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15 Record-Breaking Rollercoasters You Can Visit

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They’re exhilarating, stomach churning, and often touted as record-breaking. It seems each time an amusement park unveils a new, seemingly physics-defying piece of machinery, they claim that their coaster is taller, faster, and more thrilling than ones that came before. (Coming next in 2018: the SkyScraper—an inversion-filled ride that winds up and around a 570-foot tower at Orlando’s SkyPlex.) In honor of National Roller Coaster Day on August 16, we’ve rounded up other record-crushers. Enjoy the ride!

1. TALLEST COASTER: KINGDA KA // SIX FLAGS GREAT ADVENTURE, JACKSON, NEW JERSEY

Reaching 128 miles per hour in just 3.5 seconds, this hydraulic launch rocket coaster wows out of the gate. The first drop—a staggering 418-foot peak at a 90-degree angle—is thrilling, but not without its drawbacks. If the coaster fails to hit top speed during the launch, it may not reach the top of the hill, causing the cars to reverse back down (a sign explains this is a “normal occurrence” and the cars will safely roll back to get launched again). And the hazards of being so high in the air (think: lightning strikes and even potential bird collisions!) means the ride is shut down at the first hint of inclement weather.

2. STEEPEST COASTER: TAKABISHA // FUJI-Q HIGHLAND, YAMANASHI, JAPAN

YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images

Nestled at the base of Mount Fuji, this 3281-foot ride (developed for $37 million in 2011) begins with a 141-foot drop at a dizzying 121-degree angle. (Yes, that’s even "steeper" than plunging straight down.) Alongside the free fall, riders get their nearly $10 worth with seven inversions over the course of 112 seconds.

3. FASTEST COASTER: FORMULA ROSSA // FERRARI WORLD, ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

This speedster is so fast that riders are required to wear a set of sky diving goggles to protect them from bugs, dust, and other particles that could zoom into their eyes. In just two seconds, the ride, designed to mimic Formula One auto racing, hits 62 miles per hour. Over the course of 1.3 miles it eventually tops out at about 150 miles per hour and exerts 1.7gs of force on the adrenaline-loving passengers.

4. LONGEST COASTER: STEEL DRAGON 2000 // NAGASHIMA SPA LAND, KUWANA, MIE PREFECTURE, JAPAN

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Appropriately released in 2000—the year of the dragon—this four-minute experience includes a 30-story drop, figure eights and massive hills along its 8133 feet of track. The price tag was also over-the-top. As the ride was built in Japan, it required more steel than other coasters to protect against potential earthquakes. Costs eventually climbed over $50 million.

5. TALLEST LOOP: FULL THROTTLE // SIX FLAGS MAGIC MOUNTAIN, VALENCIA, CALIFORNIA

When this steel launch-style roller coaster opened in 2013 it booted another Six Flags ride (Texas’ Superman: Krypton Coaster) from the record books. Riders start out going forward, halfway through are shot backwards, and then switch back to a forward direction mid loop. Its chart-topping vertical loop stands tall at 160 feet.

6. MOST INVERSIONS: THE SMILER // ALTON TOWERS, STAFFORDSHIRE, UK

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Even threat of injury can’t keep fans away from this British attraction that features 14 upside-down loops and a series of optical illusions. The ride was shuttered for nine months after two teen riders needed leg amputations and 14 others were injured in a horrifying June 2015 crash. But when it reopened the following March—after extensive safety reviews—hundreds lined up to hop on.

7. TALLEST WOOD COASTER: COLOSSOS // HEIDE-PARK SOLTAU, LOWER SAXONY, GERMANY

Though it’s some 260 feet shorter than Kingda Ka at 196.8 feet, this European ride earns the record of the highest coaster made of wood. When it was built in 2001, it picked up another distinction: the first wooden coaster to use a prefabricated track. The beams were laser cut in a factory, making the pieces more precise and able to snap together like LEGO pieces. The so-called “plug and play” design meant it could be built faster and require less labor.

8. OLDEST CONTINUOUSLY OPERATING COASTER: THE GREAT SCENIC RAILWAY // LUNA PARK, MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

Featuring dips, turns, and views of Port Phillip Bay, this Australian attraction has been in business since 1912. It’s also one of the few coasters in the world that has an operator ride along to slow and stop the train.

9. WORLD'S SLOWEST COASTER: TIGER & TURTLE // MAGIC MOUNTAIN, DUISBURG, GERMANY

PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images

Visitors to this attraction—built atop a hill made of toxic zinc slag in 2011—only speed along as fast as their feet can carry them. Artists Heike Mutter and Ulrich Genth, who crafted the 69-foot structure, says the piece, "subtly and ironically plays with the dialectic of promise and disappointment, mobility and standstill. The thing only looks fast from far away, but then it is a struggle to climb it with one's own feet.” (In case you’re wondering, the loop is closed off.)

10. FASTEST WOOD COASTER: LIGHTNING ROD // DOLLYWOOD, PIGEON FORGE, TENNESSEE

Rollercoaster-shy Dolly Parton doesn’t set foot on the rides at her eponymous park. (“I’ve got too much to lose—like my hair!” she explained to USA Today. “Lord knows what else could fall out of me. I can think of a lot of other things I’d rather do than be scared to death.”) She’s steered clear of this 2016 release. It uses electro-magnetic propulsion instead of a chain lift to launch riders up to 73 miles per hour, and then drops them 165 feet.

11. LONGEST WOOD COASTER: BEAST // KINGS ISLAND, MASON, OHIO

The 7359 feet of this ride, built in 1979, wind through 35 acres of woods in Southern Ohio. Over the course of four minutes, participants shoot past the tops of tress and alongside ravines and sail through three sets of underground tunnels.

12. TALLEST AND FASTEST DIVE COASTER: VALRAVN // CEDAR POINT, SANDUSKY, OHIO

When it opened in May 2016, this behemoth shattered 10 records—becoming the tallest, fastest and longest dive coaster in the world. (A quick coaster primer: On a dive coaster, riders roll up a hill, pause, then are released into a 90-degree vertical drop.) The 223-foot high, 3415-foot long experience also boasts the longest drop (214 feet), highest inversion (165 feet) and most inversions (three) among dive coasters. Its release also gave Cedar Point—dubbed the roller coaster capital of the world—the title of most rides at one amusement park, most roller coasters taller than 200 feet, most steel roller coaster track, and most track overall.

13. LONGEST INVERTED ROLLER COASTER: BANSHEE // KINGS ISLAND, MASON, OHIO

When it opened in 2014, Ohio’s Banshee became the world's longest inverted roller coaster (an inverted coaster is when the vehicle is hanging below the track as opposed to sitting on top). On it, riders journey through 4124 feet of track at up to 68 miles per hour.

14. THE FIRST FOURTH DIMENSION COASTER: X2 // SIX FLAGS MAGIC MOUNTAIN, VALENCIA, CALIFORNIA

Originally unveiled in 2001 as X, it’s the first coaster with cars that rotate independently on their own axis. (At the top of the first, 215-foot drop the cars pivot so riders are facing straight down.) In 2008, it underwent a six-month, $10 million renovation that included installing new, lighter trains, using 1500 gallons of paint to transform the hue from hot pink to red and charcoal, and adding two flame throwers to the track for a fiery effect.

15. TALLEST WATER COASTER: MASSIV // SCHLITTERBAHN GALVESTON ISLAND WATER PARK, GALVESTON, TEXAS

To earn the title of a water coaster, a ride must have multiple uphill sections, use a boat, tube or raft, and have other elements such as spirals or water screens. This 81-foot behemoth (sliders have to climb 123 steps to the top) delivers with four uphill blasts and multiple drops over the course of 926 feet. (That’s the length of two-and-a-half football fields.) Named after the German word for massive, the attraction was built to mark the park’s 2016 anniversary. As their website reads, “Our park is turning 10 this year and we decided we needed a really big present!”

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St. Helena, the Remote Island Where Napoleon Died, Is Finally Accessible by Plane
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For the first time ever, travelers can book a flight to St. Helena, the remote British island territory where Napoleon Bonaparte spent his final years in exile, Travel + Leisure reports.

St. Helena's new airport recently welcomed its first scheduled commercial passenger flight, a plane from Johannesburg, South Africa, that touched down on October 14. From here on out, South African airline SA Airlink Ltd. will provide weekly flights to and from Johannesburg and St. Helena.

Located in the South Atlantic, the rugged volcanic island was previously accessible only by lengthy boat excursion. While officials had discussed building an airport there since the 1930s, the ideal site—one of the island’s few flat expanses—was near a breeding ground for the endangered wirebird.

In recent years, the island decided to fill a valley with 8 million cubic meters of rock, according to Reuters, and construct the travel hub there. A runway and terminal were finally completed in 2016, but gusty crosswinds made it unsafe for pilots to attempt test flights with large aircrafts. The travel hub was deemed "the world’s most useless airport" by the British press, who also condemned the project’s steep overhead costs. Now, St. Helena officials are finally getting the last laugh.

St. Helena is home to Jonathan, an ancient 185-year-old giant tortoise that might be the world’s oldest living land creature, and Longwood House, the lodging where Napoleon lived after he was exiled from France following his loss at the Battle of Waterloo. (The military leader died on St. Helena in 1821, at the age of 61.) But while the island has historic attractions, unusual features, and natural beauty to spare, officials aren’t anticipating a huge tourism boom now that the far-flung outpost finally has an airport (each weekly flight ferries fewer than 100 passengers due to weight restrictions).

Despite its reputation as a boondoggle, St. Helena’s airport has already facilitated multiple emergency medical evacuations since it was completed last year, including one case that involved a newborn baby, according to The Independent.

"I've seen the headlines about the world's most useless airport, but for St. Helena, this has already been the most useful airport," governor Lisa Phillips told reporters. "It's priceless."

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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5 Cemetery Road Trips for the Ultimate Taphophile
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Autumn is the best time of year for a road trip. The weather is cooling down, the leaves are turning, and fewer people are on the roads. With Halloween on the horizon, cemeteries are natural destinations. These five journeys are a great way to explore America’s rich and varied history as recorded on its tombstones—and truly dedicated taphophiles (from the Greek for tomb) can combine them into one itinerary covering 22 states and more than 10,000 miles. Tombstone tourists, rejoice.

1. NORTHEAST

A stylized map of the United States showing a route map for a Northeast cemetery road trip
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A. Hope Cemetery
201 Maple Avenue, Barre, Vermont
44.2107° N, 72.4994° W

Barre’s Hope Cemetery is a jaw-dropping open-air sculpture garden, featuring locally quarried granite carved into everything from angels to sports cars to life-sized portraits. The cemetery is especially gorgeous when the leaves turn in autumn.

B. Mount Auburn Cemetery
580 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts
42.3752° N, 71.1450° W

Designed by Dr. Jacob Bigelow, the foremost botanist of his day, this breathtaking place may be the most important cemetery in America. Its opening in 1831 signaled a shift from austere churchyards to park-like cemeteries full of trees and flowers. One of the most striking grave monuments remembers Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science.

C. Touro Jewish Cemetery
Touro Street, Newport, Rhode Island
41.48793° N, 71.30936° W

Open only one day a year, the Touro Cemetery is the second-oldest Jewish cemetery in the U.S. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a beautiful poem about the place. Nearby Touro Synagogue offers a brochure to explain the significance of the cemetery to visitors who come to gaze through its gates.

D. Green-Wood Cemetery
500 25th Street, Brooklyn, New York
40.6590° N, 73.9956° W

Lovely Green-Wood Cemetery is the forefather of city parks in America. Full of famous names and one-of-a-kind monuments, the cemetery rewards repeat visits. Among those buried here are Jean-Michel Basquiat, FAO Schwarz, and conductor Leonard Bernstein.

E. Soldiers’ National Cemetery
Gettysburg National Military Park
1195 Baltimore Pike, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
39.82177° N, 77.23256° W

A Gettysburg postcard from pre-1930
Author's collection

President Lincoln’s Gettysburg address announced the system of national cemeteries for casualties of federal battles. In Soldiers’ National Cemetery, granite stones marked with the tally of unknown soldiers provide a sobering reminder of the costs of war.

F. Congressional Cemetery
1801 E. Street SE, Washington, D.C.
38.8811° N, 76.9780° W

Originally designed as a graveyard for congressmen who died in office, the Congressional Cemetery became the final resting place for a wide assortment of public servants. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, Civil War photographer Mathew Brady, and march king John Philip Sousa—as well as pioneers in the fights for Native American rights, women’s rights, and gay rights—are all buried here.

2. SOUTH

A stylized map of the United States showing a route map for a Southern cemetery road trip
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A. The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change
449 Auburn Avenue NE, Atlanta, Georgia
33.7563° N, 84.3734° W

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. rests on the grounds of the Center for Nonviolent Social Change, founded in his name by his widow Coretta Scott King in 1968. After her death in 2006, Mrs. King joined him in a matching sarcophagus. The King Center is undergoing renovation in advance of the 50th anniversary of his assassination, so call before you visit.

B. Bonaventure Cemetery
330 Bonaventure Road, Savannah, Georgia
32.0444° N, 81.0467° W

Oaks draped with Spanish moss surround museum-worthy statuary in Bonaventure Cemetery. When John Muir camped there in September 1867, he wrote that the cemetery was "so beautiful that almost any sensible person would choose to dwell here with the dead” [PDF]. More than a century later, the cemetery still makes all the lists of most beautiful graveyards.

C. Tolomato Cemetery
14 Cordova Street, Saint Augustine, Florida
29.8970° N, 81.3151° W

American citizens of Saint Augustine started using this acre of land as a cemetery in 1777, although the Spanish used it as a graveyard even earlier. As such, it may be the oldest European-founded cemetery in the U.S. Although Hurricane Irma did significant damage in September, Tolomato Cemetery remains open to visitors one day a month as its Preservation Society repairs it.

D. St. Louis Cemetery #1
425 Basin Street, New Orleans, Louisiana
29.9608° N, 90.0754° W

A vintage postcard of St. Louis No. 1
Author's collection

New Orleans’s tropical heat and humidity gave rise to the so-called oven tomb, which can reduce a corpse to bones in less than a year. In the back of each of these tombs stands a receptacle called a caveau, which contains the bones of all its occupants mixed together through the generations.

The most famous tomb in the oldest surviving cemetery in New Orleans may belong to Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen. The death date on the tomb is closer to her daughter Marie’s, but since the bones of all the tomb’s occupants lie jumbled together in its central caveau, it’s believed the original Marie rests there as well. After vandalism of the tomb spiraled out of control, the cemetery now opens only to tour groups. Luckily, there are many tours from which to choose.

3. WEST

A stylized map of the United States showing a route map for a Western cemetery road trip
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A. Texas State Cemetery
909 Navasota Street, Austin, Texas
30.15994° N, 97.43553° W

Conceived as a pantheon to the famous sons of Texas, the Texas State Cemetery is the final home of Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, as well as Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, who helped impeach Richard Nixon. Also buried here are Governor Ann Richards, Chris Kyle (author of American Sniper), and Stephen Austin himself, all of whom lie beneath remarkable statuary.

B. Apache Prisoners-of-War Cemetery
The East Ridge at Fort Sill, Lawton, Oklahoma
34.6960° N, 98.3710° W

After his capture by the U.S. Cavalry, Apache chief Geronimo remained a prisoner of war at Fort Sill until his death in 1909. His grave remained unmarked for many years, but early in World War II, the 501st Airborne took his name as their motto. With the permission of Geronimo’s descendants, paratroopers built the pyramid of stones that now marks Geronimo’s grave. Around him lie men proud to be remembered as his warriors.

C. Riverside Cemetery
5201 Brighton Boulevard, Denver, Colorado
39.4739° N, 104.5733° W

Dating to 1876, the year Colorado attained statehood, Riverside Cemetery embraced African-American pioneers, the first native New Mexican elected to Congress, and the first doctor to theorize that cholera was contagious. The cemetery has struggled since it was closed to new burials, but the Friends of Historic Riverside Cemetery are working to rescue it.

D. Fort Yellowstone Army Cemetery
Grand Loop Road, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
44.9646° N, 110.7002° W

Before the formation of the National Park Service, the U.S. Army guarded Yellowstone from poachers and souvenir hunters. Their sober little cemetery underlines the dangers lurking in one of the most stunning places in America. As reported in Lee H. Whittlesey’s Death in Yellowstone, causes of death in this cemetery included drowning, avalanche, being struck by lightning, runaway horses, and grizzly bear attack.

E. Custer National Cemetery
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Crow Agency, Montana
45.5714° N, 107.4332° W

When gold was discovered in the Black Hills, the federal government demanded access across land it had set aside for the Lakota Sioux. As many as 10,000 Native Americans refused to renegotiate the treaty. In June 1876, Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer led the 7th Cavalry to attack, only to be wiped out by the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho. It took more than a century for the Native warriors to be commemorated here.

4. WEST COAST

A stylized map of the United States showing a route map for a West Coast cemetery road trip
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A. Lake View Cemetery
1554 15th Avenue E, Seattle, Washington
47.6341° N, 122.3153° W

High on a hill overlooking the city, Lake View's most famous residents are Bruce Lee and his son Brandon. Also buried here are Princess Angeline, daughter of Chief Sealth (who gave his name to Seattle), as well as madams, lumber barons, and politicians—a who’s who of Seattle’s historical figures.

B. Lone Fir Cemetery
SE 26th Avenue, Portland, Oregon
45.5173° N, 122.6446° W

Portland’s pioneer cemetery is glorious in springtime, when its rhododendrons bloom. Full of pioneers, prostitutes, shanghai captains, mayors, and governors, the cemetery also features some unusual modern grave monuments. Vandalism and the weather have been hard on Lone Fir, but its Friends group offers tours to raise money for repair.

C. Fort Ross State Historic Park
19005 Coast Highway 1, Jenner, California
38.5143° N, 123.2485° W

A vintage postcard from Fort Ross cemetery
Author's collection

In 1812, Russia invaded Northern California. Russian pioneers built a fort, married local women, and hunted sea otters along the coast. By 1839, they no longer needed to provision Russian settlements in Alaska, so the fort was abandoned, leaving behind a little graveyard. The California Historical Landmarks Committee took control of it in 1906.

D. Hollywood Forever
6000 Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood, California
34.0904° N, 118.3206° W

Once the swankest cemetery in Old Hollywood, Hollywood Forever is now the final resting place of Johnny and Dee Dee Ramone, Mel Blanc, Darren McGavin, Rozz Williams, John Huston, Cecil B. DeMille, and many more. Judy Garland joined them earlier this year.

E. Manzanar Cemetery
Manzanar National Historic Site, Inyo County, California
36.7255° N, 118.1626° W

The Manzanar War Relocation Center was the first American concentration camp to open during World War II. At its height, Manzanar imprisoned 10,000 men, women, and children of Japanese descent, most of whom were American citizens. Although the bulk of the camp was demolished, the cemetery’s Soul Consoling Tower continues to mark the graves of people who died while interned there.

F. Silver Terrace Cemeteries
381 Cemetery Road, Virginia City, Nevada
39.3165° N, 119.6451° W

A vintage postcard from the Silver Terrace cemetery in Virginia City
Author's collection

After the 1859 discovery of one of the richest lodes of gold in history, Virginia City became the largest town between Denver and San Francisco. Of course, this necessitated the largest cemetery district as well. The 22 adjacent graveyards making up Virginia City’s Silver Terrace Cemeteries are now part of one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the country.

5. MIDWEST

A stylized map of the United States showing a route map for a Midwest cemetery road trip
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A. Lakewood Cemetery
3600 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota
44.5659° N, 93.1734° W

Modeled on Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia, Lakewood’s Mortuary Chapel is a spectacular example of Byzantine Revival architecture. Mosaic tiles, some as small as a fingernail, adorn its interior. At Lakewood, politicians with modernist monuments are buried beside names familiar from the grocery store: Charles Pillsbury and Franklin Mars, who founded the candy company that bears his name.

B. Oakland Cemetery
1000 Brown Street, Iowa City, Iowa
41.6697° N, 91.5222° W

Urban legends surround the Black Angel of Oakland Cemetery: if you kiss the statue, you’ll be struck dead; if a pregnant woman crosses its shadow, she will miscarry; if ever a virgin is kissed in front of the statue, it will resume its normal bronze color and the curse will be broken. Strangely enough, this is not the only black angel in Iowa—and the other has legends swirling around it as well. Daniel Chester French’s monument to spiritualist Ruth Ann Dodge stands in the Fairview Cemetery in Council Bluffs.

C. Graceland Cemetery
4001 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois
41.9548° N, 87.6619° W

Known as the Cemetery of the Architects, Chicago’s Graceland Cemetery holds the Carrie Eliza Getty mausoleum, considered one of the first examples of modern architecture. Graceland Cemetery also contains a wealth of magnificent statuary, including Lorado Taft’s Eternal Silence and Daniel Chester French’s Memory.

D. Elmwood Cemetery
1200 Elmwood Avenue, Detroit, Michigan
42.3466° N, 83.0179° W

A vintage postcard from Elmwood cemetery
Author's collection

Practically in the shadow of Detroit’s Renaissance Center, this dramatic garden cemetery stands on ground fought over during the French and Indian War. Elmwood Cemetery is the final resting place of Canadian Club whiskey founder Hiram Walker, guitarist Fred “Sonic” Smith of the MC5, and Detroit’s legendary mayor Coleman Young, who was a Tuskegee Airman.

Cemeteries are lenses, revealing what their local communities choose to celebrate alongside things that must not be forgotten. This list merely skims the surface—go see what you can discover.

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