JACKSON, N.J. – Six Flags Great Adventure (search) is opening the world's tallest and fastest roller coaster this spring — a thrill ride that accelerates to 128 mph in 3.5 seconds and rises 456 feet off the ground.
Plans for Kingda Ka (search), which is expected to be the cornerstone of new development at the central New Jersey amusement park, were to be unveiled Wednesday.
The current speed and height record holder is "Top Thrill Dragster" at Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio. Made by Intamin — the same company Six Flags hired to build Kingda Ka — Dragster shoots riders to 120 mph in 4 seconds and takes them to a height of 420 feet.
An animated depiction of Kingda Ka shows the coaster creeping slowly, stopping and then launching forward horizontally at nearly 130 mph before climbing at a 90-degree angle more than 45 stories above the park.
The coaster then spirals 270 degrees as it plummets, flattens out and climbs again as it shoots over a 129-foot hill, which the company says will make riders feel weightless. It's over in about 50 seconds.
"This is the first step in a process of really transforming Six Flags Great Adventure from the largest regional theme park in the world to a true regional destination," Kieran Burke, chief executive officer of Oklahoma City-based Six Flags, told The Associated Press.
Six Flags last year had 35 million visitors at 31 parks. In July, it reported a 3.3 percent attendance drop compared with last year.
Duane Marden, 35, a Brookfield, Wis., computer programmer who runs the online Roller Coaster Data Base, has ridden the Ohio coaster twice and calls it "a very intense experience." He expects the one in New Jersey to quickly become popular with enthusiasts.
"Anybody on the East Coast who is into roller coasters is going to be on this ride very soon," he said.