NerdWallet’s Top 10 Roller Coasters in the World
Looking for the perfect batwing inversion? How about a cobra roll that makes your stomach leap up to your chest? Whether you get your kicks from dive drops, heartline rolls, horseshoes, hammerhead turns, top hats or wraparound corkscrews, these 10 roller coasters are sure to satiate any thrill-seeker’s appetite. We’ve chosen 10 of the tallest, fastest, curviest coasters in the world guaranteed to make you scream (or, at least, assume an expression of moderate excitement). With summer over and the off-season beginning, hit the coasters now while lines are short and the air is cool.
Residing in Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH, the Millennium Force is one of the tallest, fastest, longest and highest rated coaster in the world. When it was constructed in 2000, it briefly held the title of tallest coaster on the globe before being surpassed by the Steel Dragon 2000. The Millennium’s first hill is an 80-degree drop over 300 feet tall and launches passengers at a max speed of 93mph. It is the second longest coaster in North America and the first to employ a cable lift system for quick ascension.
Steel Dragon 2000
The Steel Dragon 2000, completed shortly after the Millennium, ended its rival’s short-lived reign as the world’s tallest complete-circuit coaster. Located at Nagashima Spa Land in Mie Prefecture, Japan, the ride has a 310 drop and hits speeds of 95mph. The ride takes over 3 minutes and covers a distance over a mile and a half, making it the longest roller coaster in the world. Unlike its competitor, the Steel Dragon 2000 uses a traditional chain lift.
In 2003, Cedar Point reclaimed ownership of the world’s tallest coaster with the completion of the Top Thrill Dragster. At the time of construction, the Dragster was the first full circuit coaster to exceed 400 feet, making it the tallest in the world for the next two years. It is one of the only two “strata coasters” in the world. The ride is essentially one giant hill. Cars are launched straight up, climb over a small hump and soar downward at 120mph.
Two years after the Dragster opened, Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ erected Kingda Ka, the world’s second strata coaster and tallest closed-circuit track — a title it has held for over 7 years. The hydraulic launch system propels the train to 128mph in 3.5 seconds. The car climbs a 456-foot top hat tower, flies toward the ground at a 90-degree angle and arches over a small hill before turning back into the station. The entire experience lasts only 28 seconds.
Located in Six Flags New England in Agawam, MA, Bizarro is consistently ranked as one of the world’s top coasters. It won the Amusement Today Golden Ticket Award for Best Steel Roller Coaster in 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. The ride begins with a lovely view of the Connecticut River before plunging passengers down a 221-foot drop into a series of themed buildings, fog tunnels, hills and helixes.
As the tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster on the East Coast, El Toro shares a home with Kingda Ka in Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ. El Toro, meaning “the bull” in Spanish, is appropriately named, giving passengers the sense of being bucked from the train. Negative G-forces create a sensation of weightlessness at various points throughout the ride. It is the third tallest wooden coaster and second fastest in the world.
At only 43-feet tall with a max speed of 50mph, the Nemesis seems an assuming competitor. But despite its underwhelming stats, the Nemesis, located in Alton Towers in England, has earned rankings as one of the best coasters on the globe. What it lacks in height and speed it makes up in tight inversions, exhilarating maneuvers and sheer intensity, making exceptional use of the terrain as the train winds through ravines and tunnels.
Expedition GeForce dwells in Holiday Park in Haßloch, Germany. It is one of the largest coasters in Europe with an 82-degree drop and a max speed of 75mph. Its name derives from the 4.5 Gs riders are subjected to over the many overbanked turns and airtime hills that wend through trees and over a lake. It has ranked as a Golden Ticket top steel coaster for the past 10 years.
The Behemoth, a steel coaster at Canada’s Wonderland in Ontario, enjoyed a 4-year stint as Canada’s tallest and fastest coaster. The ride lasts a solid 3 minutes, starting riders on a 230-foot lift to achieve a max speed of 77mph in 3.9 seconds. The first big hill is followed by a series of 5 air-time hills, a hammerhead turn and 2 helixes. The Behemoth was the first of its kind to employ a prototype seating arrangement to provide an unobstructed view for every rider.
The Voyage, located in Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari in Santa Claus, IN, is a wooden coaster named for the 1620 voyage of the Pilgrims to America. The coaster holds the record for most airtime for a wooden coaster, clocking in at 24.3 seconds. The recipient of the Golden Ticket Award for “Best Wooden Roller Coaster” every year since 2007, the Voyage features a 154-foot drop and 5 underground tunnels. The ride lasts about 2 minutes and 45 seconds.