Ups and Downs of Roller Coasters

Cliffhanger Roller Coaster
Cliffhanger Roller Coaster

The Cliffhanger Roller Coaster at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is the highest elevation coaster in North America. Check out these other record-breaking roller coasters.

 Fifty feet tall, perched at an altitude of 7,160 feet and hugging the side of Iron Mountain, the Cliffhanger Roller Coaster edges out all other coasters on the continent. A crowd-pleaser, its cliff-side curves and heart-stopping drop offs make it a must-ride attraction for coaster aficionados and thrill-seekers. From the ride’s pinnacle are views of the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon, 1,450 feet below!

Amusement parks for decades have competed to build the tallest, fastest, longest, scariest coasters. The first coaster that reached 100 feet tall was Serpent of Fire at La Feria Chapultepec Magico in Mexico City in 1964. Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, was the first to cross the 200-foot mark (Magnum XL-200, 201 feet in 1989), the 300-foot mark (Millennium Force, 310 feet in 2000, and the 400-foot mark (Top Thrill Dragster, 420 feet in 2003), but Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, set the current record at 456 feet in 2005. Kingda Ka also has the longest drop, at 418 feet, and the second-fastest speed, 128 mph, surpassed by Formula Rossa at Ferrari World in Dubai in 2010 at 149.1 mph.

The longest steel roller coaster is Steel Dragon 2000, at 8,133 feet, built in 2000 at Nagashima Spa Land in Japan. The use of steel-tube rails for roller coasters, pioneered at Disneyland’s Matterhorn Bobsleds in 1959, accelerated development of twists, turns, and inversions. The record for inversions on a steel roller coaster is 14, set by The Smiler at Alton Towers in Staffordshire, England, in 2013, while the record for inversions on a wooden roller coaster is three, reached by Outlaw Run at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo., in 2013 and tied by Wildfire at Bråviken bay, Norrköping, Sweden, in 2016.

Wildfire is also tied with T Express at Everland in Yongin, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea, for the tallest wooden roller coaster at 183.8 feet. Goliath at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Ill., holds the record for longest wooden rollercoaster drop, 180 feet, set in 2014. Lightning Rod at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., built in 2016, is the fastest wooden roller coaster, 73 mph. The Beast, built in 1979 at Kings Island in Mason, Ohio, is the longest, 7,359 feet.

Shuttle roller coasters, which run back and forth instead of making a complete circuit, have not developed as rapidly in recent years. The tallest, 415-foot-tall Superman: Escape from Krypton, was built at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, Calif., and the fastest, 100-mph Tower of Terror at Dreamworld in Gold Coast, Australia, were both built in 1997. The longest, 1,480-foot-long Mr. Freeze, was built at Six Flags over Texas in Arlington in 1998.

The oldest still-operating rollercoaster is Leap-The-Dips, built at Lakemont Park in Altoona, Pa., in 1902. Other individual records for different styles of rollercoaster include:

  • Stand-Up – The Riddler’s Revenge at Six Flags Magic Mountain is the tallest, fastest, and longest (156-feet tall, 146-foot drop, 65 mph top speed, 4,370 feet long).
  • Inverted – Alpengeist at Busch Gardens Williamsburg is the tallest and fastest and has the largest drop (195-feet tall, 170-foot drop, 67 mph top speed), but the longest is Banshee at Kings Island (4,124 feet).
  • Flying – Tatsu at Six Flags Magic Mountain is the tallest, fastest, and longest (170 feet high, 62 mph top speed, 3,602 feet long).
  • Floorless – Superman Krypton Coaster at Six Flags Fiesta Texas has the largest drop (168-feet) and is the fastest (70 mph). Dominator at King’s Dominion is the tallest (161 feet) and longest (4,210-feet long).
  • Largest Arrow Mega-Looper – Viper at Six Flags Magic Mountain is the tallest and has the most inversions (188 feet tall, 7 inversions).

Ride the Cliffhanger Roller Coaster at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park and learn more about our other scream-worthy thrill rides at www.glenwoodcaverns.com.