There are some truly bizarre and even questionable roller coasters throughout the world. Some are intense. Some are unique. And some are just plain wild.
Join us on this installment of WOULD YOU RIDE? We look at four coasters from around the world with unique elements to say the least. Whether it is dangling off the side of a mountain or experiencing up to 6.3G you have got to be made of strong stuff to take on one of these questionable coasters...
Our first questionable coaster comes from Cobra Amusement Park in Saudi Arabia. This coaster was designed and built by PAX. It is rumored that the coaster was built at the request of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. This coaster is similar to the traditional shuttle loop coaster you may have seen at many amusement parks around the world.
However, the shape of the towers and the strange restraint system make it unique. The restraints on this coaster look like typical over-the-shoulder restraints, but instead of laying over the shoulders and chest, they actually go around the rider allowing the rider to place their arms up and over the restraints or keep them down below the restraints. Additionally, the trains consist of two smaller trains that are connected and face one another.
For this coaster, riders are pulled up an angled first tower before plunging down and through the station, up over a small airtime hill, into two consecutive loops, and up the second tower. The train then completes the ride again in reverse. The Cobra coaster in Saudi Arabia is the only coaster of the original model still operating today. The model was redesigned by PAX and now includes a single rail track, one loop, no hill on the first tower, and modified restraints. Is this bizarre coaster one you would add to your “must ride” list?
2. Gravity Max
Gravity Max is a roller coaster located at Lihpao Land Resort’s Discovery World in Taiwan. It was manufactured by Vekoma, a manufacturer known for their boomerang shuttle coasters and suspended looping coasters (we will get into those in another installment). What makes this coaster questionable is the one-of-a-kind tilt section. When riders climb the 13-story hill, they are not greeted with the traditional drop that awaits at the top of most coasters.
Riders instead face the end of the track. Once the train has completely ascended the lift hill, a section of track tilts until it is completely vertical and connects with the rest of the track. Sitting in the front row of this coaster is nothing short of terrifying. Once the tracks connect, the train plummets down the 90-degree drop into a pitch-black tunnel before heading through the rest of the coaster. The coaster includes a 360-degree vertical loop and reaches 3.5Gs. Gravity Max is the only coaster of its kind manufactured. Is this one you will have on your bucket list or the “never-gonna-happen” list?
3. Tower of Terror
Not to be confused with Tower of Terror located at Walt Disney World, this Tower of Terror roller coaster is located at Gold Reef City in South Africa. The ride was manufactured by Gold Reef City with help of local companies. This mine-themed coaster opened in 2001 and includes a 164 ft drop and speeds of 59 mph. Doesn’t sound that intimidating, right? However, this coaster is known as the coaster with the most G forces ever. When it originally opened, riders experienced 6.3Gs on this coaster. That is more than a space shuttle launch! The ride has since undergone refurbishments that have brought that number down to about 4Gs, which is still very high.
Riders first load into minecart trains and are lifted up an elevator lift hill before descending the 90-degree hill and plunging down 50ft into a former mineshaft. The tower for the hill is actually from a former gold mine. The ride is rather short as once the train emerges from the tunnel there is a short turn before returning to the station but is breathtaking nonetheless. Would you ride this coaster to experience the high-level G forces?
4. Mountain/Alpine Coasters
If you have ever been to a mountain resort or taken a trip to the Smokey Mountains, you have probably seen a mountain or alpine coaster. These coasters make this list because of how exposed riders are. Alpine or mountain coasters feature sled-like cars which 1-2 riders sit in and are strapped in with only a seat belt. Reaching speeds of up to 35+ mph doesn’t seem that daunting, but when you are the only thing in control of stopping yourself, it can be a bit intimidating.
Fortunately, newer mountain and alpine coasters have anti-collision safety systems. If you can get past the vulnerability of riding one of these coasters, you can experience incredible views. Most of the coasters are located on mountainsides and offer some of the most breathtaking views of mountains and cliffsides. There is even a mountain coaster located on a glacier in Switzerland.
I have personally ridden a mountain coaster, and highly recommend riding at night. Thirty-Five miles per hour does not sound fast when compared to traditional coasters, but when you are flying down a mountain, alone, swerving between trees in the darkness, it is a truly wild experience. Would you give it a try?