You might think you'd be pretty good at designing a roller coaster, especially if you've played with any of the online design games. But the people who have actually done that and had their ideas rendered in life-size steel know a thing or two that you don't. Brendan Walker is one of several roller coaster designers who shared some secrets.
There is absolutely nothing random about the length of a coaster’s track. In addition to designing a ride based on the topography of a park site, designers take into account exactly how much space they’ll need to terrorize you and not an inch more. When England’s Alton Towers park was preparing to build a ride named TH13TEEN for a 2010 opening, they asked Walker exactly how much of a drop was needed to scare someone in the dark. “It was a practical question,” Walker says. “For every extra foot of steelwork, it would have cost them £30,000 [roughly $40,000].”
He doesn't tell us how much of a drop they ultimately included, but he and other designers have plenty to tell us about roller coaster design in a list at Mental Floss.