G-Force rollercoaster: Scream!

Thrill-seekers are hung by the hips and hurtled at speeds of 70mph on Britain's scariest new rollercoaster, which joins the ranks of the world's 10 most terrifying rides. Ed Caesar looks at its international rivals, while Susannah Orchard braves G-Force
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The Independent Online

But only a bit. Because on this ride, the feeling of terror and loss of control lasts 24 seconds, just a little too long for comfort.

When I boarded this £3m so-called revolutionary ride I was more than a little nervous.

Because its claim to fame is the nerve-wracking fact that there is nothing to secure your shoulders and just a bar across the hips, the idea being that the G-Force holds you in place. The rejection of a seat belt in favour of a "hip restraint system" apparently gives the rider a "freer" experience, because of "negative Gs".

The 4.3 "positive" G-Force, according to the glossy bumph, holds you in place. Sadly, all this did little to reassure me as I didn't understand a word of it. And after four-and-a-half seconds into the ride, positive was not the word I would have chosen as I started doubting my sanity.

I was dangling 23 metres above solid ground, held in place by a single bar across my hips.

The first drop, "the most scary" according to Ian, who works at the park, is lodged in my mind, not least because of the agonising build up before we plunged down sharply. This ensured anyone of a nervous disposition who suddenly realised there was nothing between them and the rest of the park laid out below them had enough time to start panicking.

The subsequent loops - backwards, forwards and upside down - are blurred into one long scream.

Apparently, I accomplished a backwards loop, turning upside down as the ride climbed to its highest point - another of G-Force's claims to fame. Then as soon as it started, the 24-second ride jolted to an abrupt halt.

To my amazement, an overwhelming feeling of exhilaration washed over me and, what's more, an inexplicable desire to do it all again.

The other 11 people who rode with me were also staggering around, looking stunned but strangely pleased.

Others agree - since the world's first G-Force ride opened on Tuesday, 5,000 people have clambered on to experience the ride's "high-banked twists and turns at speeds of up to 70km an hour".

G-Force is not for the faint hearted. This is very true, but it is also not just for the light-weighted. Nicknamed "Big Boy" , it's the first ride to finally accommodate Britain's expanding waistline.

So any embarrassment at the front of the queue can now be spared. If you're serious about your thrill, you'll enjoy this one. Once it's over.

G-Force, DRAYTON MANOR, UK

Claim To Fame: The World's Newest and Hippest Roller Coaster

Ups and Downs

G-Force is revolutionary in that it allows the rider to hang from the hip and experience "an unparalleled freedom of motion". Travelling at 70mph through 385 metres of loops, camelbacks, and high-backed curves is likely to give anyone an unparalleled freedom of motion, so it's probably best to sit at the front of the carriage. The ride is also one of the first to pilot larger seats for less aerodynamic customers, which came in useful when pop inflation G4 took the inaugural ride earlier this week.

Shockwave, DRAYTON MANOR, UK

Claim To Fame: The World's First Stand-Up Tower Drop

Ups and Downs: Drayton Manor stole a march on their rivals when they unveiled this vertical disembowelment device. Riders are taken to a 54-metre precipice, tilted 20 degrees forward, and hoisted skyward on a half ton launch shuttle before being dropped right back down again with 4 Gs in their face. And, if dropping from the sky in a metal cage isn't enough of a rush, you can remove the footrest.

Big Shot, LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

Claim To Fame: The World's Scariest Roller Coaster

Ups and Downs

Short of seeing Michael Winner in his smalls, riding the Big Shot might be the most terrifying experience on the planet. The Big Shot operates as a "space shot" coaster: You simply strap yourself in, take a deep breath and prepare to be blasted 921 feet in the air in 2.5 seconds. As if this were not enough, the ride stops at the top, before plunging you back to earth.

The Riddler's Revenge, SIX FLAGS MAGIC MOUNTAIN, CALIFORNIA

Claim To Fame: The World's Longest, Tallest, Fastest, Loopiest Stand-Up Roller Coaster

Ups and Downs

The ride is based on Tim Burton's Batman Forever film and features 370 feet of track, a top speed of 65mph, a maximum G Force of 4. 2 and a maximum drop of 146 feet. And you have to stand up. Why can't these roller coaster manufacturers just let you sit down and relax?

Son of Beast, KINGS ISLAND, OHIO

Claim To Fame: The World's Tallest, Fastest and Only Looping Wooden Rollercoaster.

Ups and Downs

The Beast, which was built in 1972, when Kings Island opened, is considered a classic by coaster-nuts the world over. Its spawn, The Son of Beast, opened in 2000, to a rapturous reception. The Son stands 218 feet high, but, like The Beast, is a terrain-coaster, following the hilly contours of its Ohio home.

Kingda Ka, SIX FLAGS ADVENTURE PARK, NEW JERSEY

Claim To Fame: The World's Fastest and Tallest Roller Coaster

Ups and Downs

When the steel monster opened this year, it broke pretty much every record going. New England thrill-seekers can now re-arrange their entrails to their hearts content, when Ka launches them from 0 to 128mph in 3.5 seconds, before catapulting them 456 feet into the sky. This ride is definitely not for the faint hearted.

Steel Dragon 2000, NAGASHIMA, JAPAN

Claim To Fame: The World's Longest Steel Roller Coaster.

Ups and Downs

The Steel Dragon 2000 has three colossal hills and two sections of track where the coaster train disappears into a tunnel, only to emerge when the riders have turned a little greener at the gills. At 8,100 feet in length, it is, by some distance, the longest roller coaster in the world, although, with speeds of up to 95 mph, that 8,100 feet gets eaten up pretty quickly.

The Italian Job, PARAMOUNT PARKS, CANADA

Claim To Fame: The World's Best Themed Ride.

Ups and Downs

This one doesn't break any records for speed or size, or number of coronary arrests, but it wins all the prizes for ingenuity. The riders simply hop into their red, white and blue minis, and pretend to drive the booty out of the square - sorry, Charlie, piazza - with the threat of being done over by the caribinieri. There are, disappointingly, no voiceovers on the ride.

Leap-the-Dips, LAKEMONT PARK, PENNSYLVANIA.

Claim To Fame: The World's Oldest Functioning Roller Coaster

Ups and Downs

Built in 1902, this is not a natural first port of call for adrenaline junkies: it has a pedestrian top speed of 10mph, and a distinctly unexciting height of 48 feet. Despite such shortfalls, Leap-the-Dips has become a national monument. It was nearly scrapped in the 1980s, but it was restored and reopened in 1999.

The High Roller, LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

Claim To Fame: The World's Highest Roller Coaster

Ups and Downs

Perched on top of the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas, more than 900 feet above ground, this takes some beating. The track extends a total of 868 feet, and the passengers ride in an open vehicle which whisks round the tower pod at just over 30mph. The slowness of the ride ensures the passengers contemplate every last inch between them and the ground.

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