As we begin the 2019 amusement park season I thought this would be a good time to put out a list of my current top 10 roller coasters. This list includes coasters I have personally been on. So don’t be surprised if a personal favorite of yours is missing.
But first some honorable mentions. In no particular order.
Steel Force (Dorsey Park, PA)
Nitro (Six Flags Great Adventure, NJ)
Kumba (Busch Gardens Tampa, FL)
Intimidator 305 (Kings Dominion, VA)
Magnum XL 200 (Cedar Point, OH)
Millennium Force (Cedar Point, OH)
10) The Incredible Hulk
Universal Studios Islands of Adventure, Florida
One of B&M’s finest coasters. For the longest time their only launch coaster. Incredible Hulk is simply a great design. It runs well, its thrilling, and has a reasonable level of theming. Not Disney levels mind you, but still a lot of fun.
9) Big Bad Wolf
Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Virginia
This is the only defunct coaster on my list. And I will forever miss it. There are very few Arrow suspended coasters left in the world, and this was the best of them. It’s replacement, Verbolten, is fine, but not on the same level. It was fun, it was unique, and it was well themed. Swinging out over the river was simply breathtaking.
Cedar Point, Ohio
It’s not the biggest coaster at the park (not even close). It’s not the fastest. It doesn’t have the most inversions. And yet this is the one of the best. Maverick is a wild, thrilling ride that will leave you stunned after your first experience. And the switch to vest restraints really made the ride so much more comfortable. More vests please!
7) The Beast
Kings Island, Ohio
It opened in 1979 and remains the longest wooden coaster in the world. What is most striking about this ride is that you cannot see it. Other than the lift hill, the vast majority of the ride is back in the woods. It adds to the atmosphere. You feel like you have left the park and are out on an adventure. Add to that a ride that is fast and powerful. It has that old school wooden roughness without being uncomfortable.
Six Flags New England, Massachusetts
Despite there being a few other versions of this ride out there, this is the one to travel for. Incredibly fast, smooth, and full of ejector airtime. This ride is simply amazing. And worthy of its namesake.
5) Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Florida
This one holds a special place in my heart as the very first coaster I have ever ridden. It may not be the world’s most thrilling roller coaster, but it is a ton of fun. This ride is a perfect example of how Disney’s theming and attention to detail takes what would otherwise be a run of the mill family coaster and make it into something truly magical. A low height requirement and a more mild disposition makes this one of the few roller coasters that entire families can enjoy together.
Knoebels Amusement Park, Pennsylvania
This was my first non-Disney roller coaster. I knew the story of it at the time but it didn’t hit me until later just how amazing it is. This classic coaster was originally designed in 1947 by legendary designer Herb Schmeck. But not at Knoebels and not in Pennsylvania. Rather, this coaster was located at a park in San Antonio, Texas. When the park closed in 1980, Knoebels did something novel. They moved it, board by board, to Pennsylvania. While so many other rides from the golden area have fallen to a wrecking ball, this ride lives on. And beyond all that, it is a fantastic ride. Despite being over 70 years old this ride can give some amazing airtime. It never feels unnecessarily rough. Just a good old fashioned fun ride.
3) El Toro
Six Flags Great Adventure, New Jersey
There have been few rides that left me speechless after my first run. This is one of them. Oh wow did Six Flags right a wrong here. The station for El Toro actually comes from the previous occupant, a TOGO coaster called Viper (if I ever do a top 10 most hated list, it will be at or near the top). El Toro took the idea of airtime and ran about as far as one could with it. This ride is crazy fast. It never slows down. It never holds back. It is one of the most relentless coasters on earth.
2) Fury 325
Carowinds, North/South Carolina
I was worried when I first got in line for this one, four years after it opened, that I would be disappointed. I’d heard so much about it that I feared it could not live up to the hype. It does. I really does. Fury 325 seems to be a direct answer to the accusation that B&M has gotten too safe and predictable. This ride is everything they do right in one. It is fast, smooth, graceful, and full of floater airtime. It is only the second gigacoastger (>300 feet) that B&M has made. More please. More!
1) Steel Vengeance
Cedar Point, Ohio
I rode Mean Streak, the ride that would eventually become Steel Vengeance. It was fine. I didn’t hate it the way some did. Yes it was rough, but it was no Hercules. When it was announced that Rocky Mountain Construction, then new kings of the coaster world, would be converting it into a steel hypercoaster, I was almost unreasonably excited. And as with Fury 325 I was afraid that it would not live up to the hype. Especially after Will and I waited over an hour and a half on our first day at the park in order to ride it. But it delivered in every possible way. RMC outdid themselves again. Steel Vengeance is an absolute monster of a roller coaster. Not that a coaster fan needs an excuse to visit Cedar Point, but if you do, this is it.