20 in 2020: Steel Dragon 2000

For the next stop in our 20 in 2020 series we are heading around the globe to Nagashima Spaland in Japan. Their massive 20 year old giga coaster, Steel Dragon 2000, is still a household name among enthusiasts and sits atop many bucket lists. To this day, it remains the longest roller coaster in the world.

(trip advisor.com)


Steel Dragon 2000 History

Steel Dragon 2000 has an interesting history that starts back with the planning of Millennium Force at Cedar Point. These two rides have been rivals since birth (which is evident in our 20 for 2020 article on Millennium Force). In short, D.H. Morgan Manufacturing, who designed and built Steel Dragon 2000, was among the designers at the table for the 300 foot Sandusky job. When their idea for a double-chain lift fell short of Intamin’s much quicker cable lift, owner Dana Morgan took their idea to Japan.

From there it was a race to see who would reach that coveted 300 foot mark the fastest, becoming the world’s first giga coaster. With a several month head start, the Intamin crews in Ohio were able to snag that title on May 13, 2000 when Millennium Force opened to the public. But Steel Dragon hadn’t played its cards yet.

Steel Dragon 2000 Steals the Spotlight

Millennium Force’s tallest coaster title was short lived. The Japanese were superstitious and they worked in meters. Thus 97 meters was the height chosen: 318 feet. Just eight feet taller than Millennium Force.

Steel Dragon 2000 opened on August 1, 2000, around three months after Millie, taking the tallest and fastest records from Cedar Point. “They were hot,” Morgan said of the Cedar Fair officials when learning of the larger ride, whose statistics had been kept secret. Millennium Force opened first because the ride was contracted first. Morgan admitted they wouldn’t have built Steel Dragon if they had gotten the Cedar Point contract.

Morgan claims Cedar Fair officials told him at a later IAAPA tradeshow “I wish we had bought the ride from you guys,” which he considered to be very high praise. Morgan’s opinion was “the ride they got was a good ride, but not as good as the ride we would have built for them.” It would be interesting indeed to see the layout Morgan had designed.

Steel Dragon 2000 twenty years later is still the longest roller coaster in the world and possibly the most expensive coaster ever built (excluding theming), coming in somewhere around $40-50 million dollars (a $50 million dollar price tag is typically reported but up to 10 million of that may have been other improvements to the park).


Steel Dragon 2000 Stats

Height: 318′
Drop: 307′
Length: 8,133′
Speed: 95 mph
Duration: 4 min



Steel Dragon 2000 has the traditional out-and-back style layout but with an enormous double helix turnaround at the midpoint. It feels very much like a larger version of Magnum XL-200.

After plummeting down the 307 foot drop, riders will experience a 252 foot airtime hill, a 210 foot airtime hill, the helixes, and then a series of bunny hops (with two tunnels) on the return trip to the station.


Fun Facts

  • An incredible amount of steel went into constructing Steel Dragon 2000 due to the Earthquake protocols in Japan, way more than any traditional steel coaster.
  • The name Steel Dragon 2000 was chosen because the year 200 was the “year of the dragon” in Japan.
  • A partial derailment in August of 2003 led to the coaster being standing but not operating for three years. The ride reopened in September, 2006.
  • In 2013, the coaster received new trains from B&M.
  • It is currently the 6th tallest roller coaster in the world.

Steel Dragon 2000 is definitely high on my coaster to-do list. I remember recording (on VHS) a Discovery Channel special on the construction of the ride and watching it over and over (and over and over) when I was a kid. Hopefully one day I can make the trip to actually ride it!

Take a front seat ride:

Have any of our readers made it over to Japan and gotten a ride on this record breaker? Let us know what you thought!