At one time, Las Vegas boasted the tallest roller coaster in the world -- sort of. The High Roller took passengers for a ride 900 feet above the Strip. But the poky ride was perched near the top of the Stratosphere Tower and didn't actually rise or plummet more than a few feet. It was closed in 2005 and replaced with other thrill rides. If everything goes according to plan, Sin City may reclaim the tallest coaster title, but this time the thrill machine would actually begin -- and end -- at ground level and scale a 650-foot tower.
According to ABC News, U.S. Thrill Rides has applied to the Federal Aviation Administration for a permit to build its massive structure. Called the Polercoaster (some free advice for the designers: Since this is Vegas, how about adorning the tower with a giant neon pole dancer? You're welcome), the proposed ride would lift up the center of the tower (by using some kind of elevator system I would imagine) and spiral down around the outside. Wimps would also be able to get a bird's-eye view of Vegas by taking an elevator to an observation deck atop the tower.
According to concept photos, it doesn't appear that the coaster would include any especially steep drops and probably would be heavily braked to avoid excessive speeds while navigating the tight turns around the tower. U.S. Thrill Rides does indicate that the coaster would include inversions, which could be quite hairy at, say, the 500-foot level.
Getting permits and clearance rights would be next to impossible, but imagine how cool it would be to experience a true 650-foot drop followed by a series of enormous hills and wild elements on a more conventional track layout that spanned out and back along the Vegas Strip. At one time, there was a proposal to build a coaster that would have sent a trainload of passengers off the top of the 900-foot Stratosphere Tower to the ground on a track that would have crossed Las Vegas Boulevard to a property across the street.
The current record holder for the world's tallest coaster is the 456-foot Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure. You can see a video of the Polercoaster concept to get a sense of what thrills may await Vegas visitors.
Photo: U.S. Thrill Rides.