There’s absolutely no competition as the newest attraction coming to one of Disney’s competitors just blew Universal Studios, SeaWorld, Disney World, Disneyland, and every other theme park location on planet Earth out of the water.
A Very Competitive Competition
The theme park business fosters fierce competition, and for many in the running, it isn’t only about swaying visitors to buy a ticket to your park over another.
It’s also about visualizing, constructing, and unveiling the newest, biggest, latest, greatest, and best attractions among the competition. An ability to do so can, in turn, lead to higher ticket sales for the park that can convince visitors that their time can be best spent enjoying attractions that stand head and shoulders above the rest–and sometimes, that’s quite literally.
The ever-increasing competition between theme park operators has led the companies that own them to go all in on the “next big thing” at their respective theme parks. But such endeavors take money–and lots of it. As such, within the theme park business, there exist levels of competition.
Clearly, the Walt Disney World Resort doesn’t have to consider competition between its four theme parks–Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom–and a park operated by Six Flags. There’s a very different level of theme park size and associated revenue between the two.
But for certain park enthusiasts, there’s still always the potential draw of better, bigger, taller, and faster attractions among theme parks. And while large theme park operators like Disney and Universal Studios remain at the top of the theme park food chain, if you will, smaller theme park operators of late have been bringing their A-game to the arena as well, especially when it comes to builder the tallest roller coaster available to parkgoers.
The Merger of Two Smaller Theme Park Operators
On November 2, Six Flags and Cedar Fair Parks announced a deal that will effectively merge the two theme park operators into a single operator, and the new entity, which is now an $8 billion enterprise made up of 27 amusement parks, 15 water parks, and nine resort properties in Canada, Mexico, and 17 states, has some big plans up its sleeves.
The newly-merged companies are combining their respective licensed intellectual properties, which include Looney Tunes, DC Comics, and the Peanuts characters. And though Six Flags and Cedar Fair have merged, their largest anchor attractions will be what they have always been–their gravity- and reality-defying thrill rides, many of which are unrivaled by any of the competition within the theme park business.
And one of those recently-announced anchor attractions has amassed a record, effectively blowing the competition out of the proverbial water.
Theme Parks and Their Coasters
The very first amusement park–Walt Disney’s Disneyland, which opened in Southern California in July 1955, features a roller coaster that opened in 1959 and is still in operation today–the Matterhorn bobsled. It’s the tallest coaster-type ride at Disneyland and stands 147 feet high. That’s nearly twice as tall as Sleeping Beauty Castle but shorter than Cinderella Castle at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.
At Universal Studios Orlando Resort, the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit stands approximately two stories taller than the Matterhorn at 167 feet. And Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s Expedition Everest beats them both at a height of 199.5 feet, just shy of the 200-foot mark, which, by law, would have required Disney to affix red lights atop the structure to help pilots see the structure more easily.
But even Expedition Everest looks like a molehill from the heights of competitor coasters.
Roller Coasters That Reach the Sky
In fact, Expedition Everest pales in comparison to the Superman Escape From Krypton coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California. The superhero-themed coaster stands 413 feet high and reaches speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. But it’s still not the tallest in the business.
Six Flags’ new partner, Cedar Fair, will soon welcome guests aboard the Top Thrill 2 at Sandusky, Ohio’s Cedar Point Park. The coaster stands seven feet higher than Escape From Krypton at 420 feet tall, and Top Thrill 2 goes as fast as 120 miles per hour. Not to be outdone by its newly-merged partner in the theme park business, Six Flags Great Adventure, located in Jackson, New Jersey, beats Top Thrill with its Kingda Ka coaster.
Kingda Ka boasts a height of 456 feet and speeds of nearly 130 miles per hour. It stands more than 200 feet taller than Animal Kingdom’s Expedition Everest and moves nearly 50 miles per hour faster than Everest’s top speed of 80 miles per hour during one of its steep drops.
The Tallest and Fastest Roller Coaster on the Planet
But Six Flags won’t be outdone–not even by itself–and as such, the theme park operator has plans to open a coaster in the clouds, as well as a brand-new amusement park, in October 2024. And this coaster will set a world record once it’s finished. The operator is currently constructing its newest amusement park in Saudi Arabia–the Six Flags Qiddiya park.
When the park opens, it will feature the world’s tallest coaster by far–the Falcon’s Flight roller coaster. When completed, it will tower over every coaster around the globe at 640 feet high, and it will reach top speeds of 155 miles per hour.
Once operational, Falcon’s Flight will also be the fastest roller coaster in the world. Currently, that title goes to the Formula Rossa coaster at Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi at 149 miles per hour.