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Las Vegas Roller Coasters
& Thrill Rides

Some of the best thrill rides and roller coasters in the world are in the Vegas area. In fact, almost all of these rides are at local hotels. Here's a rundown of roller coasters in Las Vegas.


Stratosphere Hotel & Casino

The Stratosphere hotel/casino towers over 1,000 feet high and features four rides on the very top, all of them terrifying.

Ride

How Scary
SkyJump
10+

Insanity

9

Big Shot

8

X Scream

6

SkyJump.  Man, the rides on top of the Stratosphere just keep getting scarier and scarier.  First they put a roller coaster on top, which was the highest roller coaster in the world.  Then they put up the Big Shot, which accelerates you straight up as the whole world seems to disappear below you.  Then they built a ride that put you over the edge.  Then they built another ride which put you over the edge, but that one actually points you towards the ground and dangles you.  How were they gonna top that?

Well, they did.  The newest ride has you jumping off the tower, "skydiving" 108 stories to the ground.  God.  Damn!  There's no parachute, you travel along zip lines which have a braking system.  The only downside is the price -- $100 per jump.  (If that's out of your budget then Insanity (below) will give you almost as good a scare for only $12.)  SkyJump has its own website. I'll tip off parents with thrill-seeking kids that the minimum age is 14, because typical of the Stratosphere, their website does a pretty good job of making useful info like that near-impossible to find.

The picture at right (which I took from a YouTube video) shows how the launch works.  You walk to the edge of a short platform, hold the bar on each side of you, lean forward, and then just let go.  So you don't actually "jump", but whatever, close enough.

Insanity.  This is a spinning ride that dangles you over the edge.  Actually, it's worse than that, because as it spins your seat is lifted backward so you're staring right down at the ground.  It's exactly as terrifying as it sounds.  The first two times I went to the top to try it I chickened out.  I was able to do it only on my third trip.  You can hear the screams from ground level, by the way. If all that doesn't give you pause, note that two riders were stuck dangling over the edge for an hour and a half when high winds caused the ride to shut itself down.  Anyway, if you want to be scared, this is your ticket.  I'll help parents with adventurous tykes by noting that the minimum height for this ride is 52", since typically the Stratosphere doesn't bother to put that info on their own website.  This ride opened on March 10, 2005.

X Scream. This one is a see-saw thingie that dangles you over the edge. It doesn't go as far over the edge as Insanity, and you definitely feel more enclosed and grounded, and it's not nearly as terrifying, as long as you're not sitting up front.  One nice touch is that on one of the runs after your cars get to the edge of the platform, the whole arm stutters and drops the angle even more, making you think for a second that the thing broke and you're about to hurtle towards your death, ha ha. Minimum height for this ride is 52".  It opened on Halloween 2003. In Nov. 2005 six Japanese tourists were stranded on the ride for an hour and a half when the power went out. Photo from Screamscape | Article from Coaster-Net | Article from Vegas.com

Big Shot. This is the one that made the Stratosphere famous. You're strapped into a chair with your legs dangling, and then they shoot you straight up the tower's steeple, 160 feet in two seconds, at four G's. Then they freefall you so you get negative G's, then shoot you up again, etc. If this ride started at ground level it would be scary, but add to that the fact that you're a fifth of a mile from the ground and it's terrifying. As you're going up you worry that the brakes will fail and you'll go straight off the steeple and land down the strip at the Sahara. Minimum height for this ride is 48".  (Notice in the picture that you can see Insanity on the right-hand side.)

High Roller. Bye, bye, High Roller. In early 2006 the venerable High Roller was removed to make way for a new observation deck. I'm a bit nostalgic for the High Roller though. It was the very first ride built on top of the Stratosphere, doing a few circles around the top of the tower, and was surprisingly tame. It never went very fast, probably because if it did the centrifugal force would have destablized the whole tower. But it did give you an awesome view of the strip, and all of Las Vegas actually, since you went all the way around the tower a few times, and it was a good one to ride if you wanted to ride something on top of the Stratosphere but the other rides were too terrifying. Now, if you want to ride something on top of the Strat, you have no choice but to have the holy living mortal snot scared out of you. (article about the demolition)


Downtown: Fremont Flightlines


The newest ride, opening in October 2010.  Ride along a zipline right under the canopy of the Fremont Street Experience -- 800 feet at speeds up to 35mph.  Here's a review from one of the first people to ride it.  The price is $15 before 6pm, and $20 after 6pm.  Tip:  Book online or by phone, and then start at the front of the line when you get there.  A picture is worth a thousand words, so see the video at right.

 
Circus Circus

• Canyon Blaster

• Chaos

• Inverter

• Rim Runner

• Sling Shot

The Canyon Blaster is the only indoor double-loop, double-corkscrew roller coaster on the planet. It drops 90 feet and hits 55mph over a 2,000 foot long track, and lasts 1:45.

Chaos is a three-dimensional tilt-a-whirl, tilting, spinning, and flipping riders at the same time. No two rides are the same. (review at Vegas.com)

Inverter keeps you upside-down and staring at an upcoming wall of concrete for a full four seconds before turning you right-side up again. The ride is a generous two minutes during off-peak hours. (review at Vegas.com)

Rim Runner is the only indoor flume in the world, featuring a 60-foot drop which will soak you but good.

Sling Shot, the newest addition, is Circus Circus' answer to the Stratosphere's Big Shot, shooting you straight up a column at 4 G's.

As of September 2006, all rides are $7, but you can get an all-ride pass for $23. Here's the official page for the Adventuredome Theme Park, where the rides are located.


New York New York: Manhattan Express

Casino Player magazine says: "At two minutes and 45 seconds, it's easily the longest-lasting ride in Las Vegas. Top speed is 67 mph and the biggest drop is 144 feet, but what keeps everyone coming back for more is the insane 540-degree spiral, not to mention the fact that it takes place over a pretty solid replica of New York Harbor. If this ride doesn't put you in a "New York State of Mind", nothing will."

I won't ride this one again because it whips your head back and forth into the projections on the headrest. I wonder how many people get mild brain damage from this thing. (more info)


Sahara: Speed

The Sahara casino closes May 16, 2011, and its roller coaster closes along with it.  :(

R.I.P.


Buffalo Bill's: Desperado & Turbo Drop

In Primm, Nevada (40 miles south of Las Vegas on I-15), 1-800-FUN-STOP

Desperado is a VERY tall coaster. You start off with a crazy 225-foot drop down a 55-degree hill, reaching speeds of up to 80 mph. Here's more info and video of the ride.

If that's not enough, you can try the Turbo Drop, which is similar to Stratosphere's Big Shot, except that it climbs slowly and then shoots you straight down instead of straight up.



Other roller coaster resources

 

Last Update: August 2011


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Also, know that Parkinson's drugs encourage gambling.