Does stapling actually matter?

I've lurked around coaster enthusiast communities for the past couple of decades and I never noticed people griping about getting "stapled" until the past few years. It's something that never even occurred to me back when I used to go to amusement parks far more often. Now I see it mentioned all the time on YouTube.

Obviously being uncomfortably pinned to your seat by a restrictive restraint is not ideal, but that's not what I'm talking about. What confuses me when people point out that having a snug restraint "ruins airtime." How can a couple of inches of wiggle room make any difference when you're flying up and down hundreds of feet?

Can someone explain the mechanics of this to me? Or is it just a weird form of a snobby placebo where coaster enthusiasts are imagining an effect that doesn't really exist and they're neurotically letting it spoil their fun?

Last edited by Carl B,

I never noticed people griping about getting "stapled" until the past few years.

Really? You haven't been around CBuzz then. Here's one from 2001. It's evergreen.

(It's also one of the worst parts about being an obnoxious enthusiass, IMO.)

Last edited by Brian Noble,

Not sure about the original question, but there’s plenty of examples of people losing their life or being injured seriously when they weren’t stapled by a lap bar.

^ Those rare occurrences happened because people weren't properly secured. That's different than being stapled into a seat. Also, I'm hearing a lot of complaints from Gen Z that Diamondback and Kumba are "rough"... Powder Puff generation.

Tommytheduck's avatar

Sure, floating out of your seat is amazing fun. On rides like The Phoenix at Knoebels that have buzz bars, there's nothing greater! But rides like that will not eject you even if there were no restraints at all.

In an imaginary scenario where I got "stapled" into Phoenix with RMC-style restraints, yeah, I'd be upset. But...

Now imagine riding Steel Vengeance with buzz bars. You just might die! In my rides on SV, yes I notice how secure, or "stapled" I am, but at no point in the ride am I thinking about it because the forces are so extreme that it is 100% necessary to be "stapled" on that ride, or you will most likely be ejected. Being stapled is how the ride is allowed to do what it does.

If anything, I feel the opposite of the OP. I feel that complaining about stapling was much more commonplace in the past. I'm in a few FB groups that consist of younger members and I almost never hear about stapling. In my observation the newer enthusiasts complain more about Midcourse Brakes ruining their rides. But let's be clear, this is nothing new either.

I'm not bothered about the impact of stapling on airtime.

For me it's a comfort issue. If I'm restrained so tightly that it's uncomfortable in the station, it'll be worse while out on the ride.

If my body is completely rigid on a bumpy coaster, every bump gets transferred directly to me. If there's some flexibility on the other hand I enjoy the experience much more.

Jeff's avatar

There's no universe where Kumba is smooth, maybe even comfortable.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

ApolloAndy's avatar

Different rides require and benefit from different restraint systems. Part of the reason why KW's Jack Rabbit (as well as the aforementioned Phoenix) feel like they have such strong air is because of the restraints. It does make a difference.

That said, basically every steel coaster is designed with the specific restraint system in mind. I can only think of a handful of steel coasters where the restraint changed (Premiers and Schwartzkophs plus I think some suspendeds got the Vekoma trains) and I'm sure those were not just hot swapping trains. Trying to circumvent or undermine safety systems that were designed a particular way is reckless and has lead to injury and death (SRM 2003).

And enthusiasts love to find things to complain about for whatever reason. This is just another entry in the "entitled enthusiast piss and moan for credibility" list.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

OhioStater's avatar

Some seem to be confusing "stapling" with being properly restrained. I've never been stapled on Steel Vengeance, or any ride at CP thankfully.

I always thought the concept of stapling referred to a ride op being overly aggressive (most likely by accident) in pinning one's restraint down, leading to a rather uncomfortable (and unnecessary) degree of being pinned-down.

The only time I can remember this happening to me was on El Toro in its opening year. We were closing the park and had a chance to get one more lap in, as the line was shutting down. The problem? I had to pee. Bad.

But this was our 2nd anniversary (wedding) trip, and most likely the last time we would be at Six Flags Great Adventure for years. Do I turn down a final lap on such an amazing ride to pee or hold it like a man? I can make it. Right?

The line was about 20 minutes or so, and while I was able to put it out of my mind successfully while navigating the queue, something about sitting down in the train just made it harder...but no big deal. I can do this, right? I'm a grown man. So far so good...until the ride-op came around to close the restraints and I swear to god this kid got on his tippy toes and lunged with all 143 pounds of his body weight pinning that restraint right into my groin. Bladder was on full red-alert, and my wife (who knew of my noble sacrifice) was, bless her heart, trying to do her best to distract me, when it happened. Just before dispatch, the music and excitement in the station came to a halt. The ride was "temporarily down for mechanical reasons". While I sat there. Stapled. With a bladder ready to pop.

To this day, I have never been more proud of my ability to use the force on my urethra. It took an out-of-body existential effort, but I made it off the ride and b-lined into the nearby alamo-themed restroom and felt that amazing relief that some of us know all-too-well; making it to the urinal in the split second that separates nirvana-like pride from utter humiliation.

So yea. Stapling matters.

Last edited by OhioStater,

Promoter of fog.

If by your second anniversary she hasn't seen you pee your pants there’s something wrong.
I got horribly stapled into El Toro. To be clear, I don’t mind a tight restraint if the ride dictates, which that one does. The main problem was that I was fat and the trains are designed for a different body type. While loading I had a hard time getting it tight enough and same thing- the ride op kept his eye on a light somewhere and pushed the restraint by kneeling on it with all of his weight. By the time we stacked behind the station for what seemed like an eternity, I was officially suffocating. It was a slow day and I could’ve ridden El Toro all day. Instead I suffered through two stapled rides then quit.

I'm naturally claustrophobic, especially when my legs are restrained. So when I get stapled, it freaks me out; especially on trains that have the shin guards where my legs are locked in pretty good.

My most comfortable restraints are on the B&M hypers with just that lap pull over restraint like on Nitro. You still have leg movement and full upper body movement; keeps my heart rate down...

If you aren't claustrophobic, you won't understand. But I avoid coasters that have restraints that are overly restricting; especially the ones with leg/shin restraints. If that makes any sense.

Last edited by Hanging n' Banging,

RCMAC said:

If by your second anniversary she hasn't seen you pee your pants there’s something wrong.

The only one that really bothers me is when the OTSR get stapled on B&M loopers, reduced lung capacity ftw.

Vater's avatar

Westophalopalis said:

But safety should never be compromised for comfort.

There are enough examples available (on just about every coaster type) that prove we've already achieved both. Any compromise in either direction is going backwards, in my opinion.

Jeff's avatar

The two are certainly not mutually exclusive.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

Jeff said:

The two are certainly not mutually exclusive.

Sorry I meant personal comfort.

Designing comfort into the equation is great (B&M Hypers) but adjusting a ride system to give you more comfort at the expense of its safety, that is where things can get a little fuzzy.

Like mentioned before though, this has always been a recurring theme in the community, just like midcourse break runs. As long as I have a good time, its fine by me. Also if it is a painful experience though no matter what, that's when I have a problem. (Looking at you, old Togo trains)

Last edited by Westophalopalis,

You need to be very "snug" in some coasters like Steel Vengeance although I have to say the restraint system in that one never makes me feel like I'm "stapled" in. On the occasions that a ride op has come by and slammed that orange bar down on me on Blue Streak though I get a bit miffed because I know from years of experience riding it with the old restraints that nobody is going to fly out of it because the orange bar wasn't shoved down that extra 4 inches. It's not going to happen and it makes a difference in the ride. I try to make myself seem a bit "fluffier" than I am to get a little extra space on that one.

Tommytheduck's avatar

I usually hear the term "stapled" used in the following manner: "I left my lapbar up an extra click for airtime but the ride nazi totally stapled me!" Which of course really just means "I tried to cheat the system and the ride op put the restraint system where it was designed to be."

One major problem is that it seems very few people actually understand how ride restraints are intended to work, to the point where manufacturers have built rides with terribly restrictive restraints that, as it turns out, don't work at all*. Lots of people...ride operators, enthusiasts, members of the public, even people who should know better like engineers and regulators, often have the completely mistaken idea that "tighter" = "safer" when in fact that is NOT the case.

Ride restraints need to be designed to capture the human body by blocking the rigid parts. The mechanism to do this is not friction, it's geometry. It isn't necessary to immobilize the body to keep it from leaving the seat. It's necessary to *capture* it. Furthermore, when we are talking about moderately aggressive rides, it's worthwhile to consider the ride action, and the impact...sometimes literally...that rider restraint has on that ride action. Take a ride like Magnum XL-200, for instance. I like to pick on that one because I am so familiar with it, but also because of an experience I had on it many years ago involving a pair of AA-size batteries that were left behind in the footwell in front of me, just out of my reach. Through the ride, I got to watch as those batteries leaped from the floor, floated in the air, then slammed back down again. What I noticed was that at the most extreme moments on the ride, those completely unrestrained objects never got more than about a foot from the floor, if that far. If you translate that to a person riding the ride, that means without restraint you might float a foot above the seat. With restraint, you will be tossed upward into the restraint hard enough to propel you a foot above the seat, but at some point you will come into contact with the restraint, and the closer you are to that restraint, the sooner it will happen, and the more force will be exerted between you and the restraint. Having the lap bar that much tighter does not necessarily reduce your chances of coming out of the ride, but it does increase the amount of force you will feel as you are tossed into the bar. At some point, that force becomes downright uncomfortable, which is why I don't actually like rides like Lightning Run and Steel Vengeance as much as I would expect...they are simply too painful, especially with the crotch bumps on both the seat and the lap bar. This is not a difficult concept; I'm remembering two very young girls, barely big enough to meet the height requirement, who were doing a mini-marathon on the Villain. As they were running from exit to entrance I heard the one say to the other, "You see what I mean? If you leave your lap bar up a little bit, it doesn't hurt as much!"

Speaking of very young people, a few years ago, I tried an experiment at Knoebel's. There were two kids sitting in the Phoenix show car...a complete PTC 3-bench car on which the lap bar locks have been disabled, so it has the same seats and lap bars as the cars on the ride, but the bars don't lock. And if you are somehow unfamiliar with the Phoenix, it has those big single-locking-position handrails that cover both seats. Anyway, these were small kids, probably too small to meet the ride's 42" height requirement. The lap bar was nowhere near their laps. So I asked them to stand up and exit the car...without raising the lap bar. Now, if I am riding alone, that's something I can do with some difficulty, but it requires turning sideways in the seat and getting my legs out from under the lap bar. These kids *could not do it*. Because there were two of them, very loosely secured in the seat, they could not work themselves into a position where they could get themselves through the space between the seat and the lap bar. The bar wasn't tight, but the arrangement of the seat bench, handrail, seat back, seat divider, and side wall were such that they *geometrically* confined them to the seat based solely on the fact that the human body only bends in certain ways.

But if that is so effective, then an adjustable lap bar that can come down closer to your lap must be better, right? And yet, how many fatal ejection incidents have there been with these "improved" lap bars? As for geometry, I've had a pretty interesting demonstration of this" Kings Island has the lap bars on their Racer and on The Beast way far out of alignment with pretty much every other coaster on the planet that uses these lap bars. It's a 6-notch ratchet, but the first notch on the Beast and on the Racer is in the exact position of the 3rd notch on everything else**. That 3rd position is a pretty close approximation of the landing position of the traditional handrail, and for my size and build it is the most comfortable place to put the lap bar on most coasters running PTC trains. But operationally, Kings Island doesn't let you ride with the bar there; they want it to come down one more. Trouble is, my gut won't allow for that. But it doesn't mean I can't get another notch. There's a trick to it: I have to *stand up*. Once standing, I can get the bar down one more notch and that makes the ride operator happy, then I can kind of slide in behind it. Did you catch what happened there? The geometry of this "better" lap bar is such that it allows a big person like me to *stand up* in the seat when it is down! Even worse, with the bar down that far and now positioned under my gut instead of in front of it, it is now possible for that bar to come down another notch or two, aided by the compression of the seat and in the high +Gz moments of the ride. This has two side effects. The first is that once this happens, I am firmly pinned to the seat. Geometry is no longer a factor; that might as well be a vise. Second, it means that when the train experiences any -Gz moments, or there is any violence in the track, I'm feeling every bump and rattle because there is no space left to absorb any of the shock. It turns a ride like the Racer, where with the handlebars most riders would not ever even come close to touching the restraint, into a painful experience where every bump and rattle is transmitted directly from the car to the body. And yet when the restraint is adjusted "properly" it does not have the proper geometry to actually prevent the rider from exiting the vehicle. That's progress?

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

* Not to name names, but Superman: Ride of Steel and Perilous Plunge come immediately to mind...

** Some rides with later versions of the PTC ratcheting lap bars actually have 12 locking positions, over the same range of positions as the original 6. On those I usually ride with the bar in notch 6 or notch 7, depending on how much I've had to eat that day.


    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____

Jeff's avatar

You often cite a specific Intamin design as some general pattern of behavior, apply it to other systems, and I don't think that's fair to the industry in general.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

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