48. The RATTLER
Known for: World's largest wood coaster when it debuted
Park: Six Flags Fiesta Texas
Location: United States
Designer/Manufacturer: John Pierce
Height (ft.): 179.7
Drop (ft.): 124
Speed (mph): 65
When the Rattler opened at Six Flags Fiesta Texas in 1992 it was the tallest and fastest wooden coaster in the world. The lift hill climbed to an impressive height of 179 feet followed by a gut wrenching drop of 166 feet and a blistering speed of 73 mph. Adding to the ride’s excitement was its incredible location situated on top of, next to, and even carved through a rock quarry wall.Unfortunately, the coaster's original plans never called for such a large first drop. The construction of the 161 foot tall Mean Streak at Cedar Point prompted the park to alter the design at the last minute in order to make it the record holder. The hasty changes negatively affected the layout due to very rough transitions between elements resulting in many riders complaining of rib or back pain. The park was forced to make modifications to the ride and shortenedthe first drop from 166 to 124 feet resulting in a reduction of its top speed from 73 to 65 miles per hour.
There’s a saying about wooden roller coasters: “If it doesn’t shake it’s going to break.” Wooden roller coaster structures are designed to sway a couple of inches as the train goes racing by, especially in tight corners and high g-force locations. Think of it like this — when you jump off of a tall object you land safely by allowing your legs to flex and bend at the knee. Otherwise, if you kept your legs straight, you might shatter your leg bone or bust your knee joint. This same basic principle applies to a wooden roller coaster. The structure must be allowed to give and flex like a shock absorber in order to keep it from internally shaking itself to pieces. The Rattler was notorious for how much the structure would sway as the train raced by. See for yourself in this video: (http://youtu.be/sLfQBW9wnDI)
The Rattler was closed in 2012 to be transformed into the Iron Rattler steel coaster.