I get.

    Does anyone know of a website that you can use to track down zippers near you? I live in Chicago, and I’ve seen a few carnivals out in the suburbs before, but very few of them have the Zipper.

  • edward says:

    My favorite carnival ride of ALL time!! I have to ride one every time I see one near me tho it has gotten harder lately-all of the ones I’ve encountered in the past few years have a “must have 2 riders” rule. I’m not sure what that is all about. There are no lateral forces in the ride so you’re not going to be slung from side to side even if you ride alone and in the VERY unlikely chance that the door opens mid ride your partners is gonna hang on for dear life first and keep you in the car second–LOL. This is one of the few rides that can still take my breath away when you go around the edge just right and start the 10+ flips w/out stopping. Pure heaven!!!

  • Baph says:

    Seeing a listing for the zipper reminds me of that other carnival ride that I thought might make the of wtcr list. It seems that every carnival that came to my small US town when I was growing up either had a zipper or a rocket (I think that’s what it was called it had these cars that were white and blue and shaped like rockets or bullets).

  • yardnote says:

    i am so curious how u get all of these pictures from all of these different carnivals

    • DoD3Brian says:

      I check out carnival routes on different sites before the season starts and note which ones that I want to visit. Of those, I end up only going to about 60% which is like 8-12 fairs.

  • Bruce says:

    Edward, I saw your comments on the two rider rule on the Zipper. This is a rediculous rule initated by Chance Rides, the people who manufactured this ride. You’re right, there are no side to side forces. I’ve suggested that the operators of the ride put in like a dummy or an inflateable to take the place of a second rides, but Chance Rides ignored all my faxes on that. These people are very rude and they are definitely not customer friendly. If the person that goes to a fair with you and he or she does not want to ride the Zipper or you go by yourself, you are penalized as you can’t ride the Zipper solo. Chance Rides does not care. Like I said, this single rider restriction is totally rediculous!!!!!

    • edward says:

      I finally read why there is a 2 rider rule. Seems that if the single rider is small enough there is the possibility that he/she can turn sideways and get out from under the restraining lap bar!! Theoretically I guess that can happen but you’d have to be a really good contortionist. I still think it’s a bad rule!!

    • becky says:

      I wonder if the 2 rider rule still exists bc i just rode the newest version at south fl fair a few days ago.the newest model actually has roller coaster harnesses inside which are adjustable for each individual person and they pretty much keep you from going anywhere.the older ones didnt have harnesss and had a bar that always bruised you from the jerking and shaking!the ride is actually alot smoother but the cool thing is that u spin all the way around more and the cage itself fells alot more open so not as tightly cramped…love it!

      • Harisa says:

        I wish the LA Fair had those harnesses!
        My daughter cried so hard and I am left w/
        2 baseball sized bruises on my legs.
        Scarred us for life πŸ™

  • soy de mexico, amigos algien que tenga todo sobre zipper desde sus conecciones hasta su forma de ensamblar, porfavor, a mi padre le vendieron uno, pero no funciona, le daremos mantenimiento para ponerlo a trabajar cualquier cosa porfavor enviar informacion.


    soy de mexico, friends, anyone who has any zipper from their connections on their way to join up, please, my father sold him one, but does not work, we will put you to work maintenance for anything please send information.

  • Ryan says:

    You obviously have been on a different ride, the one at the local fair here in Australia) is absolutely F**ked. You would never go on it more than once, unless to prove a point. Totally unpleasant.

  • Shawn says:

    I am really sorry to tell you that the Australian built zipper is actually the first model chance zipper which my family actually owns one and it can flip 600 times in a row or more so please would you like to try this one.

    freshly refurbished.

    3rd generation carny,

    shawn edward jenkins

    zipper operator

    • Bruce Bell says:

      Hey Shawn, I would like to come to where ever you are and ride the Zipper that you’re referring to. Better still, I would like to take a world’s record setting in time ride, that would be four hours or more and at the same time do the 600 or more flips in a row. I’m game to do this if you could accommodate me. I hope your Zipper ride is set to go real fast and that may mean faster than the ones in Australia. I can be reached on my e-mail at bdbell1940@yahoo.com. I live in Florida USA and I like to go on the meanest of the thrill rides and I like when the ops make the rides real long. Again, I’m game to go for the 600 or more flips in a row.

    • Steven Mariman says:

      Hi Shawn. Steve here, from Oregon (USA). Rode one of the earlier Zippers constantly as a teenager, though it was after the RPMs were adjusted down (still faster than the Zippers built since 1980), so I have the indelible memory of just how good the ride can be, and am obsessed with riding an Australian-built model, because they are so much closer to the original fast speeds. Is your family’s Zipper still operating in Australia? If I won the lottery, I’d love to see if Kevin Ferrari would build one for me to tour North America with. It’s 2018 now, 8 1/2 years since your post, so I don’t know if you’ll see this, but if you do, please write back if you’ve a mind to. I would love to ride a fast Australian Zipper ride someday! I’ll never forget the elastic intensity of the earlier-built ones, and the Australian ones clearly go faster than the ones in the US. Do you know if Dean Davis’s Zipper ride is still touring Australia, or if Kevin Ferrari is still manufacturing rides?

      Steve Mariman
      ride enthusiast
      Portland, Oregon (USA)

  • Emily says:

    So I am going on the zipper as my very first up-side-down ride. I’m very nervous but I promised my friend I would go on it with her in about a week when the fair is in town, I have a few questions, do any of you mind answering them? Thank you(:

    Is this a bad first up-side-down ride?
    How scary is it from 1-10?
    Does it make alot of people puke?
    And do you gt that weird sensation in your stomach?

    • DoD3Brian says:

      1. Well, I see it as if you can go on this then you can go on any other upsidedown ride with no problem! So sure it’s a good start!

      2. Considering that I don’t think it’s scary, I’ll say it’s an 8 or 9 in terms of excitement. πŸ˜‰

      3. Only if they’re prone to motion sickness. Personally I’m fine on the Zipper but cannot take a swinging ship at all.

      4. Probably, if the car flips the right way at the right time.

      The worst part of the ride is thinking about riding it beforehand; it’s really not bad at all. Have fun! πŸ™‚

    • edward says:

      Hey Emily,

      How was your ride on the Zipper? I hope it wasn’t too scary and that you enjoyed it. The Zipper has always been my favorite ride and I still get that “feeling” in my stomach when I get to ride it even at 50!!

    • Judy says:

      Yes all of the questions you’ve asked. Stay away

  • Emily says:

    @DoD3Brian, Thank you very much!

  • Bruce Bell says:

    DoD3 Brian Do you have any connections where I could go for records for the longest non stop ride , riding the most insane carnival rides like the Zipper, Tango, Hard Rock, Speed Flip, Inversion, Space Loop, etc? You can get back to me on my e-mailat bdbell1940@yahoo.com. By the way, I wish I could take up on Shawn Edward Jenkins offer to ride his Zipper where he can provide 600 or more flips in a row.

    • DoD3Brian says:

      No, I’m sorry I don’t Bruce. You might have some luck at Matt’s Carnival Warehouse or Carny Town however. Those forums are frequented by showmen and carnival workers as well as fans like us.

  • Carla says:

    Just rode the Zipper again tonight for the first time in at least ten years. What a BLAST!! That awful terror that washes over you when you get to be next in line, up close to that squealing, groaning mess of cable and steel! The horror when you realise it’s just that dinky little pin holding the door closed! The kids screaming in the next cage, and the ride hasn’t even started yet!! Hahahaaa! Still the best ride at the fair!
    As a note…we must have had an older model, it flipped around like crazy!! Not sure I could have survived the higher rpm’s of the old days…
    Off to have a cup of tea with honey, to sooth my throat so sore from screaming!
    Thanks for the site.

  • Bruce Bell says:

    Hey, Shawn Edward Jenkins, If you see this, I’m ready to take you up in riding your Zipper ride that you claim can flip 600 or more times in a row. You can reach me at bdbell1940@yahoo.com

  • Brittany says:

    was that video not just sped up?

  • Bruce Bell says:

    I still would like someone to come forward, who could accommodate me in breaking my one hour record in riding the Zipper as I would like to attempt to ride it for three hours non stop. e-mail bdbell1940@yahoo.com

    Shawn Edward Jenkins, I’m ready to ride your Zipper ride in which you claim it can do 600 or more flips.

  • Scarlet says:

    The second scariest part is when They lock you in and you go around while the other people board. Then you know there’s no turning back. The Scariest part is when you go around and you reach that perfect point where you’re at the top edge of the ride and you know you’re about to be sent hurdling face-first towards the ground and all you can do is squeeze tighter on the bars and clench your teeth.
    Although I must say this is my favorite ride and I go on it as many times as I can get someone else to ride with me (they don’t allow single riders[probably because you would be sliding back and forth under the lap bar])

  • Chris says:

    This is one of those few rides I refuse to go on. I’ve only been on it a couple of times anyway. The first time was terrifying but fun. The second time, unfortunately, was not fun at all because every time we went upside down, my legs would bang up into the lap bar. It was to the point where I was just pleading internally for the ride to stop because it was so painful. The next day, blackish blue bruises appeared across the tops of my thighs.

  • Bruce B says:

    There’s a video on You Tube where two riders used their body motion to flip 284 times, while the ride was stationary. What I would like to do is to attempt a four hour ride on the Zipper and while the ride is running, be flipped 500 times from the control panel of the ride resulting in rapid flips. Anybody want to take me up on this? bdbell1940@yahoo.com

  • mike says:

    the great new york state fair has a zipper every year in syracuse n.y. the james e. strates shows is the ride operator for the fair .the fair is a 12 day run aug til labor day .go to the nysfair web site!!!

  • Christian says:

    The Zipper is one classic that will never lose its touch.

    On a side note I did work a similar ride called Chaos (another Chance ride) for nearly four years. That ride deserves a WTCR title for all its mechanical and computer problems. However despite its problems it was my favorite ride to work at Belmont. Unfortunately Belmont traded it to Chance Rides for a Unicoaster as part of a contract deal.

  • Bruce B says:

    DoD3Brian, I did make contact with Matt Cook and others from Carnival Warehouse at the IISF Show in Gibsonton Florida today and they are going to look into where I can take record setting rides on the real insane carnival rides. That includes my attempts to break my own record in riding the Zipper, which I rode for an hour plus several years ago. Like to go for 3-4 hours and do it on one that is set at a faster speed, the same way the Aussies have theirs set.

  • Taty Star says:

    I`ve never been on board, but I`ve read here on net that in Brazil, there was one of this ride at the extinct Tivoli Park, in Rio de Janeiro, from where a woman falled, hurting herself a lot and until today, even the park`s already closed (in 1995, I think), she didn`t receive tany indenization. The ride there was called “Gaiola das Loucas”.

  • George says:

    Alright I don’t know who the hell is writing these reveiws but you should find out what the hell your talking about before you do a review. #1 all mechnical devices have flaws and break be it your washer,car or the airplane you ride in. There was a change in the Zipper for sure. But it was not just to regulate speed. The 1st Zippers were run by hydrolics, There was a track in which two tires drove the main boon, then there were two ford rear ends that drove the cable. Thats where the loss of speed came from. #2 the sound of clanking metal is not from the track but from the K braces. there is play in the braces cause if they were tight the would break. kind of like tying your boat to the pier to tight.#3 there are 3 locks on the door, the COTTER KEY was always there it was the lock on the side that was added. Next time you go on a ride and right a review look at the ride. #4 that was your money fying around in the TUB. and I’m sure that white trash caney was greatful!

    • George says:

      I forgot to say the new ones are run buy electric motors

      • DoD3Brian says:

        This reviews on this site are mostly geared towards the casual carnival goer and are satirical at times. I try not to go into excruciating detail because, frankly, it’ll bore some readers.

        That being said, every source I’ve seen attributes the speed change to the rides intensity.

  • robert says:

    I found out about the carnival (BLUE SKY AMUSEMENTS posted it up on their website) there early Saturday morning, and i had to work on Saturday night..so i had to wait on Sunday. So i drove up there last night and arrived around 7pm, and once i got there, i saw the rides bulit (Including the ZIPPER)…BUT NO ONE WAS THERE EXCEPT THE CARNIES, TAKING THE RIDES APART!! I MISSED THE ONE CHANCE TO GO ON THE ZIPPER THAT NIGHT!!! IF ONLY I DIDN’T HAVE TO WORK THAT NIGHT!!! GODDDAMMMIT, WHY DO GOOD THINGS HAPPEN IN MY LIFE AND SOMEHOW…THEY DISSAPEAR! WHAT THE FUCKK!!!!!! :-[

  • Chris says:

    Simple Solution,
    too scary for you or worried that while your in it
    that the door might open? Fuck your opinion, mine is, then don’t ride it!!

  • Chris says:

    Same Person as Above,
    Now just remember that rides always going to “drop-out-shakes”
    ie; –your coins that are in your clothes or purses, so, either only
    take dollar bills w/you , or make sure that you only put quarters
    & other change in your pockets, so, that when I stop the ride to
    let all of you screaming monkeys off-of-it, I can pick-up all of your
    change & put it in my own pocket, (gotta realize, coins drop to the
    ride operators, like myself down below, bills won’t/don’t) so, just
    always remember that I wanna eat lunch later in the afternoon,and
    all of the money that falls down to a ride jock down below, helps him
    fill his stomach, so I just thought I’d say, THANKS FOR LUNCH!!!

  • Chris says:

    but one good thing is, that if you had really shitty festival food over the
    day/night is that the ride will always make you barf if you overate during
    the day, you just gotta MAKE SURE that the operator that’s running the ride at the time, is a Commie or Iraq’ other than one of your Brothers or Sisters
    that were BORN IN THE USA , so that your puke falls on the down and out & onto the right people below!!

  • Cressycat says:

    Hi there,

    Awesome list of rides. I wrote an article about amusement park equipment several years ago – and learned that Chance took its original design for the Skydiver and transformed it to create … wait for it … the Zipper.

    The original Zippers went just a little too fast and caused many riders to get sick. This problem has been addressed in most Zippers still in operation, as noted in other comments.

    The bigger issue – the door-only restraints – meant that folks could easily fall/fly out if the door fell open during operation. This design flaw has caused quite a few senseless injuries and fatalities over the years.

    Zippers are now supposed to be retrofitted with secondary harness restraints. I am sure, however, that you can find many without them. Unless you know the age and condition of the Zipper in question, I wouldn’t do it. πŸ™‚

    Again, what a fun list. Thanks for sharing!

  • Did you know? Michael Jackson holds the world record on the β€œZipper” carnival ride – he rode for 35 minutes straight!

  • Ride Fanatic says:

    I love this ride! But at 6’4, I’m sure you can imagine how tight a squeeze those cages are for me. Don’t ride it like I did when I was younger.

  • Alex says:

    Just rode this for the first time yesterday! I was concerned about my keys falling out of my pocket (and possibly off the ride, I don’t have a big enough key fob to prevent it falling through the cage), so I stuffed them into my back pocket, so that I could keep them from moving, and even if they did, there was a velcro patch to keep them falling out.

    Regardless, they worked their way out over the course of the ride, hit the bottom of the cage, then flew up and hit me in the face. I managed to snatch them from the air and hold them against one of the door bars until the end of the ride (while I was stepping on my wallet, which had fallen out much earlier).


  • Zipper-FirstTimer says:

    Hi, I went on the Zipper for the first time today, and i have to say it was EPIC!!! I live in australia so it went so fast! I went on with my friend, and because she couldnt hold herself from getting thrown around, she smashed her face on the bars and became pale and got a massive headache. I loved it but she could keep herself still, so if you go on the Zipper, you have to be prepared for some serious g – forces (especially the australian one)


  • Rog says:

    Do you have to use such a crass name like White Trash Carny rides? Seriously.

    • DoD3Brian says:

      The ‘white trash carny ride’ moniker stems from a joke I had with some people years ago and decided to turn it into a series of articles. It is a ‘crass’ name but this site was never supposed to be politically correct or family friendly anyway.

  • Jason says:

    The zipper may look like trash but the ride on one is friggin awesome. It is much more insane than many other inverting rides.

  • Ultradude306 says:

    There is a small annual carnival about a 15min walk from me. Last year, a carny told me that the zipper at this carnival (run by World’s Finest Shows of Ontario), was made in 1996 or 1997. Assuming this is true, can someone tell me how safe the ride is? It looks fairly good, (new paint job & all), but I don’t think it has the updated cages (ones with the z on the side of the cars). It would be greatly appreciated if someone could answer me ASAP.

    • DoD3Brian says:

      Old or new, the cage’s locking mechanisms are all safe so I wouldn’t worry. I actually prefer the older model cages myself as they flip more easily. πŸ™‚

      • ultradude306 says:

        Sure, that makes me feel a lot better, but what if the guy forgets to close the cage (you know, cause he’s smoking pot or something)? I mean, it probably won’t be an issue, as the show that comes to my town is one of the best in Ontario, but you never know… Is it just a risk that I’ll have to take, or is there a way to tell if they’re locking the cages right?

        It would really help if someone answered ASAP, as the carnival is right near my house, and I may go in a day or two.


        • DoD3Brian says:

          You’re worrying about it too much. lol But to answer your question, the door closes, two locks engage simultaneously and then the ride op puts in a pin that acts as a third lock. On newer ones the door just closes, locks and that’s it, no pins or anything since the locking mechanism was rebuilt.

          Now just ride it! You’ll be glad you did!

          • Ultradude306 says:

            I just rode the zipper today. It was amazing, and so intense that I could barely walk off the platform! Beforehand, I had to wait about 45 minutes, having the carny kick me out 4 times, ’cause I couldn’t ride alone. Finally, after a long time of waiting, however, another carny who was on break volunteered to ride with me. I took the offer, and got on. The ride itself was like nothing I’ve experienced. It had EVERYTHING you’d want… REALLY high g- forces, floater air, ejector air… YOU NAME IT, IT HAD IT! Finally, as an added bonus, right as the ride stopped, our cage flipped an extra 9 or 10 times in a row, and the g-forces were INSANE. If you want to see what that looks like, type ””Crazy Zipper Ride 1″ into YouTube.

  • Mike Sites says:

    Best Zipper on the US East Coast – Trimper’s Rides in Ocean City Maryland. Well maintained – and runs full speed ahead unlike many of the anemic Zipper rides with the traveling carnivals. You can clearly see this in the video

    I ‘m 56 and will never stop riding the Zipper as long as I have the ability to get in the cars. I’ve learned not to hold onto the bars, but rather to fold my arms so that my forearms are resting on the pad above the cage door. This gives you a higher center of gravity and causes you to flip more. Also if the cage door were to fly open you might have a chance to stay alive…LOL.

    Honestly – its a smooth ride, not jerky and harsh. Of course there are occasional moments when you are flung upside-down and face first….at the ground – which generally indicates some outrageous flipping action to follow.

    Good for your cardio-vascular system too!!!

  • Melanie says:

    I remember my cousin and I going on this only we would try to be completely silent through out the whole ride instead of yelling and screaming. The silence intensifies the rush you already get since you’re holding everything in.

  • -Neji Hyuuga-: "Zipper" Fightin' Leaf Ninja says:

    I finally got my best friend to ride this with me @ the Middlesex County Fair last Saturday night! We arrived at the fair at around 9:30 pm..a little late but better than never I suppose lol. And it was pretty crowded too once we’ve got there. Although there were some potential threats for severe thunderstorms to hit the area, but luckly they didn’t hit us or caused the night to be “rained out”. It was just a light drizzle as soon as we got in. I brought in $30, enough for fair admissions for me and him. And enough for 3 rounds on -Zipper-. (while each single ride tix only cost $.75 and the ride costs 4 tickets) It could’ve been just 2 rounds cause my friend wanted us to ride the “Pharaoh’s Fury” (the end seats) but he let me decide. So instead, we went on -Zipper- for 3 rounds. My friend admitted that he was a little nervous about it but after the 1st round, He Absolutely..LOVED IT! And it was the best one yet because of the black, comfy leather padding inside the pods that makes us want to fall asleep in..When The Ride Isn’t Running lol. Our first 2 rounds on it was the most brutal. I wish I could’ve gotten them on video if I still had my smartphone with me. (which fell out of my pocket while riding the Gravitron @ State Fair Meadowlands..further details later) On our first 2 rounds we went on the pods that will do front flips. (since they only operate the ride in only one rotation..which was counter-clockwise) And on the last round, it got kinda weak. As we were put in a car that will do back flips. We’ve only been flipped just twice. Most of the time was just rocking back and forth. But sure he loved it. πŸ™‚ And we left the fair 10 minutes before it closed at 11pm. Then we headed back to my friend’s place to chill for another hour and a half before he has to sleep for church the following the day. Surely we had a great time and I’m glad we made it happen. πŸ™‚

  • Sameer says:

    Lol, I got beat up by my friends phone in the car since it fell out, the back cover came out and the battery fell out of the car and he couldn’t find it again. Plus his phone got like 5 more dents.

  • Can’t wait to “fight” this monster all of 2-0-1-3! πŸ™‚

  • JJ says:

    All I want to know is: WHY IS THERE A TWO-PERSON RIDER RULE!? All I’ve wanted to do for years is ride this ride again….but not having any willing friends, I go alone to fair rides….this damn two rider rule seem ridiculous, especially for average sized adults!

    • DoD3Brian says:

      There’s a no single riders rule because of the risk that a person could lay sideways on the seat and slip out from under the lapbar. This was pointed out by the manufacturer, Chance Rides, so not going by their recommendations leaves the show wide open to lawsuits if a single rider were to get hurt on their Zipper. Honestly, a person, especially an adult, would have to be horsing around to slide under the bar. But rules are rules.

      • Lisa says:

        I was put on this ride in 1971 with my little brother by my father in Nova Scotia. This event should never have been permitted. I was not quite 6 and my brother had just turned 4. We both slipped under the bar and were tossed like salad inside that cage of terror. Our shoes came off and cracked us in the head and this was the day I discovered that god was a lie and was never going to save us. lol the simple joys of childhood.

      • RideEnthusiast says:

        This was pointed out by the manufacturer because they probably read a couple of Internet discussion board comments from Zipper ride enthusiasts (some who referred to themselves as “Zipperheads”) that the best ride for them was to turn sideways and get one leg OVER THE LAPBAR with the other leg still kept safely under the lapbar. In that case, half restrained plus whatever grip or push they could get against the vertical door handrails: UNSAFE! Not how the manufacturer designed the ride, that’s for sure, even with a single position lapbar that had all rider weight on it and the door the bar was attached to when it ocurred. So, rather than implement a seat divider that would limit the rider width of two people in the cage just so one could ride alone, it makes sense: NO SINGLE RIDERS. Of course, I have recently seen a promotional sheet about a new model Zipper that includes individual shoulder bars (and front hinged “lobes” in the front of the cage to help make them more front-heavy), but if they still do NO SINGLE RIDERS it will be if a rider figures out how to get partly unrestrained by the bottom part of the shoulder bar (because otherwise, a rider would be individually restrained by the shoulder bar with no possibility of turning sideways enough to get a leg over the lap bar (if it’s still equipped).

  • ultradude306 says:

    If anybody’s interested, I have a video of Campbell Amusements zipper on youtube, along with quite a few other ride vids to check out.

    Here’s the link to the zipper vid:

    In addition, I should be able to get some footage of a local carnival in a month or so, as well as my latest RCT3 coaster, Excentria, up on the channel as well.

    Thanks, and please, rate, comment & subscribe! πŸ™‚

  • JBscar says:

    Remember one year at the local fair, I was waiting in line to get on the Zipper with my brother and we were next in line. One of the people had puked all over the next car that we were to get into, and they were covered in it as well as the car. The operator unloaded the 2 people and ran off. He came back with a 5 gallon pail full of water and splashed out the car and told us to get in. We said no and had to get to the back of the line and wait again. I bet you any car that you get into on the Zipper, has been puked in when you think about it! πŸ™‚

  • This year is gonna be Another Great Year for me and more #Zipper rides than last year πŸ™‚

  • Lewie says:

    Hey, that Dean Davis Zipper is really cool, went on it a few times a few years back but they sold it and it no longer runs shows here anymore πŸ™ I think it was called the Mean Mother Zipper, which kinda fits the speed it runs haha.

  • Forrester says:

    Hey guys! I can confirm that the Dean Davies Zipper definitely was faster! I live in country Victoria, Australia and it toured everywhere when I was a kid as The Zipper with scary airbrush artwork around it with a massive sign that said “Mean Mother”
    It was incredibly fast and the most vicious zipper. I rode it between the ages of 15 and 18, then it turned up at the Traralgon show and I rode it again when I was 23 in 2010. This beast is old and nasty. I rode the zipper a few times in between and I just thought I was older now and that rides aren’t actually scary anymore, but this zipper is not like zippers you see now, it was far beyond terrifying. You could feel the whiplash effect of reaching the end of the boom every 4 seconds, which was the count you’d scream when we were all teenages. It would go “1, 2, 3, Faaarrrkkkk! 1, 2, 3, Help Me!!!” It had yellow framework and the cars were yellow and red. It also had a motor with tyres that spun against the beam cables to make the ride actually work and break for stopping which was hideous and terrifying to watch. The carnie attendants were hard nuts and always played the hardest trance music and if you rode it before 4pm each ride lasted about 6 mins. They would leave the first 2 or 3 people on the ride in for up to 10mins to attract everyone to buy tickets and get in line. Every year at school we would compare bruising on our legs because you were actually assaulted, and it was stock standard to watch young girls come off it with eggs on their foreheads and be bleeding. this zipper was also notorious for vomiting and they would regularly hose the cages out before you got on. sooo insane!!!!

  • Zipper man says:

    The “No Single Riders” policies are tyranny! They are designed to keep the single population out of sight and out of mind! Man, have American carnivals gone to the dogs! American carnivals are in the toilet! Soon it’s going to be “No Adults 18 or older” and similar type policies.

  • Ultradude306 says:

    I know this page is about the zipper, but have you ever been on a Chance Turbo before? They look pretty cool from what I’ve read/seen, but there doesn’t seem to be anything about the ride here on this site.

  • King Ghidora says:

    Back in the 1980’s I rode a ride that made the Zipper look like a Scrambler. I have never seen one since or even photos of one. It consisted of a apparatus that looked a lot like a double ferris wheel. There were rotating circles holding seats almost identical to the Zipper seats . The center axis would rotate the two wheels at either end of a long bar so to speak. Then each circle would rotate on it’s own. And the seats would go upside down. So there were 3 different axis points on the ride for each seat including the center rotating bar, the rotating wheel and the seat itself. The ride was operated at significant speed so that the circles would gain momentum from the bar and the seat would gain momentum from the circle and the bar. And what’s worse is they would reverse the direction of the center axis (the bar) causing a whip effect that would sent the circle structures spinning at high speed and if they happened to catch the seat at just the right momenty it would spin that seat like a top. That ride was insane to be polite. The operator warned us that no one ever rode it. My sister would have it no other way than for us to try. The reluctant operator said we should empty our pockets because they would be empty before the ride was over. Then he said just scream when you’ve had enough. Once the thing got up to speed it was like being inside a washing machine inside another washing machine and both at the end of a whip. I’m surprised it didn’t kill everyone that tried to ride it. Within 30 seconds my sister was mumbling “make them stop” and of course it was up to me to do the screaming. The bad part was it took at least 2 minutes to slow the ride down much less stop it. We had to be on that ride for 5 minutes at least. I had left a small amount of change in my pocket to check the story about losing everything and sure enough it was all gone. I’d love to see a photo of that ride now. I don’t think they built many of them because humans could not endure that ride. It was by far the worst ride I’ve ever been on and I’ve been to some of the big amusement parks and ridden every ride they had to offer. NOTHING I’ve ever seen compared to that carnival ride. If anyone would happen to know anything about that ride I’d love to hear about it. It truly was insane to even think about riding it.

    • Robert says:

      Sounds like you are talking about the Chance Turbo.


    • Steven Mariman says:

      It sounds like a ride I rode once in the early 70s, called “Space Tumblers.” I had never seen it before, nor have I ever seen it since. It was just as you described it, with a double ferris wheel type structure, though not nearly as large as an actual double ferris wheel. I have never been able to find a photo of it, and yours is the first mention I’ve heard of anyone else riding it. I do remember it being quite intensely flipping, with that elastic face-stretching kind of g-force effect. I was able to find a ride patent https://patents.google.com/patent/US3294398 with some technical drawings and descriptions of a ride called “Space Coupe.” The structure is exactly the same as the ride I rode (and the one I believe you rode too), though the original design had an additional lateral free-spinning hub inside the seats already subject to flipping with the force of gravity and the whipping motion. I imagine that element was left out of the actual manufacture of the ride, considering how incredibly intense it is even without it. Take a look at that page, if you have a chance, and tell me if that was the same ride you rode. It had kind of a gentle-sloped ramp leading up to it, that you can see in the drawings. You’re the first person, besides my buddy from middle school who rode it with me, that I have ever heard of riding that ride. Small world, huh?

      Steve Mariman
      Portland, Oregon

  • Lucy says:

    I really want to ride one!

  • Zipper man says:

    Boycott the Zipper!!!

    Boycott the tyranny with “No Single Riders!”

    Stop carnival CRUELTY towards singles!

    Before 2006, the Zipper was a really fun ride and an all time favorite of mine. I personally have ridden single on the Zipper and can tell you that a single rider my size CAN NEVER turn sideways and slip out from under the lap bar! In fact, I even tried a number of times to position my legs into an “Indian Style” position under the lap bar to change my center of gravity so the gondola would spin more. But hard as I could try, I was NEVER able to do an “Indian Style” position with my legs with that lap bar tight against my lap! In fact, I could spread my thighs no more than maybe 60 degrees apart (about 30 degrees from vertical per thigh) and I could only position my lower legs into an “X” position.

    But today, the Zipper has become a total abomination to all American and Canadian carnivals with it’s tyrant “No Single Riders” garbage! It has become a symbol of the intense, burning hatred American society has developed towards singles, as well as a reminder that singles in America have far fewer rights/freedoms than popular people in families and in tight knit cliques, and that American freedom continues to die rapidly. On most other rides (Sizzler, scrambler, orbiter, Alpine Bobs, Spider, Tilt-A-Whirl, Himalaya, and such), the lap bar in fact is waay far looser than on the Zipper, plus you are not enclosed in a steel cage like you are on the Zipper! Often, on rides like the scrambler/sizzler, Himalaya, orbiter, etc, there is about 4 to 8 inches between your lap/legs and the lap/restraint bar, easily enough room for someone to turn sideways and slip out from under it. But do you see those rides with “No Single Riders” garbage? And in fact, do you see people turning sideways on those rides and slipping out from under the lap bars? No! And in fact, when was the last time anyone has ever heard of someone turning sideways on the Scrambler, Sizzler, Orbiter, etc, slipping out from under the lap bar, and flying out of their seat? You certainly WOULD NOT see them flying out like water droplets flung off a spinning wheel.

    RIP old Zipper. 1968-2005. Even if the Zipper is completely eliminated from the fair by all carnival companies due to the boycotts, so be it. Whether the Zipper goes the way of the dinosaurs or remains with “No Single Riders” signs, it’s a lose-lose scenario. As long as the “No Single Riders” tyranny remains, the Zipper really may as well not be there.

  • Gracie says:

    Honestly, one of the best rides ever!

    I don’t ever try to tip the carts though because me tipping them makes me sick, but the ride doing it doesn’t. Weird, I know.

    I’m 15, and refuse to go on my rides. But this one is a favorite. I first got on when i was about 9, and loved every second of it. My second experience was horrible, since the person in the opposite carts through up and I was stuck up top for about 40 minutes while they were cleaning (was 10 then).

    This was all on the original model type. I could feel since there is only one lock and they are extremely easy to rock and flip. Move a half inch and your cart tips a bunch XD.

    My latest experience was 4 days ago. They did the backwards motions for my positioned cart first, did only a double backflip. Going forward though we did 6 front flips, and tipped up halfway for a good ten seconds and tipped back down. That was in a row, without trying.

    Then I got stuck on the top for about 3 minutes, and then we start moving again. I guess once wasn’t enough when there is a 100 foot line? So we went for a second round, and then got stuck on top again. Then we finally unloaded.

    I’m kind of glad they did the ride twice, it made it worth wait since it was night and the lines get huge.

    Also on a side note, this is not as bad as it seems. I used to start crying when i got on because it was so shaky, but the ride is much more satisfying because it is very smooth. I usually laugh all the way through once it starts going.

    This is coming from the scaredy cat of most rides! I’ve ridden bunches of rides, but don’t like a lot either, so zipper is definitely a ride to go on if ill go on it.

  • Iain gonzalez/ dakota derrick says:

    My friend and I counted 105 flips all together at the twin falls 100 th year anniversary

  • Gary says:

    I am hoping that you will review the newly designed Zipper this coming season! Hopefully you will get the opportunity to ride one. I am sure looking forward to giving it a go when I encounter one! Love your site!

  • AC says:

    I had no idea about the “single rider only” policy until today at the fair, when I was unceremoniously turned away from the ride by the operator. My brother was out of tickets, and he was too scared to go on it anyway, so I guess…hopefully I’ll ride a zipper someday before I die? I need to find some friends who like carnival rides, because mine don’t. :/ My sister might have gone with me, but she was too scared to go this year because of that one accident that happened on a carnival ride that our fair doesn’t even have…

    Great article though! Loving this site!

  • Melanie says:

    I went on the zipper once and once was more than enough. I can go on any carnival ride but the zipper is different. I had to go on with a complete stranger, because I already wasn’t nervous enough. I had my eyes shut as tight as they could shut and held in to the bars as tight as I possibly could. And even though I was hanging on, I still somehow bashed my face off the door. I was shaking so so much and I just hated it. I can go on any ride no matter how fast or how high up it goes, but once my body is flipped upside down I’m done.

  • Raymond says:

    Even I have been brave enough to get on this 3 different times in high school. It’s like a sauna; it’s hot at first but eventually you get used to being flipped over and over and over. LOL. There’s 2 scary scenarios on this ride, (my opinion) 1. When you go over one of the edges while your edge is at the top like you “hop” over the edge and your face hits the cage in front of you. 2. The edge when you’re at the very bottom and it feels like you’re going to glide across the ground.

  • Raymond says:

    “…as if the car were full of lit firecrackers rather than coins…”

    I screamed out laughing when I read that. Brian your humor is killer.

  • Ava Fagust says:

    now I know how a zipper feels

  • Brian says:

    I went on The Zipper this past weekend with my best friend’s nine year old sister. Craziest ride I’ve ever been on I could only hold on to the bars with one hand because she was flying around so I had to hold her with the other. Our shirts kept flying up with each flip and there were no less than eight of those! My tummy is bruised but it was worth it to see her excited face. However, definitely a one-and-done here!

  • Lucky Dan says:

    I got off a Zipper at a carnival somewhere one night and I was surprised I was still alive. During the ride I thought I’d been flung across the parking lot and was flying straight into Hell. I was 100% sure I was going to die any second.

    I was the second cab to unload and I just zombied off walking toward the line waiting to get on. I’m a white guy and there was this sincerely concerned looking black women at the front of the line just staring at me. I tripped almost right into her and as she stopped my fall she looked at me and screamed, β€œDamn! You look white!” It was perfect, and when she realized the comedy in what she’d just said she grabbed me and gave me a gnarly hug. Then she straightened me up and sent me on my way. I must have been pretty pale for that to happen. The Zipper rules!

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