One of the most gimmicky coaster classes that comes to minds, are the strata coasters. The big gimmick here is the sheer height and speed of these coasters, asides from actually having a fun layout, with unique elements. The first one to open, although not technically a strata coaster, was Superman: The Escape, (now Superman: Escape from Krypton.) This one is probably has the simplest design, riders get launched out of the station, and up to tower. Then, riders plummet back down the tower shuttle style. Up the tower, down the tower, basically a glorified drop ride, (which coincidentally they constructed on the side.) Although the tower goes past the 400ft barrier, it can’t be classified as a strata coaster because it isn’t full circuit. Officially, strata coasters didn’t arrive until 2003, when Cedar Point opened the world’s first, proper strata coaster; Top Thrill Dragster.
Top Thrill Dragster was Cedar Point’s successful attempt at creating the world’s tallest and fastest coaster, and the main feature to differentiate this from Superman: The Escape is the fact that it’s full circuit; not shuttle. This coaster launches riders at 120mph in order to have it rise up, and crest the top of the 420ft tower. The only reason that’s possible is it’s hydraulic, (and incredibly unreliable,) launch system. And even though that it’s world records have been stolen by it’s successor, it still remains an important part of coaster history, and a key piece in Cedar Point’s line-up.
Six Flags, not being one to sit back and watch Cedar Fair take the world record, soon built Kingda Ka, at Six Flags Great Adventure, just so they could have the record. They didn’t really improve on the design, all they did was make it taller, and faster, plus add an airtime hill that some people say actually makes the ride less enjoyable than TTD.
The reason I say these coasters are gimmicky, is because all they do is launch, go up a tower, and come back down before braking. They’re basically like drop towers, in coaster form. This isn’t me saying they’re bad rides, but just over hyped for what they are.