Top Thrill Dragster

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(CC) Image: Christina Bella
The back-end of Top Thrill Dragster, including the Top Hat

Top Thrill Dragster is a steel roller coaster, located at Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio. It is one of the world's tallest and fastest roller coasters, with a total height of 420 feet, and a hydraulic launch system that launches riders from zero to 120 MPH in 4 seconds.[1] It was built by manufacturer Intamin AG of Switzerland, with a total cost of $25 Million. Top Thrill Dragster debuted to the public on May 4, 2003, breaking the following records:

  • World's Tallest Roller Coaster: (420 Feet)
  • World's Fastest Roller Coaster: (120 MPH)[2]

These records have since been surpassed, but Top Thrill Dragster is still one of the most intense roller coasters in the world, and a marvel of modern engineering science. Since debuting in 2003, it has hosted a total ridership of over 5.7 million, including 1.2 million in the 2008 season.[3] In 2009, Top Thrill Dragster was rated the 10th best steel roller coaster in the world by amusement park enthusiasts, in Amusement Today's Golden Ticket Awards. [4]

Ride Experience

The entire ride is themed towards the experience of racing a Top Fuel Dragster. Riders board a train that resembles a real Dragster, and the train moves into a starting line position. A board of multi-colored lights, similar to a "Christmas Tree" board seen in drag racing, signal to the riders when the ride is beginning, with a series of yellow lights flashing, and then a row of green lights, signaling go for the launch. As soon as the green lights flash, the train is launched rapidly forward, and then up a 420 feet climb at 90 degrees, all while reaching a speed of approximately 120 MPH in four seconds. Near top of the climb, the track rotates 90 degrees, and the train ascends the top hat. After clearing the top hat, the track then does a 270-degree twist, and the train free-falls over 400 feet, at mostly a 90-degree angle, ultimately returning to the station and exit platform. The ride, from launch to end, lasts approximately 17 seconds.

Rollbacks

Occasionally, a Top Thrill Dragster train will have a "rollback", meaning a launched train fails to make it up the climb and over the top hat. When a rollback occurs, magnetic brakes on the track slow the backwards moving train, and eventually stop it altogether well before it reaches the station, averting what otherwise would be a possible disaster.

References

  1. Top Thrill Dragster on Roller Coaster Database
  2. UltimateRollercoaster.com Top Thrill Dragster Facts
  3. Cedarpoint.com Top Thrill Dragster Page
  4. CoasterGrotto.com 2009 Golden Ticket Awards