The amusement industry has a long and checkered history when it comes to slinging hype. In an effort to promote its latest rides, create buzz, and drive attendance, parks may resort to hucksterism that borders on (or occasionally lapses into) deception.
When it comes to roller coasters, parks can pour on the dubious claims. Every year, it seems, they brag about opening the fastest roller coaster, the tallest roller coaster, or attach some other superlative to their latest (and invariably greatest) thrill machine. But they can't all be the fastest. Or can they?
Parks sometimes resort to finessing their claims with qualifications to justify the superlatives. Take Cedar Point for example. Opened in 2016, Valravn is the park's 17th coaster. By all accounts, it is a wonderful ride.
Cedar Point claims that the coaster breaks 10 world records. Technically, it is correct. But the records that Valravn break are quite specific. Casual fans may not know enough about the industry to fully understand what the park is claiming. The mainstream media may not report all of the details to provide the context for the records. The result is that misleading or incorrectly reported claims may go unchallenged.
Let's deconstruct Cedar Point's 10 world record claims for Valravn and put them into context.
At 223 feet, Valravn was the world's tallest dive coaster in 2016, and it is plenty tall. But the qualification is "dive coaster." It is a specific type of ride. Designed by Swiss manufacturer, Bolliger & Mabillard, a dive coaster refers to a ride that features a tall, vertical first drop. Its trains hang over the edge of the drop and pause before diving down.
Dive coasters are great rides, and I rate two of them among the best steel coasters in North America. There are currently 15 dive coasters operating in the world. A few of them approach or exceed 200 feet. The Cedar Point ride tops them in height, but not by a heckuva lot.
Compared to all roller coasters, Valravn's height doesn't come close to breaking any records. Two of Cedar Point's own coasters, Millennium Force (310 feet) and Top Thrill Dragster (420 feet) handily beat it. The world's tallest coaster, at 456 feet, is currently Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure. There are plans to build an even taller one, the 570-foot Skyscraper in Florida (although it appears that project may never get off of the ground).
UPDATE: In 2019, Canada’s Wonderland in Vayghan, Ontario, opened an even taller dive coaster, Yukon Striker. It climbs 223 feet, but drops 245 feet.
Again, the specification is a dive coaster. Valravn hits 75 mph, which is quite fast and is surely thrilling. But Top Thrill Dragster, with its rip-roaring hydraulic launch, accelerates to 120 mph. The world's fastest coaster, Formula Rossa at Ferrari World, goes 149 mph. Griffon, a dive coaster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, reaches a top speed of 71 mph.
UPDATE: At 81 mph, Yukon Striker beats Valravn in the speed department also.
At 3,415 feet, Valravn is the longest dive coaster, but it isn't really all that long by coaster standards. It is less than half as long as another Ohio coaster, The Beast at King's Island. The world's longest coaster, Steel Dragon 2000, crushes the record at 8,133 feet. Another dive coaster, SheiKra at Busch Gardens Tampa, is 3,188 feet long.
UPDATE: Yup, Yukon Striker is also longer than Valravn with 3,625 feet of track.
Valravn includes three inversions. That's not a whole lot of inversions. The dive coaster Griffon offers two. By comparison, Gatekeeper at Cedar Point has six upside-down inversions. With an astonishing 14 inversions, the current world's record holder is Smiler at Alton Towers in the UK.
UPDATE: Yukon Striker includes four inversions.
A coaster's longest drop is generally tied to its height. Again, the record here is for dive coasters. Valravn's 214-foot drop is long but considerably shorter than many of the world's tallest coasters.
UPDATE: As indicated above, Yukon Striker drops 245 feet.
The 165-foot "Immelman" loop on Valravn is quite tall. But the highest inversion record to which Cedar Point is laying claim is specifically for dive coasters.
When it opened, Valravn brought the total number of coasters that soar 200 feet or taller at Cedar Point to five. That is quite impressive. By the way, the park introduced the first coaster to reach the 200-foot milestone, Magnum XL-200, in 1989. In 2018, the park reimagined Mean Streak as the wooden-steel hybrid coaster, Steel Vengeance. The re-profiled ride now climbs 205 feet and marks Cedar Point's sixth coaster to exceed 200 feet.
With 17 coasters in all, Cedar Point is second only to Six Flags Magic Mountain (which has 19 thrill machines) for the park with the most coasters in the world. Cedar Point claims that Valravn is its 18th coaster, however. What's up with that? It probably considers Gemini, a twin-track racing coaster, to be two rides.
With 72 rides, which includes coasters (although that's probably counting Gemini as two rides), Cedar Point certainly has a bounty. Without including Valravn, the park may have already held the record for the most number of rides.
Most Steel Track
Cedar Point says that Valravn brings its total steel coaster track to 9.9 miles. Some of its coasters are longer than the ones at Six Flags Magic Mountain, which has more steel coasters.
By tossing in its wooden coasters, Cedar Point says it has 11.4 miles of total coaster track.