There are two kinds of people who travel to Las Vegas: gamblers and roller-coaster riders.
OK, maybe that last bit is an overstatement. But it shouldn’t be.
The Las Vegas Strip — that boulevard of Brobdingnagian shiny objects, like an almost Statue of Liberty and an almost Eiffel Tower — boasts (and that is the correct verb) one of the largest concentrations of devil rides in the world. On just one street, aficionados can ride three roller coasters at terrifying speeds and angles.
Outside of an amusement park, such a concentration is rare, said Robert Coker, author of “Roller Coasters: A Thrill Seeker’s Guide to the Ultimate Scream Machines” (Michael Friedman Group, 2006).
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One of Mr. Coker’s Las Vegas favorites was “Speed — The Ride,” which accelerated to 70 miles an hour, then reversed at the same speed. It was shuttered recently when its host casino, the Sahara, closed. “It was a real loss,” Mr. Coker said.
Fortunately, others remain.
Crazy for coasters — or just plain crazy?
Chances are you will hear the screaming as soon as you get out of your taxi in front of the New York-New York Hotel and Casino. The Manhattan Express, its infernal coaster, caroms from inside the casino to outside, then plummets past the hotel entrance. It is designed to simulate the barrel roll a pilot feels inside a jet fighter
The ride, which costs $14, whooshes past a fake New York skyline, climbs more than 20 stories (203 feet) and drops more than 14 stories (144 feet). At 67 miles per hour and three-and-a-half minutes, it is the most prolonged thrill of the three.
At Circus Circus, a few blocks north, the Canyon Blaster looks tame, partly because it’s painted the same shade of purple as Barney the Dinosaur. It costs a family-friendly $8, but do not be deceived.
Completely indoors, it has a punishing double loop and a double corkscrew that roller-coaster lovers adore.
The ride with a 90-degree turn, climbs nine stories, and then drops nine at 45 degrees. It reaches a top speed of 55 miles per hour and, mercifully, lasts only two minutes. Somehow, you do not notice the mini-golf course nearby.
A few blocks north, at the Stratosphere hotel, is the unconventional X-Scream.
This ride may bring up a hypothetical question: How might a penny perched on a fingertip feel when held over the balcony at the top of the Empire State Building? You get the picture.
The ride is a teeter-totter seemingly operated by a giant who lives to make you to dangle, repeatedly, about 30 feet over the edge of the Stratosphere tower.
Actually, the X-Scream is 866 feet up, or about 87 stories, compared with the Empire State’s 1,224 feet, or about 122 stories. Such fact-checking does not naturally occur while suspended screaming over Sin City.
The ride costs $17 (including admission to the observation deck) and lasts three minutes and 23 seconds.
Because the X-Scream is outdoors, moderate rain, high winds (35 miles per hour or faster) and lightning can close it.
This story, Roller Coasters Bring a New Kind of Thrill to Vegas, originally appeared in the New York Times.
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