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Knowing Vegas: What ever happened to the coaster at the Stratosphere?

Branded as the world’s highest roller coaster, the Stratosphere’s steel “High Roller” had a near 10-year run on the country’s tallest freestanding observation tower.

Opened with the Stratosphere in 1996, the High Roller (not to be confused with the High Roller observation wheel at the Linq), operated a whopping 909 feet above the Las Vegas Strip. It was shut down by December 2005.

The Stratosphere roller coaster was the lowest ranked of the tower’s four major attractions on Theme Park Critic, which included “Insanity,” “X Scream” and “Big Shot.”

“It’s practically a kiddie ride,” one reviewer wrote about the ride on themeparkcritic.com, a site that ranks and reviews amusement parks. “Not even my mom screamed on this.”

From its beginning, the coaster faced problems. According to LV Strip History, a 15-pound piece of the coaster came loose in May 1996, dropping 35 feet onto the obvervation deck below. No one was riding the roller coaster or standing on the obsevation deck at the time.

As guests showed a preference for the Stratosphere’s other three attractions, High Roller became the tower’s least popular ride, said Stratosphere’s Chief Financial Officer, Ned Martin.

“It just wasn’t as well-received as some of other other attractions,” Martin said in an interview Friday.

When renovations costing over $500,000 were needed in December 2005, the casino tower decided it wasn’t worth it, and dismantled the roller coaster in a rather unique way, according to a publication from the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association, International.

Instead of using a crane to dismantle and remove over 110,000 pounds of the track, it was taken apart piece-by-piece and taken down an elevator, the report said, one piece at a time.

The Stratosphere added its “SkyJump” attraction in 2008, and has “moved on” past the days of the High Roller, Martin said.

The high-standing tower has no plans for a future coaster, he added.

“The rides that remain are just more thrilling than what the High Roller was,” Martin said. “We’ve looked at other things, but I don’t see another coaster coming anytime soon.”

Contact Chris Kudialis at 702-380-4593 or ckudialis@reviewjournal.com. Find him on Twitter: @kudialisrj

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