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Las Vegas Roller Coasters

Let it Ride in Sin City


Las Vegas is known for many things: gambling, showgirls, outrageous buffets, and naughty behavior, to name just a few. It is less known for its roller coasters, but there are a few, and they do complement the city's "adult playground" reputation.

There used to be a few more thrill machines along the famed Strip. The MGM Grand, for example, used to feature the Lightning Bolt, an indoor coaster, at its MGM Grand Adventures theme park, which closed in 2000, a mere seven years after it opened. The Sahara offered Speed- The Ride, a launched NASCAR-themed ride that began inside the casino and barreled through its famed neon sign. It closed in 2011 along with the hotel-casino.

In the 1990s, Vegas flirted with theme parks as it attempted to tweak its image and attract more of a family audience. Visitors weren't really looking for Disney World plus gambling, and the city more or less abandoned its outreach to underage guests. (Although the lavishly themed casino-hotels are as whimsical and immersive as any park.) Some coasters remain, however, from the family-friendly era.

The Roller Coaster at New York-New York Hotel & Casino

© Arthur Levine. Licensed to About.com.
It sure looks stunning as it snakes and pirouettes through the Manhattan landmarks along the Strip in front of the casino. But The Roller Coaster (which used to be known as the Manhattan Express) is more of a stun to the system than an enjoyable coaster experience. It is among the lowest ranked coasters I ever had the displeasure to review. Not only that, it costs a small fortune to ride. This is one Vegas bet you probably wouldn't want to take.

Canyon Blaster

© Jeremy Levine, 2004. Licensed to About.com.
You can't see the Canyon Blaster blasting along the Strip, but you can see the garish pink-domed building that houses the Adventuredome indoor theme park at Circus Circus. Its featured attraction is the coaster. No park fan would ever list it among his or her favorite rides, but it offers decent thrills, especially for an indoor attraction. Its features include a double corkscrew and two loops. You might want to secure your casino chips before you submit yourself to the coaster's inversions.

Desperado at Buffalo Bill's Casino-Resort

© Arthur Levine. Licensed to About.com.
OK, Desperado is not technically in Las Vegas. It is about an hour away at the California-Nevada state line on the highway that connects Southern California to the gambling hotspot. One of the first hypercoasters, the monstrous ride clocks in at an unnerving 80 mph and, when it is running well (which unfortunately is not all the time), its airtime can be a joy.

Stratosphere Tower Thrill Rides

© Jeremy Levine. Licensed to About.com.
There isn't a roller coaster on top of the 900-foot Stratosphere Tower. But there used to be. Read my review of the High Roller (you gotta love the name, right?). The Strat removed the relatively wimpy coaster (relative in that the coaster itself was quite tame, but it was on top of a 900-foot tower) in 2006 and replaced with even more insane thrill rides -- one of which is aptly named Insanity.
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