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HINTS AND TIPS Chris Sawyer is the designer and programmer behind RollerCoaster Tycoon as well as major roller coaster fan. As such, he knows all the ins-and-outs, or rather ups-and-downs, of ride design. To assist budding ride designers, he has put his top ten tips with examples below.
Tip Number One Build footpaths close to the ride, or even better, a bridge across the ride at an exciting point. This allows guests walking around the park to see the ride in action at close quarters, which may entice them onto the ride. This picture shows a log flume drop under a footbridge, allowing the guests to see the action, and also adding to the excitement of the ride as riders dive under the footbridge.
Tip Number Two Use tunnels to make drops more exciting. A steep drop into a narrow tunnel can be much more thrilling than the same drop out in the open air. This doesn't just apply to roller coasters - this picture shows a log flume drop straight into a tunnel.
Tip Number Three With some roller coaster types, careful use of the 'head-chopper' illusion can be used to spice up a ride. Here we see a car on a single-rail roller coaster diving down under a monorail track - there's plenty of clearance, but it doesn't seem that way to the little guests rushing down the slope, all of which adds to the excitement.
Tip Number Four Careful use of water can add interest and excitement to a ride. Here we see an inverted roller coaster train rounding a bend at speed, with the riders' legs very close to the water surface.
Tip Number Five Try to surprise the riders, so they never quite know what to expect next. Here we see a wild-mouse style roller coaster where the mine truck cars emerge from the dark tunnel at speed, round a 180-degree bend in the bright sunlight, then plunge back into the darkness again.
Tip Number Six Carefully combining two or more rides into the same area of land adds excitement to both the rides. Here we see a river rapids ride winding through a mine train roller coaster track, in a landscape themed to resemble an abandoned mine.
Tip Number Seven Clever use of theming and scenery can make even the most mundane of rides a fun and exciting experience. Here we see a simple car ride enhanced by the use of scenery, theming, variation in height, and tunnels.
Tip Number Eight Another example of adding excitement to the first drop of a roller coaster. Here we see a roller coaster train dropping at speed into a tunnel, the excitement being enhanced further by the use of scenery.
Tip Number Nine Let the guests see other rides while they are riding a particular ride. Here we see a log flume going through the vertical loop of a roller coaster - Imagine the log flume riders' surprise when the roller coaster train roars through the loop and over their heads!
Tip Number Ten Use the gentle rides like monorail and miniature railway to allow people to see the best bits of the park. This will make the ride more exciting, and will also entice them onto the more thrilling rides later. Here we see the riders on a monorail train passing near the vertical loop of a steel roller coaster.

1999, Chris Sawyer. All Rights Reserved