The Coasters of Las Vegas

Associated parks:

I have to admit, I haven't heard much great about the coasters of Sin City. Don't get me wrong, I approached my recent trip to Las Vegas with an open mind (I've never been there before), but I left for the trip not expecting much from Vegas in the thrillride department.

My short summary of the Las Vegas coasters follows, and after experiencing all four, was quite surprised with my reaction. Maybe it was just because I was having a lot of fun gambling, maybe it was just the great weather, who knows. One thing is for sure, it wasn't because I won any money.

1.) Canyon Blaster (1993, Arrow Dynamics). One of the "more recent" Arrow multilooper installations, Canyon Blaster, a 99 foot-tall standard multilooping coaster built by Arrow Dynamics, offers a brief, but intense journey through two vertical loops and the usual set of Arrow corkscrews. Housed within the Adventuredome, a more recent addition to the family-oriented Circus Circus hotel and casino at the north end of the Las Vegas strip, this short and simple coaster is worth a look (or even a re-ride) on your next trip to Las Vegas. I found the two vertical loops to be rather rough in comparison with the rest of the ride; high marks go to the Drachen-Fire-esque trains and short series of tunnels at the end of the ride. Its low marks aren't as much due to the coaster itself, but rather to its poor location in the Adventuredome, and to the fact that a trip through the noisy, smoky, and aging Circus Circus casino is necessary to even know it's there.

2.) Manhattan Express (1997, TOGO International) - A visually impressive coaster that flanks the New York New York Hotel and Casino in the south strip, Manhattan Express offers Vegas' rendition of a New York City cab ride (and having done that I can say that the comparison is entirely valid). Built by the defamed Togo International group in 1997, Manhattan is unique in that it travels right through the New York New York Casino, a stunning, but disorienting outdoor-themed casino with a very upbeat feel. The start of the ride is unimpressive (and driven at a constant speed by a series of tires), with a slow and meandering journey to the lift hill, which flanks the Hotel to the north end. Not much can be seen of the strip from the top of the lift, unless you crane your head to the left (but you would have to be a contortionist to see much). Following a rough series of two drops, a rough vertical loop and a very sorry "tumbling loop," Manhattan Express ends in a series of unimpressive bunny hops. Low marks go to the unusual restraint system, which, instead of supporting my head, jammed into my neck; and its overall rough ride. It's one of the more visually impressive coasters in Vegas, though, and as much as I hate to say it, should be experienced despite the fact that it costs $12.00 to ride. Beware! though, it's a Togo. Enough said.

3.) Speed (2000, Premier) - Skirting the Moroccan-themed Sahara Hotel and Casino, one of the last original old-time Vegas casinos, Speed! The Ride was part of the recent extensive renovation at the Sahara which included construction of "Speedworld." Its star attraction, Speed, offers an impressive, 70-mph journey that is a "must ride" on any trip to Vegas. Its' launch into an overbanked turn, and then its dive beneath the sidewalk into a large vertical loop offer a pulse-pounding start; additional LIM propulsion units then accelerate the train up a gently sloping hill, through two mildly twisting sections of track, and then vertically up a tower. The whole dizzying series of events happens again in reverse, and for $8.00 (they now let you ride it again without getting off at no extra charge), was among the best money I spent in Vegas. So, if you'll take my advice, visit Speedworld, ride Speed!, and see Charo if you have time (I didn't see her show but she does perform nightly in the Congo Lounge at the Sahara). Coochie-Coochie!

4.) High Roller (1996, Premier) - Of all the coasters I've ever ridden that go a mere 30 mph, this one is the best. We've all seen pictures of it, perched atop the 1,000-foot-tall plus Stratosphere Tower at the north end of the strip. And I must admit, I was even tempted skip it altogether in my quest for a ride on the ultimate S&S tower, Big Shot. Situated along the roof of the Stratosphere's observation deck and restaurant, and encircling Big Shot one floor beneath, the High Roller offers two consecutive trips through its three-tiered helix. At only $4.00 (on top of the $13 fee which includes the elevator to the top and the Big Shot), how can you resist? Maybe it was just because I was sitting in the last car (hence getting a better bounce when traversing the small bunny hops into the next lower helix), maybe because I was scared to death being so high in the air on top of a potential terrorist target, or maybe because I just loved the panoramic view of Las Vegas at night - it was a great ride. Low marks go to the overall location of the Stratosphere Tower - situated on the north strip far from all the good action (the Sahara is its closest neighbor, but both attractions are really far removed), a cab ride is needed if you don't want to take all day to hike it. Unfortunately, the Stratosphere has failed to really draw any significant new business to the north strip, and the only thing that's happened up there at all has been the recent renovation of the Sahara.

So, that's it - four new and exciting coasters to add to my growing list. Even though I "lost" in Vegas (I prefer to think of it as "investing"), I had a good time, and on my next trip to see how my investments are doing, I'll probably ride each one all over again. Here's the summary:

1.) Canyon Blaster - Thumbs Up

2.) Manhattan Express - Thumbs Down

3.) Speed! The Ride - Thumbs Up

4.) High Roller - Thumbs Up


*** This post was edited by ophthodoc on 11/16/2002. ***

Did you not ride Desperado because you didn't have a ride? Nice reviews anyway. How was Big Shot?

Yea, if there is one Coaster that I always saw and dreamed about riding, it has always been Desparado. If I ever get to Vegas, I will somehow make it out to buffalo bills Hotel & Casino to ride that looks awsome, and im a sucker for Arrow Hyper's.

Kennywood Park, America's finest traditional amusement park.

Primm, Nevada, home of Buffalo Bill's, was just one day trip I didn't have time to make...I spent half a day at Hoover Dam instead. But I'll be sure to hit Desperado next time. I heard it wasn't all that.....but then again I heard the Vegas coasters weren't all that either.
CPLady's avatar

I was lucky enough to ride Manhattan Express when it first opened, and although it wasn't the smoothest coaster I've ever been on, it certainly wasn't the worst. Or maybe it's just because I won $1500 at the craps tables after my ride that made it seem so much better.

I haven't been back to Vegas since Speed opened, and I'm looking forward to someday riding it. You will never catch me on High Roller, even for the coaster count. Even standing on the observation deck, I was shaking so badly due to the height.

I'd rather die living than live like I'm dead

Yes, I agree, Speed was a great ride. We got all-day passes for like $15 that let you ride Speed: The Ride & The Nascar motion simulators as many times as you want. I didnt make it on the sky coaster, but I did ride Big Shot. I am not a big fan of the ones that just shoot you up, but it was an entirely different ride starting from 1000' in the air. As for manhatten express, the only good part of that ride is the dive loop or "tumbling loop". My biggest complaint about that ride (other than how rough it is) is that the consecutive hills following the drop are too high. If they would have decreased the size of the hills by 5 - 10 feet or so, you would get a little air-time when you come to them.

I think Speed: The Ride is the best coaster in Vegas. I look forward to hitting the coasters on my yearly trip LV, and Speed always takes top honors.

Funny Speed moment: We got on and strapped in. A few of the people on the train were scared to death, and weren't afraid to let everyone know it with their screams while we were still in the station. The op then said "If this is your first time on Speed, raise your hand". About 90% of the train lifted their arm. *Launch*. I was afraid the poor op was gonna get killed after the train unloaded. My wife and I got a great laugh out of it.


*** This post was edited by Outlane on 11/19/2002. ***

rollergator's avatar
The crew on Speed was AWESOME....Vegas pics just came back, including the one of the front of the train inside the op walked down the tunnel a little to get me that pic...;). Excellent customer relations NEVER goes out of if only I'd been able to convince the op at Miner Mike's that I *was* short enough to ride....
That's funny gator cus I thought the operations on Speed were HORRENDOUS. However, the ops at Manhattan Express were Disneylike!

WOOD: It does a body good.

rollergator's avatar

The crew on Speed has to wait five minutes between the dispatches, they run one train twice, let the LIMs cool, then do it again....I probably got about 50 laps, and chatted a LOT with them.....

The op at Canyon Blaster was a real nice guy, too.

But the woman loading ME wouldn't even let me get a picture of the train...."we don't allow pictures". Well, with all the lights falshing, I'm *positive* she never noticed when I came up the exit ramp after my second trip and stood RIGHT next to the on-ride photo booth to get a pic of the train....the photo booth guys SURE didn't care....;). They even asked if I was "one of those coaster people"....good times!

*** This post was edited by rollergator on 11/19/2002. ***

Vegas is awesome for thrill rides. I rode Manhattan Express front row, and it's probably a lot better than the other seats, because you can see EVERYTHING.

Canyan Blaster was awesome too, with the great scenery.

Best ride is Speed. It's like a Twix. Twice the fun. The launch is so awesome, and then going through the smooth loop and through the casino entrance.

UNFORTUNATELY, High Roller and Big Shot weren't open because it was too windy. Also, Desperado is about an hour out of Las Vegas, in this tiny tiny town in the middle of the desert. That too was closed due to windy conditions.

MGM park was closed too, so I didn't get to there either.

Aside from the rides and casino, they had some great arcades there with just about every type of game. Luxor and Excalibur had the best arcades and motion simulators. Caesar's was great for shopping too.

So all in all it was a good trip except for Desperado, Big Shot and High Roller being closed. It was weird seeing everything closed. I was really looking forward to Big Shot, Oh well - I'll try again next year.

I always have a great time riding the Sin City coasters, regardless of the crappy ops, rough rides, etc.. I guess Las Vegas will have that effect on you!

$12 for a ride on Manhatten Express is crazy. Of course, I'll be in line my next visit....(what a hypocrite!)


*** This post was edited by Outlane on 11/19/2002. ***

Kick The Sky's avatar

I went to Vegas for my honeymoon in 97 before Speed was built and before I really became an enthusiast. I didnt know about the Canyon Blaster and I couldnt ride the one on the Strat because it was too windy but I did get a spin on Manhatten Express and I can honestly say without a doubt that it was THE worst coaster I have ever riden and I will never ride it again. Now when I go next year I will have to pick up all the ones I missed but Manhatten Express will not be in my itinerary.

BTW, Gator how much did your 50 laps on Speed cost you?

Bob Hansen

A proud CoasterBuzz Member

Wanna Ride A Woodie?

rollergator's avatar
KTS, I got the ride-all-day (without the SIM option) so it was pretty cheap, I want to say *around* 15 bucks....I think adding the SIM option was about 5-10 more. Remember though, Speed is a two-lap cycle....;) If you *want* to get out between the two trips, they'll let you....(not sure why anyone would want to do THAT, though)...;)

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