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A steel roller coaster is a roller coaster that is defined by having a track made of steel. Steel coasters have earned immense popularity in the past 50 years throughout the world. Incorporating tubular steel track and polyurethane-coated wheels, the steel roller coasters can provide a taller, smoother, and faster ride with more inversions than a traditional wooden roller coaster.
Arrow Dynamics first introduced the steel roller coaster to feature tubular track to the thrill industry with their creations of the Matterhorn Bobsleds (Disneyland) in 1959 and the Runaway Mine Train (Six Flags Over Texas) in 1966.
As of 2006, the oldest operating steel roller coaster in North America is Little Dipper at Memphis Kiddie Park in Brooklyn, Ohio and has been operating since April 1952. The oldest operating steel rollercoaster in the world is Montaña Suiza at Parque de Atracciones Monte Igueldo (Spain). It has been operating since 1928.
There are different types of steel coasters, such as flying, inverted, floorless, and suspended.
A wooden roller coaster is a type of roller coaster classified by its wooden track, which consists of running rails made of flattened steel strips mounted on laminated wood. The support structure is also typically made of wood, but may also be made of steel lattice or truss, which has no bearing on a wooden coaster's classification. The type of wood often selected in the construction of wooden coasters worldwide is southern yellow pine, which grows abundantly in the southern United States, due to its density and adherence to different forms of pressure treatment.
A roller coaster inversion is a roller coaster element in which the track turns riders upside-down and then returns them an upright position. Early forms of inversions, dating as far back as 1848 on the Centrifugal Railway in Paris, were vertical loops that were circular in nature. They produced massive g-force that was often dangerous to riders, and as a result, the element eventually became non-existent with the last rides to feature the looping inversions being dismantled during the Great Depression. In 1975, designers from Arrow Development created the corkscrew, reviving interest in the inversion during the modern age of steel roller coasters. Since then, the elements have evolved from simple corkscrews and vertical loops to more complex inversions such as Immelmann loops and cobra rolls. Featuring fourteen inversions, The Smiler at Alton Towers holds the world record for the number of inversions on a roller coaster.
Bolliger & Mabillard, officially Bolliger & Mabillard Consulting Engineers, Inc. and often abbreviated B&M, is a roller coaster design consultancy based in Monthey, Switzerland. The company was founded in 1988 by Walter Bolliger and Claude Mabillard, both of whom had worked for Giovanola.
Millennium Force is a steel roller coaster located at Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio. Manufactured by Intamin, it was the park's fourteenth roller coaster when it opened in 2000, dating back to the opening of Blue Streak in 1964. Upon completion, Millennium Force broke six world records and was the world's first giga coaster, a term coined by Intamin and Cedar Point to represent roller coasters that exceed 300 feet (91 m) in height and complete a full circuit. It was briefly the tallest and fastest in the world until Steel Dragon 2000 opened later the same year. The ride is also the third-longest roller coaster in North America following The Beast at Kings Island and Fury 325 at Carowinds.
A hypercoaster is any complete-circuit roller coaster with a height measuring at least 200 feet (61 m). The term was first coined by Arrow Dynamics and Cedar Point in 1989 with the release of the world's first hypercoaster, Magnum XL-200. It was followed by Pepsi Max Big One five years later featuring a height of 213 feet (65 m). Other roller coaster manufacturers developed models with custom names, including Mega Coasters from Intamin, Hyper Coasters from Bolliger & Mabillard, and Hyper-Hybrid Coasters from Rocky Mountain Construction. The competition between amusement parks to build increasingly taller roller coasters eventually led to giga coasters, which exceed 300 feet (91 m), and strata coasters, which exceed 400 feet (120 m).
Superman: Escape from Krypton is a steel shuttle roller coaster located at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California. When it opened in 1997, it was the tallest roller coaster in the world, and its speed of 100 mph (160 km/h) was tied for the fastest with Tower of Terror II, a similar roller coaster which opened two months earlier at Dreamworld in Australia. These two coasters were the first to utilize Linear Synchronous Motor (LSM) technology to propel vehicles to top speed. As of November 3, 2019, it is the only reverse freefall coaster left in operation after the closure of Tower of Terror II.
Green Lantern, formerly known as Chang, is a stand-up roller coaster located at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson Township, New Jersey. Green Lantern stands 155 feet (47 m) tall and features a top speed of 63 miles per hour (101 km/h). The 4,155-foot-long (1,266 m) ride features five inversions and a duration of approximately 21⁄2 minutes. This steel coaster was designed and built by Swiss manufacturer Bolliger & Mabillard.
The Riddler's Revenge is a stand-up roller coaster located at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard, the ride opened as the park's eleventh roller coaster on April 4, 1998, setting multiple world records among stand-up coasters. Originally located in the Movie District section of the park, which later became Metropolis in 2017, The Riddler's Revenge was also the park's single biggest investment at a cost of $14 million. It features a height of 156 feet (48 m), a maximum speed of 65 mph (105 km/h), six inversions, and a track length of 4,370 feet (1,330 m).
El Toro is a wooden roller coaster located at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson Township, New Jersey. Designed by Werner Stengel and manufactured by Intamin, the ride opened to the public on June 11, 2006. Intamin subcontracted Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC) to build the ride, and the coaster's track was prefabricated, allowing for quicker installation and lower construction costs. El Toro is the main attraction of the Mexican-themed section of the park, Plaza Del Carnaval. It replaced another roller coaster, Viper, which closed following the 2004 season.
A 4th Dimension roller coaster is a type of steel roller coaster whereby riders are rotated independently of the orientation of the track, generally about a horizontal axis that is perpendicular to the track. The cars do not necessarily need to be fixed to an angle.
Steel Vengeance, formerly known as Mean Streak, is a steel roller coaster at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. The roller coaster was rebuilt by Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC) and opened to the public on May 5, 2018. It features RMC's patented I-Box Track technology utilizing a significant portion of Mean Streak's former support structure. Upon completion, Steel Vengeance set 10 world records.
A Giant Inverted Boomerang is a type of steel shuttle roller coaster manufactured by the Dutch firm Vekoma. The ride is a larger, inverted version of Vekoma's popular Boomerang sit down roller coasters. As of August 2021, five installations of the model are operating, with another one under construction.
Volcano: The Blast Coaster, or simply Volcano, was an inverted roller coaster located at Kings Dominion in Doswell, Virginia. Designed by Werner Stengel, it was the first launched roller coaster manufactured by Intamin and the first of its kind in the world to be inverted. Its launch mechanism was based on linear induction motor (LIM) technology. After a series of delays, Volcano officially opened to the public on August 3, 1998. The ride's soft opening was held two days earlier on August 1. A portion of the ride was enclosed inside a man-made volcano, which previously housed other attractions and was constructed in 1979. Volcano's final year of operation was in 2018, and in the off-season that followed, Kings Dominion made the sudden decision to retire the roller coaster.
Roller coaster elements are the individual parts of roller coaster design and operation, such as a track, hill, loop, or turn. Variations in normal track movement that add thrill or excitement to the ride are often called "thrill elements".
Roller coaster amusement rides have origins back to ice slides constructed in 18th-century Russia. Early technology featured sleds or wheeled carts that were sent down hills of snow reinforced by wooden supports. The technology evolved in the 19th century to feature railroad track using wheeled cars that were securely locked to the track. Newer innovations emerged in the early 20th century with side friction and underfriction technologies to allow for greater speeds and sharper turns. By the mid-to-late 20th century, these elements intensified with the introduction of steel roller coaster designs and the ability to invert riders.
Wing Coaster is engineering firm Bolliger & Mabillard’s designation for its winged roller coaster designs. Winged roller coasters are a type of steel roller coaster where pairs of riders sit on either side of a roller coaster track in which nothing is above or below the riders. B&M began development on the first Wing Coaster between 2007 and 2008 leading to the opening of Raptor at Gardaland on 1 April 2011. There are currently sixteen B&M-designed Wing Coasters either under construction or operating worldwide as of December 2020.
Banshee is an inverted roller coaster located at Kings Island amusement park in Mason, Ohio. Designed and built by Bolliger & Mabillard, it was the biggest investment in park history at the time, costing $24 million to construct. With 4,124 feet (1,257 m) of track, Banshee opened to the public on April 18, 2014, as the longest inverted roller coaster in the world. The ride also became the third fastest inverted coaster at 68 miles per hour (109 km/h), matched by Steel Venom at Valleyfair in Shakopee, Minnesota. It was also well-received, ranking every year in the top 50 of Amusement Today's Golden Ticket Awards since its opening.
Goliath is a wooden roller coaster located at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois. Manufactured by Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC) and designed by Alan Schilke, the roller coaster features RMC's Topper Track design and opened to the public on June 19, 2014. Goliath initially set three world records among wooden coasters, having the longest drop at 180 feet (55 m), the steepest angle of 85 degrees, and the fastest speed of 72 mph (116 km/h). It still holds the record for the longest drop. In addition, the ride also features two inversions and a maximum descent that reaches 15 feet (4.6 m) below ground level.
The Flying Coaster is a model line from Bolliger & Mabillard. It has produced 10 models in 18 years of production, one of the more average selling models in the company.