Kriston Capps is a staff writer for CityLab covering housing, architecture, and politics. He previously worked as a senior editor for Architect magazine.
With plans for the world's tallest roller coaster, Orlando is winning the global race to build soaring structures that aren't buildings.
The tallest roller coaster in the world is coming. It will be taller than the Tower of Terror in Coomera, Australia. Taller than the Top Thrill Dragster in Sandusky, Ohio. Taller, even, than the current world record-holder, the Kingda Ka in Jackson Township, New Jersey.
And taller than every single building in downtown Orlando.
The Skyscraper aims to live up to its name. When construction of the roller coaster is completed in 2016*, it will dominate Orlando's skyline. At 570 feet, the Skyscraper will loom over the next tallest structure, the Suntrust Center—which is itself only a few dozen feet taller than the Orlando Eye, a 400-foot-tall Ferris wheel opening this spring.
Orlando appears to be one-upping other cities in the global race to build soaring structures that aren't buildings. Where plenty of cities have built observation wheels (Orlando included), the Theme Park Capital of the World is looking to distinguish itself through a different kind of roller coaster, one whose footprint and height resemble, well, a skyscraper's.
Developers released new plans last week for the Skyplex, a $300 million entertainment center that will anchored by the Skyscraper. The expanded plans include the Skyfall, a 450-foot tall drop ride (built into the Skyscraper structure) that will itself be taller than the tallest building in downtown Orlando.
The Skyscraper, however, may not be the scariest roller coaster in the world, despite its ludicrous reach. That honor may go to the Fury325, a ride that opens later this month at Carowinds in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Fury 325 is technically a "giga coaster," according to the Daily Telegraph, because it boasts a drop between 300 and 399 feet. The Fury325 also reaches top speeds of 95 miles per hour and features a nearly 90-degree turn.
All of which is to say that Charlotte and Orlando are off my list of cities to visit this year and next. (Shudder.)
CORRECTION: This article has been updated to reflect the correct expected completion date for the coaster, in 2016.