Solution to Please Remain Seated

Author: James Clark

Twenty city names are listed, followed by twenty image/video pairs. The image in each pair is of a (real) roller coaster, and the video is of a ride on a roller coaster designed in the game Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 (RCT3).

The first step is to identify all of the real roller coasters. Each one can be found in an amusement park in one of the cities (and each city is represented).

The real roller coasters are as follows:

OrderCoaster NameParkCity
1CycloneLuna ParkBrooklyn, NY
2Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring AerosmithWalt Disney World - Hollywood StudiosLake Buena Vista, FL
3Outlaw RunSilver Dollar CityBranson, MO
4Steel Dragon 2000Nagashima Spa LandKuwana, Mie, Japan
5SheiKraBusch Gardens TampaTampa, FL
6Ice Mountain BobsledsEnchanted ForestTurner, OR
7NinjaSix Flags Magic MountainValencia, CA
8GateKeeperCedar PointSandusky, OH
9NighthawkCarowindsCharlotte, NC
10UntamedCanobie Lake ParkSalem, NH
11Mystery MineDollywoodPigeon Forge, TN
12BizarroSix Flags New EnglandAgawam, MA
13ExplorerMirabilandiaSavio, Italy
14Rebel YellKings DominionDoswell, VA
15Space MountainDisneylandAnaheim, CA
16Iron RattlerSix Flags Fiesta TexasSan Antonio, TX
17NemesisAlton TowersAlton, Staffordshire, England
18Dahlonega Mine TrainSix Flags Over GeorgiaAustell, GA
19El ToroSix Flags Great AdventureJackson, NJ
20X CoasterMagic Springs and Crystal FallsHot Springs, AR

The RCT3 roller coasters don't match up with the real roller coasters, since their tracks are not similar to the real roller coasters, and the roller coaster types are in some cases wildly different. However, it can be noticed that some of the RCT3 roller coasters have unusual track layouts, with lots of over/under crossings.

In fact, all of the track layouts are knots (in the knot theory sense). None can be unravelled to form the "unknot", and all are in minimal form with respect to their crossing numbers.

In case solvers do not discover this, reading down the first letters of the real coaster names in the order given gives the clue 'CROSSING NUMBERS INDEX'.

Solvers must now analyze the videos and determine the shape of the knot made by that roller coaster. Here are top-down images of the RCT3 roller coasters, with the crossings marked:

OrderLayoutCrossing Number

Finally, order the data by the city list given at the top of the puzzle, indexing the crossing number into the real roller coaster name:

CityOriginal OrderRoller Coaster NameCrossing NumberLetter
Branson, MO3Outlaw Run8U
Savio, Italy13Explorer3P
Valencia, CA7Ninja5A
New York, NY1Cyclone6N
Charlotte, NC9Nighthawk5T
Jackson, NJ19El Toro4O
Turner, OR6Ice Mountain Bobsleds7N
Pigeon Forge, TN11Mystery Mine7Y
Salem, NH10Untamed5M
Austell, GA18Dahlonega Mine Train4L
Tampa, FL5Sheikra4I
Myrtle Beach, SC14Rebel Yell3B
Kuwana, Mie, Japan4Steel Dragon 20007R
Anaheim, CA15Space Mountain3A
Hot Springs, AR20X Coaster5S
Sandusky, OH8GateKeeper4E
Agawam, MA12Bizarro4A
Alton, Staffordshire, England17Nemesis5S
Lake Buena Vista, FL2Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith7O
San Antonio, TX16Iron Rattler4N

This produces the phrase 'UP ANTONYM LIBRA SEASON', which clues the answer DOWNFALL.