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Tilt-A-Whirl - Amusement Ride Extravaganza

Tilt-A-Whirl

First invented by Herbert Sellner in 1926, the Tilt-A-Whirl has certainly stood the test of time, with over 1,000 units manufactured and an estimated 600 of these operating throughout the USA and abroad.

The ride consists of seven cars, each fixed to a pivot pin on each platform. These platforms then roll around a circular track of hills and valleys at 6.5 rpm, putting changing centrifugal and gravitational forces on the cars, making them tip and spin randomly.

Due to the truly random nature of the Tilt-A-Whirl’s motion, it has often been the basis for mathematical analysis. Mathematical models indicate that when the platforms travel at very low speed along the track, the cars complete one backward revolution as their platforms go over each hill. At high speeds, a car swings to its platform’s outer edge and stays locked in that position. It is unlikely that the Tilt-A-Whirl’s inventor performed such mathematical analysis, but instead used simple practical experiments with scale models.

The Tilt-A-Whirl can handle over 500 passengers an hour and a portable unit can fit onto a single 40 ft trailer. Each unit sells for around US$250,000.

51 Responses to “Tilt-A-Whirl”

  1. Good Day,

    I am doing a paper on Salem, Massachusetts and would like to know what happened to the old “Tilt-A-Whirl” ride which stood @ Salem Willows Amusement Park - 173 Fort Ave. - Salem, MA 01970. Nobody there seems to be able to help me.

    Thank you.

    Mary Arrington

    Mary Arrington - July 19th, 2009 at 3:49 pm

  2. THE TILT-A-WHIRL IS AWESOME!!!! =D

    Unknown - August 14th, 2009 at 2:02 pm

  3. Out of all the High Energy rides out there, this one ends up making me sick! Awesome Classic though.

    Jeff - November 9th, 2009 at 3:09 am

  4. Hi, My county fair has this ride I have been on it IT IS SOO FUN one time my friend came with us to the county fair and she was having fun.

    Jen - February 7th, 2010 at 5:29 am

  5. my mom threw up on the tilt-a-whirl hahaha

    amanda - June 15th, 2010 at 10:57 am

  6. My youngest daughter misunderstood us and calls this the “TORTURE WHEEL” - I agree…

    Adam - June 29th, 2010 at 7:50 am

  7. i got on this at indiana beach cooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool

    layail-sinedie - July 13th, 2010 at 10:36 am

  8. I remember I rode Tilt-a-Whirl 20 times at Moreys Piers Surfside Pier. Can somebody tell me if you rode this more than 20 times in one day?

    mb - July 21st, 2010 at 12:49 am

  9. Do you happen to know what an amusement ride unit number is?

    James - August 4th, 2010 at 10:34 am

  10. Spin-and-barfs! I loved those, when I was a kid we’d pack as many people as allowed in a car to make it spin faster.

    Moon - August 23rd, 2010 at 3:07 pm

  11. Very Cool Site, I remember the Tilt A Whirl & the key was to shift your self around inside and when you hit the low spot of a hill you could get that bad boy spinning really good! Lots of fun and where did all these rides go! Last one I rode was at Salem Willows, Salem Ma.

    Phil - August 26th, 2010 at 6:03 pm

  12. Always best to pack in the maximum to get the most spinning- if you HAVE to go with two, make sure either person is on the outside.

    Gemma - August 28th, 2010 at 1:19 pm

  13. LOVE IT

    BOBRICK - September 12th, 2010 at 12:32 am

  14. MY COUNTY FAIR HAS THIS RIDE I AM GOING TOMORROW WITH MY FRIEND AND MY GRANDPARENTS (WHO TOOK ME TO THIS EVERY YEAR WHEN IT CAME, EVEN WHEN I WAS LITTLE.) AND WERE GOING TO GO ON IT. ITS GOING TO BE SOO AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    JEN - September 17th, 2010 at 7:01 am

  15. looks babyish!

    Angel - December 21st, 2010 at 6:39 am

  16. The whold key to manipulating the car is to lean towards the pivot pin like your pumping your legs on a swing…. And first timers just go with the flow.. Dont do any thing just go with it. Take it from me i know how to do this.. I opperate one. So i gotta coach some guests sometimes.

    The tilt guy - February 16th, 2011 at 5:02 pm

  17. i love this ride i go on it every time i see it

    harry - June 6th, 2011 at 12:39 pm

  18. got on it really dizzy tho

    paola paz - June 11th, 2011 at 6:59 am

  19. A classic. Not a fan of the new models which do not have the “hood” on them. Sucker for nostalgia I guess…

    Spike - June 23rd, 2011 at 6:13 pm

  20. I am an operator of this ride with D&K Amusements. I love watching the faces of people who ride my ride. some of the kids ride it time after time and another time too. ITS AWSOME!!!

    Jimmy - July 12th, 2011 at 6:34 am

  21. First went on this ride in HS at an indoor amusement place. Looks pretty cheesy when you’re standing in line. Once on it I couldn’t get enough! I kept going on again and again. Found out a trick to make the thing spin faster is to position two people as far apart as possible. If I ever win powerball I will get me one of these.

    Ted Russell - July 13th, 2011 at 6:00 am

  22. The only thing I can do that my husband cannot! He gets sick just hearing it described. I agree. I prefer the old ones…I think the one I first rode in was with 9 cars, wooden, and ran with a gas engine.

    Carol Dockum Davis - July 21st, 2011 at 6:23 am

  23. when i rode this ride a fat kid puked for 1 minute on the ride

    Travis - August 17th, 2011 at 2:27 am

  24. I love the Tit-A-Whirl. I laugh uncontrollably when I ride it. To see and hear what that’s like, check out

    http://rantwick.blogspot.com/2011/09/tilt-whirl.html

    RANTWICK - September 21st, 2011 at 2:10 am

  25. Our company has three. Great ride to run, great ride to ride. My friends hated to ride with me because I knew how to get the cars spinning. I also had a friend of mine puke on me. Not fun…

    Sadly the Tilt A Whirl along with all the other Sellner rides were sold to Larson International of Plainview, TX and they’re building all the rides now. Larson is well known ride builder and have been in the business for years. Some of there rides are Super Loops, Ring Of Fire, Star Dancer.

    Chuck - October 31st, 2011 at 3:27 pm

  26. @ Spike. The seats you speak of were developed for the Tilt A Whirl G5 model. The G5 model without the hoods was Sellners attempt to give the Tilt a European feel. You can still get the standard hood seats put on new models too.

    Chuck - October 31st, 2011 at 3:30 pm

  27. This is by far my favorite amusement ride! Have ridden so many of these across the US and it always delivers a fantastic ride. When you can get it spinning and keep your car spinning is the BEST. Rode one at the Big E in 2000 and my fiancee threw up and was so sick afterwards he couldn’t drive home. Recently went on one MANY times with my two kids at our local carnival back in the spring. Cannot stop laughing on this ride! Tilt-a-Whirl is the best!

    kittygirl - November 13th, 2011 at 3:23 am

  28. i wood like to make a scale model out of wood where can i get specification to scale down ? thank you. Bill Viens

    bill viens - April 16th, 2012 at 8:13 am

  29. Add to my first e-mail made in 1940 or 1950 thank you Bill Viens

    bill viens - April 16th, 2012 at 8:40 am

  30. hi im dustin I am a operator of a 1971 tilt a whirl for ottaway amusement out of derby ks. And the one I run looks like it just came off the showroom floor I take very good care of it and sat it up and take it down. But my favorite thing is when people ask me how old the ride is and there face when tell them it and when they tell me that there world has just been tilted

    dustin - July 3rd, 2012 at 5:47 pm

  31. I would like to make a scale model of a 1950 - 1960 Tilt-A-Whirl, out of wood. Where can I get the measures - specifications for it???

    Thank you,

    Bill Viens

    bill viens - July 5th, 2012 at 2:02 am

  32. I recently purchased the last home the Sellner family owned in Faribault before they lost the business. I’d like to purchase some memorabilia to commemorate the history of the house, but I’m not sure where to look. Ebay seems kind of hit and miss, not to mention expensive. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you.

    James H. Goar - July 24th, 2012 at 6:24 am

  33. there is no fair with out this and the scrambler. but like the scrambler i see alot of these falling into disrepair or look like they are falling apart. still a fun ride for everyone.. even more fun when the operater has a garden hose to spray the riders on a hot day that faces him..

    James - July 25th, 2012 at 7:49 am

  34. Tilt-a-Whirl forever! There should be a website listing where they are located. I’d travel a long way to ride!

    Lorri - August 15th, 2012 at 6:05 am

  35. Is the only Super tilt-a-whirl, still at valley fair Shakopee Mn? Any pix? Thanks!

    jay Heier - August 30th, 2012 at 2:20 am

  36. My all-time favorite ride. My family became a kind of Tilt-a-whirl ‘team’, moving from side to side to get our car to spin a complete circle as soon as possible and then counting how many revolutions. We always rode it at least three times.

    Rob Pearson - January 9th, 2013 at 3:58 pm

  37. Used to have a Tilt-a-whirl At Butln’s, a UK Holiday company, for any years, 1964 - 2002? I think. I use to operate, ride and maintain it. it was always a popular ride with visitors and a great source of fun. I very much miss it, and would have another if the management would allow, but they seem to want a waltzer! Good luck with your paper.

    Min Minchella - April 8th, 2013 at 9:57 am

  38. I was looking for this certain information for a very long time. Thank you and best of luck.

    Jones sabo and even dinner party with regards to appeal and - April 15th, 2013 at 7:54 pm

  39. when Sellner still was in business, we ordered from a custom clothing branch of the compay. Did Larson buy that as well or is it still in business independetly? We would like to order again.

    michelle fugate - August 10th, 2013 at 1:05 pm

  40. How long does this ride usually last??????

    Selena Gomez - November 4th, 2013 at 5:10 am

  41. I used to ride this with my Dad whenever we saw one. It was great!!!

    Mr Pickles - February 15th, 2014 at 2:16 am

  42. Check out this fan-created Lego version of the Tilt-A-Whirl https://ideas.lego.com/projects/18203

    Derek M - May 7th, 2014 at 4:59 am

  43. i wish it would of said why it was invented. because im doing a project for invention of the 1920 and i wanted to use this but i cant find any history on it.

    Francesca - June 10th, 2014 at 11:29 pm

  44. Knoebel’s Grove in Elysburg PA has a top-notch Tilt a Whirl… I have seen people that can ride the biggest fastest scariest roller-coasters no problem, then get on the tilt a whirl and throw up after haha Awesome ride!

    Raj - June 25th, 2014 at 12:41 am

  45. Knoebel’s Grove in Elysburg PA has a top-notch Tilt a Whirl… I have seen people that can ride the biggest fastest scariest roller-coasters no problem, then get on the tilt a whirl and throw up after haha Awesome ride!

    Raj - June 25th, 2014 at 12:41 am

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  47. Just purchased an old gate section at a salvage yard. Arched white metal “grill” arching from the iconic star. I’m trying to determine when this lovely ironwork was made. Can’t find anything on-line. Suggestions?

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