|Artist's rendering of Skyplex Skyscraper Roller Coaster|
Those Kennywood Park roller coasters were not without incident in those days, either. Dozens of people died on those wooden coasters when they derailed - something that made them all the more enticing for me back in the day.
Nowadays, the smooth rolling all-metal roller coasters have wrap-around wheels that make roller coaster accidents a thing of the past. Really, the only way a coaster can come off the tracks now is if the track, itself, fails. So, as terrifying as they may seem, few amusement park rides are as safe as a roller coaster.
I've ridden a lot of roller coasters through the years at parks like Magic Mountain, Six Flags, Hershey Park, Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Tampa, and, of course, all of the coasters at the Orlando Disney, Universal and Sea World parks. It's tough to pick a favorite, but I'd say that The Incredible Hulk and Rockin' Roller Coaster are near the top of the list, for different reasons.
There's a new roller coaster coming to town, though, and for the first time ever, it looks like something that I might be a little fearful of riding. The Skyscraper, set to debut in the hub of the tourist district in Orlando in the new I-Drive Skyplex complex, is pretty intimidating for a number of reasons.
First, it's R E A L L Y tall! At 570 feet tall, the Skyscraper will be the world's tallest roller coaster by a long shot. Currently, the tallest roller coaster in the world is Colossos at Heide Park in Germany and it is only 197 feet tall. Folks who are too chicken to ride this beast will have the opportunity to take the 55 story glass elevator to the top observation deck and look down on Orlando in all her glory. At night, I'm sure you'll be able to see fireworks exploding all around as the various theme parks put on their end of the day spectaculars.
Then, there is the length of the ride. At three minutes, there are certainly longer duration coasters in other parts of the world - especially wooden ones - but a ride on the Skyplex Skyscraper will be more than a half minute longer than any roller coaster in the Orlando area.
What my nerves are having a little problem dealing with is this roller coaster's speed. It's not the 65 MPH top speed that has me grimacing; there are plenty of coasters doing that or something near that speed and I drive at least that fast on my way to work. The problem I am having is the very slow speed that the roller coaster is moving when it turns riders sideways and upside down as it circles around the towering structure. My mind tells me that centrifugal force cannot possibly hold riders in place before gravity takes over!
See for yourself the animated video that depicts the Skyscraper ride and maybe you'll agree with me!
Florida Travel Sleuth Quote of the Day: "Worry is like a roller coaster ride that you think will take you somewhere, but it never does." - Shannon L. Alder