Kingda Ka

Roller coaster in the United States
Watch the on-ride POV
Kingda Ka
Six Flags Great Adventure
Location Jackson, New Jersey, USA
Coordinates 40°08′21″N 74°26′12″W / 40.1392483°N 74.4365633°W / 40.1392483; -74.4365633
Status Operating since May 21, 2005
Cost $25,000,000
Rider height 54 inch minimum
Manufacturer Intamin
Product Accelerator Coaster
Designer / calculations Ing.-Büro Stengel GmbH
Onsite construction Martin & Vleminckx
Type Steel - Launched - Strata
Riders per train 20
Hourly capacity 1400
Propulsion Hydraulic launch
Power consumption 15500 kW
Height 456 feet
Drop 418 feet
Top speed 128 mph
Length 3118 feet
Inversions 0
Drop angle 90°
Duration 0:28
G-Force 5 g

Kingda Ka is a steel launched strata 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 in 2010.

Kingda Ka is the sixth Accelerator Coaster from Intamin. The ride was installed by Martin & Vleminckx.[1]


Kingda Ka in 2012 with Green Lantern in the foreground, Rolling Thunder and El Toro to the right

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.[2] Upon completion, Kingda Ka took the "tallest" and "fastest" world records from the two-year-old Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.[3] 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, rather than rolling back into the station like Top Thrill Dragster. On January 13, 2005, Kingda Ka was topped off at its 456-foot height, finishing construction.[4] Originally intended to open on April 23, 2005, problems with the launch system caused the opening to be delayed.[5][6] Kingda Ka opened to the public on May 21, 2005,[7] with a media day two days before on May 19.

During a test run without passengers on June 8, 2005, a bolt failure caused damage to the launch cable, resulting in the ride's closure until August[8] 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 attached to the support structure of Kingda Ka.[9] Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom would exceed Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom's height by 15 feet. Additional support had to be added to the structure of Kingda Ka to support the three drop tracks.[10][11] Kingda Ka reopened with Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom on July 4, 2014.[12]



Ride experience

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 top hat. The train gradually raises up the ride tower 90 degrees and then twists to the left 90 degrees. Once the train reaches the tower summit of 456 feet, it drops at a 90-degree angle down the tower as it turns 270 degrees. The train pulls out of the spiral and down the tower 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 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 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 a 20,800 horsepower (15.5 MW) peak. Because of the trains' high speed and open nature, the ride will not operate in light rain, as rider contact with rain drops can cause discomfort.


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 and 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.

The catchcar, which connects to the underside of the train to propel it to maximum speed

Sometimes, it is possible for a train to rollback or travel backward down the top hat into the launch area. Instead, the train 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 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 rarer 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. If 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 only sounds 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.


The track switching mechanism for the dual station

Kingda Ka has a dual station - this 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 station; it does not go to any others. The trains on one side are loaded during operation 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 are then be allowed 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.


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.

Each of Kingda Ka's trains has a panel behind the last row of seats covering an extra row of seat mounts. These panels could be removed for the installation of additional seats in the future. 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.


Kingda Ka's over-the-shoulder harness 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 primary locking system fails. In order to speed up loading, riders are asked to secure their own restraints if they can.


2005 malfunction

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.[13] It reopened on August 5, 2005,[14] 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

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.[15]

2011 Breakdown

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.[16]

2012 Bird Strike

A 12-year-old boy suffered minor injuries after he was struck by a bird while riding Kingda Ka.[17] 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

Kingda Ka is similar in ride experience to Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point, 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.


  • The hydraulically-launched coaster Zenith, available as a ride option within Planet Coaster, is based on Kingda Ka.



  1. Attraction Installation - Martin & Vleminckx
  2. Six Flags Great Adventure Will Launch The Tallest, Fastest Roller Coaster On Earth And New Jungle Domain With Tiger Exhibit For 2005 - Ultimate Rollercoaster
  3. "Tallest and fastest".
  4. "Great Adventure To Top Off World's Tallest Coaster". Ultimate Rollercoaster.
  5. Kingda Ka Megastructures Part 4
  6. "Kingda Ka coaster opening delayed". Asbury Park Press. April 19, 2005. p. 8. Retrieved January 20, 2022.
  7. Kingda Ka Construction I - GreatAdventureHistory
  8. Six Flags Reopens Kingda Ka, World's Tallest and Fastest Roller Coaster, at N.J. Theme Park - Business Wire
  9. World's Tallest Freefall Opening at Six Flags Great Adventure in 2014 - NewsPlusNotes
  10. "Six Flags Great Adventure- Kingda Ka gets more support". Insanity lurks inside. 2014-02-19. Retrieved 2022-02-28.
  11. Kingda Ka's New Look for Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom - NewsPlusNotes
  12. Great Adventure's 'Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom' ride opens after numerous delays - NJ
  13. Kingda Ka malfunctions during testing - Ride Accidents
  14. The King Lives - Theme Park Review
  15. Six Flags Great Adventure - Screamscape (Wayback archive)
  16. "Hurricane Irene: Did it destroy Kingda Ka at Six Flags?".
  17. Bird slams into boy's face on Six Flags roller coaster -

External links

The category Kingda Ka contains additional media.
Tallest complete-circuit roller coaster
May 2005 - present
Preceded by
Top Thrill Dragster
Tallest complete-circuit roller coaster
May 2005 - present
Succeeded by
Tallest roller coaster
May 2005 - present
Preceded by
Top Thrill Dragster
Tallest roller coaster
May 2005 - present
Succeeded by
Tallest roller coaster drop
May 2005 - present
Preceded by
Top Thrill Dragster
Tallest roller coaster drop
May 2005 - present
Succeeded by
Fastest roller coaster
May 2005 - November 2010
Preceded by
Top Thrill Dragster
Fastest roller coaster
May 2005 - November 2010
Succeeded by
Formula Rossa
Articles on Six Flags Great Adventure