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January 9, 2003 8:22 AM   Subscribe

Is there a Moore's Law for roller coasters? Ohio's own Cedar Point has announced it's newest record-breaking roller coaster - the Top Thrill Dragster. Here are the high points (pun intended):
Downside - the whole thing lasts a mere 30 seconds. But I bet it's a fun 30 seconds. Can't wait to go.
posted by starvingartist (58 comments total)

 
Oh, I am *so* there!
posted by Lokheed at 8:25 AM on January 9, 2003


Oh, I am so *not* there!
posted by tommasz at 8:34 AM on January 9, 2003


I could not pay me enough to ride that death trap.
posted by internal at 8:35 AM on January 9, 2003


Mine's bigger... Oh, nevermind.
posted by Dark Messiah at 8:36 AM on January 9, 2003


Doh!

You (or anyone else) could not pay me enough to ride that death trap.
posted by internal at 8:37 AM on January 9, 2003


If your body can withstand that sorta G force, then knock yourself out! (no pun intended)

Mine can't though. I went on one of those swinging mock-boats at a fair ground once and almost passed out from blackout. That was one weird sensation. Think I have some sort of circulation problem?
posted by wackybrit at 8:41 AM on January 9, 2003


Get in line now...
posted by gottabefunky at 8:41 AM on January 9, 2003


It's a launching pad. I see a runway and a ramp at the end. That curve.... uhhh, that's just for cosmetic effect. Picture the worst disaster in theme park history.
posted by Witty at 8:43 AM on January 9, 2003


"They'll come to Iowa, for reasons they can't even fathom..."
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:49 AM on January 9, 2003


I have a friend who's a roller coaster collector. Works to fund coaster jaunts all over the world. He's ridden god-knows how many hundreds of coasters. He'll get to a theme park when it opens, head to the biggest coaster, and go on it all day. Queue, on, coast, off, queue again.

Otherwise, he's a perfectly normal person. He pointed out to me the other day that while most every obsessive activity you can name is dominated by males with some females also included, apparently the roller coaster junkie circuit is all males.
posted by humuhumu at 8:50 AM on January 9, 2003


I wanna go.
posted by riffola at 8:50 AM on January 9, 2003


Disaster? You don't know from disaster until you've launched a car full of forty nauseated, unhappy park visitors right over the Exotic Seafood stall and into the middle of the sadly neglected Scrambled Eggs ride.

That's not to mention a full amusement park with only one bathroom where the paths, it must be said, are in a disgusting state.
posted by Kafkaesque at 8:54 AM on January 9, 2003


Wow--mr_crash_davis made a Field of Dreams reference. If he'd said something about buying tickets for the roller coaster using Fandango, then you'd have a reference to every good movie Kevin Coster has ever been in . . .
posted by vraxoin at 8:56 AM on January 9, 2003


No Moore;s law, because at some point, damage to internal organs and spine will become a serious risk.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:57 AM on January 9, 2003


humuhumu - where do I sign up for this junkie club?? Wonder if a woman would be welcomed or ostracized? I can't wait to go!
posted by widdershins at 9:02 AM on January 9, 2003


vraxoin - maybe while in line buying the tickets they can spot a BBbirdd.
posted by widdershins at 9:04 AM on January 9, 2003


Those coasters look intimidating, but they are a lot less scary than carnival style rides. First of all, the new coasters ride incredibly smoothly, and the danger factor is also a lot less. The problem with Cedar Point is they are running out of land to build these coasters. They have to tear down some just to put new ones up.
posted by banished at 9:04 AM on January 9, 2003


"Wow--mr_crash_davis made a Field of Dreams reference."

I live for these small triumphs.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:07 AM on January 9, 2003



"Wow--mr_crash_davis made a Field of Dreams reference."

I live for these small triumphs.


I don't understand the reference. Cedar Point is in Ohio (the amusement park), while there just happens to be a Cedar Point, IA (a city). Did you mean to make some obscure cross-reference between the two -- or did you make the common mistake of mixing up the states?
posted by thanotopsis at 9:15 AM on January 9, 2003


a 90-degree turn at the top of the tower and an almost vertical drop back down

180-degree turn, actually.
posted by signal at 9:15 AM on January 9, 2003


ParisParamus - I imagine that special seats could deal with, at least, the "spine problem". As for the internal organs, well....Can't the parks just make them sign a waiver for possible injury? Imagine the marketing possibilities, as in "ARE YOU TOUGH ENOUGH?"
posted by troutfishing at 9:16 AM on January 9, 2003


Kafkaesque - another Roller Coaster Tycoon junkie, I see. Unfortunately I can't get the new version to work on my computer.
posted by dnash at 9:17 AM on January 9, 2003


Ha! People who say there isn't 30 seconds worth of excitement in the entire state of Ohio - In Your FACE!!
posted by jonson at 9:18 AM on January 9, 2003


Widdershins - check out the American Coaster Enthusiasts. Two of my friends are members (one male, one female, to answer your question). These crazy bastards have a magazine, group travels to amusement parks, you name it.
posted by boomchicka at 9:18 AM on January 9, 2003


"Did you mean to make some obscure cross-reference between the two -- or did you make the common mistake of mixing up the states?"

It's actually an obscure cross-reference to a classic joke about the common mistake of mixing up the two states (see the first few paragraphs here).
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:27 AM on January 9, 2003


But... but... Wouldn't it take at least 30 seconds just to get to the top of the 420 foot tower? I mean, going up that first hill: click, click, click, click... Pause. Whoosh. That's thirty seconds right there. That can't be correct.
posted by Faze at 9:35 AM on January 9, 2003


You are launched up the tower going 120 mph, then you coast down it, again reaching 120 mph.
posted by corpse at 9:41 AM on January 9, 2003


click, click, click, click... is in the past, they use magnets and so forth these days, everything is smooth.
posted by banished at 9:42 AM on January 9, 2003


The highest coaster I've ridden (Magic Mountain's Goliath) pales in comparison--255 feet to this 420 feet. The one big drop on Goliath nearly knocks me unconscious, I can only imagine how many limp bodies are going to roll up to the platform.
posted by perplexed at 9:47 AM on January 9, 2003


Hmm. The tower's 420 feet.

I'm not riding anything designed by a pothead.
posted by WolfDaddy at 9:57 AM on January 9, 2003


I rode Millennium Force a few times (twice in the same day! wheee!) at Cedar Point last fall. The magnitude of everything is unbridled insanity and adrenaline, sure, but the smoothness of literally everything about the ride made it no problem for my stomach or any other part of my body. (In my state of terror, I did swallow a bug the first time around. Keeping your mouth closed is probably a good idea.)

Especially considering this ride is built by the same folks that did Millennium Force, I can only imagine that it will be as smooth and natural-feeling in spite of its obviously jarring acceleration. These coasters are not your rickety Mean Streak. They're even light years ahead of Magnum, a 200+ft steel coaster that prides itself on air time(!), as far as being jacked around in your seat is concerned. The turns are banked at such steep angles on Millennium Force that you just kind of lean; you feel like you're flying (yes, very very fast) and being guided around very softly and deftly.

Personally, I rarely have stomach problems on coasters (that's reserved for teacup rides or other such things that specialize in high G forces) as much as problems with my head being bounced back and forth like a ping-pong ball in a clothes dryer. Not good on the neck. Shock Wave at Six Flags Great America in Chicago instantly comes to mind. Ick.
posted by nickd at 10:08 AM on January 9, 2003


nickd - Shockwave at SFGA is gone. Being replaced with a new coaster this year - a "flying" type one like the new Superman: Ultimate Flight at Six Flags in Georgia. I only rode Shockwave once - HATED it. Painful and just not fun. However, Raging Bull at the same park I could ride over and over all day.
posted by dnash at 10:16 AM on January 9, 2003


Personally I hate how these things get called roller coasters. To me a roller coaster is a closed loop thing, not one of these out and back on the same track things. I've just never seen the appeal of them (too short among other things). It's bad enough to stand in the long lines for a couple of minutes for a real roller coaster, but to do it for something that lasts a whopping 30 seconds? Sorry, just doesn't appeal to me. Now I'll admit, the Millennium Force is quite impressive. Smooth as silk, fast as all hell, and the speed they take you up the initial drop (from which the view is quite impressive) is excellent, no more of that slow chain driven clack-clack nonsense.
posted by piper28 at 10:19 AM on January 9, 2003


I think the "slow chain-driven clack-clack nonsense" builds some delicious anticipation/fear as you go up the First Big Hill. I'll never forget how wonderfully scared I was on my first coaster ride...the looooong ride up the hill on the Loch Ness Monster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
posted by Vidiot at 10:28 AM on January 9, 2003


Is there a reason that they can't make rides like this twice as long, or even three or four times as long? 30 seconds is lame.

Imagine all of this insanity in a ride that lasts for minutes instead of seconds...
posted by MsVader at 10:41 AM on January 9, 2003


Well waits will be long for this, but Cedar Point does an excellent job running fast, efficient operations. On a non-weekend, lines for this shouldn't be bad at all. According to this site, dispatch times will be somewhere on the order of 1 every 40 seconds. That will keep the line moving nicely.
posted by mmascolino at 11:18 AM on January 9, 2003


Video here.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:20 AM on January 9, 2003


That's wonderful to hear, dnash. I remember when they played this coaster up at its release, and everybody was like "Wow! I'm in horrible, searing pain! This is frickin' fantastic!" Ugh.

Raging Bull falls under Millennium Force proportions for me as far as a smooth ride is concerned. What an insanely great first drop. They put the vast majority of the waiting line *under* that drop, too, so you had no perception of its actual height until you're ging down. Unreal.
posted by nickd at 11:26 AM on January 9, 2003


No Moore;s law, because at some point, damage to internal organs and spine will become a serious risk.

There's a theoretical limit to Moore's law as well, we just haven't hit it yet.

Note that Moore's law refers directly to transistor density, and is not necessarily a limit on computing power.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 11:39 AM on January 9, 2003


I've been on a number of fast, tall, looping roller coasters in my time. The only one where I looked back and said, "Hey, that was great! Let's do it again!" was the Aerosmith ride at Disney/MGM Studios in Orlando.

It wasn't the ride itself per-se, although it was particularly thrilling, it was the personality of the whole thing.

The tedium of the wait in line was mitigated by rock memorbelia behind glass cases, and eventually, you view a small movie starring Aerosmith. During the whole ride, you're treated to "Sweet Emotion" and other rocking tunes piped through the speakers at your head.

My only problem with the ride was that it took place in the dark, and I wasn't prepared for one of the opening turns. Wrenched my neck a good one, and had to ice-pack and asprin my way through the rest of the day.
posted by thanotopsis at 12:21 PM on January 9, 2003


Those coasters look intimidating, but they are a lot less scary than carnival style rides."

Ain't this the truth. Last carnival ride I took was "The Zipper." There were important things, like nuts and bolts, rattling around the cage. Damn carnie monkeys didn't do more than finger-tighten the contraption, I'm sure.

The door kept trying to open up, too. That wasn't a happy thing.

(The Zipper has about a dozen two- or three-person cages. These rotate 'round their centre of mass. The cages also follow a track that's attached to what looks like a gigantic popsicle stick on edge. This stick also rotates on its centre of mass. Thus your cage spins freely and randomly in either direction, sometimes slow, sometimes blackout fast; sometimes facing up as you rocket to the heavens, sometimes facing down as you plummet to the eart, sometimes just whipping 'round and 'round until you don't know what direction you're going.

Great ride, if only you could trust the carnies.)

posted by five fresh fish at 12:28 PM on January 9, 2003


if only you could trust the carnies.

Ain't that the truth!
posted by blue_beetle at 12:45 PM on January 9, 2003


Carnie folk are good people...
posted by Cyrano at 1:08 PM on January 9, 2003


wow fff, the very last carny ride i went on was the zipper (back in the mid80s) for the very reasons you just said. i have never been more frightened in my life because i thought that our particular cage would go flying off the damn contraption at any moment.
posted by poopy at 1:19 PM on January 9, 2003


a 90-degree turn at the top of the tower and an almost vertical drop back down

180-degree turn, actually.

Actually, the 90-degree turn is the twist the track makes as you are ascending the tower (you approach the tower head on, and then make a 90 degree clockwise twist so that you crest the top from the side). Then on the free fall back down there a 270 degree twist so that you barrel roll down before leveling out and hitting the magnetic stopping mechanism.
posted by Lokheed at 1:35 PM on January 9, 2003


my brother and i had a conversation a couple years ago about what would make a really cool rollercoaster ride. we eventually came up with the idea of a rollercoaster that started at the top of crest and plummeted down into a vast pool of water (about 15-20feet deep). there it would level out and stop at the bottom of the pool for about 15-20 seconds and then shoot the car back out. injuries, deaths and lawsuits i'm sure.... but what a ride! man, i wish they'd make one like that.
posted by poopy at 1:59 PM on January 9, 2003


Personally I hate how these things get called roller coasters. To me a roller coaster is a closed loop thing, not one of these out and back on the same track things

As far as I can tell, it is a closed loop, just not a very long one. You might be thinking of things like Deja Vu, which still has a longer ride time than Dragster.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 2:09 PM on January 9, 2003


New roller coasters are too smooth, sleek and snazzy. Sure, they go pretty fast, but in general the ride's too short, and all you can see is blurriness and feel your stomach riding up your throat and then the ride is over. There is a real appeal to the older wooden roller coasters where you hear all the clanking and grinding. It feels like your cart is about to fall off the track and all that's keeping you in place is a steel bar across your lap. And it's easier to raise your arms up going over the dips, which is one of the funnest parts of roller coaster riding. I'd still take a ride on Top Thrill Dragster though.
posted by twos at 2:48 PM on January 9, 2003


twos, then you would love Son of Beast at Paramount's Kings Island in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was built in the past few years, its wooden, long and jerks you around a lot.
posted by mmascolino at 3:40 PM on January 9, 2003


and don't forget Gwazi at Busch Gardens.
posted by poopy at 3:50 PM on January 9, 2003


The tedium of the wait in line was mitigated by rock memorbelia behind glass cases, and eventually, you view a small movie starring Aerosmith. During the whole ride, you're treated to "Sweet Emotion" and other rocking tunes piped through the speakers at your head.

sounds like my vision of hell. did you get to play the aerosmith video game afterwards?
posted by chrisege at 4:47 PM on January 9, 2003


i have lost at least 5 hats riding roller coasters.
one of the most priceless pictures i have is when i rode the magnum, there is that one part where they take a picture of you... on my second ride, i made sure i picked my nose.
posted by the aloha at 7:46 PM on January 9, 2003


this is not appealing to me.

jump out of a plane, - you are in control, flap your arms, use the wind to move around.

bungie jump, - you decide when to jump.

ride a bike, - you're in control.

rolercoaster? passenger seat. seems like such a shitty way to die.
posted by balinx at 9:22 PM on January 9, 2003


I've never understood the desire to jump out of a perfectly serviceable airplane, myself. Rollercoasters make far more sense in that context.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:00 PM on January 9, 2003


I second the reccomendation for Son of Beast. My GF and I went this last summer and it was the most fun I've had on a rollercoaster for ages. In fact, Kings Island seems that they are trying to compete head-on with Cedar Point. A new coaster goes up every year,steel or wood.

I love Cedar Point, but I have to admit that no coaster has ever made me as nervous as the Face-Off at Kings Island. I don't think I've ever felt so completely disoriented in my life. In fact, I had to sit down for awhile after that one.

I felt some disorientation at Cedar Point (Mantis especially), but nothing like that. I can't wait to go back.
posted by ttrendel at 10:33 PM on January 9, 2003


Just don't book a flight for the opening day. Who else remembers Superman: The Escape at Six Flags Magic Mountain? ("COMING SPRING!, er SUMMER!, er NEXT YEAR!... SPEEDS of 100 MILES PER HOUR!, er ALMOST ONE HUNDRED!, er WHATEVER WE CAN WORK OUT!...")
posted by kevspace at 8:45 PM on January 10, 2003


Five Fresh Fish said:
> I've never understood the desire to jump out of a perfectly serviceable airplane, myself.
>Rollercoasters make far more sense in that context.

Strange that you say that -- that's pretty close to how I became somewhat of a roller coaster junkie myself!! (Warning, long story...)

Many years ago, my other half was a Reservist in the Canadian Armed Forces and he wanted to take up parachuting. We went to a special club somewhere outside Montreal where you could take a weekend course with certified instructors and the whole thing. We spent the entire weekend training over and over again (on the ground) until it's second nature to you. They even have a mock-up of an aircraft doorway and wingstrut so you can get the feel of things. I freaked out my instructor when I had a hard time jumping off a 45 gallon drum to the ground to practice our "drop and roll" maneuver, because I am afraid of heights... As he put it "What the h*ll are you doing here then?" I explained that I was hoping to get over it and keeping my boyfriend company.

Well, on Sunday morning, when we were supposed to do our actual jump was way too windy for novices (apparently you can break an ankle on landing if it's too windy). Remember, this was back in the days of those mammoth old round parachutes, not the sleek maneuverable ones of today. So we waited, and waited and waited... and finally had to go home and come back the next weekend. However, all the pep and adrenaline you build up over the weekend kind of disappears over a week later and we weren't quite as pepped when we returned. We had to wait the whole weekend again, until Sunday afternoon when the wind finally died down. They told us to rush to get up, otherwise we might miss our "window" -- as a result, our own instructor wasn't with us, but instead was some wizened old man (who resembled a scary gnome way too much in my opinion), chomping on a cigar was overseeing us. We three friends had always practiced in a certain order, myself being last out the plane -- however our wizened gnome points at me with his cigar and tells me that I'm going first. I explained as best I could in the wind of the roar coming through the open doorframe that is not the order we practiced it but he wouldn't hear of it, and practically shoved me out the door...

I was standing precariously on the bottom bar of the strut of the aircraft's wing and made the mistake of looking down and thought "Why am I letting go of a perfectly serviceable aircraft?" and my body agreed that it was an entirely silly notion and my hands wouldn't let go. When the pilot sees this, he does as usual, and speeds up the aircraft, as the wind usually pulls you off and you have an automatic "rope-puller" thingy that opens your chute anyway.

Well, it's amazing what true adrenaline can do -- I never let go of the aircraft strut, even at almost full throttle. I eventually climbed back in, totally disappointed with myself and watched the others jump. (Apparently the pilot had never seen anyone of my small size (5 foot) ever manage to hang on with full throttle -- I re-explained the concept of adrenaline to him...)

When I came back down, my own instructor had finally shown up and came to greet me. I explained my disappointment and tears and he pointed out another man and asked me who I thought that was. I said that he was another instructor, of course. He then explained to me that it took that now professionally certified instructor 13 trips up and down in the plane without managing to actually have the guts to make a jump before he finally did it! I felt slightly better after hearing that... Fast forward to about 2-3 years later -- I used to always be scared of roller coasters; mostly because I had only been on wooden ones (like "The Monstre" here in Montreal) that are too rickety feeling for me -- especially as I am only 5 foot and often feel too "loose" in them and that I am going to fly out because the lapguards don't come down tight enough for my small frame.

I was encouraged by a friend of mine during my first trip to Santa Cruz to try a newer and smoother coaster and I thought to myself -- "Well, if I can hang on the strut of an aircraft three thousand feet up in the air and survive, I can damn well do this!" and did. I absolutely loved it!! And I've been doing it ever since -- I even did a special roadtrip last summer all the way from Montreal to Cedar Point park to try out some of their coasters, my favorite being "The Raptor", a suspended inverted coaster.

I've also been to "Universal Studios Islands of Adventure" and greatly enjoyed the Hulk Coaster, as it kinda shoots you out of a tunnel when you are still expecting the clickety-click up the first hill. It also puts you through a wide tunnel that takes you underneath a water canal separating the different islands, you descend into a dark hole filled with misty vapor, not knowing what to expect. Truly mind-blowing if you are in the front seats!! Another cool one at Islands of Adventure is the "Dueling Dragons" where two different suspended coasters on intertwining tracks start off at the same time and just seem to miss each other by mere feet during their runs -- totally amazing!

So, I am a wash-out as a parachutist, but it led me to my "true calling" as a roller coaster freak... I guess I'll have to make another trip to Cedar Point this year to try out their latest and greatest (Wicked Twister), one was down for maintenance when I went last year and I never got to go on it unfortunately. (Sorry for the long story, but it kinda seemed suitable...)
posted by Jade Dragon at 2:13 PM on January 11, 2003


Great story!

I think I'll stick to motorcycles, though.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:28 AM on January 12, 2003


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