They Built a Coaster WHERE?
by susskins

The typical coaster is sitting on relatively flat ground, or on the side of a hill. It's outdoors. It's open to the sky. It's in an amusement park or on fairgrounds. So what about those atypical coasters in atypical places?

ripsaw.jpgYou'll find the occasional mall with a full-sized coaster in it. The Mall of America has two of 'em. The Ripsaw is a family coaster that floats all around the Mall's amusement park. It also circles the Timberline Twister, a spinning mouse coaster. It's not often that you find a coaster inside a building. Disney aside, enclosed coasters are just not common.

You can also find one at the West Edmonton Mall, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Funny how two malls in cold locations have fully-enclosed coasters. Okay, maybe not that funny. Especially when you consider that both malls were built by the Ghermezian family.

highroller.jpgThere's the now-defunct High Roller on top of the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas. As far as I know, it's the only coaster ever built on top of a tower. Not much to ride, from all reports. It was so badly designed that you couldn't really see the height. It basically just circled the roof a couple of times. Thrills? Not so much. It also had a bad reputation for shedding parts. I'm not sure I want to ride a coaster that occasionally drops pieces on the windows below it.

There's the Sewer Rat at Lightwater Valley in Ripon, Yorkshire in England. It's in a sewer. Okay, not a real sewer. sewerrat.jpg But an unbelievably realistic fake sewer. The entrance is a large sewer pipe leading into a hillside. Poorly lit, wet, leading to a circular staircase going down a shaft, wrapped around falling water. Insurers would freak if such a thing were built in the US. It was the only time I've been more intimidated by the entrance than by the coaster itself.

Alton Towers in Alton, Staffordshire in England has a coaster called Oblivion. The coaster dives straight down into what is essentially a mine shaft, one hundred and fifty feet deep. Few coasters penetrate that deeply into the ground. I haven't ridden it, but I did get to check out the site when they were building it. There was an astonishing amount of digging to get the underground portion completed.

There's Desperado, a large steel coaster partially embedded in a casino in Primm, Nevada. desperado.jpgThere's Speed, partially embedded in the NASCAR Cafe in Las Vegas. There's Manhattan Express, partially embedded in the New York, New York casino and hotel in Las Vegas. Nevada seems to have a thing about coasters embedded into buildings.

thunderdolphin.jpgThe Blue Flash was built in the yard of John Ivers in Indiana. Not many people can claim to have a working coaster at their home.

My favorite weirdly located coaster is the Thunder Dolphin at LaQua Amusement Park in Tokyo, Japan. It runs along the top of a building, and threads through a unique hub-less Ferris Wheel. Terrifically goofy concept, and a breathtakingly awkward name. It's in some ways typical of Japanese coasters. They seem to favor the odd, especially when they have to find ways to shoehorn them into the limited space of Tokyo.

Keith once had a toy nicknamed the Thunder Dolphin



Those two coasters in England sound amazing.


I can't personally speak for Oblivion, but the general consensus is that it's a one-trick-pony. But it's a really really good trick. It has these weird wide trains that seat eight across in two rows. You get held at the top looking over the lift hill, straight at a big smoking hole in the ground. Very intimidating.

The Rat is a fairly standard wild mouse coaster, except that it's run in the dark. Fun, and a really unique ride because of its location.


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