The 220-foot-tall Steel Curtain roller coaster in Pennsylvania set three records when it opened this year.
Courtesy Kennywood
  • Every year, new nail-biting rides that push visitors to the limit open at theme parks around the world - and 2019 did not disappoint.
  • In Malaysia, the world's longest water-slide opened, while visitors in the US got to try out the world's tallest adventure ropes course and roller coasters with record-breaking inversions.
  • Among other records, an exhibit at the Guggenheim had the most visitors ever in the museum's 80-year history, and Yellowstone's Steamboat Geyser erupted more times than it ever has before.
  • For more stories go to the Business Insider South Africa homepage.

It was a strong end to the decade for tourist attractions around the world.

Mega records were broken by nail-biting rides at theme parks, stunning natural events at national parks, and huge numbers of visitors at museums throughout 2019.

Keep scrolling to see the rides, experiences, and exhibits that smashed records this year.

The world's longest waterslide — measuring 1,110 metres — opened in Malaysia this year.

SADIQ ASYRAF/AFP via Getty Images

Stretching a mind-boggling 1,110 metres, the ride at Penang's ESCAPE theme park broke the world record for the longest tube water slide, which was previously held by Action Park in Vernon, New Jersey.

The slide, which opened in September, is a permanent structure that carries visitors down a 70 metre decline through the park's jungle terrain. The ride takes four minutes to complete. By comparison, Action Park's water slide is 600 metres and takes a comparably paltry 90 seconds.

Breaking a world record was never the park's goal.

"I'm always baffled by how rides are made so short and quick. I wanted to build rides that last a good few minutes," Sim Choo Kheng (pictured), CEO of ESCAPE operator Sim Leisure Group, said in a statement.

The world's largest snow maze was visited by huge crowds in Canada in February.

STR/AFP/Getty Images

The 2,789.11-square-meter snow maze beat a 2015 record by more than 1,000 square meters, according to CBC.

The record was set by A Maze in Corn, Inc (Canada) in St. Adolphe, Manitoba.

The new, 70 metre Steel Curtain roller coaster in Pennsylvania in the US set three records.

Courtesy Kennywood

When The Steel Curtain at Kennywood opened in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in July, it set the record for the tallest inversion in the world - 60 metres above the ground.

The 1,200 metre steel structure broke some other, more local records, too. At 70 metres, The Steel Curtain is the tallest roller coaster in Pennsylvania, and its nine inversions are the most in North America.

"It's a lot of thrills, a lot of power, a lot of fun," said Steelers' defensive end Cam Heyward when he braved the ride ahead of its opening. "If you're looking for a good time, this is the gut punch you need!"

The Guggenheim Museum in New York City had its most visitors ever after opening its Hilma Af Klint show.

Johannes Schmitt-Tegge/picture alliance via Getty Images

In April, the Guggenheim Museum announced its exhibit, "Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future," was by far the most visited exhibit in its 80-year history.

A record-breaking 600,000 people went to see the artwork between October 2018 and April 2019, and there was a 34 percent jump in Guggenheim memberships.

It was perhaps prompted by the Swedish artist's decree that the paintings should not be publicly displayed until 20 years after her death - because she believed people in the future would better understand her work. She passed away in 1944 but the Guggenheim's exhibit was the first major show in the US devoted solely to her work.

The Guggenheim wasn't the only gallery that set records for visitors in 2019. Among others, a Bosch show at Museum Slager in the Netherlands sparked the most visitors in the gallery's history, and the Springfield Art Museum in Missouri broke visitor records for the third year in a row.

Infinity Racers, a gigantic slide for head-first mat racing at Texas' Schlitterbahn Waterpark, is the tallest of its kind in the world.

Mikie Farias/Schlitterbahn Galveston Island

The 75-foot-tall (22 metres), 696-foot-long (200 metres) slide is the tallest and longest of its kind in the world. It measures about eight stories tall.

The space-themed ride, which opened at Schlitterbahn Waterpark Galveston Island in June, is 85% enclosed and takes visitors on twists and turns through multi-colored fiberglass tubes.

New Jersey's Nickelodeon Universe, the largest indoor theme park in the Western Hemisphere, debuted three record-breaking tourist attractions in 2019.

Samantha Nandez/

Nickelodeon Universe, the largest indoor theme park in the Western Hemisphere, opened at the American Dream complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey, in October.

Among its rides was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shellraiser, which is now the world's steepest roller coaster at an angle of 121.5 degrees.

The Legends of the Hidden Temple Challenge became the world's tallest adventure ropes course, while the Shredder became the world's tallest and longest free-spinning coaster.

Tourists flocked to see the world's tallest sandcastle at an annual festival in Germany.

Jens Büttner/picture alliance via Getty Images

At the 2019 Sand Sculptures Festival in Binz, Germany, a magnificent, 18 metre sandcastle - with staircases and turrets - broke the record for the world's tallest.

Twelve sculptors and eight technicians worked eight hours a day for 3.5 weeks to build the sandcastle using 11,000 tons of sand, according to Guinness World Records.

Every year, tourists travel to the seaside town to see the epic sandcastle designs. This year, they were able to see the record-breaking design between June and November.

Six Flags' Maxx Force, which reaches 125 kilometres per hour in under two seconds, broke three terrifying records when it opened in July.

Courtesy Six Flags

The Maxx Force at Six Flags Great America near Chicago is North America's fastest coaster, according to Six Flags. The park says it's also the fastest inversion (more than 95 kilometres) and tallest double inversion (at 53 metres high) of any roller coaster in the world.

In 2019, the world's longest cruise journey set sail from London ... and it's still going.

Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images

Viking Cruises' "Ultimate World Cruise" left London on August 31, 2019, and it is anticipated to return to London next year after completing a 245-day trip. As Forbes notes, many other around-the-world cruises typically range between 90-120 days long.

During the epic global trip, its 930 passengers will travel to 51 countries across six continents, making visits to 111 ports and stopping overnight in 23 cities. Fares started at $92,990 (R1.3 million) per person.

Viking hopes to set a record for the "longest continuous passenger cruise" with the journey. When the ship returns, it will be met by an official from Guinness World Records, who will verify the achievement.

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