TAMPA, FL—Marking a bold new direction in amusement ride innovation, representatives from Busch Gardens officially opened a 9,600-mile-long mega-coaster Thursday designed to push the limits of human endurance.
According to park officials, the Staminator, the world’s first transcontinental steel roller coaster, features an intense, 14-day ride that challenges passengers’ physical and mental resilience with elements such as a 1,500-mile straightaway, a banked curve across five Midwestern states, and interlocking corkscrews stretching from Nebraska to the West Coast.
“There have always been plenty of options at Busch Gardens for the casual thrill-seeker, but never any for those who want an extreme, adrenaline-fueled experience that, over the course of half a month, taxes every fiber of the human spirit while also showing all that this beautiful country has to offer,” said park director William Bohl, revealing that the Staminator shatters all previous park records with speeds of 90 mph sustained for 17 hours at a time. “For those people, I present a daring new ride that rockets passengers across vast prairies, through dense forests, over rugged mountain ranges, and down into deep river valleys, as well as blasting them through picturesque historic districts of major metropolitan areas at breakneck speeds.”
“Busch Gardens is proud to be the only park in the United States committed to thrilling visitors in four different time zones on a single ride,” he continued.
Bohl confirmed that the cutting-edge ride begins at Busch Gardens’ Tampa, FL location and then immediately exits the theme park, quickly disappearing into the horizon and accelerating up the Eastern Seaboard, where passengers encounter a sharp turn from Virginia to Illinois followed by a barrage of 5,000 vertical loops in a row. Additionally, the Staminator reportedly plunges riders into winding, pitch-black underground tunnels for two straight days, returning to the surface for a 10-hour ascent to the peak of Mount Elbert in Colorado before forcing passengers to endure a precipitous 1,400-story drop.
According to a warning sign posted for the ride, passengers are recommended to empty their pockets before the ride begins and securely strap nonperishable foods and important medications to their body. The sign also reportedly advises riders to prepare for a wide variety of weather during the ride, with temperatures ranging from 120 degrees in Death Valley to 20 degrees below zero during a 400-mile stretch in the Rocky Mountains that is above the tree line.
“I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie, so when I heard about a ride where you stay upside down across all of the Pacific Northwest, I had to check it out,” said passenger Ronnie Grubert, whose face was dirty and heavily bearded after taking the inaugural ride on the Staminator. “I loved all of it, although I must have passed out from either altitude sickness or dehydration when we did an inclined dive loop from Phoenix to Houston.”
“It was pretty crazy,” Grubert added. “I think I lost my right flip-flop over one of the Great Plains states.”
Busch Gardens officials told reporters that, after exiting the endurance coaster upon its return to the park, passengers would have the opportunity to remember their experience by purchasing a photo of themselves taken just as the coaster crested the Continental Divide on day nine of the ride.
“I have to admit that I closed my eyes for the first few states and I didn’t really like getting wet when we dipped underwater for the entire length of Lake Tahoe, but overall, I thought it was incredible,” said passenger Andrew Hoppe. “Honestly, the whole thing went by really fast, so I’d love to go again. It sucks that you have to wait in line for 90 minutes to get back on, though.”
“This time, I’ll definitely be going to the bathroom beforehand,” Hoppe added.
Busch Gardens officials also unveiled the Staminator Junior, a modest-paced children’s ride on a quarter-mile track that goes in circles 15,000 times.