What is a Launch Coaster?
Those clickety-clack chain lifts are a thing of the past. In case you haven’t been to a theme park in a decade or so, there’s a new way to power coasters. Launch roller coasters (also known as rocket coasters) use propulsion systems to generate speed as opposed to the traditional lift hill. It all started with the LIMs or linear induction motors on the Flight of Fear at Kings Dominion. These magnets propelled the trains on Flight of Fear from 0 to 54 in less than 4 seconds. I was lucky enough to live about an hour from Kings Dominion so I was among the first people in the world to experience this revolutionary new technology. Similar to LIMs, Linear Synchronous Motors were used on Superman The Escape at Six Flags Magic Mountain.
Since the use LIMs in 1996 by Premiere, several other launch methods have emerged. The hydraulic-launched coasters have made the biggest impression. They generate enough power to send coasters skyward more than 40 stories on rides like Kingda Ka and Top Thrill Dragster. There have also been coasters powered by compressed air (Hypersonic XLC) and tire propelled launches (Incredible Hulk). Kings Dominion has the record for most launch coasters at one park with four. The park has Flight of Fear, Volcano The Blast Coaster, Hypersonic XLC, and the Italian Job. They must have quite an electricity bill!
Last September I counted down the my Top 3 Launch Coasters. Also, check out this roller coaster video of Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point. Not only does it feature one the best bands (Incubus), it’s got great onride and offride footage of TTD. The launch sounds like an F-15 taking off!
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