Attraction Trivia

The Stratosphere Hotel boasts the world's three highest thrill rides; the Big Shot, X Scream and Insanity the Ride.

Ride Review
RIDE: Insanity: The Ride & X-Scream
PARK: Stratosphere Casino, Hotel and Tower
DATE: April 23, 2005
REPORTER: Mike Collins
I love Las Vegas.

There is so much to do in that town. Even if you don't like to gamble, there are plenty of other things to do. For instance, if you don't like gambling with money, how about gambling with your nerves?

As I was flying out to Las Vegas for business, my mind really wasn't on the many meetings I had to attend. My mind wasn't on what games I would play in the casinos. My mind wasn't even on the showgirls I would see in a few hours. (Well, OK, it was a bit.)

The only thing on my mind was whether or not I was going to have the balls to ride two of the most extreme thrill rides on earth - Insanity: The Ride and X-Scream.

The Stratosphere made a name for itself awhile back when it introduced "Big Shot," an S&S Space Shot ride perfectly placed on top of the tower.

As if you weren't already high enough, the "Big Shot" launches you 160 feet in 2.5 seconds at 45 m.p.h. You experience 4 G's of force on the way up. Once you hit the top, for a few seconds you're weightless.


I had ridden "Big Shot" and the less-thrilling "High Roller" coaster on my last trip to Las Vegas.

But now, there were two new rides calling my name... and they were about to test my bravery.

I bought a $29.99 ride-pass that gave me unlimited access to all four rides, all day long. It also included the tower admission fee too.

I rode the elevator all the way to the top of the tower and told the operator that I wanted off on the floor that houses X-Scream and Insanity: The Ride.

I decided that I was going to try X-Scream first. I made my way outside, 1,000 feet above the Las Vegas Strip and approached X-Scream's loading platform..

I looked around and saw that there was NO ONE ELSE IN LINE.

I don't know about you, but if I'm going to try something as outrageous as this, I want some support. I waited for awhile, but no one else came. So, I said:

"To hell with it, I'm riding now."

The next thing I know, I'm bring strapped into something that the ride designers call "escape-proof" restraints. Boy were they right. I was locked in so tight, Houdini himself couldn't have gotten out.

The wind up there was blowing like a mo-fo! I started to think hard about what was about to happen, and I wanted off.

I started to open my mouth to say "get me the hell off of this," but it was too late. The arm starting tilting forward and the next thing I knew, I was flying down towards the strip at 30 miles an hour. As I saw the edge of the ramp drawing near, I noticed that the seat I was in showed no signs of slowing. The rational part of my brain knew I wasn't going to fall over, but the rest of me started to freak out. I was screaming like a maniac and I WAS ALL ALONE.

As it turned out, I wasn't all alone. There were about 30 or 40 people on the observation deck watching me. Some people even had video cameras taping every moment of my terrifying experience.

FAN-FREAKIN'-TASTIC! Now some lady in Provo, Utah has a videotape of me screaming like a baby. I can just see it now... she's in her living room, showing it to all of her friends saying "look at this idiot. He's screaming like a child!"

I dangled over the strip for awhile and then the arm tilted back, bringing me safely over the edge for a moment. That didn't last too long, because soon, I was nose-diving again towards what looked like certain death. But this time, after the ride stopped at the edge, it proceeded to bump me around for awhile. It felt like being on a really mean horse who wanted me off his back.

Then, the ride suddenly dropped another 10 feet. It felt like a malfunction, but it was all part of the amazing ride sequence designed by the guys at Interactive Rides of Logan, Utah.

Finally, the ride ended and I made my way off the platform. I felt great. Some of the people who had been watching me came over to give me high-fives. One lady from Alabama even said,

"Cowboy, you showed that thing who's boss!"

Damn right I did.

I was feeling pretty good. I was full of adrenaline, so I made my way over to Insanity: The Ride, the newest ride to be placed atop the Stratosphere Tower.

This ride didn't look very scary all by itself. Just like with X-Scream, it's all about location.

So, I took a seat and again felt the security of the "escape-proof" restraints. Then came the most terrifying part of the ride.

The arm holding all of the seats slowly began to move over the edge of the tower. The arm was moving excruciatingly slow.

The restraints were very secure, but they were very "open." There wasn't a lot around for me to hold on to. All that I could see was the Las Vegas valley below me. I took the opportunity to look straight down, expecting to find a field or a blocked off area in case I dropped some change (or worse.) BUT NO! I saw traffic moving below me.

Before I got a chance to ponder this, the ride starting spinning. It started moving faster and faster until it reached a top speed of 40 miles per hour.

Once we hit that speed (pulling 4Gs), the seats tilted outwards so now I was looking straight down.

For some reason, this ride was hypnotic. It was very unreal, almost like being in a dream. Maybe it was the constant spinning and the visuals of seeing the tower come close and then fall away. Maybe it was seeing all of those cars 1,000 feet below looking like matchbox toys. It was very impressive.

Insanity: The Ride wasn't as fun as X-Scream, but I see it as an excellent test for a thrill ride junkie. It looks much more insane once you see it in person.

I hung out on the tower for the whole afternoon and saw many people take one look at the ride and say "NO WAY!"

If you're out in Vegas, take a break from the slot machines and the blackjack tables and see if you can work up the courage to ride these things.

If you end up not being able too, it's OK. Remember, I almost chickened out too!

Images 1,2,3&5 2005 Stratosphere Hotel, Casino and Tower