Roller coaster fans will face a steep new challenge next year at one of America's top unsung thrill parks.
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Colorado will open Defiance, a Gerstlauer Euro-Fighter with what the park is calling the steepest free fall drop on a roller coaster in the western United States.
Using the original name for the park's home town of Glenwood Springs, Defiance will sit 7,160 feet above sea level, making it the highest looping roller coaster in the United States. The ride will top out at just 75 feet above the ground but will offer a 110-foot drop, since like many thrill rides at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, it will be built on the side of an escarpment overlooking the Colorado River, more than 1,000 feet below.
"We are beyond thrilled to be working with both Gerstlauer and Ride Entertainment to make this coaster a reality," General Manager Nancy Heard said. "Defiance is sure to become instantly recognizable around the world for its incredible setting and unparalleled thrills."
Among those will be the 102.3-degree, 110-foot free fall drop that follows the 75-foot vertical incline. Roller coaster trivia geeks might note that Lagoon's Cannibal in neighboring Utah boasts a 116-degree drop, but Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park counters that Defiance will not use magnetic brakes on its drop, making it a true free fall.
After that plunge, Defiance will take riders through a 98-foot twisted top hat, a high-speed bank rising into a 111-foot banana roll and a zero-G heartline roll before returning to the station. The coaster will reach a top speed of 56 mph during its 56-second ride, with an hourly capacity of 750 people.
Defiance is currently under construction at Gerstlauer's facility in Münsterhausen, Germany with installation by Ride Entertainment scheduled to begin in Colorado next April.
"All of us involved in this project are excited to bring this unique roller coaster to life," Ride Entertainment CEO Ed Hiller said. "Being able to work on Defiance from initial concept, to manufacturing and now installation will be a career highlight for everyone involved."
In addition to the upcoming Defiance, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park offers the Cliffhanger and Wild West Express coasters, as well as an Alpine Coaster, two cave tours, and the underground 110-foot Haunted Mine Drop. For more information, visit glenwoodcaverns.com.
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