Iron Dragon - Cedar PointWhat is a Suspended Roller Coaster?
Suspended coasters were the next level in the steel coaster evolution in the 1980’s. Designers wanted to offer a different ride experienceArrow introduced the Bat at Kings Island as the first modern suspended roller coaster. It opened in 1981 and closed only a few years later due to numerous mechanical problems. In 1984, the legendary Big Bad Wolf was born at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. It was a success and still thrills riders today.

Designers were never able to get suspended coasters to perform inversions or loops. We’d have to wait until the 1990’s and inverted coasters for that. The main difference between inverts and suspendeds is that suspended coasters are able to swing freely where inverted coasters hug the track similar to how standard roller coasters ride on top of the track.

Today, Arrow suspended coasters are rare, but fun. They offer great g-forces during their textbook swings. Currently operating Arrow suspended coasters include: the Big Bad Wolf at Busch Gardens Europe, Iron Dragon at Cedar Point, Ninja at Six Flags Magic Mountain, Top Gun at Kings Island, and Vortex at Canada’sRoller Soaker - Hersheypark Wonderland.

Later, more tame varieties of suspended coasters start to emerge. Designers Caripro and Setpoint introduced suspended coasters with small four person cars and a new interactive element. On coasters like the Roller Soaker at Hershey Park, onlookers can use water canons to cool off riders as they fly by overhead. The new Hard Rock Park in Myrtle Beach will open with a similar coaster called Slippery When Wet.

Check out this video from 1979 of a suspended roller coaster prototype. You gotta love YouTube! Also, watch this onride video of Iron Dragon at Cedar Point. Notice the swooping turns and two lift hills which are indicative of suspended coasters.

Photos courtesy of CoasterImage
Got a question about suspended coasters or a suggestion for Coasterology 101? Leave a comment below.

About The Author

Founder of My favorite coasters are B&M hypers and gigas. I'm also a huge fan of terrain roller coasters.

4 Responses

  1. jake17

    Hey, i actually am not very fond of them i mean they're all right, except their kinda boring because they're not capable of inversions nor can they go very high and i'd rather go on a more thrilling coaster.

  2. Anonymous

    I rode the Iron Dragon at Cedar Point. It was alright. I wish they could go higher, faster, etc. It took awhile getting up the lift hill, but that's alright. I enjoy looking at all the scenery. Plus, Mantis is right next to Iron Dragon. Cool though….:)

  3. Matthew

    Hey Coaster Critic, i have a question. Why is it that the first drop of almost every suspended coaster has to like go around in a circle. I mean why cant they make the coaster have just a straight down drop. The only suspended coaster that actually had a straight drop was Big Bad Wolf at Busch Gardens. Ive never experienced that ever. Why is it that the drops always have to go in like a circle. If you dont get what i mean, look at the first drop of Alpengeist. Every first drop on a suspended coaster is always like that!

  4. Rosie

    They’re always good to ride, my daughter got her first taste of Ninja at SFMM last autumn and it instantly became her favorite ride in the park.


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