Las Vegas’ Big Apple Roller Coaster Is Rotten

You Might Want to Skip this New York New York Casino Ride

Big Apple roller coaster at New York New York Casino Las Vegas

In a word: OUCH!

It's unusual for a hypercoaster (a coaster with a height of about 200 feet) to include inversions. The Big Apple Coaster shows why. Its over-the-shoulder harnesses incorporate restraints that are positioned on either side of riders’ heads. When the coaster cranks into high gear, its rough ride turns passengers’ noggins into human pinballs. For riders caught in the head banger's brawl, this is one New York minute that can’t end too soon.

  • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 6.5
    • High lift hill, fast speed, inversions, head banging
  • Type: Steel looping hypercoaster
  • Height (feet): 203
  • Highest drop (feet): 144
  • Max. speed (mph): 67

This Ride Takes You for a Loop

The setting is surreal, Las Vegas-style. The faux New York City skyline along Sin City’s famed Strip, with its Statue of Liberty, Chrysler building, and other landmarks, is both enchanting and unsettling—particularly with the “Eiffel Tower” looming just across the street. The roller coaster’s red track snakes through the Manhattan mock-up, and creates quite a scene on Las Vegas Boulevard.

It would have been so much more apropos to build a classic white wood coaster in homage to Coney Island’s famed Cyclone (or at least a steel coaster made to look like a woodie, such as the Incredicoaster at Disney California Adventure). The casino’s designers, however, opted for a steel looping hypercoaster.

Instead of doubling the fun, The Big Apple’s hypercoaster heights and looping inversion elements cancel each other out—and cause some pain to boot. Rather than being built for height and speed, the coaster climbs over 200 feet, but (to accommodate the inversions?) only drops 144 feet and reaches a relatively puny top speed of 67 mph. In place of the graceful inversions of most looping coasters, the ride’s jarring twists and turns are worse than a cab ride during rush hour in midtown Manhattan.

Pocket-Emptying Palace

Speaking of cab rides, the coaster’s trains are painted taxi yellow with a checkered black design. Getting to the attraction is anything but an express ride, however. The loading station is inside the casino, at the rear of the building. In the old days, when casinos simply wanted to attract and keep gamblers inside their pocket-emptying palaces, they offered loss leaders like cheap buffets and strategically placed them to lure hungry cheapskates past the blinking slot machines. Likewise, in order to get to the coaster, riders have to navigate a maze that winds through most of the massive facility.

But now, the casinos want everything to be a profit center. New York, New York has the nerve to charge $15 to ride Manhattan Express (2019 prices). For about twice that amount, you could spend an entire day at some smaller amusement parks. If that’s not bad enough, the casino doesn’t allow carry-on items, and doesn’t permit riders to stow items in the station (as most parks allow). It costs more to rent a locker. For the, ahem, bargain price of $26, guests could get a ride-all-day ticket. Why anybody would want to board this thing more than once, however, is beyond us. If you need a thrill ride fix, you might want to check out other Las Vegas roller coasters.

In 2019, New York New York added virtual reality to the coaster. Passengers have the option of donning VR goggles and experiencing a virtual experience in which they chase an alien along the Las Vegas strip. The visuals are synced to the motion of the coaster. A few years ago, Six Flags and other parks introduced the concept of VR coasters. Most of them have since abandoned the fad. Whether passengers choose VR or not, their Big Apple ride would still be overly rough.

To be fair, the sight of the coaster careening around Lady Liberty, particularly at night, is striking. Our advice: Skip the ride, and watch it from the Strip for free.

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