Jeff Gerstmann and Dan Ryckert of Giant Bomb infamy (previously) were looking for a more challenging mode in Super Mario 3. How about playing on a roller coaster?
The first roller coaster was patented in the US almost 130 years ago, but what came before the patent? Russian ice slides from the late 1600s. As discussed in The Incredible Scream Machine: A History of the Roller Coaster (Google books preview), the ice slides, or Flying Mountains, started as basic frozen ramps one would ride on a block of ice, but as soon as royalty became interested, the designs improved, as discussed and depicted in this PDF. Royalty moved some of these tracks indoors, replacing ice with waxed or soaped planks. Though some sources credit an unnamed French traveler for furthering this general design towards something more akin to the modern roller coaster, but The Incredible Scream Machine gives that credit to Katalnaya Gorka (Sliding Hill) at Oranienbaum. If nothing else, the Russian origin of ice mountains lives on through the term for "roller coaster" in a number of languages translating to Russian mountain (though in Russian, it's American mountain).
Collectors Weekly takes a look at dark rides. "Most roller coasters put their stomach-dropping slopes and brain-twisting loops front and center for all the world to see. But the amusement-park attractions known as “dark rides” keep their thrills hidden. As you’re standing in line for a tour of a haunted house full of ghosts and ghouls, a high-seas adventure with pirates, or a ride on the range with gun-slinging cowboys of the Wild West, all you can see are the riders in front of you, who get into little cars before disappearing through swinging doors into the dark. You hear the sounds of screams and shrieks coming from within. And then, an empty car arrives, stopping before you with a mechanical ka-thunk. You’re next."
It was pretty grand when The Roller Coaster Capital of the World, Cedar Point (previously / previously) , started offering HD quality perspective videos of their coasters for those of us far away from home. Recently, Google Street View has mapped the entire amusement park for our enjoyment!
"Inception Park" (SLVimeo) where roller coasters and other amusement park rides, without their tracks or frames, move excited riders around downtown Buenos Aires.
125 years of roller coasters: From the oldest, Switchback Railway, the first real coaster, Leap the Dips (photo), , New York City's famous Coney Island Cyclone (video), to the highest (456 feet, Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure (video), here's to 125 years.
"We used to find teeth in the yard. We used to find wigs, glasses, guns. Everything we found in the yard…nobody came back for them, though." May Timpano describes her life in the house under the rollercoaster where she and her boyfriend, rollercoaster operator Fred Moran, lived for 36 years in the former Kensington Hotel which had the Thunderbolt rollercoaster built around it in 1925. The house -- the model for Alvy Singer's childhood home in Annie Hall -- burned in 1991 and the roller coaster was razed in 2000.
The Skycycle (google translated) at Washuzan Highland Park (warning: noisy) in Okayama, Japan is (not) a pedal-powered roller coaster. Video, photos. Other things called a skybike: skybike, sky-bike, skybike, skybike, skybike.
Roller coaster enthusiasts, stop your grinnin and drop your linen. Cincinnati's Kings Island has unveiled Diamondback. A 5,282 foot steel maniac with open air seating whipping at speeds up to 80 mph over 10 acres. Careen down 10 vertical drops including the first one at a 74 degree angle from 215 feet. With two helixes and at over 3 minutes long it might remind you of something. The videos are momentarily buggy, but the ride splashes down in 8 months.
Don't want to hassle with going to an amusement park? Build your own rollercoaster!
The Green Dragon, a roller coaster at Greenwood Forest Park, a family 'attraction' in Wales, generates more power than it uses. How is this possible? It's all those stairs ... [more inside]
Waiterless restaurants: Over a hundred years ago, you could get the food yourself. Now your meal can come to you, riding down little rollercoasters at 's Baggers
BubbleFilter: Real Estate Roller Coaster. [via] US Home prices adjusted for inflation plotted as a first-person ride on a roller coaster. Keep your eye on the bottom right-hand corner for the corresponding year. Don't worry about the dramatic ending. I mean really, how bad could bad get?
Eejanaika the world's tallest, fastest [video] and longest 4th Dimension roller coaster. Google video. Stats.
So long, and thanks for all the thrills. This weekend, Astroworld (I refuse to prepend "Six Flags") will close its doors. Envisioned in 1968 by Judge Roy Hofheinz (who also brought us Houstonians a major league baseball team, and a stadium in which they could play), the amusement park was where I spent a lot of my childhood in the 70s. Grass roots movements to save the park have failed, and thus it's time to say goodbye to the place that played host to one of the best rollercoasters in the world, a ride that scared the crap out of me, a double ferris wheel with a twist, as well as the Boogie Fog Disco, where I learned how to do The Hustle. All's not lost, as at least I can download the Texas Cyclone, but I still feel a little misty-eyed for the boy who spent most of his weekends in this magical and wondrous place. Farewell.