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The World's Steepest Roller Coasters

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The World's Steepest Roller Coasters. Honorable Mention: Many - 90 Degrees
The World's Steepest Roller Coasters

SheKra at Busch Gardens Tampa

© Arthur Levine, 2008. Licensed to About.com.
I'm not quite sure that I completely understand the appeal of the world's steepest roller coasters. Other features, such as the world's fastest coasters or the world's tallest coasters make perfect sense. What thrill-seekers wouldn't want to tackle insane speeds or extreme heights, attributes that are intrinsic to the venerable rides? But coasters with drops that are beyond 90 degrees? What's the point?

After all, roller coasters with inversions such as loops or corkscrews have been sending riders careening head over heels into full 180-degree acrobatic maneuvers for years. Still, there's something wild about cresting a coaster hill and not being able to see the bottom of the steeper-than-freefall drop. And it can be weird and wonderful to experience the drop with the front of the train angling inward as it barrels down the hill.

Also, steep coasters give parks great marketing hooks. In addition to features such as speed, height, track length, track layout, and launch mechanism, parks can hype their coasters' crazy angles of descent.

So which coasters are the steepest? (And by "steepest," I am referring to the angle of descent of the rides' primary drops.) Let's begin by looking at a couple of coasters that fall a "mere" 90 degrees -- that's straight down, folks. There are dozens of rides with 90-degree drops; these are two randomly chosen examples. Then, let's count down in reverse order to the steepest roller coasters.

Honorable Mention: SheiKra- 90 degrees

  • Busch Gardens Tampa, Tampa Bay, Florida
  • Floorless diving coaster
  • Top speed: 70 mph
  • Drop: 200 feet

North America's first diving coaster, SheiKra takes riders to the precipice in a single 24-passenger, precariously open car, dangles them for a few heart-skipping seconds, then drops them straight down a 200-foot hill. And that's only the beginning of this wild ride.

Read a review of SheiKra.

More Busch Gardens Tampa Info:

Honorable Mention: Kingda Ka- 90 degrees

  • Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, New Jersey
  • Hydraulic launch rocket coaster
  • Height: 456 feet (world's tallest in 2006)
  • Top speed: 128 mph (world's fastest in 2006)

It's 90 degrees straight up and 90 degrees down Kingda Ka's 456-foot, you-have-to-be-kidding-me, top hat tower. If that's not insane enough for you, the coaster reaches 128 mph both during its launch toward the tower and as it scales down the other side of the tower.

Read a review of Kingda Ka.

More Kingda Ka Info:

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