Home » 5 Very Strange Things That Happen to Your Body on Theme Park Rides

    5 Very Strange Things That Happen to Your Body on Theme Park Rides

    Theme park rides are incredibly safe. Millions of riders experience them every year, and serious accidents and injuries are very rare. Still, rides doexert some extraordinary forces on our bodies, causing some really strange things to happen. It’s the feeling of experiencing these sensations on our bodies that actually makes riding theme park attractions so fun – and the designers and engineers that create them are very careful to ensure that the forces placed on our bodies are kept within safe limits. You may be intrigued to find out exactly what is going on while you’re racing around on a roller coaster, twirling around on a thrill ride or plummeting downwards on a drop tower. Here are 5 unusual things that your body will go through during a typical theme park trip.

    5. Your blood moves towards your feet


    When you’re riding a roller coaster or another high-speed attraction, your body is subjected to G-Forces (the “G” stands for “gravity”). There are various different types of G-Force, each of which has differing effects on our bodies. One of those types is Positive G-Force, which occurs at the bottom of hills on a coaster. In simplistic terms, the force is exerted because the train (and your body) is heading rapidly in one direction (downwards), but the track suddenly forces it in a different direction (upwards). The net effect is that you feel heavier. If you’re going fast enough, the force can be enough to slow or even stop the flow of blood to your brain and eyes. In very extreme cases, this can cause “greyouts” (a loss of color vision), tunnel vision (a loss of peripheral vision) or even blackouts (a complete loss of vision). Kings Dominion adjusted the layout of Intimidator 305to try and eliminate these effects. Negative Gs have the opposite effect, and occur when a train crests a hill at speed or plummets down a sudden drop. This has the opposite effect on your blood – sending it racing towards your brain and making your hair stand on end.

    4. Your body gets pushed backwards, even though it’s going forwards


    Our bodies feel acceleration in a very strange way – such as when we’re being blasted from 0 to 68 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds on Disney’s Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. The actual force that is acting upon us, of course, is the seat pushing our bodies forwards. However, what we actually feelis pushing coming from the opposite direction, so it feels as though we are being forced backwards into our seats. This is the effect of “Linear Gs”.

    3. Your organs “float” inside you

    Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

    Image © Disney

    Have you ever wondered why your stomach feels strange when you’re plummeting downwards on Disney’s Twilight Zone Tower of Terror? When you’re standing on the ground, the force that you notice isn’t the downwards pull of gravity, but the upwards force of the ground beneath. This pushes up on your feet, and in turn on your bones and organs. When you’re in freefall, there is barely any net force acting upon you. The individual parts of your body are no longer pushing on each other as they normally do – instead, they are effectively “floating” inside you, falling at their own rate. We aren’t used to this feeling, which is why our brains sense that something is amiss. That sinking feeling in your stomach comes because there is less force acting upon it, and it is suddenly very light.

    2. Your body involuntarily jerks from side-to-side

    Space Mountain

    Image © Disney

    Another type of G-Force is “Lateral Gs”, which occur when a ride races around a corner. This causes your body to be jerked suddenly sideways. It is possible for ride designers to reduce this effect by banking turns, but in some cases this is deliberately not done. The most obvious example is wild mouse-style roller coasters, which generally feature very sharp turns that are not banked. When these are in the dark, such as on Space Mountain at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, the results can sometimes be a little painful.

    1. Your heart pumps blood in the “wrong” direction

    Image: Six Flags

    Typically, theme park rides that turn you upside down don’t do so for long. Some of them, though, do leave you hanging for a little longer – such as the classic Ranger inverting ships manufactured by Huss. This is not dangerous in the same way as David Blaine’s attempt to hang upside down for 60 hours was, but it is intriguing to think about what starts to happen while we’re dangling there. Suddenly, our hearts don’t have the benefit of gravity to help them. They are normally already beating faster when we’re on a thrill ride, due to the excitement and fear that we experience. However, they now have to work double-time, pumping blood upwards to our legs and feet. Blood rushes to our heads and brain, causing red faces. There’s nothing to worry about, though – our bodies scan easily cope with this in the short-term, and there’s no danger of blood pooling in the lungs and head as there is with prolonged upside down stints.