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The first thing you may feel when you look at a roller coaster is sheer wonder, then maybe a little fear, but ultimately your curiosity will compel you to conquer your fear, take the plunge and ride the rails. It seems like these high-tech marvels have always existed but they had a very humble beginning nearly 400 years ago.

History of roller coasters 

The original roller coaster began as ice slides at Russian fairs in the 1600’s. They stood 70′ to 80′ feet igh and were held together with wooden frames. These ice slides had a series of bumps at the end to make them more thrilling. As time went by these rides became more imaginative and exciting. Paris, Britain, Italy, Japan and the USA have all created different types of roller coaster rides and have contributed to all the advancements seen through the years. In 1884 the first roller coaster specifically designed for an amusement park opened in New York City at the Coney Island pier. It was also the first time people paid to ride a roller coaster.

Types of roller coasters

There are many different types of roller coasters made of wood or steel. They can be inverted, spinning, and floorless, flying, corkscrewed or heart-lined. They can be chain-lifted, powered or launched. The Silver Bullet in Knott’s Berry farm features 6 inversions which include a vertical loop, a cobra roll, zero –g roll and two wingovers before the final helix. The Green Lantern in Six Flags New Jersey is a stand-up ride unlike the newly debuted Green Lantern in Los Angeles’ Magic Mountain which is a spinning saw ride that lasts only minutes but has a real terror factor. These scream machines use gravity and energy in different ways to thrill riders to great heights of exhilaration. You can sit, stand and be suspended below the rails or spin above them. Three of the major coasters here in Las Vegas are steel, launched and listed within the top 100 for speed or length of ride.

Why do we ride ‘em?

Some people, like the members of the American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE), ride coasters to promote appreciation and preservation of these iconic rides. There have been times in history that coasters have been closed or “retired” due to low ridership. These intense fans generate interest and increase ridership. Many clubs and members rate how sensational, fear-inducing and heart pounding individual roller coasters are and post these listings on websites that offer advice and critiques on various rides and parks worldwide. What we’ve found researching this subject is maybe people just like the excitement of being scared.

Safety first

Roller coasters use some of the most sophisticated technology available. Computers, sensors and brakes all work together to keep people safe. There are also seat belts, lap or shoulder bars and padding to prevent people from getting injuries. The best way to be a safe rider is to be a conscientious, alert guest who is aware of, and follows, safety warnings and instructions.

Our experience

We found the ”Desperado” at Buffalo Bill’s in Primm Valley an exciting one-time ride. It was fast, shaky and felt like you could fall out at any moment because of several zero- g zones, but you don’t! We definitely recommend this ride to more experienced riders. When it first opened, in 1996, the Desperado had the official blessing of the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s tallest, fastest, and steepest roller coaster. The Desperado clocks in at speeds up to 90 mph. The loading station is inside Buffalo Bill’s casino and the electric-yellow steel track winds around and through the western themed casino. Nervous riders waiting in line can see and hear the bustling sounds of the casino prior to being whisked through the roof for a hair-raising journey.

When we went to the Adventure Dome at Circus Circus Casino Hotel we loved the theme park and our all-day wristbands. With the wristband we had unlimited access to all rides within the park. We rode the Canyon Blaster which loops overhead with its corkscrew loop and 90’ climb. We found this coaster very fun and wanted to ride it again and again, we recommend this ride for all. The roller coaster at New York, New York Casino Hotel snakes across the property beginning from within the casino through the arcade. The line was much longer than the others, so we were hoping it would be even more exciting than the last two rollercoasters. It did not disappoint! These 203’ foot climbs and 144’ foot dives and corkscrews put your heart in your throat, which is the signature of a “heart line” roller coaster. Negative g-forces gives the rider a sense of weightlessness, like flying barrel rolls in a jet fighter, so keep this in mind if you decide to snack prior to the ride. The sight of this roller coaster careening over the Brooklyn Bridge and around their Lady Liberty is outstanding! We were so excited we rushed to ride it again regardless of the longer lines. We experienced our original fears, nervousness, and anxiety become exhilaration, excitement and ultimately great satisfaction and happiness. After riding this coaster we’ve exited the ranks of mere coaster rider to a true roller coaster aficionado!

Whether you’re local or visiting, these thrill rides are affordable and fun. Though the scariest rides may seem overwhelming you can definitely overcome your fears if you stay positive and enjoy the ride. Experience them with friends or family because this is an adventure for all.