Stratosphere thrill rides deliver sky-high screams
There are great rides and great views to be found in Nevada, but only the Stratosphere offers both at the same time—four uniquely adrenaline-pumping attractions at altitudes of up to 1,149 feet.
Aspiring daredevils can spin, slide, shoot straight up into the sky or walk off a platform and allow gravity to take over until they’re inches from the ground. The sheer thrills of the rides, compounded with the fact that they are firmly attached to the Stratosphere’s structural framework at nearly 110 stories above Las Vegas Boulevard, generates screams from riders that carry for great distances.
SkyJump has held the Guinness World Record for highest “decelerator descent facility.” It’s like a bungee jump without a bounce. Instead, brave souls voluntarily fall at speeds that reach nearly 50 mph while firmly attached to a guided cable. It feels more like floating than flying, and safety gear that’s repeatedly checked by multiple attendants should assure anyone who falls short (pun intended) of possessing a fear of heights that survival is assured. The view of the Vegas Valley while falling from its tallest structure is incomparable, and day jumpers owe it to themselves to return at night.
For non-acrophobics who would prefer to not experience the sensation of falling, there’s Insanity. A mechanical arm stretches a five-fingered green claw 64 feet from the edge of the stratosphere until up to 10 riders are 900 feet above the ground. The most dizzying of the Stratosphere thrill rides then rotates like a centrifuge, increasing acceleration and tilting so that the patchwork of hard surfaces below is clearly visible.
People susceptible to motion sickness might enjoy X-Scream more while still finding it the most unnerving of the four rides. A car that would not be out of place on a roller coaster slides down a track that tilts, sending up to eight people forward and down. It does not feel like it’s going to stop before hurtling 866 feet without a guided cable to decelerate the descent, and even though the track tilts to and fro multiple times, doom feels freshly imminent with each forward motion. X-Scream tests both the limits of fear and control over bodily functions.
Big Shot takes would-be daredevils to the highest levels of the four attractions. It’s more fun than frightening, due in part to being catapulted 160 feet straight up, and in part to the lack of a countdown. Without warning riders are thrust upward with a g-force of 4 (cutting them off in mid-sentence if they are talking), after which they feel the negative g-force as they drop—only to be thrust upward again. Big Shot is more smile-inducing than scream-generating, but it provides the highest high in Las Vegas and is a welcome part of a four-ride array of high-altitude adventures at the Stratosphere any thrill-seeker should aspire to cross off their bucket list.
Stratosphere, 10 a.m.-1 a.m. Sun.-Thurs., 10 a.m.-2 a.m. Fri.-Sat., must be at least 48 inches tall to ride Big Shot, 52 inches to ride X Scream and Insanity, tower admission and rides packages $25-$36, Express Pass additional $10, age 15 and under must be accompanied by adult, discount available for Nevada residents with proper ID, hotel guests. 702.380.7777