Just How Crazy Is the World’s Steepest Rollercoaster?

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Imagine hurtling downward at nerve-fraying speeds while shooting slightly backwards before curving into a perfect vertical drop and out again, sort of like surfing the inside bottom-half of the letter ‘s’.

That’s how the world’s steepest rollercoaster brings it, and if you were silly enough to scarf down a plate of nachos and maybe a big gulp before riding it, you’d best bring something to.

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It’s called the Takabisha (that’s Japanese for “domineering,” because it is) and you’ll find it within the Fuji-Q Highland Amusement Park at the foot of Mount Fuji in the Yamanashi Prefecture of Japan. It sports over 3,281 feet of track (1,000m+) and seven twists, takes around 112 seconds to complete, operates using car-based motors and gravity and costs about $12.50 to ride (which means it’ll take about 3 million tickets to pay back the $37 million spent building the thing).

The coaster’s been teased for months, but it finally opens to the public this coming Saturday, July 16th. Scan this video for a crazy first-person-cam look.


Riding the thing, you’re thrust from a long, dark tunnel (hello “birth canal” symbolism) and carried through a few curves and upside-down loops, before pulling into a kind of halfway depot, where—hello, mental breather? But no, the point’s to ratchet up your agitation meter (it did mine, just watching) by letting you ponder what’s next as the cars hitch onto a chain-belt that pulls you (slowly) to the top of the drop at a virtually vertical angle. Just looking at the tower conjures the impression of someone loading a rocket onto a launch pad, only one designed to abruptly flip around and tear earthward instead of blasting off.

The next part’s a total tease, too. Notice in the video (at about 1:51) how the car suddenly halts at the top of the drop, just when you’d expect it to rocket ahead, compelled by gravity. But nope, these guys understand how suspense augments everything: The car inches forward for a full 10 seconds, lingering over the coaster’s incredible stomach-churning view, before hurtling forward (and downward) the full 141 feet (43m) at speeds of up to 62 mph (100km/hour). Yep, you’ll actually experience weightlessness here.

It may not be the world’s fastest (that’s the Formula Rossa, at 150mph), or even the tallest (that would be the Kingda Ka, at 456 feet), but with the Takabisha’s 121-degree ‘s’-shaped free-fall, it’s indisputably the most precipitous.

(via Crazy Engineers)

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Matt Peckham is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @mattpeckham or on Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.