Amusement parks have been around for decades and they are just as popular as they have ever been. For the most part, the physics and theories used to build these wonderful theme parks in the early years have withheld the test of time and are still exactly the same. Most people don't stop to think about how many amusement parks really rely on physics. If these thrilling rides were just constructed like you might build a tree house and physics was never applied, then the millions of people that flock to these attractions each year would simply have to find something else to waist their money and adrenaline on.
First, we will look at the roller coaster. This is possibly one of the main attractions at an amusement park. What many people don't recognize is the fact that roller coasters aren't propelled by an engine. There is a good reason to back up the fact that the first hill is always the highest. Once the coaster is pulled up the hill by the crank, potential energy is at its fullest. As the coaster is making its way down the hill, that potential energy is converted into kinetic energy. At the bottom of the hill, kinetic energy is at its highest. Throughout the rest of the ride, the coaster is simply propelled by the constant conversion from potential to kinetic energy and back again. Another factor that enters into the extreme speeds that roller coaster can reach are the wheels. There are basically three types of wheels. The running wheels keep the coaster on its path along the rails. The friction wheels help to control the side to side movement of the coaster. And, the last set of wheels helps the coaster stay planted on the rails of the track, even when inverted. The car is eventually stopped by a compressed air braking system. (Amusement Park Physics)
The carousel is one of the most traditional theme park rides. At first glance, the carousel may look as though it's only a simple, graceful wheel of steel.