Amazing Facts About Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
When you think of a Disney theme park, what’s the first thing that jumps in your mind? I absolutely guarantee you that the first answer isn’t the music of Aerosmith. That’s what makes the job of an Imagineer so difficult. They have to draw a line between between seemingly divergent concepts like a family-friendly theme park started because of a mouse and a rebellious rock band whose music is stubbornly adult in theme. Somehow, someone at Disney connected the dots here, leading to one of the most thrilling rides at any of their theme parks. Here are a few amazing facts about Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith.
Short But Sweet
When The Walt Disney Company opened their third gate at Walt Disney World, there wasn’t much. The new gate called Disney-MGM Studios had only one true ride when it debuted in 1989, the now-defunct The Great Movie Ride. Five years later, Disney added a wonderful attraction, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, which is basically a drop ride. The genius of Imagineers is that they turned something that’s a 30-second ride everywhere else into a 150-second ride here.
I mention that because the company then constructed a dazzling roller coaster that’s actually shorter than a drop tower attraction. That’s basically impossible, but that’s the situation at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is only 75 seconds long, making it one of the quickest coaster rides in the world.
How does Disney do that?
The key is something called linear induction. Without getting into the science, it’s a modern propulsion system that uses magnets to create immediate velocity. On the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, you’ll accelerate from zero to 57 miles per hour in 2.7 seconds. You’ll never go faster than that, which is why Test Track remains the top velocity ride at Walt Disney World. It goes 64.9 miles per hour.
With Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, you zoom down the tracks almost immediately, and that explains the short nature of the ride. You’re at maximum velocity within moments of the start of the coaster. Even with 3,403 feet worth of track, you’ll only need a minute (almost literally) to run the entire course.
Thankfully, it’s one of the best minutes possible at any theme park in the world. In terms of adrenaline rush, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is probably top three at Disney due to that explosive burst at the start of the ride and the sustained momentum throughout the experience.
The World’s Strangest Stretch Limousine
The storyline of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is that the members of Aerosmith love their fans so much that they invite everyone in the studio to a free concert. In order to get all the way across town, the band asks their manager to send a stretch limousine for the fans.
The theming of the roller coaster carts is that they’re all stretch limousines. The “stretch” takes place because each cart is basically its own cab. These seats are two by two, with four people per cab. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster employs Single Rider to keep every seat full, meaning that you will sit beside someone on virtually every ride.
Limousine or Cadillac?
The design of each cart is akin to a classic convertible more than a limousine. Technically, it’s styled after the 1962 Cadillac. From the side, however, they kind of look like four-person toboggans. What everyone notices about each seat is the harness. Due to the dramatic vehicle start, the thick harness is necessary to keep everyone from flying forward.
Also, the attraction warns you to keep your head back. Respect this request. Clamp your hands on the harness and place your head firmly against the back of the seat. Otherwise, you’ll lurch forward before the G-force pressure hurtles you backward, causing you to bump your head. The start of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is that intense.
Have you ever compared notes with other folks about which songs you heard during your ride? If so, you may have noticed one of the clever parts of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Aerosmith is a band with more than 30 years of music. How could Disney choose the perfect song for their ride? Even narrowing the list down to a few songs was likely a divisive issue.
In the end, park planners settled on a collection of Aerosmith’s greatest hits. They picked nine songs to provide the soundtrack for the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Due to the shortness of the ride, however, they couldn’t pack all that music into a single trip to the concert. Instead, they cleverly chose to link the limo with the songs. Each roller coaster cart has its own song or song list. These limos play portions of up to three songs during the ride.
The randomization of the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster guarantees that each ride is slightly different. And there’s a trick to knowing which song(s) you’ll hear.
The License Plate Tell
You may not have noticed, but each limo has a special novelty license plate. They’re silly names like BUHBYE. Should you pay attention to the license plate, you’ll know the soundtrack for your trip down the freeway. The pattern goes like this:
- 1QKLIMO: “Nine Lives”
- 2FAST4U: “Sweet Emotion”
- BUHBYE: “Young Lust”, “F.I.N.E.” & “Love in an Elevator”
- H8TRFFC: “Back in the Saddle” & “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)”
- UGOBABE: “Love in an Elevator” (Rollercoaster) & “Walk This Way”
So, you can pick your favorite song and then angle to ride that limo for the optimal musical accompaniment. Guests who want to hear a lot of music should pick BUHBYE since it’s the only limo that plays parts of three different songs. No matter which cart you ride, you’ll have no problem hearing the music. Each set has four distinct speakers plus a subwoofer, giving the limousines a total of 120 speakers for the 24 guests.
By the way, there’s a bit of history with UGOBABE. Until 2004, that license plate read UGOGIRL, but Disney updated it during a refurbishment. The company wanted something slightly less sexist. Whether they succeeded or not is up for debate.
Aerosmith Loves the Ride
What’s the ultimate proof of the quality of the roller coaster? Well, the namesake band adores it. On opening day, Joe Perry and Steven Tyler of Aerosmith happily rode it a dozen consecutive times. That was in 1999. Almost 20 years later, Tyler and his crew still go out of their way to ride their roller coaster from time to time.
Anecdotally, my wife and I were standing in line in 2016 when the crowd ahead of us grew excited. The source of their energetic reaction was Steven Tyler, who people had just recognized at the front of the line. I’m not sure if he waited like the rest of us or if Disney automatically sends him to the front, but the presence of Tyler intensified the pleasure of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster for everyone else.
To a larger point, he was 68 at the time. Any 68-year-old who can ride this coaster multiple times is extremely impressive. Tyler is a true rock star, and the ride that bears his band’s name lives up to lofty expectations.