Featured: Record Breakers

For decades, parks have vied to have the largest rides in world. Over the years the UK has smashed many records by building the tallest, fastest, steepest & longest rides.

Several groundbreaking attractions have also been built in the UK. These rides offer new and unique experiences that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Colossus (Thorpe Park)
Roller coaster with the most loops

Colossus was the first major roller coaster at Thorpe Park. Opened in 2002, the ride was the first in the world to take visitors upside down a staggering ten times. Riders are flipped upside down in quick succession by means of a vertical loop, cobra roll, two corkscrews and five heartline rolls.

During the initial planning phases the ride was known as ‘Odyssey’. When the project was announced John Wardley promised “It will be an incredibly intense experience: being tumbled upside down 10 times in the space of a minute should be quite incredible. People will come in droves from around the world.”

An identical ride was built in China in 2006, meaning the ride now shares the world record for the roller coaster with the most loops.

Pepsi Max Big One (Pleasure Beach, Blackpool)
Tallest & fastest coaster in the world (when constructed)

The Pepsi Max Big One opened in 1994 as the tallest and faster roller coaster in the world. The ride’s official statistics are 235ft tall, reaching speeds of 85mph. The late Geoffrey Thompson, MD of Blackpool Pleasure Beach rode the Magnum XL200 at Cedar Point, Ohio shortly after it opened in 1989. Magnum was the first coaster in history to hit the 200ft mark making it the world’s first ‘hyper coaster’. Thompson was inspired to build a taller and faster ride at the Blackpool park.

There is some debate regarding the actual height of the ride. The 235ft measurement is from sea level. Many sources state the ride is physically 213ft tall, hitting speeds of 74mph.

The roller coaster dwarfs almost everything else in the park and takes pride of place along the seafront weaving its way between the Steeplechase & Big Dipper roller coasters.

It remained the tallest in the world until 1996 when Fujiyama opened at Fuji-Q Highland, Japan.

Mumbo Jumbo (Flamingo Land)
Steepest drop on a roller coaster in the world

Mumbo Jumbo is our latest record breaker. The ride debuted during Summer 2010 at Flamingo Land, North Yorkshire.

The ride’s first drop is angled at an incredible 112-degrees! The twisted track also contains sections where the four-seater cars travel upside down for several seconds.

Operations Manager Nick Buckley commented “There’s nothing quite like the thrill you’ll experience on Mumbo Jumbo… it really is the ultimate white-knuckle ride”

Other seriously steep rides in the UK include Saw: The Ride at Thorpe Park, Rage at Adventure Island & Oblivion at Alton Towers.

Skytrak (Granada Studios Tour)
World’s first flying roller coaster

Before Air, there was Skytrak. The ride was constructed at Granada Studios in Manchester  in 1997. The ride suffered from several technical problems and closed when the park went into liquidation in 1999.

Instead of using long trains holding many riders, Skytrak was dubbed a ‘solo coaster’. Manufactured by Skytrak International, they hoped to export this unique coaster concept across the globe. Skytrak however, was the only the only ride they ever built.

The ride itself was a failure but the concept of the flying coaster would be perfected years later and introduced in parks around the world. Maurice Kelly, managing director of the park hailed the ride prior to its debut stating that “Nobody has ever seen or experienced anything like it before. Not only are passengers out there on their own, they’re actually flying head first, with the incredible sensations of solo flight.”

Look out for a future article detailing the Granada Studios attraction and the Skytrak ride.

The Ultimate (Lightwater Valley)
Longest roller coaster in the world (when constructed)

Only three roller coasters have legitimately held this record since 1979. The Beast, a wooden roller coaster at Kings Island, Ohio, USA held the record until The Ultimate opened in 1991 (adding a further 83ft to the record). The Ultimate has a total length of 7442 ft and remains the longest roller coaster in Europe, second only in the world to Steel Dragon 2000 at Nagashima Spa Land, Japan.

On average, its two trains will cover a total of 136 miles each day! The ride features two lift hills and an incredible 50mph rush through a dense forest.

Ashley Young, marketing manager at Lightwater Valley commented that “The Ultimate is a legendary and iconic ride that remains as unique and relevant today as it did when first launched in July 1991″.

Apocalypse (Drayton Manor)
World’s first stand up drop tower

If the concept of a drop tower wasn’t scary enough, Drayton Manor added some extra thrills when they launched Apocalypse in 2000.

On Apocalypse riders have the option to sit down or stand up when riding. The stand up cars were the first in the world on a drop tower.

In 2002, another vehicle was added to the ride allowing riders to stand up but this time – without a floor. The car, dubbed as the ‘fifth element’ is the world’s only ‘stand up floorless’ vehicle.

TH13TEEN (Alton Towers)
World’s first freefall drop roller coaster

Th13teen opened at Alton Towers in March 2010. The ride features a unique section of track that freefalls from one level to another.

After a short outdoor section the ride enters a darkened crypt. Shortly after that, the horizontal track section drops vertically.

Th13teen is the only ride in the world to have this feature.

Photo Submissions: Joe Schwartz, UK Rides, Richard Woolham.

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  1. mandy barnes says:

    13 isn’t very good. pepsi max is really bumpy. mandyxxx

  2. Tom Green says:

    Thirteen is heavily dependent on the surprise element. It will never be a lasting classic or have much re-rideability factor. It will also soon be bettered by the Chinese or Americans as well, no doubt. Nevertheless it is still brilliant and enjoyable.

  3. Dave Tyson says:

    Standing up on that ride at Drayton is the scariest thing I’ve ever done. Glad I did it though. Not sure I would be so quick to do it again though! Dave.

  4. Nathan Lawson says:

    It’s a marvel that we’ve broken so many records considering the ridiculous planning restrictions parks are hindered by.

    Looking through the list, I honestly think The Ultimate deserves the most credit for what it achieved. Length is very hard to come by on coasters these days, so it comes as no surprise that even after 19 years very few have managed to topple it.

  5. Ashley says:

    Don’t like 13 very much. Never rode skytrak, colossus is best ride on the list but its quite rough these days.

  6. Mark Collins says:

    Wish I had ridden Skytrak, looks painful but fun!!!!!!!!!!

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