Are you a roller coaster fanatic? An adrenaline addict? Do terms like “cobra roll,” “raven turn,” and “interlocking corkscrew inversion” get your blood pumping a little faster? If so, this list of the top 25 best roller coasters in the world should be right up your thrill-seeking alley. These are not your grandfather’s roller coasters. Behold some of the tallest, fastest and most insane coasters in the world. Strap in and get ready for negative G-forces, 100+ MPH speeds, and 90-degree vertical drops from skyscraper heights. And please, remember to keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times … unless you want this ride to be your last.
Ahoy! With a height of 105 feet and top speed of 56 MPH, Piraten (“The Pirate”) is the tallest and fastest roller coaster in Denmark. This steel coaster also features a 70-degree vertical drop and a 2,500-foot track. Although the United States has coasters that are four times as tall and more than twice as fast (not to brag or anything), Piraten is still a pretty darn good ride – this Danish attraction was voted as the 5th best roller coaster in the world in 2008. So be sure to check it out if you ever make it to Denmark (to the Djurs Sommerland amusement park in Nimtofte, Jyland, Denmark, to be specific).
Propelled by a unique launch lift hill, riders of The Incredible Hulk in Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida accelerate from zero to 40 MPH in the first two seconds of this ride, experiencing the G-force of a jet taking off an aircraft carrier (1.42 Gs). Named after the famous comic book character, this superhero of a ride featured the world’s tallest cobra roll when it opened in 1999. Another unique feature of the Incredible Hulk is the load roaring sound the train makes as it goes down the track, which is caused by the ride’s distinctive box-shaped track tubes, a hallmark of the coaster’s manufacturer, Bollinger & Mabillard. Other highlights include a weightless “zero-G” roll, a 105-foot drop, a vertical loop, two corkscrews, a helix, two overbanked turns, a mist tunnel, and a top speed of 67 MPH. Lighting and sound effects are also used to tell the ride’s the “story.”
Texas Giant at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, Texas is the tallest steel-wood hybrid roller coaster in the world, standing 153 feet tall. This “twister”-style coaster, which opened in 1990, has a wooden support structure, which was redesigned with a steel track to provide a smoother ride experience and reopened in 2011. After its recent renovations, Texas Giant received a Golden Ticket Award for being one of the “Top 10 Steel Roller Coasters,” a designation determined by the vote of “Amusement Today” magazine readers. The ride features a scream-worthy 79-degree vertical drop from 147 feet, and banked turns with angles of up to 95 degrees.
Kawasemi is a fast and fun steel coaster, manufactured by roller coaster design legends Intamin AG and located at Tobu Zoo Park in Minami, Saitama, Saitama Japan. The ride’s name is written as “カワセミ” in Japanese, which translates to a type of small bird known for its rapid flight speed. Operating since 2008, Kawasemi was the first Mega-Lite coaster produced by Intamin AG. The layout of this style of coaster is characterized by high-speed horizontal turns, steep drops, overbanked curves, and airborne S-curves. Kawasemi has a top speed of 54 MPH, a height of 108 feet, a steepest drop of 67.4 degrees, and a total ride time of 1 minute.
Operating since 1985 at Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg, Pennsylvania, the Phoenix has consistently ranked at or near #4 in Golden Ticket Award rankings for “Top Wooden Roller Coasters.” The ride features lots of upward acceleration resulting in negative gravity, or a feeling of weightlessness, also known as “airtime.” The Phoenix is actually a bit of an antique — it operated as “The Rocket” at Playland Park in San Antonio, Texas from 1947 until the park closed in 1980. The ride was purchased, relocated and restored by Knoebels in 1984. With its 3,200-foot track and 78-foot height, the Rocket was advertised as “the largest roller coaster in the world” when it opened in the 1940s. Today, Knoebels hosts the popular annual event “Phoenix Fall Phun Phest” each October to celebrate this historic coaster.[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Next Page” ]
Nitro is a whole lot of ride. This Mortal Kombat-themed coaster is located in Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey and has been ranked #3 in Golden Ticket Awards’ “Best Steel Roller Coasters” rankings for five years-and-counting. The spectacular Nitro ride experience includes a drop from 215 feet, a max speed of 80 MPH, a track length of 5,394 feet and a G-force of 4.2. When it opened in 2001, Nitro was the fastest coaster in New Jersey, and, at 230 feet, the tallest coaster on the U.S. East Coast. The ride has open, side-less trains with individual lap-bar restraints to give you that “Are you sure this is safe?” feeling. (Don’t worry; it is.) Other notable features include a 540-degree helix, a hammerhead turn, an S-curve, and six camelbacks. Wondering where to sit? The back row of the train is reported to have the most airtime, while the front row features a smoother ride and an amazing view of the Philadelphia skyline (55 miles away) on a clear night.
Maverick is not a ride for the faint of heart – literally: riders with heart conditions are warned not to ride this steel coaster, located at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. This Wild West-themed ride, which cost an impressive $21 million to build in 2007, has an insane drop angle of 95 degrees, and a top speed of 70 MPH. Maverick’s overbanked turn at 92 degrees, a “twisted horseshoe roll” featuring two 360-degree corkscrew rolls, and an S-curve through a “rock” canyon are also sure to get your heart pounding. The layout is such that two trains are dispatched at the same time, with the second train launched after the first train starts speeding through the 400-foot, pitch-black launch tunnel. Saddle up, partner!
Got a need for speed? Formula Rossa at Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates is the fastest roller coaster in the world, with a hydraulic launch system generating a top speed of 150 MPH and a G-force of 4.8. Inspired by the Autodromo Nazionale Monza racetrack in Italy, the roller coaster cars are designed to resemble a Ferrari Formula One-style cockpit. Its track is 1.4 miles in length, making it the sixth-longest roller coaster track in the world. Because of the high air speeds, riders sitting in the front of the train must wear protective glasses to shield their eyes from impact with airborne particulate matter and insects.
A world-class hybrid wooden roller coaster located at Waldameer Park in Erie, Pennsylvania, Ravine Flyer II was ranked as the Best New Ride of 2008 by “Amusement Today” readers. Ravine Flyer II holds a state record for the tallest drop on a wooden roller coaster (120 feet) and has the 9th tallest drop on a wooden roller coaster in North America. The 1:30 minute ride, designed by The Gravity Group, has a top speed of 60 MPH, a length of 2,900 feet and a very scenic location. Locals say that at dusk, the mist coming across Lake Erie, of which riders can take in a beautiful view on the climb up, makes the Ravine Flyer II even faster. The ride was designed to replace Waldameer Park’s original Ravine Flyer, which shut in 1938 after a tragic accident in which a man died.
Another wooden roller coaster in a picturesque setting, Boulder Dash in Bristol, Connecticut has the distinction of being the first roller coaster built into the side of the mountain. The coaster incorporates the natural terrain of Lake Compounce, the amusement park where the ride is located, with passengers ascending the mountainside and then dropping from view as they plunge 115 feet down the other side of the mountain, swooshing alarmingly close to trees and boulders at 60 MPH. For most of the time, riders are only 10 to 12 feet from the ground, making a New York Times reviewer feel like he was on “the fastest forest hayride ever.” With a length of 4,725 feet, Boulder Dash is the second-fastest and second-longest wooden roller coaster on the East Coast, after El Toro at Six Flags Great Adventure. The National Amusement Park Historical Associated voted Boulder Dash the top wooden roller coaster in 2001 and 2004, and it won the Golden Ticket Award for Best Wood Coaster in 2004.
[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Next Page” ]
Considered one of Bolliger & Mabillard’s finest, Katun is an inverted steel roller coaster located at the Mirabilandia Amusement Park in Savio Italy. Its 3,937 feet of track make Katun the longest inverted roller coaster in Europe. Katun features six inversions, including a vertical loop, a cobra roll, a zero-G roll, and two corkscrews. The ride’s tallest drop is from 147.8 feet, and the train reaches a top speed of 65 MPH. In operation since 2000, the ride has an ancient Mayan ruin theme – “Katun” is a period of time in the Mayan Calendar. If you make it to Mirabilandia, make sure to also check out iSpeed, a “rocket”-style coaster in the park, before you say ciao.
Want to ride the world’s steepest wooden roller coaster? Well, then it’s time to book your ticket to South Korea! In addition to being the steepest woodie, T Express, located at the Everland theme park in Yongin, South Korea, has also been ranked the world’s best wooden coaster, by Mitch Hawker’s online poll in 2008 and 2010, and is the largest roller coaster of any kind in South Korea. The track, prefabricated by Intamin AG, has a max vertical angle of 77 degrees and a drop from 150.11 feet, and is 5,383.8 feet long – making it the world’s sixth-longest wooden coaster. The ride’s three trains, with six cars per train, reach a top speed of 65 MPH. T Express is built partially on a hillside to take advantage of the terrain height differential, standing 183.75 feet tall.
One of Six Flags Magic Mountain’s signature steel roller coasters, X2 is one mighty beast. Formerly known as “X,” X2 is the first 4th dimension roller coaster, in which seats can rotate independently of the orientation of the track. In the case of X2, the four-rail track allows seats to rotate 360 degrees forward or backward in a controlled spin. The first drop of this Southern California favorite is from 20 stories high (212 feet), at an 88.8 degree angle, allowing the train to hit a maximum speed of 76 MPH. X2’s 3,600-foot long course features two “raven turns,” two inversions, a skydive, a back-flip, and a twisting front-flip. The only downside – being one of the two most popular rides in the park (along with Tatsu), wait times often exceed 2 hours.
Top Thrill Dragster packs a pretty powerful adrenaline punch – you can probably sense that just from one look at the ride’s incredible, inverted U-shaped design. This Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio steel Strata Coaster (meaning it has a height or a drop of 400 feet or higher) goes from zero to 120 MPH in under four seconds. After reaching the 420-foot apex a few seconds later, passengers are shot straight back down the other side of the track at a death-defying 90-degree angle. Top Thrill Dragster held the distinction of “World’s Tallest Roller Coaster” upon its completion in 2003, although this title was usurped by Six Flags Great Adventure’s Kingda Ka in 2005.
Balder in Gothenburg, Sweden may not be the world’s largest or fastest coaster, but it one of the world’s favorite wooden coasters because of its high percentage of airtime. Riders experience air time a total of 10 times throughout the 2:08-minute ride. One of only four prefabricated wooden roller coasters in the world (El Toro and T Express on our list are two others), Balder has an almost steel-like smoothness, as opposed to the bumpy character of traditional wooden coasters. Operating since 2003 at Gothenburg’s Liseberg amusement park, Balder is widely considered one of the best coasters in Europe.[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Next Page” ]
The Voyage is a record-breaking wooden roller coaster, located in Santa Claus, Indiana at the Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari theme park. Though its max height of 163 feet doesn’t quite qualify it for Hyper Coaster status, The Voyage holds world multiple records. These include “Wooden Roller Coaster with the Most Air-Time” (24.3 seconds), “Wooden Coaster with the Most Underground Tunnels” (five) and others. The Voyage has also won the Golden Ticket award for “Best Wooden Roller Coaster” every year since it opened in 2007. Its steepest angle of descent is 66 degrees, and it reaches a top-speed of 67.4 MPH. In addition to five underground tunnels, the ride’s 1.2-mile long track includes three 100+ foot drops and three sections of 90-degree banking, for a total ride experience lasting 2 minutes and 45 seconds.
Operating since June 2001, Expedition GeForce of Haßloch, Germany is the second-tallest coaster on the European mainland. It has a drop of 184 feet and a top speed of 74.6 MPH. An 82-degree max vertical angle (Germany’s steepest), plentiful airtime hills, and numerous overbanked turns that become increasingly twisted as the track runs over a lake and through the woods make this ride one of the world’s favorite steel roller coasters. Expedition GeForce has been named the best roller coaster in Europe on multiple occasions. As its name implies, the ride has an exceptionally strong G-force of 4.5. Expedition GeForce is also unique in that it is one of few coasters with a faster cable lift rather than a traditional chain lift.
There is no doubt that this Mexican rodeo-themed wooden roller coaster lives up to its name, which, of course, translates to “The Bull” in Spanish. El Toro has tons of ejector airtime, giving the illusion that riders will be “bucked off” the ride. In fact, the extreme negative G-forces incurred by this design require very tight lap bar restraints, which larger riders may not be able to fit into. The 188-foot tall, 70 MPH ride is tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster on the East Coast, and the third-tallest and third-fastest wooden roller coaster in the world. El Toro has a max vertical angle of 76 degrees, which was the steepest drop of any wooden roller coaster worldwide until South Korea’s T Express broke the record by 1 degree in 2008.
Golden Ticket Awards have ranked this Giga Coaster, the first of its kind, the #1 or #2 steel roller coaster in the world every year since it opened in 2000. One of the main attractions at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, Millennium Force features a 300-foot drop at an 80-degree angle, a top speed of 93 MPH, and a ridiculously steep non-inversion banked turn of 122 degrees. Millennium Force was the first roller coaster to feature an elevator cable lift system (like the one Expedition GeForce has), which gets riders to the top faster than the traditional chain lift. It is also one of the longest coasters in the world, with a length of 6,595 feet. While no longer the tallest or fastest coaster in the world, Millennium Force remains one of the highest-ranked coasters in polls.
You’ll have to have some nerves of steel for this one. Previously known as Medusa, Bizarro at Six Flags New England in Agawam, Massachusetts has consistently ranked as the #1 or #2 roller coaster in the world by Golden Ticket Awards and other polls, and it is number-1 in our book. This comic book-themed steel hyper coaster is immensely praised by roller coasters aficionados for its spectacular smoothness and oodles of airtime. The critically acclaimed coaster, named after Superman’s evil doppelganger, has more than one mile of track and an incredible 221-foot, 72-degree drop at 77 MPH. A 180-degree overbanked turn, clockwise and counterclockwise helixes, custom-built audio, disorienting fog tunnels, open-air, color-changing Bizzarro shields to soar through, and themed building structures giving the impression of speeding through a city add to the bizarre thrill of this ride. When it comes to roller coaster thrills, it just doesn’t get any better than this.[/nextpage]