Vegas Thrill Rides


Riders of SkyJump, opening in April at the Stratosphere Tower, make an 855-foot descent at speeds up to 40 miles per hour

Between the new hotels at CityCenter and luxury towers rising at the Gold Rush, Hard Rock and Planet Hollywood, it would seem that Las Vegas is moving away from being the family vacation spot it had become in the 1990s. Not so fast—there are plenty of attractions for the kids, and the kid in all of us. Vegas is often described as a theme park for adults, but the destination’s many rides and attractions make the city something of a theme park for everyone.

The Sky’s the Limit

The big news for thrill seekers headed to Vegas is the opening of the SkyJump Vegas on top of the Stratosphere Hotel & Casino in April. Adrenaline junkies will have the opportunity to plummet 855 feet at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour—all while enjoying breathtaking views of the Strip.

Riders of SkyJump will be given a short safety lesson and then geared up in jump suits, connected to a high-speed “descender” machine and led to the edge of a small platform where they will leap out and descend the 100-plus-story Stratosphere. Guide wires keep riders from straying off course. A little before touchdown, the machine slows the rider down, bringing them to a controlled landing. SkyJump joins three thrill rides at the top of the Stratosphere Tower: Big Shot, X-Scream and Insanity.

Extending 68 feet over the edge of the 1,149-foot Stratosphere tower, Insanity spins passengers at up to 3 Gs and lifts them at a 70-degree angle while reaching speeds up to 40 miles per hour at 900 feet above the Strip. X-Scream uses a 69-foot-long roller-coaster track mounted to the base of the Stratosphere Tower’s pod that stops in midair at a 30-degree angle. For those who want the most daring experience, the front seat delivers the best view. For more information, call 702-380-7777 or visit the Stratosphere’s website.

Fast Times

Speed-The Ride at the NASCAR Cafe in the Sahara Hotel & Casino sets itself apart from the average roller coaster with its sheer force and the element of surprise. Electromagnetic force is used to slingshot the state-of-the-art roller coaster out of its launch site and over its first hill. Reaching speeds of 35 miles per hour around the first curve, the coaster then dives into a corkscrew before plummeting 25 feet below ground through a mist-filled tunnel.

The coaster then accelerates from 35 mph to 70 mph in just two seconds as it whips through the Sahara’s 192-foot-tall marquee. Then, just before curving around the porte cochere and up a steep incline, it stops 224 feet above the ground, carrying passengers back through the same path, only this time in reverse.

For those who still haven’t had enough excitement, the NASCAR Cafe Entertainment Center’s 35,000-square-foot Las Vegas Cyber Speedway features racing simulators with realistic sight, sound and motion. Combo packages and all-day passes are available; call 702-737-2750 for more information.

As soon as your clients set foot in the indoor theme park Adventuredome (702-691-5861) at Circus Circus, they will find themselves face to face with The Sling Shot, which shoots them up toward the ceiling at 4 Gs and brings them back down at -1 G.

Adventure seekers and music lovers alike will enjoy the excitement of Disk ‘O, which moves at an astounding 14 rotations per minute on its 100-foot roller-coaster track, while the Canyon Blaster gives riders a 90-foot-high view of the park and boasts the only double-loop, double-corkscrew track in the U.S. The Inverter takes passengers 50 feet off the ground as it flips a full 360 degrees, while Chaos spins them upside-down, backward and counterclockwise.

If your clients find themselves breaking a sweat from some of the more extreme rides, they can take a moment to cool off on the Rim Runner. Riders are left wondering what’s behind every turn as they travel downstream, finally plunging down a 60-foot drop and getting thoroughly drenched.

An all-day pass at Adventuredome is $24.95; junior passes for those under 4 feet tall are $14.95.