Thrill-seekers' guide to rides

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 June, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 June, 2004, 12:00am

Hold on to your hat! We are going to take a quick tour of the world's scariest theme park rides. Do you think you are brave enough to try the most dazzling and daring white-knuckle rides ever invented? Sit back, grip the arm of your chair and whoooosh ... off we go.

Our scream-a-minute trip begins in the resort of Blackpool in England 10 years ago. When the Big One opened in the Pleasure Beach Theme Park in 1994 it was the tallest, fastest, steepest ride in the world and it changed theme park rides forever. From now on, rides had to be bigger than big and faster than fast.

The Big One still stands unchallenged as a white-knuckle experience and you need a strong stomach to face it. With a main drop of 235 feet and speeds topping 137km/h, it snakes its way up and down the theme park for more than 1.6km. A car transports you up to the summit of the first peak and then you hurtle down into the first deep dive. From this point on, a lot of people don't remember much more about the Big One.

At Universal Studios in Florida, the main scream machine is the Incredible Hulk. This gravity-defying roller-roaster propels riders from zero to 64km/h in two seconds and then sends them hurtling up and down over water. At Florida Seaworld, the Kraken dares its riders to dive through seven high-speed loops at 105km/h.

The Duelling Dragons at Universal Studios is based on a terrifying idea. Two high-speed trains race along a duel track and several times during the ride they hurtle towards each other, missing a disastrous crash by inches.

Back in the UK, the Nemesis Inferno is a legs-dangling roller-coaster that sends its riders through a 360-degree head-spin and then does it again just in case they did not enjoy it the first time. After riding the Nemesis, you will know what your socks feel like when they are in the washing machine.

All over the world, there are rides with names such as Detonator, Maelstrom and Apocalypse that try to scare the pants off their riders with even bigger and faster thrills. There is even a world roller coaster club whose members travel all over to try out the latest rides. Fun is certainly frightening when white-knuckle mania grabs hold of you.