500' Barrier Ever to Be Breached?

Sunday, July 1, 2012 11:24 PM

It seems like the competition for coaster height was raging at the end of the '90s and beginning of the millennium. 200' coasters had been around for awhile before the 300' barrier was broken with Steel Dragon 2000 and then Millennium Force soon after. Then it only took 3 years before Cedar Point went and shattered the 300' level with Dragster and then Kingda Ka took the record for tallest in the world and still holds it today. My question is what stopped the industry from going taller. I personally would love to see a 500' foot roller coaster in the style of Millennium Force, an Intamin-manufactured ride with a cable lift and all that jazz. There doesn't seem to be anything quite like the intensity of rides like this with such sheer height and speed. Does the industry just not care about height anymore as far as breaking more records or what? Would a 500' roller coaster just be too intense for the public? I honestly don't feel like it would be. No matter how many people wouldn't ride it, there would be tons of thrill junkies to come from all over and ride it and fill the line. I suppose a 500' roller coaster like Millennium would be incredibly expensive as well as have extreme G-forces. I'm sure it wouldn't be impossible by any means to construct such a ride and have it stand structurally sound, but perhaps I'm wrong. It's not like it's an asinine idea to go 44' taller than the tallest ride now (KK 456') and have it stand. I'm sure most people honestly couldn't care less about going for the 500' mark, but I would still like to hear everyone's thoughts.

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Sunday, July 1, 2012 11:42 PM

Actually, I watched a special on this. The G forces would most likely be too intense for most riders, which is problem number one. Personally, I don't believe that because of what you have just mentioned (Ka being only 44 feet short of the 500 mark).

Problem number two: the reliability and maintenance of a ride that big is difficult to guarantee, and not just if it is an Intamin ride. The strain on cables, wheels, etc. is thought to be too much even on the 400 foot coasters. Even when they BUILT Kingda Ka, they were saying it was kind of a crapshoot as to how well the ride would work.

3. The expense: you're right on the money...the expense of not just a normal coaster, but a coaster that likely requires more specialized equipment to build the ride and keep it running would be astronomical.

That's all I can remember about the special I saw. But good topic!


"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

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Sunday, July 1, 2012 11:49 PM
Vater's avatar

No height is impossible. However, the cost and practicality of a full circuit, Millennium Force type coaster is likely why we haven't seen any. There's a reason the only 400+ foot coasters are relatively short in length and have launches.

Personally, I think we'll see a 500 footer before too long, provided we don't see a financial collapse any time soon.

Oh, and FYI, Millennium Force opened a few months before Steel Dragon 2000.

Edit: Excessive G forces can be (and are) designed out of any ride, regardless of height.

Last edited by Vater, Sunday, July 1, 2012 11:52 PM
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Sunday, July 1, 2012 11:51 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Forces (and, in turn, intensity) aren't determined by height. Ever notice how some of the big B&M's actually pull less G's than much smaller rides like the Wildcat coasters?

Size doesn't indicate intensity or forces.

Speed and path radius determine forces.


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Sunday, July 1, 2012 11:53 PM

I didn't realize that Steel Dragon opened a few months after Millennium. Thanks. That makes sense because I remember them saying that it quickly stole the record away because it was a tiny bit taller than Millennium.

Anyway, these things make sense for why a 500' coaster would overall be a lot of work and investment for a park to do. Thanks for the responses thus far.

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Monday, July 2, 2012 12:11 AM
Maverick00's avatar

I don't think it'll be too long before its broken. The main point being Kingda Ka is only 44 feet away. It doesn't take much more for another park to built an exact replica, only 44 feet taller. I wouldn't be surprised if it was another Six Flags park.


Cedar Point will always be The Roller Coaster Capital of the World, regardless of the number of coasters they have.

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Monday, July 2, 2012 1:28 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

I don't think it'll be broken for a long time. Seems like the days of over-the-top 'est' coasters are behind us. The cost of going 500' would outweigh the sell of the novelty.

That and the fact that the big coasters are still rarer than we often seem to consider.

To date:

Only 3 coasters in the world go over 400 feet.

Only another 5 go over 300 feet.

That's a total of eight roller coasters in the entire world that go over 300 feet. Eight!

Beyond that, in the 23 years since Magnum broke the 200-foot mark and set off the 'coaster wars' a total of 40 coasters have been built worldwide that reach 200 feet.

So let's stop and think about that for a minute.

Out of all the roller coasters ever built on Earth only 48 have stood 200 feet or taller.

We seem to take for granted the size thing as enthusiasts. It's still relatively a pretty rare feat for a coaster to be 200 feet tall let alone 300 or 400.

I don't think you'll see someone go 500 anytime soon.


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Monday, July 2, 2012 8:14 AM

Lord Gonchar said:

Out of all the roller coasters ever built on Earth only 48 have stood 200 feet or taller.

Wow, that's a good healthy dose of coaster dork perspective if I've ever seen one.

According to the census page on rcdb.com there are currently 2,897 coasters currently operating in the world. RCDB also says that of those operating coasters, 42 of them are 200'+.

That's 1.44% of all operating coasters.

Less than one and a half percent of the coasters currently operating in the world are taller than 200' and that barrier was broken 23 years ago.

Don't hold your breath for a 500'+ coaster.

Also, just something else to think about: Of those 42 coasters that are 200'+, Cedar Point has 4 of them. That's 9.52% of all 200'+ coasters at one park and all four opened within 14 years. It's been 9 years since the last one at that park opened.

Last edited by robotfactory, Monday, July 2, 2012 8:21 AM

- Johnathan
@robotfactory

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Monday, July 2, 2012 8:25 AM

I was gonna post and ask what the fourth one was, but figured out that WT was the fourth one. Honestly I forgot that one was above the 200' mark.

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Monday, July 2, 2012 8:27 AM

So did I. I actually had to re-do my math once I remembered. CURSE YOU WICKED TWISTER!


- Johnathan
@robotfactory

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Monday, July 2, 2012 8:45 AM

Correct me if I'm wrong, but many parks are finding out that having a Giant Coaster can can be a nightmare when it comes to maintaining it. (Ask Cedar Fair how they are doing with SON OF BEAST. It has to be an embarrassment that coaster sitting there, closed to those who'd like to ride it). IMO size has nothing to do with being a terrific Roller Coaster. One of the Wooden Roller Coasters in my Top Ten List stands all of 40' Tall. It isn't what you have, but what you do with what you have!


Answer my Prayers, Overbook my next Flight!
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Monday, July 2, 2012 9:28 AM
birdhombre's avatar

Vater said:

Edit: Excessive G forces can be (and are) designed out of any ride, regardless of height.

Yeah, and this is why I don't really care about height. The primary reason I'm aware of Millennium's and Dragster's height is because I live in northern Ohio and they were advertised as the "est" when they opened. And yet Maverick is one of my favorites, while Intimidator 305 is not. El Toro is my 2nd favorite coaster overall, and I have no idea how tall it is; I'm much more concerned with what the ride does after the lift.

All of which is to say, I'm not sure what the point would be in going to 500 feet -- and would it draw enough customers to pay for it? Would it be anything but another two-trick top hat with an extra 44 feet?

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Monday, July 2, 2012 9:40 AM

Regulus said:
It isn't what you have, but what you do with what you have!

Apparently this saying holds true for many areas in life. Hehe...


"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

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Monday, July 2, 2012 9:48 AM

birdhombre said:

Yeah, and this is why I don't really care about height. The primary reason I'm aware of Millennium's and Dragster's height is because I live in northern Ohio and they were advertised as the "est" when they opened. And yet Maverick is one of my favorites, while Intimidator 305 is not. El Toro is my 2nd favorite coaster overall, and I have no idea how tall it is; I'm much more concerned with what the ride does after the lift.

All of which is to say, I'm not sure what the point would be in going to 500 feet -- and would it draw enough customers to pay for it? Would it be anything but another two-trick top hat with an extra 44 feet?

I totally agree with that. I don't get the point in the 500 foot coaster. I mean, I would ride it, but do I care in the least about Kingda Ka or Top Thrill Dragster? Not really. My favorite coasters are mainly under 200 feet (although Toro is nearly 200 feet). The designs that have been the best rides are (for me) coasters with the most airtime, wow factor, unique elements, comfort, and just overall FUN.


"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

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Monday, July 2, 2012 10:18 AM
Jeff's avatar

The funny thing is, and no one ever seems to talk about this, is that the over-400 coasters don't really do anything. They go up, they go down. Bonus bunny hop, braked, for Kingda Ka. The 300 club at least does some stuff after the first drop.

I bring this up because, while someone might endeavor to build something 500 feet tall, would they be willing to spend the money to do something more with it? I also have to wonder how interesting it would be. With existing wheel materials and wheel systems (axles, bogies and what not), you'd have to stretch stuff out to minimize the duration of considerable forces (a lesson learned at a smaller scale with Maverick).


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Monday, July 2, 2012 11:24 AM
ApolloAndy's avatar

Just as a random note, a back of the envelope calculation for Formula Rossa's 150 MPH (assuming the same ratio of height to velocity^2 for Kingda Ka and FR), FR could theoretically top out at 625'.


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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Monday, July 2, 2012 12:09 PM
rollergator's avatar

Given what Andy just said, and that 300' was broken just over a dozen years ago, I'd be surprised if someone doesn't go 500' as soon as someone's economy justifies the investment. For instance, if the Europeans figure out their debt situation, Germany could have a 500' ride within a few years.

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Monday, July 2, 2012 1:00 PM

Finally went up to Six Flags as a chaperone on a school trip KK did nothing for me.. .you're up your'e down, it's over. Hershey's "little" coasters were way more fun.

I was way more scared getting pulled up a 90 degree lift chain over a top hat then getting launched at supersonic speed LOL.

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Monday, July 2, 2012 1:15 PM
LostKause's avatar

I'm going to post my reply to the opening post before reading the rest of the discussion...

I think that the main thing preventing a 500' tall roller coaster is money. Parks have a lot of bling to spend on rides, but when a ride gets that big, it's going to coast a lot more.

Intensity has nothing to do with it. Intensity only has to do with the tightness of the curves and hills as compared to speed. If a coaster were to be built higher and faster than those that came before it, designers would simply "stretch out" the curves and hills to make the ride more comfortable on the rider.

I imagine that a 500' drop would probably be just as intense as a 300' drop, but the feeling of freefall would last longer.

One thing I believe could be holding back higher and faster coasters is the technology of the wheels. A lot of the larger Intamin coasters seem to have trouble keeping the wheels from melting, although solutions have been found concerning this problem.

Now I am going to read the rest of the comments below the opening post and see if what I said is similar. What fun! :)


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Monday, July 2, 2012 2:58 PM

LostKause said:
... but when a ride gets that big, it's going to coast a lot more.

I don't think anyone could possibly argue with this.


My author website: mgrantroberts.com

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