A drop tower or big drop is a type of amusement ride incorporating a central structure or tower. Drop towers vary in height, passenger capacity, lift type, and brake type. Many are custom-made, although there are some mass-produced designs. Riders experience free-fall initially, followed by rapid heavy deceleration.
With most drop towers, a gondola carrying riders is lifted to the top of a large vertical structure, then released to free-fall down the tower. Brakes activate to slow the gondola as it approaches the bottom of the ride. Some designs expand on this concept with features such as rotating gondolas, or several bounces before coming to rest.
Most drop towers require child riders to exceed a minimum height; limits vary widely depending upon the nature of the tower, with a 30-foot (9 m) tower for smaller children from 37 inches (95 cm) tall, and a 115-foot (35 m) tower having a 51-inch (130 cm) restriction.
Certain drop towers propel the gondola down as they fall, accelerating the gondola faster than the riders, and leading to riders being lifted out of their seats.
As of July 2014, the longest drop is at Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom at Six Flags Great Adventure, at 415 feet (126 m).
A drop tower type of ride is distinct from an observation tower ride; the latter acts more like a traditional elevator, gently lifting riders up to its maximum height before lowering them gently as well.
Mass-produced tower rides include:Double Shot (air-powered blast up and down)The PiledriverSpace Shot (air-powered blast up)Spring Ride / Family TowerSuper ShotTurbo Drop (air-powered blast down)Intamin Drop TowerZ-Force (Zamperla shot'n'drop tower)Flash Tower (Zamperla shot'n'drop tower)Hurakan Condor (Multi-ride with variants)
ABC rides also manufacture mini drop towers, especially enclosed dark rides such as 'Drop Dead' at the London Dungeon.
* denotes that the drop tower is scheduled currently under construction.Big Shot on the top of the Stratosphere Las Vegas reaching 1,081 feet (329 m) was the highest situated drop tower ride in the world, with a drop of 160 feet (49 m) to a base 921 feet (281 m) above ground levelSpace Probe located at Wonderland Sydney in AustraliaThe Cliff Hanger located at Cliffs Amusement parkDrop Tower: Scream Zone at five Cedar Fair parksOh-Zone! Located at Lake WinnepesaukahSuper Shot often found at MidwayVolcanic Eruption at Fantasy Island, SkegnessApocalypse at Drayton ManorDetonator at Thorpe ParkTango Ice Blast at Pleasure Beach BlackpoolScream Machine at Coney IslandDrop Zone at Alabama Splash AdventureAtmosfear at Morey's Piers, Wildwood, New JerseyThe Megadrop owned by RCS Fair RidesThe Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at multiple Disney parks worldwide.Scream! at Six Flags Fiesta Texas and Six Flags New EnglandDominator at Dorney Park & Wildwater KingdomEKstreme at Enchanted Kingdom (Laguna, Philippines)Supreme Scream at Knott's Berry FarmDoctor Doom's FearFall at Islands of AdventureThe High Fall at Movie Park GermanyDrop Dead at the London DungeonDet gyldne tårn ("The Golden Tower") at Tivoli GardensUFO Adventures at Formosan Aboriginal Culture VillageAcrophobia at Six Flags Over GeorgiaGyro Drop at Lotte WorldGuardians of the Galaxy - Mission: Breakout! at Disney California Adventure Park
Injuries and accidentsFollowing the Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom incident, all the towers were closed and the Carowinds model was found to have "stretched" cables.On February 24, 2012, 14-year-old Gabriella Yukari Nichimura died in an accident at Hopi Hari, Vinhedo, São Paulo State, Brazil. She fell from the drop tower ride "La Tour Eiffel" suffering cranial trauma and died on the way to the hospital. Local police are investigating the accident. Initial investigations suggest the possibility of mechanical failure in the restraint latch.