Wheeeeee: The Business of Roller Coasters

As theme parks open for the season, so do their marquee-attraction thrill rides. This year, 63 new roller coasters are expected to open around the world, including two vying to be the world's fastest. Buckle in as we roll through the numbers.

PILGRIMS PLUNGE at Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana, is the world's tallest water ride at 135 feet.

Six Flags and Cedar Fair (which owns Cedar Point and 10 others) are the two largest independent amusement-park operators in the U.S. Each generates almost $1 billion a year in revenue.

There are 2,398 ROLLER COASTERS in the world. Of those, only 164 are made of wood. The rest are steel. The newest steel coasters cost more than $20 million to build.

THE tallest roller coaster in the world is the 456-FOOT-HIGH Kingda Ka, built in 2005, at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey.

"Love Rollercoaster" was a No.1 hit for the Ohio Players in 1975 and 1976.

The Mumbo Jumbo at Flamingo Land theme park in Malton, England, features a vertical drop of 112° (the steepest in the world).

John A. Miller was the "Thomas Edison of the roller coaster," designing more than 60 coasters and patenting more than 100 key features before his death in 1941.

300 Million people a year visit the top 40 theme parks in Europe and North America.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are an average of 4.4 DEATHS in the U.S. per year caused by amusement-park rides.

Cedar Point unveiled the world's first 200-foot coaster (MAGNUM XL-200, 1989), the first 300-foot coaster (MILLENNIUM FORCE, 2000), and the first 400-foot coaster (TOP THRILL DRAGSTER, 2003).

A 200-FOOT coaster is known as a "hypercoaster," a 300-foot one is known as a "giga coaster," and a 400-foot one is called a "rocket coaster."

ONE-DAY ADMISSION at Cedar Point is $45.99. It cost 50 cents, or $3.42 in today's dollars, to ride Cedar Point's Blue Streak in 1964 when it debuted.

The Stratosphere Las Vegas Hotel Hotel & Casino features a three-ride theme park on its roof. THE BIG SHOT catapults riders 160 feet in the air, 1,081 feet above the Strip.

RING RACER, in Nürburg, Germany, and the F1 Coaster, at Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi, both open this year—and promise to be among the world's fastest coasters, with speeds approaching 135 mph.

The world's oldest operating coaster is LEAP the DIPS at Lakemont Park in Altoona, Pennsylvania. The 41-foot-high coaster, which opened in 1902, reaches a top speed of 10 mph.

CEDAR POINT in Sandusky, Ohio, has 17 roller coaster, the most in the world. In 2009, those coasters carried almost 18 million riders.

Readers do not need to be 36" TALL to read this article.

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