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November 22, 2017

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10 big Las Vegas thrills outside casinos and clubs


Leila Navidi

A jumper takes the plunge from SkyJump at the top of the Stratosphere in Las Vegas on Tuesday, June 7, 2011.

Las Vegas is known for its highs and lows, most often at a blackjack table or in a poker room. But there are plenty of adrenaline rushes to be found outside of casinos.

The valley is home to myriad thrill rides, from roller coasters wrapped around buildings to whirling dervishes at the top of towers. Sadly, some of the area’s most popular attractions have been shut down, but others are cropping up to take their place.

Here’s a guide to the region’s most thrilling thrill rides. Hang on tight ...

    • Best Thrill Rides

      SkyJump at the Stratosphere

      Know Tom Petty’s classic “Free Fallin’?” It could be SkyJump’s theme song.

      SkyJump sends brave souls plunging into a 108-story free fall. Opened just over a year ago, it’s the world’s longest commercial decelerator jump.

      Think of it as a controlled bungee jump. Instead of being hooked up to a springy rubber band, jumpers are attached to cables from both sides that guide them as they fall 855 feet at 40 mph. The ride is slow enough that jumpers can pick up a bit of scenery but scary enough that operators issue “chicken out” vouchers for those unable to take the leap.

      Fly day or night, your choice; the ride runs into the wee hours of the morning. Jumps cost $99.99, but locals can take the plunge for only $80.99.

    • Best Thrill Rides
      Photo by Leila Navidi

      Insanity at the Stratosphere

      Imagine a giant mechanical arm carrying you 64 feet over the edge of the Stratosphere Tower. You dangle in a chair 900 feet above the Strip (that’s one-sixth of a mile), then spin at speeds that reach three G. Suddenly, the arm shifts and you tilt 70 degrees to face the Earth below.

      Fun? Or insanity?

      Judge for yourself. The ride costs $12 and is programmable with various options, so multiple rides will offer different experiences.

    • Best Thrill Rides
      Photo by Leila Navidi

      X-Scream at the Stratosphere

      Call this teeter-totter extreme, and you’ve only begun to describe it.

      The track is short — only 69 feet long — but it sends riders barrelling over the edge of the Stratosphere Tower, 866 feet above the ground. Then, just when you think you’re safe, the ride suddenly pitches another 30 feet, lurching riders even further toward the ground. Not for the faint of heart.

      If you can handle it, request the front seat. It offers the best view and the biggest thrill.

      X-Scream costs $12 and is open daily and nightly.

    • Best Thrill Rides
      Photo by Leila Navidi

      Big Shot at the Stratosphere

      Prepare to be launched 160 feet into the air at 45 mph. The Big Shot catapults riders up the Stratosphere Tower’s mast to a height of 1,081 feet, all in a matter of seconds. Then before you catch your breath, it drops and launches you again, three times in all.

      Brave the ride and you’ll find yourself at the highest point you can reach on the Strip, aside from an airplane.

      One piece of advice: Ride hungry. This is Las Vegas’ most stomach-dropping attraction.

      Big Shot costs $13 and is open daily.

    • Best Thrill Rides
      Photo by Leila Navidi

      The roller coaster at New York-New York

      The Big Apple’s roller coaster provides the best 360-degree views of the Strip — if you can keep your eyes open long enough.

      It starts out slow, with a relaxing 200 foot rise. Then, it’s full-force fun. Taxi cab-themed cars drop 144 feet, whip through hairpin twists and turns, then careen into a 180-degree heartline spiral.

      More than a million visitors experience the ride every year. Some even get married on it.

      Individual tickets cost $14, and all-day ride pass costs $25. The coaster runs from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10:30 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.

    • Best Thrill Rides
      Photo by Leila Navidi

      Canyon Blaster inside the Adventuredome at Circus Circus

      This is the only indoor double-loop, double-corkscrew roller coaster in the world. It speeds under the Advernturedome’s glass ceiling at 55 mph with zips through tunnels and caves.

      It also offers the best view of all of the Adventuredome’s offerings from its 90-foot rise. A must for visitors.

      An adult all-day pass to the Adventuredome costs $26.95; a child’s pass costs $16.95. Riders must be at least 48 inches tall.

    • Best Thrill Rides
      Photo by Leila Navidi

      Rim Runner inside the Adventuredome at Circus Circus

      The wetter, the better. That’s the motto at Rim Runner, and it’s no joke.

      Don’t let the gentle ride up the sparkling stream fool you. Once you reach the top, get ready for a fast drop down a 60-foot waterfall. The less adventurous might want to bring a change of clothes.

      An adult all-day pass to the Adventuredome costs $26.95; a child’s pass costs $16.95. Riders must be at least 48 inches tall.

    • Best Thrill Rides
      Photo by Leila Navidi

      Disk’O inside the Adventuredome at Circus Circus

      Jam out to disco tunes while spinning forward and backward on a motorcycle. Disk’O takes a cue from standard Gravitron rides, but flips passengers so they face outward. That makes for much better scenery — and a much dizzier ride.

      The central disk rotates 14 times a minute while gliding on a 100-foot roller coaster track shaped like a “U.” Enjoy the breeze and feel like you are flying.

      An adult all-day pass to the Adventuredome costs $26.95; a child’s pass costs $16.95. Riders must be at least 48 inches tall.

    • Best Thrill Rides
      Photo by Leila Navidi

      The Desperado in Primm

      Ranked one of the top 10 roller coasters in North America and one of the fastest and tallest in the United States, the 80-mph Desperado offers 2.43 minutes of heart-pounding fun. Get a breathtaking view of the valley from 209 feet above ground before plunging into a succession of twists and turns.

      June is a particularly good time to visit. All month, Nevadans with a valid state ID will receive a free pass for all rides at the Primm Valley Resort. They include the Desperado, Adventure Canyon log flume, Turbo Drop, Frog Hopper and Maxflight Cyber Coaster. The Desperado normally costs $10.

    • Best Thrill Rides
      Photo by Leila Navidi

      Flightlinez at Fremont Street

      The newest entry to the Las Vegas thrill scene, Flightlinez zip lines send riders floating above the Fremont Street Experience and below the Viva Vision light show. Riders soar 800 feet above tourists, singing Elvi and street performers, while swinging at 30 mph.

      Since opening last October, the zip lines have become a can’t-miss downtown attraction.

      Riders must weigh from 60 to 250 pounds and cannot be taller than 6 foot 7 inches. The ride costs $15 before 6 p.m., $20 after.

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