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5 Best Roller Coasters

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rollercoaster 5 Best Roller CoastersIf you fancy a wild ride, where better to get one than a roller coaster?! And when better to partake than in summer, which is synonymous with theme parks and fairs?

On “The Early Show on Saturday Morning” CBS News Travel correspondent Peter Greenberg counted down the five most spectacular roller coasters in the nation – and his personal favorite!

No. 5: Wildebeest, Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari, in Santa Claus, Ind.

This water coaster opened in May 2010. It’s the world’s longest water coaster at 1,710 feet and the world’s first ride HydroMagnetic Coaster. This means that it is powered by a combination of electric currents, water and magnets. The HydroMagnetic technology goes up seven hills and its initial drop is 38 feet or four stories at a 45 degree angle. Linear Induction Motors or LIM’s, propel the four person rafts up and down through two underground tunnels and around a helix.

The ride covers two acres, and reaches top speeds of 36 feet per second. The highest point is 64 feet above its lowest drop. It was named one of the world’s wildest water slides by Popular Mechanics, for its use of LIM’s, which are most commonly featured in steel roller coasters. The ride is accessible to those who have a hard time climbing steps, as it replaces traditional slide tower stairs with a conveyer style lift hill.

No 4: Kingda Ka, Six Flags Great Adventure, in Jackson, N.J.

This ride opened in May of 2005. Yet, it’s still on our list – which should speak to how awesome this ride is. It is 456 feet high, has a drop of 418 feet and a speed of 128 mph (in fact it goes from 0 to 128 in 3.5 seconds). This strata coaster (meaning a complete-circuit roller coaster with a height between 400 feet and 499 feet is both the fastest and the tallest in the United States.

This coaster has currently given more than 3 million rides since it opened in 2005. It’s so fast that it cannot run in even light rain or high wind. It is also fascinating to watch from the sidelines, as its dramatic drop is definitely fascinating to watch.

No 3: Diamondback, Kings Island, in Kings Mill, Ohio

This ride opened in June of 2009. It is one of the most talked about coasters in 2009. It is categorized as a “hypercoaster”. The tern hypercoaster refers to either the style of a coaster or height. The Diamondback is considered a hypercoaster because of the fact that it inverts elements and uses a lift hill rather than a speedy launch.

It is a 5,280 foot adventure travels through twists and turns of wilderness, and ends with a splash in a pool of water. It is an open air, stadium style seating coaster and that allows for unobstructed views for all riders of all the drops, twists and turns in the ride.

The Diamondback stands 230 feet tall at its highest point with a first drop of 215 feet at a 74 degree angle. This ride snakes its way around 5,282 feet of steel track and speeds up to 80 miles an hour. The ride has 10 vertical drops overall, including 193 feet, 131 feet, 129 feet, 110 feet and 106 feet with splashdown finale, completing the ride at 3 minutes.

Like the Kingda Ka, this ride has had over 3 million riders. One rider, 68 year old Gary Coleman, of Monfert Heights, Ohio has ridden the Diamondback more than 2,800 times.

No. 2: Sky Rocket, Kennywood, in West Mifflin, Pa.

This roller coaster opened in June of 2010. It is a lunch coaster (which is different from a traditional chain or cable pull, in that it launches its cars via high acceleration rates or LIM’S). It has a 95 foot vertical climb and a drop hat plummets 90 degrees south. The technology used for this coaster takes passengers from 0 to 50 in 3 seconds.

The riders get extended airtime as the train races into an inverted top hat element (In a top hat inversion, also called an inside top hat, a train approaches the top of the “hat,” it makes a 90 degree twist so that it is on the inside of the element, so that as it reaches top hat’s apex the train is upside down under the track). It then passes into a barrel roll and guest vertical again through a twist up leading to another pause. Then it’s a second vertical free gall followed by another maximum G-force pullout on the way to a highly banked fan curve. After a traditional corkscrew, a curve to a zero gravity hill, and a series of wavy turns, the riders return to the station.

The track length is 2100 feet, the maximum speed is 50 miles an hour, and the ride itself is 65 seconds.

No 1: Intimidator 305, Kings Dominion, in Doswell, Va.

This ride opened in April of 2010. It’s one of the newest of the new. IT is one of only three “giga coasters” in the world. That means it’s a complete circuit roller coaster with a height between 300 and 399 feet. (The first was 310 food tall Millennium Force at Cedar Point and the third is the 318 foot Steel Dragon 2000 at Nagashima Spa Land in Japan)

It’s the tallest of its type on the East Coast (launch coasters can be taller, but this is the tallest of the traditional gravity driven coaster using a cable to pull it to the top). It’s the fastest of its type in North America.

Its track is 5100 square feet in length. It is 305 feet high at its maximum height. The first drop is 300 feet at 85 degrees. Its fastest speed is 90 mph. And the ride time is 3 minutes.

PETER’S PERSONAL FAVORITE: Jack Rabbit, Seabreeze Amusement Park, in Rochester, N.Y.

This roller coaster was opened in 1920. It is the oldest continuously operating coaster in America. There are two older coasters, but both have been shut down for some time. When it opened it was the fastest coaster in the world.

The track layout is modified out and back. That means it goes straight out a good ways and then turns around and comes back. Just before it comes all the way back, it goes around another curve and thru a tunnel with one last drop.

It’s said that although the ride is 90 years old, the experience is actually more like it’s 9 years old. The trans have been replaced several times, the complete wood structure gets pretty much rebuilt each decade, and the old lift hill mechanism has been replaced with a modern drive system, meeting all modern standards for safety and efficiency.

The max vertical drop is 75 feet, and the speed is 42 mph. The track length is 2150 feet. Although it’s not as thrilling as today’s mega coaster, it’s considered a rite of passage for generations of families across Central NY. It’s a milestone when kids are finally tall enough to ride.

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