For weeks now Fuji Q Highlands’ new roller coaster, Takabisha, has made international headlines. The steel Gerstlauer roller coaster has pushed the steepness envelope by setting a World record setting 121-degree drop. As I documented in my article, Five ways roller coasters have changed since you were a kid, roller coasters with beyond 90-degree drops are nothing new. Hersheypark’s Fahrenheit boasts a 97-degree drop and Steel Hawg at Indiana Beach made history when it opened in 2008 with an 111-degree drop. Steel Hawg was dethroned by the UK’s Mumbo Jumbo at Flamingoland which edged it out with a 112-degree drop.
There have also been a number of other roller coasters with these super steep drops, but the trend had seemed to go pretty much unnoticed to the media. Roller coaster fans like myself find them interesting, but the steepness record holder never got the kind of attention that the World’s fastest roller coaster (Formula Rossa) or the World’s tallest roller coaster (Kingda Ka) has received.
This is why I am so surprised by the enormous media attention that Takabisha, a roller coaster in Japan, has received here in the U.S. Many of my non-roller coaster loving friends and family have mentioned the ride to me, I’ve been contacted by the media to speak about it, it’s been featured on morning radio shows, on a late night talk show, and it’s been covered by national and international media outlets.
Of course this attention is a very good thing for Fuji-Q Highland. I would imagine that this international coverage is why a theme park would spend a reported $37 million to build a record breaking roller coaster. I have to wonder if there’s an amusement park, if not several, that are ordering a Takabisha clone or a similar roller coaster from Gerstlauer. A roller coaster that could surpass Takabisha with a 122-degree drop wouldn’t have to be as large or as costly while still providing some real buzz and interest on a large scale.
Like the race to build the tallest roller coasters in the 1990′s, could the battle for the steepest roller coaster be the new roller coaster arms race? Don’t be shocked if a theme park announces plans to build a new roller coaster with a record setting drop in 2012 or 2013. Takabisha has captivated the World and any theme park would love that kind of notoriety.