There's an adrenaline-fueled race underway as amusement companies battle to have the tallest, fastest, and most exhilarating rides in the world. In the next few years, we'll be seeing new contenders for the tallest water slide, tallest roller coaster, and tallest Ferris wheel.
Considering the roller coaster "Golden Age" was only back a few decades at the end of the Great Depression, we've come a long way from the jittery wooden rides of Coney Island and other early amusement parks. Now everything just keeps getting taller, with records being surpassed before construction can even begin. This summer when the Schlitterbahn water park opens for the season in Kansas City, its centerpiece will be Verrückt. Its drone's-eye-view video boasts that it will be "taller than Niagara Falls," with riders speeding over 65 miles per hour. This staggering slide will thus beat out the previous record holder, the "Insano" slide in Brazil. "Verrückt" appropriately translates to "crazy" in German, although this sense of the extreme is less eloquently screamed on its site with the rhetorical question: RU INSANE?
Also on the horizon is the "Polercoaster," the new tallest roller coaster in the world, taking the thunder away from the Kingda Ka roller coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. Planned to open in the spring of 2016 in a yet-to-be-determined location in Florida, it will stand some 520 feet, beating out Kingda Ka's 456 feet, and will cost a terrifying sum of between $20 and $60 million.
Not to be outdone, there's also a battle of Ferris wheels, with neither of the contenders even built yet. When the Staten Island Ferris wheel was announced for a 2015 open date and a 625-foot height, it was ready to take the tallest title for the New York City borough. However, then the dream crushing Dubai Eye loomed into the ring, also with a 2015 date, and 689 feet.
We're not quite to Euthanasia Coaster speeds of death of course, but it's hard to predict when the bubble for these harrowing amusements might burst. Both budgets and gravity seem to be pushed to their limits in a quest to, in the end, be the most entertaining. However, we know that nothing lasts forever, and today's glorious grandstand spectacles could be the next generation's ruins, but at least the decadence offers a hell of a ride for now.