A hyper coaster, or supercoaster, is an adrenaline-charged, high-speed, steel roller coaster that is characterized by providing lots of airtime through huge drops. Airtime in roller coaster speak is the feeling of freefalling or weightlessness that accompanies a long quick descent. Airtime may also be referred to as negative gravity or negative g time.
The first hyper coaster was opened in 1989, designed by the company Arrow Dynamics. For roller coaster enthusiasts, The Magnum XL-200 was a fantastic achievement, and a great addition to the already popular Cedar Point Park in Sandusky, Ohio. This coaster broke rules as it was the first circuit coaster of 200 feet (60.96 meters) tall at its highest point, featuring a drop of 194 ft (59.13m), and speeds exceeding 70 mph (112.65 kph).
As well as long drops, the hyper coaster may also feature misty tunnels, and quick loops before dropping again. At first, the cars were seated on the track like most steel roller coasters. Now cars may be atop the track, and offer a standing or sitting feature.
Some roller coasters now have hanging seats, which can actually flip around the track as the car is in motion, causing multiple inversions. They also add more thrill since the feet dangle without support, and seem dangerously close to the track. Roller coaster purists, however, say one cannot define an inversion coaster as a hyper coaster. So traditionally, this coaster cannot loop the track, although it can turn upside down while remaining on one side of the track.
While many thought the limit had been reached with the development of the hyper coaster, roller coaster designers soon learned how to top both height and speed. They invented what is now called the giga-coaster, a massive rollercoaster that drops at least 300 ft (91.44m), and travels up to 90 mph (144 kph). Cedar Point was the lucky park that introduced Millennium Force, the giga or mega hyper coaster in 2000.
Kingda Ka at Six Flags in Jackson, New Jersey currently holds the record for highest drop for a a giga-coaster. The ride boasts an initial drop of 418 feet (127.41m) and maxes out at a speed of 128 mph (205.99 kph). Unfortunately, the ride has had difficulties since its opening, and has frequently been shut down for attempted repairs. Coaster enthusiasts recommend calling the park to check the status of this ride before making plans to spend the day there.
Some roller coaster enthusiasts classify these high tension coasters by height. Anything between 200-299 feet (60.96- 91.14m) is a hyper coaster, 300-399 feet (91.44- 121.62m) high drops are giga coasters, and those drops above 400 feet (121.92m) are considered stratacoasters. Technically this makes Kingda Ka a stratacoaster. Not all roller coaster fans make this distinction however. Regardless of names, coaster fans agree that any drop above 200 feet (60.96m) is liable to be quite exciting, and should not be missed by roller coaster fans.