The Zipper first made its wicked presence in Kansas in 1968 invented by Joseph Brown of Chance Mfg USA. Since this time more than 200 rides have been built – distributed all over the world, making it one of the most mass-produced modern-day rides of all time.

This ride is the standard measuring stick to which all other “scary” rides are measured – if your body can handle two and a half minutes on the Zipper you can handle any other ride on a carnival midway (with possible exception of its cousin – Turbo). The ride is lean, mean – and very rarely clean: the firmly padded, inner-carriage cushioning has its fair share of wipe-downs.

The Zipper is a great ride to watch – 19 tonnes of modestly decorated, well-welded steel. Minimal attempt has been made to modernise the ride over its 37 years of operation – the basic structural blue-prints remain the same. The Zipper isn’t out to impress its audience with any warm and fuzzy themes – just untamed, mechanical chaos in its purest form.

Zipper’s 12 passenger cages are all about practicality. Just large enough to encase two human bodies side by side – not for the weak-hearted or claustrophobic! No body-hugging safety restraints either, just a lap bar attached to the door, and some rungs to tightly hold on to (if you don’t your head will collide with the grab-bars in front of you!)

Each cage rotates freely on an off-centre axis, while the cages (connected to a cable) move around the main boom at 4 rpm. Furthermore, the whole boom rotates on its own axis at 7 rpm. This creates a completely chaotic ride pattern – flipping riders with maximum white-knuckle force. Definitely not something to take your grandma on!

The Zipper is a ride which is either loved and appreciated in all its mechanical glory – or despised as an evil machine of terror. You decide.

No carnival is complete without a Zipper – no ride even slightly resembles it; it’s truly unique and will always hold a space in any carnival of the future. While it’s not fun for the whole family, it never fails to hold appeal to a strong minority of adrenaline-junkie regular riders.

Number of cars 12
Maximum number of passengers per seat 2 adults or 3 children
Maximum passenger weight per seat 153kg (340lbs)
Maximum total passenger weight 1,836kg (4,080 lbs)
Minimum passenger height (unaccompanied) 122cm (4 feet)
Recommended ride duration 2 min.
Maximum ride duration 2.5 min.
Main Boom speed 7.5 RPM
Cable speed 4 RPM
Maximum ride weight (EMPTY) 43,000 lbs (19,350kg)
Maximum height 56ft (16.80m)
Ride width 17.1 m / 57 ft
Ride depth 16.2 m / 54 ft

In 1968, Joey Madriaga was fortunate to work on the 2nd Zipper ever made by Chance, belonging to West Coast Shows and offers this fascinating insight:

  • 3 Zipper’s were already ordered by West Coast Shows, while the first one was 60 days from being completed
  • The ride sold for a price of $32,000 in 1968. Nowadays, a new Zipper will set you back around USD$1 million.
  • The original speed on the first Zipper’s boom was 11rpm. (FAST) and the cable speed 7 rpm. These speeds are just under TWICE as fast as it operates now. At this speed, the operator could make the cars spin constantly – up to 8 times between the edges of the boom.
  • With operating speeds nearly double today’s, owners were paying ever-increasing insurance premiums with common cases of whiplash, back-aches and heart attack. Subsequently, Harold Chance had the speeds revised to today’s slower RPM.

404 Responses to “Zipper”

  1. How do I open all the comments

    John - June 16th, 2020 at 4:33 am

  2. I thrive for that argument please let me see it again!

    Emily - July 5th, 2020 at 4:54 pm

  3. How do i see all of the comments?

    Finn - October 9th, 2020 at 3:11 am

  4. For those of you out there still complaining about No Single Riders rules for the Zipper, the United States of America is about to mandatorily and permanently institutionalize all men high school graduation age and older without a woman in their lives. Soon, there will be no more single adult men in the community anymore; they will all be permanently locked away, out of sight and out of mind, never to be released and set loose in the community.

    Karl Marx - December 16th, 2020 at 5:24 pm

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