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Stratosphere takes new leap with thrill ride

Iris Salgado loves that she gets paid to push people off of the Stratosphere.

Usually, she has to catch them, too, but that’s also fun, she says. She gets to see their faces immediately after their controlled free fall from 855 feet above the Strip.

“Woohoo!” and “Oh, (expletive)” are exclamations Salgado can expect to hear often as she waits at the landing pad of the Stratosphere’s newest thrill ride, SkyJump, which opened Tuesday. It’s the hotel’s most extreme “ride,” far surpassing the stomach-dropping effects of Insanity, XScream and even the Big Shot.

Flight Time, a member of the Harlem Globetrotters and a former contestant on the reality show “The Amazing Race,” was among the first to try it out. In full Globetrotter regalia. He did some extreme things during his stint on the CBS show; for instance, sliding down the world’s tallest and fastest water slide outside of North America. SkyJump, he says, is much more terrifying.

“I’ve definitely never jumped off of anything as high as this,” Flight Time said. “It feels like you’re flying.”

SkyJump drops a person from a platform 108 floors above the ground to a deck just above the hotel’s porte cachere. One rider, dressed in a flight suit, is hooked to two fixed guide wires on either side. A third cable is attached to a harness worn by the rider. All three cables control the person’s descent, which reaches speeds of as much as 40 mph. It takes 12 to 14 seconds to complete the fall.

“As a jumper, your only responsibility is to step off the platform,” says Tim Kuykendall, the hotel’s director of customer excellence.

While it may seem like the sort of thing the Stratosphere should pay people to do, they’re charging $99.99 per jump and $149 for two jumps. And people are scrambling to do it, Kuykendall says.

Once you’ve jumped, you can buy a SkyJump coffee mug, T-shirt, cap or key chain to memorialize your experience. So far, no one has backed out of his or her jump, Kuykendall says. But for those who do, there’s a T-shirt with their name on it: Chicken. Just in case.

And for the chickens who do abort their jump, tickets can be converted to a pass for another day or transferred to another jumper. In other words, no refunds.

SkyJump is open daily, from noon to 7 p.m. Starting May 21, hours will run from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, visit skyjumplasvegas.com.

Contact reporter Sonya Padgett at spadgett@review journal.com or 702-380-4564.

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