For my 46th birthday, my husband surprised me with a visit to Cedar Point, the “Rollercoaster Capital of the World,” in Sandusky, OH. We spent four action-packed days riding some of the most celebrated and extreme roller coasters on the planet.
From the Blue Streak wooden coaster that dates back to 1964 to the tallest, fastest and longest dive coaster, Valravn, that opened last year, we did them all. Some, more than once!
One of them was the most extreme ride I’ve ever experienced… Top Thrill Dragster. As soon as you enter the park you see the behemoth towering over everything else with its bright red track and yellow supports soaring 420 feet in the air.
You can’t help but stand near the ride and look up as riders are hurled 400 feet in the sky. In the blink of an eye, the train shoots out of the station at 120 miles (in just 3.8 seconds, by the way) and goes 90-degrees straight up. When the train reaches the top, it comes down just as fast – 90-degrees straight down.
The ride only lasts 17 seconds, but it’s 17 seconds you’ll never forget.
It took a lot of courage to get me on this one, let me tell you. I stood watching train after train before taking the plunge and getting in line to experience it myself.
I’ll be honest when I say there was a brief moment after getting strapped in where I wanted to raise my hand and beg the ride attendant to let me off.
As the sweat poured off me and my hands were soaked, I looked over to my husband and said, “there’s no turning back now.” As we lined up ready to take-off, I clenched my teeth waiting for the green light to flash before the insane launch.
All of a sudden it happened! There simply isn’t any way to describe the feeling you get as you soar down that track at 120 mph and go straight up into the air. When we reached the very top, I held my breath hoping that the train had enough momentum to make it over the crest and we don’t roll back. (Yes, rollbacks happen, and we witnessed one during our trip, but it didn’t happen when we rode it.)
There simply isn’t any way to describe the feeling you get as you soar down that track at 120 mph and go straight up into the air. When we reached the very top, I held my breath hoping that the train had enough momentum to make it over the crest and we don’t roll back. (Yes, rollbacks happen, and we witnessed one during our trip, but it didn’t happen when we rode it.)
Once back on the ground, I turned to Kirby and said, “holy shit!” My hands were shaking, I was soaked with sweat, but we did it! And we did it two more times during our time at Cedar Point.
Check out this video I took from the side lines:
Top Thrill Dragster opened in 2003 and cost $25M to build. It was the 16th coaster built at the park and by far the most extreme. Up until Six Flags Great Adventure opened their own version, Kingda Ka, in 2005, Top Thrill Dragster was the tallest roller coaster in the world. Kingda Ka is 453 feet as compared to Top Thrill’s 420.
There are only two of these strata-coasters in existence, so unless you’re going to Cedar Point or Great Adventure, you’re not going to experience anything like them anywhere else… so if you’re up for the thrill of a lifetime, plan your trip now!
Check out this video from YouTube that someone managed to shoot while on the ride: