The roller coaster is a popular amusement ride developed for amusement parks and modern theme parks. LaMarcus Adna Thompson obtained a patent regarding roller coasters on January 20, 1885, which were made out of wood, but this patent is considerably later than the “Russian mountains” described below. In essence a specialized railroad system, a roller coaster consists of a track that rises in designed patterns, sometimes with one or more inversions (such as vertical loops) that briefly turn the rider upside down. The track does not necessarily have to be a complete circuit, as shuttle roller coasters demonstrate. Most roller coasters have multiple cars in which passengers sit and are restrained. Two or more cars hooked together are called a train. Some roller coasters, notably wild mouse roller coasters, run with single cars.
The oldest roller coasters are believed to have originated from the so-called “Russian Mountains“, which were specially constructed hills of ice, located especially around Saint Petersburg.Built in the 17th century, the slides were built to a height of between 70 and 80 feet (24 m), consisted of a 50 degree drop, and were reinforced by wooden supports.
Some historians say the first real roller coaster was built under the orders of Russia’s Catherine the Great in the Gardens of Oranienbaum in Saint Petersburg in the year 1784. Other historians believe that the first roller coaster was built by the French. The Les Montagnes Russes à Belleville (The Russian Mountains of Belleville) constructed in Paris in 1817 and the Promenades Aeriennes both featured wheeled cars securely locked to the track, guide rails to keep them on course, and higher speeds.
The name Russian Mountains to designate a roller coaster is preserved in most Latin languages. Ironically, the Russian term for roller coasters is “американские горки” (“amerikanskiye gorki”), which means “American Mountains”.
White Cyclone is a wooden roller coaster at Nagashima Spa Land in Mie Prefecture, Japan. At 1,700 meters in length, White Cyclone is the fourth longest wooden roller coaster in the world, and is the longest wooden roller coaster outside of the United States. Despite its length, White Cyclone is still considerably shorter than the 2,479 meter Steel Dragon 2000, the world’s longest steel roller coaster, which is also at Nagashima Spa Land. In addition to being the fourth longest wooden roller coaster, White Cyclone is the ninth tallest wooden roller coaster in the world, and the third tallest wooden roller coaster outside the United States.A single ride on the White Cyclone costs 1,000 yen, and the ride is restricted to those individuals above 4 feet, 3 inches in height; and those individuals under 54 years of age.
Top Thrill Dragster is a steel, hydraulically-launched roller coaster located at Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio. It was the first “Strata Coaster”, loosely defined as a complete circuit coaster that is over 400 feet tall. It was built by Intamin AG and debuted to the public on May 4, 2003. It is one of only two stratacoasters in existence, the other being Kingda Ka (2005) at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey.
Top Thrill Dragster was the second hydraulically-launched roller coaster built by Intamin AG, following Xcelerator at Knott’s Berry Farm. The tagline for Top Thrill Dragster is “Race for the sky”.Due to aviation safety concerns, for the purpose of warning air traffic, the tower is equipped with four dual strobes: three mid-way up, and one on the highest point on the coaster.
Son of Beast is a record breaking wooden roller coaster located at Kings Island in Mason, Ohio, United States, outside of Cincinnati. Son of Beast is billed as the sequel to The Beast. At the time of its introduction in 2000, Son of Beast was the only wooden roller coaster in the top 10 categories (worldwide) that are typically dominated by steel-based coasters for track length, height, speed, and drop. It was also the only wooden roller coaster to feature a vertical loop, which was removed in 2006 after an incident in which 27 people were injured. The loop was not directly related to the incident, but was removed to allow for lighter trains, thus reducing the chances of the 2006 incident’s re-occurrence.
Millennium Force is a steel roller coaster built by Intamin AG located at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, United States. It is the fourteenth roller coaster built at the park since the Blue Streak opened in 1964. Standing 310 feet (95 m) tall at its highest point, the coaster overlooks Lake Erie. When built in 2000, it was the first roller coaster to exceed 300 feet in height, and was briefly the tallest closed circuit roller coaster in the world, before being surpassed by Steel Dragon 2000, Cedar Point’s own Top Thrill Dragster, and Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure. Additionally, it is the longest steel roller coaster in the United States.
Tower of Terror is a steel shuttle roller coaster at Dreamworld in the Gold Coast, Australia. It is currently the fourth fastest roller coaster in the world, but has been reported to be the fastest and tallest roller coaster on a tower.Tower of Terror is one of two reverse freefall coasters designed by Intamin AG (the other being Superman: The Escape at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California). Opening January 23, 1997, it held the world’s fastest roller coaster record for two months before Superman: The Escape opened. Officially both rides share the same top speeds . Tower of Terror is also the first roller coaster in the world to achieve a speed of 100mph.
Goliath is a hyper coaster at Six Flags Over Georgia. Designed by Bolliger & Mabillard and opened in April 2005, Goliath reaches a height of 200 feet (61 m), and a top speed of 70 mph (110 km/h). Its 4,480 feet (1,370 m) of track is spread out over an 8.5-acre (34,000 m2) site. Goliath is the third of five roller coasters built by Six Flags Theme Parks to carry the name, but each of the rides is a unique design.
Silver Star is a roller coaster located at Europa-Park, a theme park in Rust, Germany. It is currently the tallest roller coaster in Europe with a height of 239 ft (73 m), placing it in the hyper coaster category. Signs in the queuing area claim a maximum speed of 130 km/h with a maximum of 4G vertical forces. Silver Star has 3 trains which seat 36 people each, giving an hourly capacity of 1,750 passengers.It is currently the tallest coaster built by Bolliger & Mabillard.
Superman: The Escape is a launched shuttle roller coaster located in the Samurai Summit area of Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California that opened in 1997. It is nearly identical to Tower of Terror, which opened two months prior in Dreamworld, Australia. These two coasters were the first to utilize Linear Synchronous Motors (LSM) technology to propel vehicles to top speed. Superman: The Escape was for a while the tallest roller coaster in the world, although its drop was the same as Tower of Terror. It was also tied with Tower of Terror as fastest roller coaster in the world. Today, it is fifth fastest. In 2001 the speed record was taken by Dodonpa in Japan. In 2003 Superman’s height record was taken by Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point.
The American Eagle is a two track racing wooden roller coaster located at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois, United States. It was manufactured by Intamin AG of Switzerland (their first wooden roller coaster ) and built in 1981 by the contracting firm Figley-Wright. While this record has since been relinquished, The American Eagle was the tallest (drop height), longest, and fastest wooden roller coaster ever at the time of its completion, and is still the premier racing wooden roller coaster in the United States. In 2006, American Eagle celebrated its Silver Anniversary.
Fujiyama is a steel roller coaster at Fuji-Q Highland, Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan. When Fujiyama opened in 1996 it was the world’s tallest roller coaster at 259 feet (79 m), and had the largest drop in the world at 230 feet (70 m). Fujiyama was also the world’s fastest roller coaster for a year of its operation, succeeded by Tower of Terror at Dreamworld theme park in Queensland, Australia in 1997.Despite being the world’s fastest roller coaster in operation for a year, Fujiyama set no world records for roller coaster speed. Steel Phantom at Kennywood set the world record for speed before engineers added additional brakes to slow the ride down because of safety and rider comfort concerns
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