Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Roller Coasters

Above is the Coney Island Cyclone, New York's iconic old roller coaster.  It opened in 1927 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  

Perhaps because it has been featured in many movies, the Cyclone remains popular.  It is one of those tourist spots frequented by visitors to the city.

Recently Last some riders got more excitement than they expected.  The coaster stopped mid-ride, and the passengers had to inch their way back down the wooden infrastructure.  This was the second such event this season.

Here is a video taken of the Cyclone experience, in case you are curious.

Newer Roller Coasters

As roller coasters go, the Cyclone is a tame experience.  Its maximum speed is 60 mph, its "drop" is a scant 85 feet, and its angle of descent is less than sixty degrees.

For years now, amusement parks all over the world have been involved in what seems to be a roller coaster arms race.  

The chains that pull cars up the initial ascent have been replaced by accelerator engines; at least one can move from a starting stop to 128 mph in 3.5 seconds.  Another coaster, the Formula Rossa at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi has a top speed of 149 mph.

The heights are higher.  Currently the tallest climb is on a New Jersey ride call Kingda Ka, which ascends 456 feet at a 90-degree angle and then goes right back down.  See it here.


The newer roller coasters are steel contraptions, unlike old wooden ones like the Cyclone, and are said to offer less jostling, if not less exhilarating, rides for passengers.  And they come with calculations of g-forces, which previously were discussed in the context of the fighter pilot experience. 

There is continuing talk of newer, taller and faster roller coasters with updated models released in theme parks every year.  

It takes only a quick internet search to find that there are many, many roller coaster devotees.  They seem mostly to be men who travel great distances to sample and rate roller coasters.  There are many "Best of" lists, and many knowledgable discussion participants.

For them, I'm guessing, the Coney Island Cyclone is about interesting as a merry-go-round.

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