Coaster to Coaster: The Best Amusement Park Roller Coasters in the US
Nothing can satisfy the shorts-wearing adrenaline junkie in us all, like riding one of America’s best roller coasters. And let’s be real, we all crave the need for speed. From New England to California, attendance at amusement parks last year was a whopping 335 million people. And that’s a good thing because as it turns out, designing and building a mind-blowing roller coaster is really expensive.
With the recent explosion in next-level roller coaster technology, it was no easy feat narrowing the field down to 10. From across America, we bring you the top 10 thrill-rides guaranteed to catapult you straight to loop-de-loop ecstasy.
Photo: Westend61 (Getty Images)
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Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point, Ohio
Going from 0 to 120 miles per hour in 4 seconds never felt so good. This hydraulic rocket may only thrill you for 30 seconds, but the memories will last a lifetime. Seriously, how often do you get to pee your pants with total impunity?
X2 at Six Flags Magic Mountain, California
For those seeking true disorientation, look no further than X2, the California coaster claiming to travel into the fourth dimension. Not only does this ride zip you down a near-vertical drop of 215 feet at 76 miles per hour, your train car spins the whole time. That’s right, these seats are designed to move in isolation from the other train cars, making every trip out a unique unraveling of your mental floss. It's wicked fun. Just don’t hop the X2 after downing two trays of cheesy nachos.
Nitro at Six Flags, New Jersey
If you’re ever in New Jersey and feel like taking a wild ride, strap into the haute couture coaster from design firm Bolliger & Mabillard. These guys threw out the blueprint for your traditional roller coaster in favor of the forward-thinking hyper coaster. That means more speed, more hang time, and more scintillating drops and twists delivered via a silky smooth steel track. You won't know what hit you, but you'll surely ask for more.
Superman the Ride at Six Flags, New England
The ultimate villain would be the jerk who didn’t let you ride this insane roller coaster. Combining a location high above the Connecticut River, a perfectly paced layout, and an unparalleled thrill factor, Superman achieves roller coaster nirvana. You’ll wish you could turn back time just to ride this hero of a coaster over and over... and over.
Diamondback at King’s Island, Ohio
Striking out of the gate at a deadly clip, Diamondback gains major altitude before plunging you down 20 stories at a gnarly 74-degree angle. Wasting no time, the open-air bucket-seated train car snags massive airtime before hitting its second major drop. Trying to recover from two back-to-back plummets when you can’t find your stomach (or feel your lips) is a futile endeavor. The Diamondback cares not for your earthly needs as it slithers through a winding helix before splashing into a pool of “venom.” There’s no time to do anything but hang on for dear life.
Montu at Busch Gardens, Florida
Some coasters are extroverts. Others, like Montu at Busch Gardens, are inverts. Built with the train hanging below the track, you strap in like a hang-glider on crank while your legs freely (and wildly) dangle amidst a beastly set of G-Force inversions. If you're all about that careening diaphragm crush, Montu delivers the best in the nation.
Kingda Ka at Six Flags, New Jersey
Talk about extreme. Kingda Ka is the fastest coaster in the USA and the tallest in the world (at 456 feet). See if you can survive this gargantuan beast to become a part of the legend of Kingda Ka. Who knew Jersey was the place where dreams come true?
Iron Rattler at Six Flags, Texas
Wooden coasters are fun (if you were born in the 1890s or enjoy neck and shoulder injuries). Steel tracks are just so much smoother. That’s why hybrid coasters came along in 2011 to modernize some of America’s classic wooden wonders. One ride to benefit enormously from this steely makeover is Texas’ Iron Rattler. This gorgeous track snakes through a natural limestone quarry, giving riders a chance to descend hundreds of feet at precarious angles directly into the glory of Mother Nature’s bosom.
Steel Vengeance at Cedar Point, Ohio
Steel Vengeance is thought of by many to be the best coaster in the world. It certainly commands the crown at Cedar Point (which is the roller coaster capital of the world). This hybrid has it all: multiple drops (including a hair-raising 90-degree, 200-hundred-footer), ridiculous amounts of airtime, classic pacing, and a smooth ride. If you really care about great coasters, Cedar Point is a must-see on your amusement park bucket list.
Twisted Colossus at Six Flags Magic Mountain, California
Magic Mountain gave this vintage coaster a massive face-lift in 2015. Replacing the track with a one-of-a-kind ‘”Iron Horse” I-beam track creates a buttery smoothness unheard of in rides this twisted and relentless. The double drop, loads of airtime, and Zero-G inversions are paced with precision. And clocking in at an outstanding four minutes, the fun never ends.
Twisted Colossus' magnum opus? When two trains are perfectly synced, there’s a section of the track where the trains “race” each other, with one hanging upside down over the other. This is roller coaster perfection.
BONUS: Cyclone at Coney Island, New York
It’s not often you get to ride a piece of history, and Coney Island’s famed Cyclone is just that: the granddaddy of all coasters. Built in 1927, this wooden, 12-drop speed demon has seen more action than a WWI ambulance driver. Legend has it that a man with aphonia was once cured after riding the Cyclone. At the ride's conclusion he was heard to remark, "I feel sick."
At least it’s more fun than riding the F train.