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The Sky's the Limit


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I'm a new-ish member of TPR and have ridden many coasters in the 39 or so years I've been on this world. This question has been eating at me for years, so I thought I would ask my new fellow coasterites what they think of it.

 

Until the gigacoaster/megacoaster/terracoaster space-race, the tallest, steepest coaster I had ever been on was Worlds of Fun's "Orient Express", which in 1986, almost made me pee my pants. As I began to travel to other parks and ride new coasters, the super/giga/mega/rocket coaster thing started to take off, and I was willing, if not crazy, to take it on. After a while, though, I began to wonder if height, high-end vert and lat. G's, and end velocity really made a coaster special. I rode the woodie at the Texas State Fair in Dallas in 1979 (it's gone now, I think) and thought, "holy crap! what a ride" and it wasnt tall at all.

 

The question is: Millenium Force, Top Thril Dragster and Kingda Ka have set the bar for supergiga-coasters to come. Have the coaster manufacturers sacrificed good old crap-your-pants thrills for "tallest/fastest/highest/" or am I completely off base?

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Yeah, I think the drop of Top Thrill Dragster and Kingda Ka have a 270 degree twist to make it less thrilling/scary. If they went straight down, well, a lot of people would probably find it too intense. I think for a few years there was a coasters arms race, but it seems to have died down a little. There also seems to be a bit of a woodie revival going on, which is a very good thing.

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I think after the construction of TTD and Kingda Ka parks and coaster manufacturers understood that they didn't need the worlds tallest or fastest coasters to get people in the doors.

 

Seeing as how its been 3 years since the worlds tallest coaster was built, I think its safe to say we won't be seeing any height or record breaking speed coasters for years. However, for a while, it was a hot topic.

 

But to answer your question, yes, they did have that "sacrafice quality for big numbers" mentality for a couple years or so. But today, even after just a few years of the worlds tallest/fastest coaster competition passing, I'd have to say you started this thread a year or two too late.

 

-J

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i don't think that just the height makes a coaster a good coaster. There are alot of coasters out there that don't hold any records or are close to records but are a lot of fun to ride. And are rerideable!

 

That's one of the biggest goals i guess, build a coaster the rider wants to ride over and over again.

 

But in my opinion the record breakers were needed as icons of themeparks. Which coasters are in the mass media? Only the ones being tall or fast or recordish otherwise. And therefore those coasters are fun to ride for alot of us enthusiasts for their uniqueness in one part, but are a big draw for the general public.

It's not the "most fun" coasters you are asked about by your typical friends, it's the record holders/breakers.

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^^Exactly what I get asked by non enthusiast friends. The public in general percieve a higher/faster coaster must be better than a smaller one. In some cases it can be true (but thats my own opinion), such as comparing Air at Alton Towers to Tatsu, perhaps a little unfair since Air was the prototype flyer but still. I haven't ridden the others though I can't comment on them.

 

We all know many things go into making a decent ride, and if you ask different people you will get different opinions.

 

I don't have any statistics but I guess if a park adveritses the worlds tallest, fastest coaster, it makes the public want to go and ride it, and has massive marketing potential, hence lots of money. Essentially its a gimmick, although I'm not saying its a bad thing.

 

Anyway for a while yes I think perhaps it was all about speed and height, but if a ride is good people will keep coming back to ride it, reagrdless of whether it holds a record or not.

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Well, I don't think the manufacturers have sacrificed anything. They are in the business. If somebody wants their business, the price is right, and they are capable of doing it, then of course they are going to do it.

 

Plus, while a lot of hardcore enthusiasts will agree that height and speed doesn't automatically make a good ride, the majority of the public is going to find extreme height and speed to be a "crap-your-pants" thrill. For instance, before I could drive, I relied on my parents to take me to any parks. This was extremely difficult to and I generally just went to either KI or SFKK once a year. However, in 2000, we went to Cedar Point for the first time. Why? Because they were opening the tallest and fastest coaster in the world and the rest of my family was interested.

 

I agree whole-heartedly with your argument that smaller coasters can be better. A lot of my favorite rides of all time aren't that big by today's standards. However, I don't think the manufacturers have sacrificed anything. I'm sure they have better ideas, but in the end, it's a business and they have to please the buyers.

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My idea of a good coaster does not include height or speed at all. What makes a coaster good to me is a constant shift of forces. A plain 400+ foot coaster with speeds of 100+ mph, is not better than a coaster that is 80' tall, that goes about 50 mph with a lot of airtime hills, hairpin turns, and a few inversions. You ride the 400 footer and think, eh, it was alright. Then you ride the 80 footer and think that was great! I'm going to ride again!

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I think its the individual perception that matters most. A coaster could be considered crap by some and may not seem to have much to offer, yet to others it may seem like a wonderful ride and they might walk away from it having had a great experience. Height, speed, and all that other stuff is not important...its what you make of it and how you feel about it that is.

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Nemesis has to be the most popularly photographed coasters out there.

 

I always see new pictures of that ride and none of them ever look the same.

 

Its got to be one of those "got to get on that one" coasters.

 

*sigh* someday, perhaps...

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... However, in 2000, we went to Cedar Point for the first time. Why? Because they were opening the tallest and fastest coaster in the world and the rest of my family was interested.

 

That's a very valid point. Unfortunately, that is also the perception of your average park goer. Bigger/Fastest is always better.

 

I did a quick search on RCDB for the top 10 tallest coasters, and the top 10 fastest coasters. Having ridden all of the coasters on both lists, except for Tower of Terror (S:TE clone) at Dreamworld, I can say (at least for me) taller and faster does NOT make for a better ride.

 

The only coasters in my top 25 steel coasters would be Xcellerator at #23 and SD2K at # 25.

 

Give me speed combined with great airtime and laterals and changes of direction, then IMO you have a great coaster.

 

 

JJ

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I'm still waiting for a rocket coaster that launches you 350 ft in the air and has a really twisted trip to the bottom filled with inversions, bunny hils and major head choppers

 

 

That is exactly what I was looking for too.

 

On a side note, The price for a 500 foot rocket coaster with an almost identical layout to KK or TTD would probably be 30-40 million dollars. They couldn't use a chainlift because it would weigh 10 tons (SD:2000 uses 2 different chains). It has gotten way to expensive to build higher, fast, longer coasters because of this.

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What people like in coasters is fairly subjective, I have been on most of the biggest coasters like Kingda Ka, Millennium Force, and Top Thrill Dragster - I have to say it was the much smaller Ride of Steel (SFNE) and El Toro I found way more exciting.

 

I don't know what lies in the future for height, it doesn't really make good economic sense to spend $40-$50 million on a coaster at the moment, particularly when the 2 players most likely to do so (Six Flags and Cedar Fair) have heavy debt loads. Even after spending that much money the end result would still be a one trick pony or not much better. The only company with the money to spend $100 million on a coaster (which would be enough to do something huge with a lot of elements), Disney, would never do that kind of thing.

 

Additionally a smaller coaster like Maverick or El Toro have been huge drawcards with the public from what I have seen.

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