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
••• MGM RESORTS INTERNATIONAL

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 side-to-side head restraints. When the coaster cranks into high gear, its rough ride turns passengers into human pinballs. For riders caught in the head banger's brawl, this is one New York minute that can't end too soon.

Coaster Stats

  • 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. Snaking through the Manhattan mock-up, and creating quite a scene on Las Vegas Boulevard, is the roller coaster's red track.

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 California Screamin' 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 (2017 prices). It doesn't cost much more to spend an entire day at some 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. It costs more to rent a locker. For the, ahem, bargain price of $26, guests can get a ride-all-day ticket.

Why anybody would want to board this thing more than once, however, is beyond me. If you need a thrill ride fix, you might want to check out other Las Vegas roller coasters.

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