Top Thrill Dragster

Top Thrill Dragster is a steel accelerator roller coaster located at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. Manufactured by Intamin, it was the sixteenth roller coaster to be built at the park since Blue Streak in 1964. It opened in 2003 as the tallest roller coaster in the world and the first full-circuit roller coaster to exceed 400 feet (120 m) in height. Its height record was later surpassed by Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure in 2005.[2][3] Top Thrill Dragster, along with Kingda Ka, are the only strata coasters in existence.[4] It was the second hydraulically launched roller coaster built by Intamin, following Xcelerator at Knott's Berry Farm.[5] The tagline for Top Thrill Dragster is "Race for the Sky".[6]

Top Thrill Dragster
Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point.jpg
Top Thrill Dragster launching
Cedar Point
LocationCedar Point
Coordinates41°29′2.25″N 82°41′10.38″W / 41.4839583°N 82.6862167°W / 41.4839583; -82.6862167Coordinates: 41°29′2.25″N 82°41′10.38″W / 41.4839583°N 82.6862167°W / 41.4839583; -82.6862167
StatusOperating
Soft opening dateMay 1, 2003 (2003-05-01)
Opening dateMay 4, 2003 (2003-05-04)
CostUS$25,000,000
ReplacedChaos, Troika
General statistics
TypeSteel – Launched
ManufacturerIntamin
DesignerWerner Stengel
ModelAccelerator Coaster
Lift/launch systemHydraulic Launch
Height420 ft (130 m)
Drop400 ft (120 m)
Length2,800 ft (850 m)
Speed120 mph (190 km/h)
Inversions0
Duration0:30
Max vertical angle90°
Capacity1,000 riders per hour
Acceleration0 to 120 mph (0 to 193 km/h) in 4 seconds
Height restriction52–78[1] in (132–198 cm)
Trains6 trains, with five cars. Riders are arranged 2 across in 2 rows (except for the first car), for a total of 18 riders per train.
RestraintLap bar
Fast Lane Plus only available
Top Thrill Dragster at RCDB
Pictures of Top Thrill Dragster at RCDB

HistoryEdit

Planning for Top Thrill Dragster began around the time Millennium Force opened in 2000. Concrete footers were poured during the 2001–2002 offseason and were covered prior to the 2002 operating season to keep them hidden. To construct the roller coaster, the park had to use a 480 feet (150 m) crane, one of only four in the United States. Vertical construction by Martin & Vleminckx[7] began in the fall of 2002, months before the announcement.[8] By October 2002, the roller coaster had reached 200 feet (61 m).[9] The ride was announced on January 9, 2003 and the structure, built by Intamin's subcontractor Stakotra,[10] was finished shortly after. It is tied with Millennium Force for being the two largest investments in Cedar Point history. The announcement revealed the park's goal to build "the tallest and fastest roller coaster on earth", reaching 420 feet (130 m) and accelerating up to 120 miles per hour (193 km/h) in 4 seconds.[8] On March 10, 2003, Cedar Fair Entertainment Company filed a trademark for the name "Top Thrill Dragster".[11]

Top Thrill Dragster's media day was held on May 1, 2003,[12] and it officially opened to the public several days later on May 4.[13] It became the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world, overtaking the height record from Steel Dragon 2000 at Nagashima Spa Land, built three years earlier, and the speed record from Dodonpa at Fuji-Q Highland, which opened in late 2001. It lost both records to Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure in May 2005. Intamin designed both Kingda Ka and Top Thrill Dragster, and the two share a similar design and layout that differs primarily by theme and an additional hill featured on Kingda Ka.[14]

Shortly after it opened, a faulty valve on the hydraulic system made it nonoperational during the 2003 annual enthusiasts' event, CoasterMania.[15] The ride experienced frequent downtime during the first couple of seasons. Several problems such as continued issues with the hydraulic system and launch cable caused the ride to repeatedly close. For opening weekend 2017, Cedar Point temporarily renamed the ride "Top Thrill Cubster" after losing a World Series wager to Six Flags Great America.[16]

Ride experienceEdit

LayoutEdit

 
Top Thrill Dragster's launch area with the "Christmas tree"

After leaving the station, the train enters the launch area. To the left of the launch area is a "Christmas tree" light, similar to those employed at the starting line of a drag strip. A brief message is played to the riders to: "keep arms down, head back, and hold on." Once the train is prepared to launch, a motor revving sound effect is played and its magnetic braking fins are lowered from the launch track. It then launches, accelerating to a speed of 120 mph (190 km/h) in 3.8 seconds. Shortly after reaching its maximum velocity, the catch car disengages, and the train begins its ascent up a 90-degree incline, twisting 90 degrees clockwise before climbing over the 420-foot (130 m) top hat. Upon descending, the track twists 270 degrees before leveling out, allowing the train to be stopped by the magnetic brakes.[6][13]

Station, theme, and trainsEdit

The roller coaster is themed to Top Fuel drag racing, a category of motor racing that involves the world's fastest accelerating cars. An actual Top Fuel dragster weighs approximately one ton, while each train on the coaster weighs 15 tons.[8] Originally, the design called for five cars on each train, but when the ride first opened, there were only four.[13] A fifth car was added to each by midseason.[13][17] Each dragster-themed train was also decorated with a spoiler, a set of tires, and an engine at the rear of each train, but these were removed after the fifth car was added to allow an extra row of seats to take their place.[13][17][18]

RollbacksEdit

Occasionally, a train is launched without sufficient speed to reach the top of the tower and rolls back onto the launch track, hence the term "rollback". This typically happens in cool, wet, or breezy weather, or when the wind is working against it. The launch track is equipped with retractable magnetic braking fins which are raised after each launch in order to slow the train down in case it does not reach the top of the tower.[19]

On very rare occasions, a combination of the weight distribution of the train, the force of the launch, and the wind can stall a train on the top of the tower. When this happens, a mechanic takes the elevator to the top and pushes the train down the hill.[20]

World recordsEdit

 
Side view of Top Thrill Dragster

When Top Thrill Dragster debuted, it set four new records:

  • World's tallest complete circuit roller coaster
  • World's tallest roller coaster
  • World's tallest roller coaster drop
  • World's fastest roller coaster

It became the fastest roller coaster in the world with a maximum speed of 120 mph (190 km/h). It was the fourth roller coaster to exceed 100 mph (160 km/h), preceded by Tower of Terror II at Dreamworld, Superman: Escape from Krypton at Six Flags Magic Mountain and Dodonpa at Fuji-Q Highland. Dodonpa held the record previously with a top speed of 107 mph (172 km/h). Top Thrill Dragster also broke the height record, standing at 420 feet (130 m), which was previously held by Superman: Escape from Krypton at 415 feet (126 m). Kingda Ka opened two years later at Six Flags Great Adventure and broke both of Top Thrill Dragster's records, boasting a height of 456 feet (139 m) and a top speed of 128 miles per hour (206 km/h). The speed record was again broken in 2010 by Formula Rossa at Ferrari World, which reaches a maximum speed of 149.1 mph (240.0 km/h).[2]

As of 2019, Top Thrill Dragster has the second tallest height, the third fastest speed, and the second-highest drop among steel roller coasters in the world.[21][22][23]

IncidentsEdit

On July 14, 2004, four people were struck by flying debris while riding the coaster. Reports indicated that a metal cable frayed during launch, shearing off shards of metal that struck the riders. The injuries were mainly arm abrasions, with one passenger experiencing cuts to the face. They were treated at the park's first aid station, and two later sought further medical attention.[15]

On August 7, 2016, two people were treated for minor injuries when the launch cable detached from the ride. The ride was closed for the following day while the park and Ohio state officials investigated the incident.[24]

In September 2017, a report with photos surfaced that the braking system on the launch side of the track may have been damaged, causing the ride to close indefinitely. Cedar Point did not acknowledge the incident and stated the closure was for maintenance reasons.[25]

In August 2019, the ride was closed for almost 3 weeks due to problems with the launch motor. It opened back to the public on Saturday, August 24.

AwardsEdit

 
Train on the brake run
Golden Ticket Awards: Top steel Roller Coasters
Year 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Ranking 11[26] 7[27] 7[28] 10[29] 9[30] 9[31] 10[32] 10[33] 9[34] 13[35] 12[36] 19[37] 13[38] 19[39] 17[40] 16[41] 21[42]

RecordsEdit

Preceded by
Steel Dragon 2000
World's Tallest Complete Circuit Roller Coaster
May 4, 2003 – May 21, 2005
Succeeded by
Kingda Ka
Preceded by
Superman: The Escape
World's Tallest Roller Coaster
May 4, 2003 – May 21, 2005
Preceded by
Dodonpa
World's Fastest Roller Coaster
May 4, 2003 – May 21, 2005

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Rider Height Requirements". Retrieved July 7, 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Top Thrill Dragster records". Archived from the original on June 25, 2010. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  3. ^ "Top Thrill Dragster: Race for the Sky | Cedar Point". www.cedarpoint.com. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  4. ^ "Kingda Ka vs. Top Thrill Dragster". thecoastercritic.com. November 16, 2006. Retrieved June 8, 2012.
  5. ^ "Hydraulic launched roller coasters at RCDB". Roller Coaster DataBase. Archived from the original on November 6, 2011. Retrieved July 7, 2012.
  6. ^ a b "Top Thrill Dragster POV". 2009. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  7. ^ "Intamin". Martin & Vleminckx. Archived from the original on November 25, 2013. Retrieved November 16, 2013.
  8. ^ a b c "Top Thrill Dragster TV announcement". 2010. Retrieved July 7, 2012.
  9. ^ "Top Thrill Dragster 200 foot support". CoasterGallery.com. 2002. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  10. ^ Stakotra
  11. ^ "Top Thrill Dragster Trademark". Legal Force. Retrieved July 16, 2012.
  12. ^ "PointBuzz history". PointBuzz. Retrieved October 21, 2012.
  13. ^ a b c d e Marden, Duane. "Top Thrill Dragster  (Cedar Point)". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved October 21, 2012.
  14. ^ "Kingda Ka vs. Top Thrill Dragster". thecoastercritic.com. July 18, 2007. Retrieved June 8, 2012.
  15. ^ a b "July 14, 2004 incident". Toledo Blade. July 14, 2004. Retrieved July 7, 2012.
  16. ^ https://www.cleveland.com/tribe/2017/05/cedar_point_makes_good_on_its.html
  17. ^ a b "Top Thrill Dragster old trains". CoasterGallery.com. 2003. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  18. ^ "Top Thrill Dragster images at RCDB". Roller Coaster Database. Retrieved July 7, 2012.
  19. ^ "Top Thrill Dragster rollback review". Thrill Network. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  20. ^ "Top Thrill Dragster elevator". CoasterGallery.com. 2008. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  21. ^ Marden, Duane. "Record Holders  (Statistic: Height, Type: Steel)". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  22. ^ Marden, Duane. "Record Holders  (Statistic: Speed, Type: Steel)". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  23. ^ Marden, Duane. "Record Holders  (Statistic: Drop, Type: Steel)". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  24. ^ "August, 7th 2016 incident". CBS Detroit. August 8, 2016. Retrieved August 8, 2016.
  25. ^ DeRoos, Dan (September 29, 2017). "Cedar Point's Top Thrill Dragster still closed, undergoing maintenance". WOIO. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  26. ^ "Top 50 steel Roller Coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 14–15B. September 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  27. ^ "Top 50 steel Roller Coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 18–19B. September 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 3, 2007. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  28. ^ "Top 50 steel Roller Coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 26–27B. September 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  29. ^ "Top 50 steel Roller Coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 26–27B. September 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  30. ^ "Top 50 steel Roller Coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today. 11 (6.2): 36–37. September 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  31. ^ "Top 50 steel Roller Coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today. 12 (6.2): 36–37. September 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  32. ^ "Top 50 steel Roller Coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today. 13 (6.2): 32–33. September 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  33. ^ "Top 50 steel Roller Coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today. 14 (6.2): 34–35. September 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  34. ^ "Top 50 steel Roller Coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today. 15 (6.2): 38–39. September 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  35. ^ "Top 50 steel Roller Coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today. 16 (6.2): 36–37. September 2012. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  36. ^ "2013 Top 50 steel Roller Coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today. 17 (6.2): 34–35. September 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  37. ^ "2014 Top 50 steel Roller Coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today. 18 (6.2): 46–47. September 2014. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  38. ^ "2015 Top 50 steel Roller Coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today. 19 (6.2): 49–50. September 2015. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  39. ^ "2016 top 50 steel roller coasters". Golden Ticket Awards. Amusement Today. September 2016. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  40. ^ "2017 Top 50 Steel Coasters". Golden Ticket Awards. Amusement Today. September 2017. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  41. ^ "2018 Top 50 Steel Coasters". Golden Ticket Awards. Amusement Today. September 2018. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  42. ^ "2019 Top Steel". Golden Ticket Awards. Amusement Today. September 2019. Retrieved September 14, 2015.

External linksEdit