|Click here to watch the on-ride POV|
|Designer / calculations||Ing.-Büro Stengel GmbH|
|Onsite construction||Martin & Vleminckx|
|Type||Steel - Launched - Strata|
|Model / product||Accelerator Coaster|
|Riders per train||20|
|Power consumption||15500 kW|
Kingda Ka is a steel launched roller coaster located at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, USA. When it opened on May 21, 2005, it succeeded Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point as the tallest and fastest roller coaster, reaching a height of 456 feet and speed of 128 mph. While it remains the tallest, it is now the second fastest roller coaster having been surpassed by Formula Rossa at Ferrari World.
History[edit | edit source]
Kingda Ka was officially introduced on September 29, 2004, at an event held for the media and enthusiasts. It was revealed that the ride would become "the tallest and fastest roller coaster on Earth", reaching 456 feet and accelerating from 0 to 128 mph in 3.5 seconds. Upon completion, Kingda Ka took both the "tallest" and "fastest" world records from the two-year-old Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. Since Intamin designed both Top Thrill Dragster and Kingda Ka, both rides share a nearly identical design and layout, differing only in theme and Kingda Ka's post-tower "bunny" hill. On January 13, 2005, Kingda Ka was topped off at its 456 foot height, finishing construction. Originally intended to open on April 23, 2005, delays in construction and problems with the launch system required the opening to be pushed back. Kingda Ka opened to the public on May 21, 2005, with a media day two days before.
During a test run with no passengers on June 8, 2005, a bolt failure caused damage to the launch cable, resulting in closure of the ride until August, and the reconfiguration of the line area. The ride was also struck by lightning in early May 2009; the strike caused the ride to be unreliable and necessitated complicated repairs. The ride was operational from May 31, 2009, to June 24, 2009, but remained closed for maintenance until August 21, 2009.
On August 29, 2013, Six Flags officially announced Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom, a 415 foot tall drop tower to be attached to the support structure of Kingda Ka. Additional support had to be added to the structure of Kingda Ka to support the three drop tracks. Kingda Ka reopened with Zumanjaro on July 4, 2014.
Design[edit | edit source]
Two of Kingda Ka's trains advance out of the station onto the block section. The first train then waits about 30–40 seconds as a catch car rolls down the launch track and attaches to the train. After the brake fins lining the launch train lower a train is then launched at up to 128 mph towards the 456 ft tower. The train then gradually raises up the ride tower 90 degrees up and then twists to the left 90 degrees. Once the train reaches the tower summit of 456 feet the train then drops at a 90 degree angle down the tower as it turn 270 degrees. The train pulls out of the spiral and down the tower at a near 120 mph into a hill 129 ft high. At the peak of the 129 ft hill the train begins to hit the brakes. After a final brake stop the train then turns left back into the station. The average time of the ride experience is only 28 seconds. The official ride time is 50 seconds. Also, after the train has been locked and checked, it slowly advances out of the station to the launch area. The train goes through a switch track which allows 4 trains on two tracks to load simultaneously. Once the train is in position, the hydraulic launch mechanism accelerates the train from 0 to 128 mph in 3.5 seconds, pulling about 1.67 g. At the end of the launch track, the train climbs the main tower, or top hat, twisting 90 degrees to the left before reaching a height of 456 feet. The train then descends 418 feet straight down through a 270-degree right-hand vertical spiral. Finally, the train climbs the second hill of 129 feet, producing a moment of weightlessness before being smoothly brought to a stop by the magnetic brakes. The train then makes a U-turn and enters the station. The ride lasts 28 seconds from the start of the launch to the end of the brake run, but has an official ride time of 59 seconds. The hydraulic launch motor is capable of producing 20,800 horsepower (15.5 MW) peak. Because of the high speed and open nature of the trains, the ride will not operate in light rain, as rider contact with rain drops can cause discomfort.
Theme[edit | edit source]
Kingda Ka is themed as a mythical tiger, and is named after the 500 lb (230 kg) golden tabby Bengal tiger that lives in a pen next to the ride. The ride's sign and station all have mythical Indian-style theming. The ride's queue line is surrounded by bamboo, which adds to the jungle theming. Jungle music is played during the wait, as well as throughout the entire Golden Kingdom section of the park, which was built for the ride. As of Summer 2010, one of the park's male tigers is named after the ride.
Rollbacks, etc.[edit | edit source]
Sometimes, it is possible for a train to rollback, or travel backwards down the top hat into the launch area. The train instead reaches as high on the tower as it can go (in most cases to the very top) and rolls back. Kingda Ka includes retractable magnetic brakes on its launch track that will bring to a stop a train rolling backward down the tower. Rollbacks are more common in breezy weather or just after wet weather. Many riders look forward to a rollback, as they are treated to another launch. Rollbacks are frequent during safety tests to ensure all brakes on the runway are in working condition. One other issue that is even more rare than a rollback is for the train to "stall" or stop at the top of the lift. This is so rare because the train must be perfectly balanced for this to happen. In the event this happens, there is an elevator so workers can get up the support tower and push the train (usually down the descent side).
It is hard to know exactly when Kingda Ka's launch will occur. When the signal to launch is given, the train rolls back slightly to engage the catch car, then the brakes on the launch track retract. Occasionally there will be a voice that says "arms down, head back, and hold on." The launch will occur five seconds after the hissing sound of the brake fins retracting or the warning voice. Previously, Kingda Ka's horn sounded before every launch, but it has been turned off because of noise complaints from nearby residents. The horn now sounds only when Kingda Ka first launches after being idle for a certain period of time. Kingda Ka's launch mechanism is capable of launching a train every 45 seconds, resulting in a capacity of 1400 guests per hour.
Station[edit | edit source]
Kingda Ka has a dual station - that is a station with two platforms. Each of the station's tracks accommodates two trains, so that each of the four trains has its own station. Each train only loads and unloads at its own station; it does not go to any others. During operation, the trains on one side are loaded while the trains on the other side are launched. This system works efficiently as long as all four trains are running and there are no significant delays in loading and checking the trains. This system was not used at all in 2006 because only two trains were working that year. It also results in a very fast-moving line before the station, but a long wait inside the station, especially if waiting for the front row. An employee directs riders in line to go to a particular side of the station, but riders will then be able to choose the front or rear of the train. Two operators load, check and dispatch each train, and one launches the trains. Kingda Ka's music is by Safri Duo; almost their entire Episode II album is played in the queue and station. The other is the remix version of "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor. Both of these records can be heard during the queue and station.
Trains[edit | edit source]
Kingda Ka has four trains, painted green, dark blue, teal, and orange. Each train has five cars and seats 18 people. The first four cars seat four riders in two rows of two, while the last car has only one row of two riders. The rear row of each car is positioned higher than its front row for better visibility. The dark blue train was being launched when 2005's major malfunction (see above) occurred, and problems stemming from this malfunction were discovered in the train's off-season rehab, putting this train out of service throughout the 2006 season. As a result, Kingda Ka only ran two trains for the whole year. The teal and green trains ran from the start of the season until late July, and the teal and orange trains ran for the rest of the season, with the teal train being the only train used for the whole season. Kingda Ka opened for the 2007 season with all four trains running. Each of Kingda Ka's trains has a panel behind the last row of seats that covers an extra row of seat mounts. These panels could be removed for the installation of additional seats at some future time. This modification would increase the capacity of each train from 18 to 20 guests and the hourly capacity of the coaster from 1400 to 1600 guests per hour. Kingda Ka's station is already set up for this modification; it has the entrance gates for the currently nonexistent row of seats.
Restraints[edit | edit source]
Kingda Ka's over-the-shoulder restraint system consists of a thick, rigid lap bar and two thin, flexible over-the-shoulder restraints. Because the over-the-shoulder portions of the restraint are not rigid, the hand grips are mounted to the lap bar. These restraints use a locking system (rather than a ratchet) which allows them to be pulled down to any position; when locked, they can move down to any position but not up. In contrast, a ratchet-based restraint only locks at each notch, and will often be too loose or uncomfortably tight. Kingda Ka's restraints are also held down by a belt in case the main locking system fails. In order to speed up loading, riders are asked to secure their own restraints if they are able to.
Incidents[edit | edit source]
2005 malfunction[edit | edit source]
On June 6, 2005, less than a month after its grand opening, a bolt failure caused the liner inside the trough through which the launch cable travels to come loose and create friction against the cable. The friction caused the train not to accelerate to the correct speed. The rubbing of the cable against the inside of the metal trough caused sparks and shards of metal to fly out from the bottom of the train.
The magnetic brake fins located within the launch section of the track, designed to slow the train on its return to the launch area should it not have enough speed to make it over the top hat element, rise up into the braking position in a sequential pattern after the train passes over them in the lowered position. The fins are mounted in steel supports that are connected to actuators that raise and lower the fins into the desired position.
The fins actually caught up to the launching train as the timing pattern of the rising fins was faster than the accelerating train. The magnetic brakes began to slow the train in the launch area, and the engine tried to compensate even more and dragged the train through the brake zones. The catch car released, but the train was still in the brake zone and came to a complete stop at the bottom of the hill.
Many components were damaged in the incident and replacements had to be fabricated from Intamin. It reopened on August 5, 2005, with the queue line modified so that it no longer ran under the launch track. The ride has used this makeshift replacement queue ever since. It had been the dark blue train that was launched when the malfunction occurred. It was used for the rest of the season, but major problems requiring replacement parts were discovered when the train was inspected during the off-season. Consequently, this train remained disassembled throughout the 2006 season.
Before 2005's major malfunction, Kingda Ka's queue area was much larger. It started at the main entrance arch, went under the launch track, traveled through two large switchback areas and split into separate lines for each side of the station. Most of the entire line used to be set in the ride's infield. The current main entrance to the station was previously the "Flash Pass" entrance.
2009 lightning strike[edit | edit source]
In May 2009, Kingda Ka was struck by lightning and suffered serious damage and downtime following the strike. The ride operated on May 9 and May 10 off and on with downtime more often than operating time. The park attempted to open the ride on May 16 but was unable to get it running properly. The park then announced that Kingda Ka was temporarily closed for maintenance. By May 20, it was announced that the ride would be down for an extended period of time. Six Flags Great Adventure ordered new parts for the ride from Intamin, but the damage required complicated repairs to Kingda Ka. A Screamscape post mentioned that, due to the nature of the needed repairs, Kingda Ka's launch would require a full test and adjust period, causing the ride to be closed to riders until late spring/early summer. It was up and running as of May 31, 2009, but with more frequent breakdowns than usual. As of late June 2009 the ride was shut down for an extended period, stemming from complications from the year's issues, along with claims of a blown fuse and serious engine troubles as they waited for replacement parts once again. It was up and running as of August 21, 2009. It had been announced that Kingda Ka would be fully operational and running smoothly again for the 2010 season, which occurred on the same day as Six Flags, Inc.'s announcement of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring plan.
2011 Breakdown[edit | edit source]
On August 27, 2011, Kingda Ka suffered damage shortly before Hurricane Irene. On exactly the same day, the roller coaster closed due to the approaching hurricane. Kingda Ka could not run during the hurricane. The roller coaster was reopened on the park's main opening, April 5, 2012.
2012 Bird Strike[edit | edit source]
A 12-year-old boy suffered minor injuries after he was struck by a bird while riding Kingda Ka. He was taken to hospital after suffering minor scratching and bruising to the side of his neck and head. Kingda Ka was closed for half an hour following the incident.
Similar rides[edit | edit source]
Kingda Ka is very similar in ride experience to Top Thrill Dragster, which opened two years prior, but offers an increased height and drop length, faster top speed and an airtime hill. However, Kingda Ka uses over-the-shoulder restraints, which are more restrictive than the lap-bars used on Top Thrill Dragster.
In 2006, two smaller roller coasters opened which share the same layout as Kingda Ka but on a smaller scale. Stealth at Thorpe Park and Zaturn at Space World are both less than half the height of Kingda Ka.
The layout, minus the airtime hill, was revived in 2017 with the opening of Red Force at Ferrari Land, however its height is 90 feet shorter than that of Kingda Ka. It also uses an LSM launch instead of Kingda Ka's hydraulic launch.
References[edit | edit source]
- Attraction Installation - Martin & Vleminckx
- Six Flags Great Adventure Will Launch The Tallest, Fastest Roller Coaster On Earth And New Jungle Domain With Tiger Exhibit For 2005 - Ultimate Rollercoaster
- Kingda Ka Megastructures Part 4
- Kingda Ka Construction I - GreatAdventureHistory
- Six Flags Reopens Kingda Ka, World's Tallest and Fastest Roller Coaster, at N.J. Theme Park - Business Wire
- World's Tallest Freefall Opening at Six Flags Great Adventure in 2014 - NewsPlusNotes
- Kingda Ka's New Look for Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom - NewsPlusNotes
- Great Adventure's 'Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom' ride opens after numerous delays - NJ
- Kingda Ka malfunctions during testing - Ride Accidents
- The King Lives - Theme Park Review
- Six Flags Great Adventure - Screamscape (Wayback archive)
- Bird slams into boy's face on Six Flags roller coaster - philly.com
External Links[edit | edit source]
- on the Roller Coaster DataBase.
|Tallest complete-circuit roller coaster|
May 2005 - present
Top Thrill Dragster
|Tallest complete-circuit roller coaster
May 2005 - present
|Tallest roller coaster|
May 2005 - present
Top Thrill Dragster
|Tallest roller coaster
May 2005 - present
|Tallest roller coaster drop|
May 2005 - present
Top Thrill Dragster
|Tallest roller coaster drop
May 2005 - present
|Fastest roller coaster|
May 2005 - November 2010
Top Thrill Dragster
|Fastest roller coaster
May 2005 - November 2010
|Roller coasters at Six Flags Great Adventure|
|Present||Batman The Ride • Bizarro • Dark Knight • El Toro • Green Lantern • Harley Quinn Crazy Train • Jersey Devil Coaster • Joker • Kingda Ka • Nitro • Runaway Mine Train • Skull Mountain • Superman Ultimate Flight|
|Former||Alpen Blitz • Batman And Robin: The Chiller • Big Fury • Great American Scream Machine • Jumbo Jet • Lightnin' Loops (upper track - lower track) • Lil' Thunder • Rolling Thunder • Sarajevo Bobsled • Shockwave • Ultra Twister • Viper • Wild Rider • Road Runner Railway|