'Goliath' roller coaster opens in US

20:57, Jun 19 2014
Goliath roller coaster
LONG WAY DOWN: Goliath at Six Flags Magic Mountain

A ride nicknamed "Goliath" and billed as the world's fastest wooden roller coaster went into operation at Six Flags Great America amusement park in Illinois, park officials said.

The coaster reaches top speeds of 116 kph and has the steepest drop of any wooden coaster - a near-vertical 85-degree plunge from an 180-foot (55 metres) height, according to the park in Gurnee, about 64 km north of Chicago.

"Everybody who came into the park today was standing in the Goliath queue," said Six Flags spokeswoman Katy Enrique.

Wooden roller coasters, which typically have running rails of flattened steel strips mounted on a wooden track, have seen a revival in popularity since the mid-1990s.

That is partly because they are less expensive to build than steel coasters, while still providing the same, if not greater thrills, said Justin Kreindel, 32, an Atlanta attorney and coaster enthusiast who has ridden close to 200 different coasters worldwide.

Many coaster fans prefer wooden coasters, he said, since a steel coaster cannot replicate the "out-of-control feel" of a wooden coaster, although they are equally safe.

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Reuters