It was these LIM and LSM launched coasters that marked the beginning of the evolution of launch systems from space saving looping coasters to extreme thrill rides that aim for high speeds, acceleration, and heights in simple designs that usually consist of nothing more than one large hill. Superman the Escape, at Six Flags Magic Mountain embraced this concept in 1997, reaching a maximum speed of 100 miles per hour in just 6 seconds, and climbing to a height of over 400 feet, making it the tallest and fastest roller coaster of its day, the next tallest being the Desperado at the Buffalo Bill Casino in Nevada, at a mere 225 feet. The ride was magnetically launched, and consisted of one hill in which the riders would ride to the top and then ride down backwards after climaxing.
Launch systems currently lead the way in the fierce competition for the most extreme roller coasters. The current tallest roller coasters in the world use launch systems and are about 100 feet taller and 30 miles per hour faster than the tallest traditional lift hill coasters. As a result, new launch systems are being explored in order to output the greatest speeds and accelerations, to deliver the maximum thrill that coaster enthusiasts demand.
In 2002, the first hydraulic launch system was developed by Intamin AG, and was used on Knott’s Berry Farm’s Xcelerator. A year later, the world was introduced to the Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point in
It seems for now, that hydraulic launch systems are the way to go.