this April, a new roller coaster will be unveiled for the 2005 season at Six Flags
Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey. Kingda Ka, the king of coasters, will
break all existing world records for both speed and height.
Kingda Ka shoots riders from the station at 128 mph in only 3.5 seconds. Park
goers are then propelled into the air at a 90 degree angle on a massive vertical
tower. At its top height, Kingda Ka will reach 456 feet (over 45 stories). Once
riders reach the 456 foot peak, they will descend 418 feet into a 270 degree spiral,
then soar over a 129 foot hill and return back to the station.
The roller coaster, designed by Intamin, is operated by a hydraulic launch motor.
The first coaster to use this kind of motor was the Xcelerator at Knott's Berry
Farm, located in California, in 2002.
Top Thrill Dragster, the previous record-holder for highest and fastest, was the
second hydraulic launch coaster built. It is located in Cedar Point Amusement
Park in Ohio. Kingda Ka is 36 feet taller, eight miles faster, and a half second
quicker than the Top Thrill Dragster.
After riding in the front seat of Top Thrill Dragster, Eric Gieszl, the editor
of UltimateRollerCoaster.com said, "I remember feeling my skin pull back from
my face. I haven't felt that since I went sky diving, and certainly never before
on a roller coaster."
Kingda Ka is similar to Top Thrill Dragster, a coaster that "rivals skyscrapers
in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles," Gieszl said. Gieszl, a 32-year-old
from Los Angeles, California, has ridden over 230 roller coasters.
Kingda Ka will join Great Adventure's two newest coasters, Nitro and Superman:
Ultimate Flight, adding to a growing lineup of thrill rides at the park
Superman, which opened in 2003, uses a traditional chain lift and gravity to accelerate
the train. Riders are put in a "flying" position before sendoff and the ride lasts
for three minutes.
Nitro, which opened in 2001, uses the same lift as Superman, and is only half
the size of Kingda Ka. However, it lasts for nearly four minutes. Kingda Ka lasts
only a few dozen seconds.
Kingda Ka is a shorter ride than other coasters, Gieszl does not think that riders
will be disappointed.
"If it were only ten seconds long, people would still line up," he said. "It will
be 50 seconds that few will forget."
Gieszl also does not believe that anyone will complain when they step off the
"I expect to see trains full of cheering riders," he said.
Kingda Ka is only the fourth hydraulic launch coaster to be built. There are only
six hydraulic launch coasters worldwide, including four that are opening this
Most rides open without any problems and Six Flags Great Adventure has the advantage
of being the fourth park to build a hydraulic launch coaster. Intamin is the same
company that built the Top Thrill Dragster, so any known problems should have
been fixed before building Kingda Ka. Although there may be mechanical problems,
they would not be safety-related. The engineers that design these rides are experts,
One known problem with hydraulic launch coasters occurred on Top Thrill Dragster
last summer. Accounts allege that a cable broke during the ride, sending shards
of metal into four riders. Two of the riders sued for damages.
Opening day at Six Flags Great Adventure was March 25. Barring any major problems,
Kingda Ka is expected to open in late April.
here to take a virtual ride on Kingda Ka
Christine Barron is a junior Professional Writing/Journalism major at TCNJ and
has been working for the State of NJ Division of Animal Health as a part-time
secretary for the past three years. She also substitute teaches within the Hamilton
Township School District and hopes to write for a magazine upon graduation.