Ride type

There is great variety among rides and multiple classifications have been used. Differentiating rides by market (e.g., “family”, “kiddie”) provides little information about the nature of the ride. Some classifications use non-exclusive categories. This analysis divides mechanical revolving rides from roller coasters, and separately classifies patron directed, adventure, and waterpark attractions. This guide explains the boundaries between types.

Mechanical ride, not roller coaster

The “flat ride” type includes rides with rotation, translation, and combinations of rotation and translation on a fixed base or low/slow tracked rides.

  • Horizontally revolving rides (e.g., carousel, swing tower); translating (e.g., drop tower, frog hopper); and multiaxial rotation, partial rotation, and translation (e.g., Fireball, Scrambler, Tornado, Remix, CliffHanger, Paratrooper) rides
  • Vertically revolving rides (e.g., Ferris wheel, gondola wheel, Zipper)
  • Flat tracked rides: Slow train/car or boat rides (at most, minor undulation), single-level mine train/ghost house dark ride
  • Motion simulator and Motion theatre (seats pitch/roll/yaw/heave and may raise during show cycle)

Mechanical roller coaster type

This type includes roller coasters and other track-guided rides with speed, elevation or both

  • Roller coaster 
  • River rapids
  • Flume ride
  • Gondola / sky ride
  • Multi-level mine train / ghost house dark ride

Patron-directed action

The patron-directed ride type involves the start, stop, or steering of the rider’s path by the rider or a companion in the ride vehicle.

  • Go kart
  • Scooter (bumper car)
  • Inflatable bounces, pillows, slides, climbing device; velcro wall
  • Trampoline park and play structures
  • Walkthrough attraction, funhouse, queue (excluding load/unload platforms), and scenery
  • Mountain coaster (although is steered by the tracks, it has patron-directed braking)


The waterpark category includes slides and other water features. Due to the number of reports citing the pool deck, this is also included.

  • Waterslide: including tube slides, body slides, splash pad slides
  • Pool
  • Wave pool
  • Lazy river
  • Pool deck

Adventure attraction

Only bungee attractions and ziplines are included.

  • Bungee
  • Zipline 
  • EXCLUDES ropes courses, climbing walls