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World's Tallest Roller Coaster Coming to Florida

Work on the towering coaster, called Skyscraper and designed by Orlando-based US Thrill Rides, is scheduled to start next year with an opening planned for 2016. Brave riders aboard the world's tallest roller coaster could spiral toward the ground at 65 mph from a height of 570 feet at a new attraction planned for Orlando's International Drive.

Michael Kitchen, president of US Thrill Rides, said the 3-minute ride would include loops, inversions and barrel rolls during its 50-story descent. Closer to the ground, the coaster cars would detour through the retail part of the complex and skirt above I-Drive pedestrians.

The maximum speed would be about 65 mph. Riders would be held in with a waistband-style restraint instead of shoulder harnesses that might impair the view, he said.

People who didn't want to venture onto the coaster could take glass elevators to an observation deck about 55 stories up. The coaster's tracks would wrap around the elevators.

The Skyscraper first garnered attention last fall — under the name Polercoaster — during the IAAPA trade show for the amusement industry at the Orange County Convention Center.

The reigning tallest coaster in the world is Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, according to the Roller Coaster Database. Kingda Ka is 456 feet tall.

Because of its extreme height, Skyscraper will require approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The proposed $200 million development, to be known as Skyplex, also would include a tower-top restaurant, observation deck, ground-level stores and 1,500-car parking garage.

The site is a few blocks north the 400-foot-tall Orlando Eye observation wheel, which is under construction. It's the centerpiece of a new entertainment hub called I-Drive 360 scheduled to open in spring 2015.


Photo: Orlando Sentinel. View full-sized image.
Photo: US Thrill Rides. View full-sized image.
Photo: Shiniko R. Floyd, Orlando Sentinel . View full-sized image.
* Lee Ann Draud
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