As a roller coaster fanatic, Top Thrill Dragster is my favorite roller coaster (and for good reason…read all the way down to #15). Here are 15 facts about this awesome roller coaster that you probably didn’t know.
1. The Ride Only Last 17 Seconds
That’s right, you travel 2,800 feet of track, maxing out at a height of 420 feet with a top speed of 120 mph in a mere 17 seconds time. What a thrill!
2. Top Thrill Dragster Set 4 New Records When It Opened
When Top Thrill Dragster opened to the public on May 4, 2003, it set four new roller coaster records:
- Tallest roller coaster
- Tallest roller coaster drop
- Fastest roller coaster
- Tallest complete circuit roller coaster
3. A Train Launches Every Minute
On average, Top Thrill Dragster can handle 1,000 riders per hour. With a capacity of 18 riders per train, when a launch occurs every minute, over 1,000 riders will enjoy Top Thrill Dragster every hour.
4. It Cost $25 Million To Build Top Thrill Dragster
Top Thrill Dragster is tied with Millennium Force as the largest investments in Cedar Point history. Each roller coaster cost Cedar Point $25 million to build.
5. The Coaster Reaches 120 Miles Per Hour in 3.8 Seconds
When Cedar Point revealed the park’s intent to build “the tallest and fastest roller coaster on earth”, people were thrilled. Top Thrill Dragster accelerates up to 120 miles per hour in a mere 3.8 seconds.
Prior to Top Thrill Dragster, Dodonpa at Fuji-Q Highland in Japan was the fastest roller coaster on earth with a top speed of 112 mph.
6. Top Thrill Dragster No Longer Holds Any World Records
When Kingda Ka launched in May 2005 at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, it became the world’s tallest steel roller coaster at 456 feet. Kingda Ka also stole Top Thrill Dragster’s spot for the longest steel roller coaster drop of 418 feet—Top Thrill Dragster had a drop of 400 feet.
Top Thrill Dragster is now the world’s third fastest roller coaster at 120 mph. The world’s fastest roller coaster is Formula Rossa at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates with a top speed of 149 mph. Kingda Ka comes in second with a speed of 128 mph.
7. One of Only Two Strata Roller Coasters in the World
Top Thrill Dragster in Ohio is one of only two strata coasters in the world. The only other strata coaster is Kingda Ka in New Jersey.
A strata roller coaster is any complete-circuit roller coaster with a height between 400 and 500 feet that does not go backwards at any point.
8. Top Thrill Dragster Was Cedar Point’s 13th Roller Coaster
The first roller coaster in Cedar Point was Blue Streak in 1964. Top Thrill Dragster was the thirteenth roller coaster built at the park. At the time of this writing, Cedar Point boasts 17 roller coasters.
Cedar Point is tied with Canada’s Wonderland for the 2nd most roller coasters in the world. Six Flags Magic Mountain in California has the record for the most roller coasters—19 coasters in total.
9. “Race for the Sky” is Top Thrill Dragster’s Tagline
The tagline for Top Thrill Dragster is “Race for the Sky” which is fitting considering it climbs 42 stories before falling 90° back down to ground level.
10. Top Thrill Dragster is Based on Top Fuel Dragsters
Top Thrill Dragster is based on the Top Fuel drag racing motor sport. The fastest accelerating race cars in the world are Top Fuel dragsters.
Cedar Point removed decorative spoilers and engines from the trains shortly after opening which allowed an extra row of seats to be added.
11. Top Thrill Dragster is 2,800 Feet Long
2,800 feet of steel track is the length of Top Thrill Dragster. In the metric system, this is 850 meters of track from start to finish.
This pales in comparison to the world’s longest roller coaster—Steel Dragon 2000 at Nagashima Spa Land in Japan with a total length of 8,133 ft (2,479 m).
12. The Roller Coaster’s Theme Song is “Ready to Go” by Republica
Top Thrill Dragster’s theme song is “Ready to Go” by Republica. Riders will hear this song played while waiting in the station before boarding the train.
The song is a good fit for the ride thanks to its fast tempo consisting of a mix of rock and techno beats which is sure to leave its listeners all the more pumped up.
13. The Metal Launch Cable Has Been Faulty in the Past
On multiple occasions, Top Thrill Dragster’s metal launch cable has proven to be faulty. The launch cable initially came loose just 22 days after Top Thrill Dragster opened and caused the ride to close for several days.
In another incident, four riders were struck by flying shards of metal on July 14, 2004. Injuries included arm abrasions and cuts to the face.
Additionally, on August 7, 2016, the launch cable snapped and two people experienced minor injuries.
14. The Train Doesn’t Always Make it to the Top
Sometimes, the train doesn’t have enough speed to make it over the crest of the hill. While this can be attributed to a number of factors, the combined weight of the riders and weather play a huge role.
Top Thrill Dragster uses a hydraulic launching system to get the train up to a top speed of 120 mph. Once the train leaves the launch area and begins to climb the hill, gravity takes over.
The combined weight of the passengers along with certain wind and/or temperature conditions can interfere with the train’s speed. In cases where the train doesn’t have enough speed to make it over, the train will roll back down the hill. Magnetic brakes will slow the train down to a stop.
15. I Was On Top Thrill Dragster When It Got Stuck At the Top
No joke! My parents still have the newspaper clipping from the next day. Here’s the digital version. Video footage from that day below.
On Friday, June 24, 2005 I was visiting Cedar Point with my family. My two sisters sat next to each other and I was the row behind them by myself. The roller coaster launched normally, just like any other time, but this time as the train crested the top of a hill, it slowed down to a point where it came to a complete stop. We were shocked, scared, and thrilled all at the same time. The view was unforgettable.
After about 15 minutes (seemed a lot longer), a maintenance worker rode the elevator to the top of the roller coaster. We thought we were going to be riding the elevator down, but to our surprise, he harnessed himself to the railing and simply pushed the train forward with his left foot. We safely rode the rest of the way down the hill.
Cedar Point gave us free admission tickets, but we weren’t able to use them since we were heading home the next day.
Have any questions about Top Thrill Dragster or my experience getting stuck at the top? Let me know in the comments below!