Select Page

License to Thrill – Amusement Park Thrill Ride Design Team 2


The theme park industry has been attempting to become more user-friendly in recent years to those with physical disabilities. The purpose of this project was for our team to design multiple ride concepts that would allow users with physical disabilities to enjoy thrill rides when going to a theme park with their friends and family while feeling safe and included.

Our team designed eight preliminary thrill ride concepts that would be thrilling to users while being safe and inclusive to riders with physical disabilities such as paraplegia. The team then narrowed these concepts down to one adult-centered ride and one child-centered ride to complete calculations and receive user feedback on. To make the design as inclusive as possible the team also designed a ride harness that could be used in tandem with existing ride harnesses for extra protection to those with paraplegia or similar disabilities.

Our final deliverables to the client included a physical harness prototype as well as virtual models of both roller coaster designs with safety guidelines and preliminary structural and mechanical engineering calculations.

Live Zoom Chat

Use the link below to join us live from 8:00 – 10:30 a.m. on April 29th.

Or iPhone one-tap: 13462487799,97366506596# or 16699006833,97366506596#

Or Telephone:
Dial: +1 346 248 7799 (US Toll) or +1 669 900 6833 (US Toll)
Meeting ID: 973 6650 6596

Team Members

  • Aaron Whitehouse
  • Dylan Aurich
  • Ethan Clifford
  • Gareth Svanda
  • Katie Varnadoe
  • Malaya Morrow
  • Malaynah “Lala” Palaroan
  • Miles Mabry

The Client

  • John Persichetti


Project Advisor: Dr. Elizabeth Reddy and Dr. Alina Handorean

Technical Advisor: Prof. Andres Guerra and Prof. Kevin Moore

Outside Advisors: Jamie Barrow, Vail Resorts

Sponsors: Chris Williams, French Creek Production



Elevator Pitch

Our team’s goal was to create an inclusive thrill ride that would allow people with physical disabilities to safely enjoy an attraction at an amusement park with their families and friends. To include people of all ages our team designed one child-centered and one adult-centered thrill ride.

Our team researched what types of measures are currently in place at amusement and theme parks across the globe and found that very few are built to safely allow people with limited mobility or limb control to enjoy rides with their families. We conducted anonymous surveys pointed at those either with physical disabilities or who know someone with a physical impairment to get design feedback and hear what the users would want to see on future thrill rides and built our designs using their feedback.

Once our ride and harness designs were tweaked from user feedback we built a prototype of our harness with help from a harness manufacturer to test and see how comfortable and secure it would feel to a user, and finalized our designs. We are all excited to be able to share the results of our project with the public and thoroughly enjoyed working on this endeavor!

Design Approach

Our project was very user-centric so we approached our designs by thinking of who our audience was and what they would want in a thrill ride and doing research on current industry standards for persons with physical impairments. We used an iterative design process so we could incorporate as much user feedback and research into our design as possible.

Our project team was comprised of both mechanical and civil engineering students so that we could collaborate in making the entire thrill ride experience as user-friendly as possible from the moment you would enter the ride queue to the end of the ride. Together we pursued eight preliminary thrill rides and then focused our efforts on two ride designs, two ride loading stations, and one ride harness that could be scaled up or down in size to fit different users.

Throughout the process we received feedback from professors, potential riders with physical disabilities or who know someone with a disability, the Safety Director of Vail Resorts, and a well-known harness manufacturer, French Creek Productions. Our team was careful to reference all relevant industry safety standards in our designs and calculations and followed all ADA, OSHA, and ASTM standards to ensure our designs would exceed current safety requirements.

Design Solution

Adult Coaster

The Upsy-Daisy Adult Coaster was designed specifically for adults with physical disabilities such as paraplegia but would also be thrilling for any rider. 


Sidewinder Kid Coaster

The Sidewinder Kid Coaster was designed for people of all ages to enjoy while at an amusement park with their families. It is a ride that would be thrilling to children and enjoyable for adults.


Ride Harness

The ride harness was designed by the team for persons with physical disabilities to give them extra security and comfort while on any thrill ride. Most participants in our surveys said that a large problem they run into on rides is that the harness doesn’t secure them enough into the ride seat and end up moving around in the seat too much. To address this we created a ride harness that the user could slide on easily, even while sitting in a wheelchair, that would be used with the existing ride harness system and clip in at three connection points to keep the user more secure in their seat.



Coaster Loading Stations

Most amusement park ride lines and loading stations are not built with accessibility in mind. Through research and survey feedback the team determined it would be beneficial to the user to provide a ride line that would be wider for wheelchairs, and a loading station that would be at the same height as the rider with a large area set aside for wheelchair parking.

Next Steps

At this time our team does not have next steps due to the feasibility of the project. Our ride designs and harness prototype have been given to the project client, and the project is complete. Our team thoroughly enjoyed this senior design project and would love to see it implemented by an amusement park in the future, and hope our harness design will be used by the harness manufacturer as a prototype for future designs to increase options at theme parks for persons with physical impairments one day.

Meet the Team

Aaron Whitehouse

I’m a big fan of all things robotic including animatronics that go into theme park rides. I always loved going to theme parks with my family growing up which is why I took an interest in having the chance to create our own ride system. In my free time I like to do puzzles, read, and play volleyball. 


Dylan Aurich

Believe it or not, my childhood dream job was to be a roller coaster design engineer and that partially influenced my decision to come to Mines. Roller coasters and theme parks always excited me, and I was good at math and science, so it was a natural decision. So glad I got lucky enough to get my feet wet with this senior design project! I enjoy spending as much time as I can outside no matter the season and am really into continually expanding my music taste. 


Ethan Clifford

I am a civil engineering student from Dallas, Texas. My focus is in structural engineering, so this project has been a fun challenge! In my free time I love to run, hike and play guitar!

Gareth Svanda

I am a mechanical engineering student from Huntington Beach, California. This project has been a great opportunity to work on something that I have loved since I was a kid: roller coasters! In my free time I like to hike, surf, and ski.

Katie Varnadoe

I’m a self-proclaimed theme park enthusiast with a deep love for thrill rides. I grew up in Orlando (The Theme Park Capital of the World!and completed a co-op with Walt Disney Imagineering during my time at Mines. In my free time I love to read, bake, and explore National Parks across the country!


Malaya Morrow

I’ve been going to theme parks for my entire life. I think they’re a magical place. Sadly, my tolerance for rollercoasters has gone down over the yearsThis was an exciting project to work on, and I think our team accomplished great things.  In my spare time, you’ll most likely find me watching a movie or catching up on the latest TV series. 

Malaynah "Lala" Palaroan

Like everyone else on the team, I have an appreciation for roller coasters that began at an early age. I was quite ecstatic when I found out I would be working on this project. Both my teammates and the work we’ve undertaken have made this an overall successful experience! In my free time I enjoy listening to and playing music, reading, and watching and playing basketball. 

Miles Mabry

I have always loved roller coasters. I will ride anything (except for those horrible spinning teacups), and I am always on the lookout for nearby amusement parks. I was thrilled by the idea of getting to design a roller coaster and I couldn’t have asked for a better team. In my free time I enjoy playing tennis and video games.