Drop towers have been a mainstay of theme parks' attraction line-ups for many years. Increasingly, manufacturers are pushing the boundaries of what is possible with such rides.
The last few years have seen a gravity-defying race to install taller and taller drop towers, resulting in the 400-foot barrier being broken. But it's not all about height: other innovations also promise to revolutionize the drop tower experience.
Let's take a look at 6 of the most extreme examples of this classic attraction.
6. Giant Drop (Dreamworld, Australia)
The Dreamworld Tower, which lends the enormous Tower of Terror II roller coaster its name, also hosts this enormous Intamin Giant Drop ride. The attraction held the title of "world's tallest drop tower" for some 14 years after opening in 1998.
Riders board one of two 8-seater gondolas, before being lifted to the top of the 390-foot structure. They then plummet at speeds of up to 84 miles per hour back to the ground below.
5. Hurakan Condor (PortAventura, Spain)
Hurakan Condor was one of a series of new additions to PortAventura following its takeover by Caixabank. The ride is an Intamin Giant Drop, and was the tallest drop tower in Europe when it opened at a staggering 330 feet.
The attraction is themed around an Aztec temple, and offers multiple, distinct experiences. There are 5 different sides to the tower, offering a choice for riders of sitting down, sitting in tilting seats or even standing.
4. Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom (Six Flags Magic Mountain, California)
Lex Luthor is one of Superman’s leading "bad guys", and it truly would take an evil genius to dream up a ride like Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom. Standing at a ridiculous 415 feet tall, this drop tower is attached to the side of the Superman: Escape from Krypton roller coaster, enabling the two enemies to do battle. It stole the record of "world's tallest drop tower" from Dreamworld's Giant Drop in 2012.
It'll take you some 95 seconds to be dragged to the top of the tower, giving you plenty of time to take in one of the most amazing views on offer from any theme park ride in the world. You’ll probably be a bit preoccupied, though, thinking about the extraordinary 400-foot drop that is to follow, which will see you hit a top speed of an incredible 85 miles per hour. Don’t eat lunch before riding this one!
3. Falcon's Fury (Busch Gardens Tampa, Florida)
Falcon's Fury, the new drop tower at Busch Gardens Tampa, will break two records when it makes its debut in 2014. It will become the tallest freestanding drop tower in North America, standing at 335-feet-tall. Riders will plummet towards the ground at 60 miles per hour.
The ride's chief gimmick, though, will be that it twists guests by 90 degrees so that they are facing directly downwards before they freefall down to the bottom - making it the world's first "face-down" drop tower.
2. Big Shot (Stratosphere Tower, Las Vegas)
At 160-feet-tall, the Big Shot is a fairly unremarkable drop tower. What transforms it into an extraordinary one, though, is its location. It sit atop the the Stratosphere Tower, which itself is 921-feet-tall. You'll get incredible views of the Las Vegas Strip from here, but you may be too terrified to enjoy them.
1. Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom (Six Flags Great Adventure, New Jersey)
Six Flags Great Adventure is no stranger to world records, billing itself as "the world's largest theme park" and hosting the tallest roller coaster on the planet, Kingda Ka.
In 2014, it plans to break the record for the world's tallest drop tower, with the introduction of Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom. Mounted to Kingda Ka's tower, the attraction will lift riders some 415 feet in the air, before sending them plummeting back towards the ground below at 90 miles per hour.