In 2016, Orlando, Florida will become home to the world’s tallest roller coaster – the Skyscraper. Here’s everything you need to know about this groundbreaking addition to International Drive.
Back in November 2013, an extraordinary announcement was made at the IAAPA conference. S&S Power and US Thrill Rides, two leading names in the amusement ride industry, boasted that they would soon be announcing a location in Florida for what was dubbed “the world’s tallest roller coaster”.
The ride was set to be an incredible 520 feet tall, shattering the current height record of 456 feet - held by Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure. Beyond the sheer height, the design of the attraction would also be very unusual. The coaster would wrap around a giant observation tower, making its way to the ground below via a series of sharp turns and one or two inversions. This would inspire its name: the Poler Coaster.
The plans seemed almost too “out there” to be true, particularly given that the two firms declined to discuss who their customer was and where, exactly, the new ride would be located. Many speculated that this would simply be another ambitious project that would fail to gain financial backing, and would ultimately never be heard of again.
That was until a second announcement, which came in June 2014. Joshua and David Wallack, owners of Miami’s Tropical Café club, were revealed as US Thrill Rides’ customers. The Poler Coaster, appropriately enough, will now be known as the Skyscraper. And it’s coming right to the theme park capital of the world: Orlando.
Here’s everything you need to know about this exciting, eye-catching addition to Orlando’s already-stellar attraction line-up.
10. The location
The Skyscraper will dominate a $200 million entertainment complex dubbed the SkyPlex on International Drive and Sand Lake Road. This will sit on the site of the former Fun & Wheels attraction, as well as the land where I-Drive’s Burger King currently sits, covering total of 12 acres.
9. It will be even taller than originally planned
The initially-announced 520-foot height of the proposed Florida Poler Coaster is eye-wateringly tall. Yet, at the time, the concept's inventors claimed that Poler Coasters could range from between 200 feet to a ridiculous 1000 feet in height - meaning that the Florida version would be barely half as tall as the theoretical maximum.
In reality, the Skyscraper will stand at some 568 feet tall – not quite a 1000-foot monster, but still comfortably the tallest roller coaster around. There’s still room for doubt about the precise height of the coaster, though, since it does not appear to climb right to the top of the Skyscraper structure.
8. It’ll tower over another new addition
The SkyPlex will be the second major new entertainment area to open on International Drive in as many years. In 2015, attractions giant Merlin Entertainments will open I-Drive Live, dominated by another towering structure – the Orlando Eye observation wheel. This will be accompanied by a Sea Life aquarium, a Madame Tussauds waxworks museum and a water fountain show.
We have to wonder what Merlin makes of the plans for the Skyscraper, which will stand at around around 150 feet taller than the Orlando Eye. Certainly, the skyline of Orlando is about to change dramatically.
7. It'll power its way to the top
The unique design of the Skyscraper doesn't exactly lend itself to a traditional chain lift mechanism. Nor would be easy to launch trains to the top of a 568-feet-tall track. Instead, the coaster’s trains will be powered to the top (up the red track visible in the concept artwork), before plummeting back down under the force of gravity alone (down the blue track).
6. It'll feature the world's highest inversion
At the top of the Skyscraper, the trains will circle around to allow riders to take in the view. They will then be inverted, plunging down the first drop in an upside-down position. This means that the ride will break the world records for both "tallest coaster" and "highest inversion". To allow it to navigate the sharp twists, turns and inversions that will be featured in its circuit, the coaster will use S&S Power's existing El Loco trains.