When a major city’s tallest structure is a roller coaster

Perhaps this could only happen in Orlando: the city’s tallest structure will soon be a roller coaster.

The Skyscraper aims to live up to its name. When construction of the roller coaster is completed in 2106, it will dominate Orlando’s skyline. At 570 feet, the Skyscraper will loom over the next tallest structure, the Suntrust Center—which is itself only a few dozen feet taller than the Orlando Eye, a 400-foot-tall Ferris wheel opening this spring.

Orlando appears to be one-upping other cities in the global race to build soaring structures that aren’t buildings. Where plenty of cities have built observation wheels (Orlando included), the Theme Park Capital of the World is looking to distinguish itself through a different kind of roller coaster, one whose footprint and height resemble, well, a skyscraper’s.

Developers released new plans last week for the Skyplex, a $300 million entertainment center that will anchored by the Skyscraper. The expanded plans include the Skyfall, a 450-foot tall drop ride (built into the Skyscraper structure) that will itself be taller than the tallest building in downtown Orlando.

Tall buildings may be functional but they are also intended to say something about the city: that it is has a certain level of success and sophistication. A skyline is meant to stand out and provide a lasting and permanent (though it is open to change, people don’t really consider losing major buildings from the skyline) image of a city. So, Orlando seems to be staking its claim to entertainment and amusement, to lasting screams and high speeds. And once you have this tall ride, how do you top it?

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