New heights?

Dave Mee sent me a link to the New York times piece on the new league of giga coasters.

Just How Tall Can Roller Coasters Get?

This is not a rhetorical question these days..

Theme parks have engaged in a dizzying quest for height in recent years that has spawned a number of roller coasters as tall as skyscrapers. Altitude rather than velocity has become such a defining characteristic that rides that take advantage of their soaring heights have been given a name befitting a mammoth frame: the giga coaster.

Enthusiasts use the term to apply to a roller coaster with a drop of 300 to 399 feet, meaning that its riders fall the length of a football field. (Anything beyond 400 feet and you’re in strata coaster terrain.) Four of the five giga coasters in the world are in North America, at theme parks all owned by the same chain, Cedar Fair Entertainment (the fifth is in Japan).

On the face of it, I was thinking wow this looks like a good ride… But then I looked into the actual facts.

Fury 325 Carowinds (USA) March 25, 2015 325 feet (99 m)
Millennium Force Cedar Point (USA) May 13, 2000 310 feet (94 m)
Steel Dragon 2000 Nagashima Spa Land (Japan) August 1, 2000 318 feet (97 m)
Intimidator 305 Kings Dominion (USA) April 2, 2010 305 feet (93 m)
Leviathan Canada’s Wonderland (USA) May 6, 2012 306 feet (93 m)


Fury 325 is only a few meters taller than Millennium Force and Steel Dragon 2000 (which I had the pleasure of going on while in Japan). I trust its a great ride but hardly anything to shout about. Its also 15 years afterwards!

Loved Steel Dragon 2000 and the big one at Blackpool but for me its about doing more with less space. You only have to look at the Nemesis or the late Smiler. Heaven knows how they were able to fit 14 inversions in the space usually reserved for a duck pond in most American theme parks.

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.

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