THRILLS AND SPILLS: The roller coaster turns 134

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Remembering Astroworld
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The Six Flags AstroWorld theme park closed its doors to the public on October 30, 2005.

The roller coaster has seen a lot of twists and turns in its uniquely American life, and with 134 years under its belts, pulleys and tracks, there are no signs of stopping now.

On this day in 1884, the world's very first roller coaster began delighting guests at Coney Island, New York.

For a nickel, riders could climb aboard and slide down the benches of the Switchback Railway before being pushed down a track at a stately six miles per hour.

The 600-foot experience built for 19th century thrillseekers is tame compared to what theme park visitors are used to today.

The distant cousins of the Switchback Railway, wooden rollercoasters still beckon the brave with their laminated wood tracks mounted together with cold steel.

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The American Eagle at Six Flags Great America, in Gurnee, Ill.; the Le Monstre at La Ronde in Montreal, Canada; and the Colossus at Six Flags Magic Mountain, in Valencia, Calif., have all shared the designation as the tallest, fastest and longest wooden rollercoasters at some time.

Yet with the advent of new technology, ride manufacturers found steel roller coasters could give riders a taller, smoother, and faster ride with more twists, loops and inversions.

In 1959, The Walt Disney Company was able to get their hands on the first steel roller coaster with the opening of the Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland, in Anaheim, Calif.

The world's second steel coaster, The Runaway Mine Train, was introduced in 1966 at Six Flags Over Texas.

But those coasters are kid stuff compared to the thrills being built today.

VIDEO: Check out the world's tallest roller coaster 'skyscraper' coming to Orlando

On May 7, 2016, ValRavn opened at Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio, breaking 10 world records, including world's tallest, fastest and longest dive coaster. At 223 feet, 75 mph, and 3,415 feet, the Swiss-built, steel ride also beat out these other records:

  • Most inversions on a dive coaster (three)
  • Longest drop on a dive coaster (214 feet)
  • Most inversions on a dive coaster (three)
  • Longest drop on a dive coaster (214 feet)
  • Highest inversion on a dive coaster (165 feet)
  • Most roller coasters taller than 200 feet at one amusement park (5)
  • Most rides at one amusement park (72)
  • Most steel roller coaster track at one amusement park (52,125 feet/9.9 miles)
  • Most roller coaster track at one amusement park (60,110 feet/11.4 miles)

VIDEO: 'ValRavn' Roller coaster breaks 10 world records

While the bird's eye view of the ValRavn is definitely not for the fainthearted, your knees will also knock hard when you board two of Six Flags' most death-defying 4-D coasters.

Between the Joker's Mayhem at Six Flags Great Adventure and The Batman Ride at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, riders are lifted 120 feet before experiencing 90-degree free falls and head over heels flips, all while dangling outside the confines of a regular track.

VIDEO: Take a ride on Six Flags' Total Mayhem

4-D free-fly roller coaster coming to Texas theme park

If you think that's intense, nothing can prepare you yet for Six Flags Magic Mountain's revamped 'New Revolution' ride, featuring virtual reality headsets that transport roller coaster daredevils into scenes with 360-degree synchronized views.

An ABC reporter recently faced her fears by climbing aboard this monster ride. Check out here experience on the VR coaster here:

For fans who want to make a splash with their thrills, Schlitterbahn Galveston in Texas is set to open the world's largest 'water coaster' this summer.

'MASSIV' features a 926-feet long water slide that sends riders flying through four uphill sections, an enclosed tunnel section, a translucent turn and then a triple-drop finale.

Park officials released a virtual experience to give riders a sneak peek of what they can expect when the ride opens this summer.

WATCH: Climb aboard the virtual tour of the MASSIV ride

VIDEO: Watch as workers construct MASSIV water coaster in Galveston

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