How a Pneumatic Pressure Control Valve and Other Hydraulics Work at Theme and Amusement Parks

When you’re having fun with the rides in a theme or amusement park, you most likely do not know that pneumatic pressure control valve systems and other hydraulic cylinders are hard at work, controlling the rides and providing movement for animation and simulations. All this precision is due to nothing more than compressed air or liquid inside these valves and cylinders.

What rides use pneumatic or hydraulic systems?

Around 80 per cent of theme park rides use pneumatic systems. If a ride is moving at an amusement park, most likely, it’s using these systems. For instance:

  • The shock absorbers in bumper cars and other independent rides use hydraulic cylinders.
  • Aeroplane or swing rides use pneumatic cylinders for tilting and raising the upper platform.
  • Lap bars, those large bars that hold passengers in place on roller coasters, are powered by pneumatics.
  • Most roller coasters use pneumatic or hydraulic brakes for safety. These brakes automatically activate if one cart comes to a stop.

Why not just use traditional pulley systems?

Pulley systems were the norm in amusement parks in the 20th century. This has been wholly replaced by pneumatic and hydraulic systems because of the following advantages:

  • Should a cable break on a pulley system, there is no way to control the machine. Pneumatic and hydraulic systems offer better and safer control for park rides.
  • In terms of power density, a hydraulic motor is only about half to 2/3 the size of a traditional pulley system motor, and still offers the same horsepower.
  • Pneumatic and hydraulic equipment has more precision than any pulley system option. 
  • For safety, the increased precision and control of pneumatic and hydraulic systems make rides much safer.

Is there a difference between hydraulics and pneumatics?

Pneumatics use compressed or pressurised air, while hydraulics use liquid. They are used in different situations for theme park rides. Hydraulics can be cheaper since compressed air is expensive. Hydraulic systems are also more precise and exact since air is spongy and compressible. However, pneumatic systems are more straightforward and contain fewer components.

Master Mac 2000

When it comes to pressure control valve systems and other cylinders, Master Mac 2000 P/L has been the distributor of Mack and Univer valves since 1980. Mack is an exclusive Australian brand. Both Mack and Univer are known for their high-standard pneumatic valves for any application, including heavy industry application. If your amusement or theme park requires spare pneumatics or hydraulics parts and equipment, call us on 07 3344 4711 or browse through our website at

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