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Published: Friday, 1/10/2003

Thrill riders revved for Dragster's rush

Craig Athers, left, and Mike Manhart with the Cedar Point ride-maintenance division work on the new roller coaster. Scheduled to open in May, the Top Thrill Dragster will be the tallest and fastest in the world. Craig Athers, left, and Mike Manhart with the Cedar Point ride-maintenance division work on the new roller coaster. Scheduled to open in May, the Top Thrill Dragster will be the tallest and fastest in the world.
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SANDUSKY - The world's tallest and fastest roller coaster will open at Cedar Point this spring, the Sandusky amusement park announced this morning.

The new ride, Top Thrill Dragster, is a $25 million steel coaster with a first hill that's 420 feet high. Riders will hit speeds of 120 mph on the ride's 2,800 feet of track and plunge 400 feet down the coaster's first hill at a 90-degree angle.

“Cedar Point has a strong tradition of breaking world records when it comes to roller coasters,” Daniel Keller, vice president and general manager of Cedar Point, said in a statement released this morning.

The ride is one of the largest investments in Cedar Point's 132-year history. The park spent $25 million in 1999 to build Millennium Force, a steel coaster that reaches 310 feet into the air with a top speed of 92 mph.

Last year, Cedar Point spent $9 million last year to build Wicked Twister, a U-shaped thrill ride with twin towers that reach 215 feet high.

Top Thrill Dragster will launch passengers out of a “starting line” position with ahigh-tech hydraulic system. Riders will rocket up the first hill, 420 feet high, rotating 90 degrees at the 230-foot height. Once they reach the coaster's peak, they'll then plummet 400 feet, spiraling 270 degrees in a free fall starting at 330 feet above the ground.

After twisting for 115 feet, the train will complete the coaster's drop, reaching speeds of 120 mph for the second time.

Currently, the world's fastest coaster is Japan's Dodonpa, which reaches 108 mph. The tallest full circuit coaster is Steel Dragon 2000, another Japanese coaster that is 318 feet.

Cedar Point began building the giant ride late last summer along the midway by Power Tower, Iron Dragon and Magnum XL-200. Top Thrill Dragster covers eight acres.

The ride's structure contrasts red and white track with bright yellow support columns, and silver framework. Its six trains will be painted in metallic colors of cobalt blue, sunshine yellow, sunset red, black cherry, florescent purple and Indy green.

The trains, which each hold 16 passengers, will allow up to 1,500 riders an hour.

Top Thrill Dragster is being built by Intamin AG of Switzerland, which built a similar but smaller coaster, Xcelerator, for Cedar Point's sister park Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Vista, Calif.

Cedar Point, which traditionally announces new rides in the fall, waited until winter this time. Construction of the ride caused a buzz on the Internet among coaster enthusiasts, who spent endless hours swapping theories and analyzing everything from the size of the track sections to the markings seen on crates of steel.



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