Ride Review: Manhattan Express/The Roller Coaster

Las Vegas is a place of excess, plain and simple. Lavish hotels, immense casinos, flashy signs; it’s all there to get you to come through their doors. One of the features along the Vegas strip is the New York, New York Hotel and Casino with its large skyscrapers, faux Statue of Liberty, detailed bridges, and of course the roller coaster.

The coaster, at one time named Manhattan Express, now simply “The Roller Coaster,” is only accessible by walking through the casino first; a common amusement park tactic used a bit differently here. Typically the ‘big ride’ is put near the back of the park so people must walk past concessions and the like before coming to the queue. Here we have blackjack tables, roulette wheels and banks of slot machines as our diversions. You may want to save your money though because this sucker ain’t cheap.

Fast Facts  
Height 203 ft (61 m)
Drop 144 ft (43 m)
Top Speed 67 mph (107 kph)
Length 4777 ft (1456 m)
Opening Date 1/3/1997
Designer TOGO

This 1997 Togo manufactured coaster commands a $14 admission…holy crap! That’s a lot of money for one ride…and for a freakin’ Togo no less. My only other experience on a Togo was ‘Viper’ at Six Flags Great Adventure and any coaster enthusiast knows the horror stories to come off that thing!

The station looks kind of like a subway platform that might be found in one of New York City’s better districts. Still, it’s missing the weird smells, flying papers, and scatterd bums. Appropriately enough a train made to look like taxi cabs pulls into the station. Err, wait a second…taxis? Ah, whatever. Riders hop into the cool looking Premier designed trains and are greeted to the lapbar/open shoulder harness combo found on many Togos. The bar clicks down while the harness slides down the seat and rests on riders’ shoulders.

The coaster begins with a short ride down a brake block and into the lift hill. The hill brings you up to a very deceptive 203 feet; if you look to the left you can see the train reflected off the mirror-like windows on the skyscrapers. The first drop turns a bit at the bottom and ends well before the ground. It was at this point where I realized that no matter what type of train is on a Togo track, it’ll still rattle around like crazy.

The train shoots up another hill and dives down a 144 foot drop that sends the train speeding up to 67mph. The train rockets up yet another hill, this time turning at the top before barreling down the hill and into a vertical loop. One gets knocked around pretty well during the turn and subsequent loop, but the real ‘fun’ has yet to come. The next inversion is a Togo “dive loop ,” an inversion that I wish more coasters had. The sensation was awesome, being basically hung upsidedown for a short period, yet the initial roll really beat the piss out of me. It was an okay tradeoff I guess; an awesome element for a pummeling.

The rest of the ride really wasn’t that impressive. There were a few bunny hops which provided some quick ejector air…of course this ride also had shoulder harnesses. After the first shoulder crushing bunny hop, I found myself bracing for anything that looked like it may toss me upwards. The ride ends with a heavily banked helix that was surprisingly smooth as well as forceful. After the brake section, the train travels down a steeply pitched tunnel; this section is decked out with tire drives so riders don’t have the thrill of speeding down a curved hill in pitch blackness. The ride ends at the far end of the station and riders exit the same side that they entered.

Manhattan Express was a bit rough, which was to be expected really. I’ve heard that this ride used to be much rougher before acquiring the Premier trains, which probably would have made this ride nearly unbearable. I remember how Viper was; its Togo made trains looked very cool, much like the old Manhattan Express trains, but they rattled and slammed riders around like nobodies business. However, I did like Viper for being a different type of experience, and I like Manhattan Express for similar reasons. It has some great drops, a really nice inversion, a good helix, and a great setting.


  • Cressycat says:

    I rode this coaster about 10 years ago – apparently when the old cars were in place. The man next to me screamed his head off – but I found the whole experience less than exciting … In fact, it was pretty painful!

    I sported bruises from the shoulder harness alone that lasted over a week.

  • John says:

    I’ve been on this. I loved the dive loop. What I also found interesting was that the second hill seemed higher and steeper than the first, very unusual.

  • MJ says:

    anyone know the reason for the name change?..why change a nice name for something beyond generic?

  • Mike says:

    After hearing horror stories of how rough this ride was, I was pleasantly surprised to actually find this ride kind of fun. Sure, there are bigger and better coasters out there, and this coaster is a bit harsh on the shoulders, but if you’re in the Vegas area, it’s worth at least one go. The coaster I found really rough was the Desperado, located at Buffalo Bill’s Resort hotel/casino 40 miles down the road in Primm, on the Nevada/California state line. Naturally Arrow-built hyper coasters are typically a little rougher because they’re older than hyper coasters built by other companies, but that one really beat the snot out of me leaving me thinking I was on a rough wooden coaster that didn’t age well (Desperado apparently didn’t age well).

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