Specific Type: Steel, Out & Back, Hydraulically-Launched, Tera-Coaster
The saga known as Great Adventure started on July 1, 1974. The park’s creator Warner Leroy had a vision to build a major theme park with many themed sections and rides for guests to enjoy. The park started as Enchanted Forest and boasted a steel mine train from Arrow Dynamics dubbed Runaway Mine Train. The following year, the park received the Great Adventure name and added two more coasters, kicking off a trend of having the latest thrill rides. In 1977 Six Flags took over the park and started its transformation into what it is today.
As the years progressed, the park added more and more of the latest thrill rides from designers such as Anton Schwarzkopf, TOGO, and Bolliger and Mabillard. In 1998, the park joined the trend of launched coasters and added its first launched ride from Premier Rides. Batman and Robin: The Chiller was a dual track launched coaster that sent riders soaring at 70-mph. The trend seemed to fade at Great Adventure with the addition of traditional chain lift. That all changed in 2004 when the fastest and tallest coaster in the world was announced, and it was coming to Great Adventure.
A few years before the announcement Six Flags competitor, Cedar Fair, debuted Top Thrill Dragster. The ride stood at a whooping 420-feet and launched its riders at 120-mph using a new hydraulic launch system. Intamin AG of Switzerland, who had recently started using the hydraulic launch in their rocket coasters, designed the coaster. The ride blew all records out of the water topping the current record height by 120-feet. It looked as if no one would ever come close to the height of 420-feet. Little did everyone know that Six Flags was looking to take the record and had a coaster in the works that would do just that.
On October 29, 2004 the announcement was made that Great Adventure would receive a new themed are named the Golden Kingdom. This area would stand in the employee parking lot next to Rolling Thunder, but there was a twist. Golden Kingdom was the home to the fastest and tallest coaster in the world. Kingda Ka stands at 456-feet and launches riders at an amazing speed of 128-mph. The ride is almost an exact replica of Top Thrill Dragster's layout, but it contains as huge airtime hill that provides for some awesome airtime.
Before the 2004 operating season even wrapped up, construction was starting. The asphalt was being removed and replaced by concrete footers that would hold the new mammoth coaster. In a short period of time the lot was filling with teal supports and lime green track and the main tower was starting to rise from the ground. The season ended with track and supports reaching higher and higher into the sky giving guests a look at what they’d be riding at the beginning of the 2005 season.
As Great Adventure guests approach the park, the first thing they see is the tower of Kingda Ka beckoning them to ride it. Once inside the park they make their way to the Golden Kingdom section of the park and find the entrance to the queue line for this coaster. The long lines move very quickly due to the dual station setup and before riders know it they are next in line to experience the fastest launch in the world. Riders board the Intamin coaches sitting two abreast and secure the over-the-shoulder restraints. The track ahead of them moves to allow the train to roll to the launch section. The train rolls out of the station and stops, adding a huge feeling of anticipation. Without warning the hydraulic launch send riders rocketing from 0 – 128-mph in 3.5 seconds. The breathless riders soar forward and rocket 90-degrees towards the sky. 456-feet soars by in seconds as the train reaches the top of the tower. At the top the trains crest the hill and then start the their descent. Riders are sent soaring downward and then the track races upward again. The train soars over a giant airtime hill launching riders out of their seats. Once the amazing airtime feeling ends the train starts down the hill and into the brakes. The train is brought to a stop and then rolls towards the station. The coaches round a 180-degree turn and enter the station. The restraints unlock and the dazed riders push them open. Upon exiting of the train, what just happened starts to take effect and the experience of Kingda Ka sets in.
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