Ready for a rush? We compiled a list of the world's fastest & thrill-seeking roller coasters.
Roller coasters have been the focal point of theme parks for decades, often single handedly making or breaking a venue’s reputation for death-defying fun.While there has been the occasional accident — and even a groovy 1970's disaster movie — these steel and wooden adrenaline boosters offer a ticket to real-life action-adventure in a safe and controlled environment.
Riding The Best Roller Coasters
But with close to 4,000 documented roller coasters in the world, according to the Roller Coaster Database Census Report, how do you know which ones to try out before you die, and which ones simply aren't worth the time?
Thankfully, we here at Idea Hacks have done the hard part for you, piecing together a list of the top 27 for a roller coaster bucket list of sorts. You'll find the tall, the smooth, the rickety, the fast, the dangerous, and the best designed on this page. Feel free to mix and match, rearrange, and even add to.
All aboard, if you dare!
Roller Coaster Index
The Psychology of Roller Coasters
A lot of people love roller coasters and this activity has been going strong for many years. But, why do people love the thrill so much? The main reason people enjoy roller coasters is because they’re linked to sensations the person is seeking. This can include many sensations such as experiencing speed. However, most studies have discovered that speed isn’t the number one reason people love the thrill of roller coasters.
Other studies have found that roller-coaster lovers enjoy the sensation of fear, including a pounding heart, increased energy, and faster breathing which sends your body into a ‘fight or flight response’. Such feelings can make you feel alive, in the moment and out of your comfort zone, where many people crave to be. In addition, some regular riders love the feeling of euphoria after being on a roller coaster and increased levels of endorphins, which together, create intense feelings of pleasure. After stepping off of a roller coaster, there’s also a feeling of accomplishment, like you pushed and challenged yourself to face an uncomfortable situation.
How Roller Coasters Work
If you love roller coasters, you might have wondered how they work, since they don’t require an engine to function or move. Instead, they use a motorized chain that pulls them to the top of the first hill. As the roller coaster continues to reach such heights, it builds energy that continues to grow as it travels downhill. When the roller coaster reaches the highest point of the first hill, it stores potential energy that you could refer to as moving energy, when gravity then takes over.
As the roller coaster travels downhill, it releases the energy it’s built up from the travel up the hill with a combination of gravity. The reason rides don’t last forever is because they lose energy as they’re forced into loops and curves. Essentially, the kinetic energy the ride builds up from the first hill means it could keep going forever so long as the direction is down.
There are a combination of forces involved to bring the ride to a complete stop, along with air brakes to reduce the speed. When you’re on a ride, its wheels rub on the rails to produce friction, and this causes the roller coaster to lose speed. Also, air resistance is another factor that brings the roller coaster to a safe and sometimes abrupt stop.
The Top 27 Best Roller Coasters In The World
If you love roller coasters and the thrill that they give you, we’ve scoured the Internet for the top 27 best roller coasters in the world. Take out our findings below and you’ll be amazed at the variety and beautiful scenery the world has to offer.
27. Millennium Force
Location: Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio
Backstory: The Millennium Force rollercoaster at Cedar Point is a steel favorite built by the vets at Intamin. The fourteenth coaster to be built at the park, it gives you a full two minutes on the rails, hitting near breakneck speeds of 93 miles per hour while achieving a maximum elevation of 310 feet.
What makes it awesome: If the raucous mix of heights and speed freaks you out, then this may be one to avoid; for the rest, buckle up and hang on!
26. The Beast
Location: Kings Island in Mason, Ohio
Backstory: When it originally opened it 1979, it was the fastest, longest, and tallest wooden roller coaster in the world. After all these years, it still remains as the longest wooden roller coaster in the world. It spans more than 35 acres (14 ha) utilizing the surrounding terrain for many of its elements. It also features a lengthy ride time that lasts more than four minutes.
What makes it awesome: The first drop is a whopping 135 ft tall that travels into an underground tunnel that passes an on-ride camera. With speeds over 64 mph, there is good reason that it has topped the list of best roller coasters in the world for many years. This ride is an absolute must for any roller coaster enthusiast.
25. The Smiler
Location: Alton Towers in Staffordshire, England
Backstory: Ben Dowson handled creative design and John Wardley the track layout for this inversion monster. Gerstlauer did manufacturing. Originally known as the SW7, it opened on May 31, 2013, but has gone into Standard But Not Operating (SBNO) status several times for a number of scary incidents that have some wondering if the ride isn’t cursed.
Given the fact that it has led to real-life injuries, we hesitated to even include it here, but for thrill-seekers, merely punching your ticket is a rite of passage. Of course, to do so, one would have to wait until the ride reopens later this year.
What makes it awesome: Fourteen inversions — the most of any roller coaster in the world, steel or otherwise — make this a breathtaking ride with a heightened sense of adrenaline given its history. Since opening it has been involved in seven incidents of varying degrees of panic.
The most severe occurred on June 2, 2015, when a train carrying 16 riders hit an empty stationary train at a speed of 20 miles per hour. Eleven required medical treatment, five suffered serious injuries, and two had to endure partial leg amputations.
To be fair, though, that accident occurred because a ride engineer hit the manual override mechanism, which allowed one of the ride operators to dispatch the halted train involved in the collision. Ride if you dare.
24. T Express
Location: Everland Park in Yongin, Gyeonggi-do Province, South Korea
Backstory: Idaho-based construction firm Rocky Mountain Construction had a hand in this entry on our list of the best roller coasters in the world. Remember that name because the company is a major player in the relatively small coaster manufacturing community. The coaster opened on March 14, 2008, and has ranked as the world’s best wooden coaster twice in Mitch Hawker’s highly respected Best Roller Coaster Polls.
What makes it awesome: T Express doesn’t rank No. 1 in any of the major evaluation categories, but it ranks in the top 10 in all of them. That adds up to a pretty sweet ride. At 184 feet, it is the No. 2 tallest wooden roller coaster in the world. It boasts the No. 7 longest drop for wooden coasters (151 feet); the No. 10 fastest time (64.6 miles per hour); and at 5,383.8 feet, the fifth longest track amongst the timber.
Last but not least, it delivers the No. 4 steepest wooden coaster drop at a maximum vertical angle of 77 degrees. In summary, hang on to your hat -- or, in this case of the video above, your noodles.
23. Timber Drop
Location: Fraispertuis City Park in Jeanménil, France
Backstory: S&S Worldwide built this steel roller coaster that opened to the public on July 2, 2011. It is one of the company’s “El Loco” models, which feature vertical or beyond-vertical drops, tight corners, and abnormal banking. Timber Drop features a counter to keep up with how many visitors they are getting. It had 146,500 riders in its first six months of existence, and for every 500 riders, Fraispertuis City donates money to plant and maintain one tree. John Denver would have loved it.
What makes it awesome: You won’t find Timber Drop on a lot of Top 10 lists, but it ranks at No. 5 on the one that really matters — steepest drop. With a MVA of 113 degrees — well — stomach, meet throat. The creative design adds a personality that you won't find in other El Loco models.
Location: Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois
Backstory: Famed roller coaster designer Alan Schilke designed this monstrosity for Rocky Mountain Construction, who in turn built the coaster for Six Flags Great America. The ride opened to the public on June 19, 2014, and held the steepest wooden roller coaster honor for more than a year, which is quite long for an industry that continually tries to top itself.
What makes it awesome: No. 2 steepest wooden coaster at 85 degrees max vertical; two inversions; No. 4 tallest wooden coaster at 165 feet; and 180-ft. drop, the No. 1 longest in the world in its class.
21. Crazy Bird
Location: Happy Valley Tianjin in Dongli District, Tianjin, China
Backstory: The Crazy Bird is another of the El Loco series of coasters from S&S Worldwide. This one has the added attraction of being an indoor coaster.
What makes it awesome: Another 120-degree drop from 98 feet leave most riders bracing for dear life. It also throws in two inversions, including a dive loop and an inline twist.
Location: Heide Park in Soltau, Lower Saxony, Germany
Backstory: Colossos is one of only four prefabricated wooden roller coasters in the world. The pieces are laser cut for greater precision and snapped/bonded together like giant Lego pieces. The unique build allows Colossos to hit some pretty impressive milestones, which we’ll get in to in a moment. Colossos opened on April 13, 2001.
What makes it awesome: Three biggies here. It is the No. 1 tallest wooden roller coaster in the world at an impressive 197 feet. That record is pending Dollywood’s Lightning Rod, which opens on March 19, 2016, and clocks in at a whopping 206 feet in height. Still, the soon-to-be No. 2 also boasts the No. 4 longest drop for timber at 159 feet. And at 68.4 miles per hour, it is also the No. 3 fastest wooden coaster.
19. Green Lantern Coaster
Location: Warner Bros. Movie World in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
Backstory: Warner Bros. Movie World opened the Green Lantern Coaster in 2011 to commemorate the release of the Ryan Reynolds movie based on the popular DC Comics character. The big release came on Dec. 23. It was built by S&S Worldwide and follows the company’s El Loco model — one of only six in the entire world.
What makes it awesome: The GLC is neither the tallest or the fastest roller coaster in the world, but it has one distinction that wins it inclusion here — the No. 2 steepest drop in the world at 120.5 degrees.
18. Superman: Krypton Coaster
Location: Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio
Backstory: Bolliger & Mabillard’s creation opened to the public on March 11, 2000. It features a design from Werner Stengel and cost around $20 million to build. Each of the three trains has eight cars with riders arranged four across in a single row for a total of 32 riders per train. It can move through 1,600 riders per hour, which is around 27 people each minute. Patrons usually don’t have to wait long.
What makes it awesome: The Krypton Coaster captures the spirit of Superman by utilizing the speed of the steel coaster with the floor-less build simulation of a man in flight. It features the number two tallest vertical loop in the world at 145 feet and also boasts a 168-ft. height, 163-ft. drop, 3.8 G-force, 58-degree MVA, six total inversions, and top speeds of 70 miles per hour. You will believe that YOU can fly.
Location: Kolmården Wildlife Park in Bråviken, Sweden
Backstory: Alan Schilke and Rocky Mountain Construction teamed up on this wooden roller coaster that is right around the top on a few key categories among popular coaster categories. The “Wildfire” name is appropriate considering its two-minute tear through the woodlands below.
What makes it awesome: Three inversions — the most of any wooden coaster save for Outlaw Run in Branson. One hundred eighty-seven feet tall, making it the No. 3 highest upon opening. A 161-ft. drop. Lightning fast for timber at 70.2 miles per hour (earning it yet another No. 3 in the world placement in the speed category).
16. Outlaw Run
Location: Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri
Backstory: Outlaw Run took four years from initial development to the time Rocky Mountain Construction finished the project. It opened on March 13, 2013, a design of the famous Alan Schalke. It cost around $10 million, making it one of the more affordable coasters on this list.
What makes it awesome: Outlaw Run doesn’t let its materials impose too many limitations. It boasts a 162-ft. drop, reaches a top speed of 68 miles per hour — wear a mouthpiece — and is the third steepest wooden coaster in the world with a maximum vertical angle of 81 degrees. Most wooden coasters have MVAs of under 80 degrees.
Finally, this coaster delivers three inversions, making it No. 1 in the world in that particular category for wooden coasters.
15. Formula Rossa
Location: Ferrari World Park at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Backstory: Formula Rossa is the creation of Sherif Bacheet, and was built by the construction firm Intamin. It opened to the public on Nov. 4, 2010, and features four trains with four cars each. Riders are placed two across in two rows, with each train seating 16 passengers.
What makes it awesome: It is 171 feet tall with a large drop of 169 feet. At 6,790 feet in length, riders get their money’s worth, and for the last five years, it has won bragging rights for being the overall fastest roller coaster in the world, reaching 149 miles per hour in just 4.8 seconds.
14. Flying Aces
Location: Ferrari World Park at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Backstory: Intamin has taken point on this project for Ferrari World, which previously gave us Formula Rossa. This time around the company is going higher than their previous creation. Plans are to open the ride sometime this year. Much of the work has already been accomplished and if history is any guide, and the specs released so far are correct, it should be a shoo-in for top 10 status.
What makes it awesome: Considered an “extreme” coaster by the RCDB, Flying Aces is over 206 feet tall and boasts a 5.0 G-force, a record-tying 170-ft. inversion, and top speeds of around 75 miles per hour. Atop its massive vertical loop, there will also be a period of weightlessness, according to the team at Intamin.
13. Full Throttle
Location: Six Flags Magic Mountain in Santa Clarita, California
Backstory: This $6 million steel coaster from Premier Rides opened to the public on June 22, 2013, and replaced the Log Jammer. It features 3 linear synchronous motor launches, runs 2,200 feet in length, and lasts for a total of 90 seconds. There are two trains with three cars. Riders are arranged two across in three rows (18 passengers in each train).
What makes it awesome: Frankly, we’re suckers for inversions and loops, and in one fell swoop, Full Throttle has the No. 2 and the No. 1 in each category, respectively, for its 160-ft. journey. It also has a cool backwards launch near the end. Only gripe is that, like with Kingda Ka, it could have been longer. Still, it's worth experiencing for the street cred this has with that loop.
Location: Cedar Point Park in Sandusky, Ohio
Backstory: The GateKeeper is a $30 million steel roller coaster that opened on May 11, 2013. Another creation of Bolliger & Mabillard, it was only the fifth Wing Coaster when constructed. A “Wing Coaster” is designed so that two riders are side-by-side with the track between them and nothing above or below, thus creating a “dangling” effect for the passengers.
What makes it awesome: Other than Wing Coasters being awesome by their very nature, this one has a very special claim to fame. It features the No. 1 tallest inversion of any roller coaster in the world. It is what those in the industry call a “dive drop,” in which a half-inline twist is performed at the top of a lift hill, which leads into the initial drop.
11. Lightning Rod
Location: Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Backstory: While the Lightning Rod will open on March 19, 2016, and thus hasn’t had any riders at this time, it has the pedigree to belong on this list. For starters, Rocky Mountain Construction is in charge of the manufacturing. Also, Alan Schilke is running the design. This is the same team behind Goliath — see No. 21.
What makes it awesome: With the Lightning Rod now finished and through with its test runs, the coaster can safely lay claim to the distinction of tallest wooden roller coaster in the world at 206 feet in height. It is also the fastest wooden coaster at 73 miles per hour, and the No. 2 for longest drop (165 feet). Last but not least, it places fifth in the “steepest” category with a 73-degree MVA.
10. Top Thrill Dragster
Location: Cedar Point Park in Sandusky, Ohio
Backstory: The Top Thrill Dragster from Intamin and designer Werner Stengel was built to replace Chaos and Troika for Cedar Point, and is the 16th roller coaster in the amusement park since Blue Streak debuted in 1964. Planning began in 2000 and cost $25 million to bring to fruition.
What makes it awesome: The Dragster scores well in the three main pants-wetting categories — tallest, fastest, and longest drop. Breaking it down further, it stands 420 feet tall and features a 400-ft. drop, reaching top speeds of 120 miles per hour.
Industry insiders call it a “strata coaster,” a term that refers to coasters 400 feet or taller that complete a full circuit. It is one of only two in the world, with the second being the similarly dispositioned Kingda Ka -- both incredible rides that would have higher ratings if they weren't as short as they are.
9. Kingda Ka
Location: Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari in Jackson, New Jersey
Backstory: Kingda Ka opened to the public on May 21, 2005. It was designed by Werner Stengel, built by Stakotra, and overseen by Intamin. It is a steel accelerator roller coaster and the second of only two strata coasters in existence (400+ feet in height). Incidents have all been minor over the coaster’s 11 years of existence with a bolt failure that prevented proper speed acceleration, a lightning strike, and unspecified damage from Hurricane Irene being included in the mischief. The worst, however, was a bird that struck a boy resulting in a minor injury in 2012 — not something you can really lay at the feet of engineering.
What makes it awesome: Well, it only lasts about 30 seconds, so that’s kind of a bummer, but it’s a pretty intense 30 seconds. That’s because, at 456 feet tall and 128 miles per hour with a 90-degree max vertical angle, this is the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world. That’s right. The world. Records it has held for more than a decade.
8. Steel Dragon 2000
Location: Nagashima Spa Land in Kuwana, Mie Prefecture, Japan
Backstory: The Steel Dragon 2000 is one of few roller coasters on this list to actually have an incident. Such cases on coasters are decidedly rare, and when they do occur, they can be deadly. Thankfully, what happened with the Steel Dragon 2000 produced no fatalities, though there were two injuries.
As a result, it sat “Standing But Not Operating” for three years before reopening in 2006, and has remained active ever since. Its initial opening was on Aug. 1, 2000.
What makes it awesome: Most roller coasters are done in less than two minutes, but as the longest roller coaster in the world — 8,133 feet — it lasts a money’s-worth four minutes. Along the way, you will reach heights of 318 feet, one big drop of 307 feet, and dizzying top speeds of 95 miles per hour.
7. Hades 360
Location: Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
Backstory: Hades 360, formerly known as just Hades, won those last three digits in 2013 when the island of track in the parking lot was rebuilt to include a corkscrew inversion and a 110 degree over-banked turn, according to the RCDB. It was designed and manufactured by The Gravity Group, initially opening to the public on May 14, 2005, before reopening with the added inversion almost eight years later to-the-day.
What makes it awesome: The added inversion is a true marvel of dizziness, but the wooden-steel giant also has some other elements working in its favor — 136 feet tall, a 140-ft. drop at a MVA of 65 degrees, and top speeds of 60 miles per hour. It also delivers a corkscrew, a 110-degree overbanked curve, and an 800-ft. long tunnel. Great staying power in the world of coasters, consistent placement among the best roller coasters in the world, and a spotless safety record.
Location: Fuji-Q Highland in Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan
Backstory: S&S Worldwide is the group behind this steel roller coaster. They are the company responsible for the popular El Loco series. This particular entry on our list of the best roller coasters in the world opened on Dec. 21, 2001.
What makes it awesome: The Dodonpa features a compressed air launch to heighten the senses from the very beginning. It follows that with a 171-ft. height and a 160-ft. drop, reaching top speeds of 107 miles per hour. Suffice it to say, if you have a problem with things high-up and things that go really fast, this may not be the ride for you. Coaster enthusiasts, on the other hand, should love it.
Location: Canada’s Wonderland in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada
Backstory: Bolliger & Mabillard’s first roller coaster, which held a soft open on April 27, 2012, before opening to the public a few days later on May 6, is as fast and tall as you’re going to find north of the U.S.-Canada border. It cost $28 million to build and belongs to the “Giga” coaster class at a height of more than 300 feet.
What makes it awesome: A 306-ft. drop, top speed of 92 miles per hour, and 5,486 feet of track, mingle with a three-train system to keep crowds moving along and encourage multiple rides (preferably in-a-row).
4. Fury 325
Location: Carowinds Amusement Park in Charlotte, North Carolina/Fort Mill, South Carolina
Backstory: The Fury 325 had its soft open on March 25, 2015, and opened wide three days later. A Bolliger & Mabillard creation, it si another of the company’s entries into the Giga Coaster (over 300 feet in height) market and to date is the tallest and fastest.
What makes it awesome: Fury 325 ranks as the No. 5 tallest steel roller coaster in the world and boasts a 320-ft drop — the No. 4 longest in its class. It also ranks at No. 6 when it comes to the fastest steel coasters with a top speed of 95 miles per hour. Riders will also enjoy the fact that it’s the No. 4 longest at 6,602 feet.
3. 10 Inversion Roller Coaster
Location: Chimelong Paradise in Panyu District, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China
Backstory: The 10 Inversion Roller Coaster opened to the public in 2006 and is another collaboration between Intamin and world famous coaster designer Werner Stengel. It is a replica of the Colossus in England’s Thorpe Park with a few enhancements. A third version of the steel beauty is planned for Brazil.
What makes it awesome: Ninety-eight feet in height, a 97-foot drop, and the namesake’s 10 inversions — a current world record among operating coasters — which consist of five “heartline rolls” in which the rider performs a 360-degree roll. There are also two helix-like Corkscrews, two Cobra rolls, and a vertical loop. Dizzying, to say the least.
2. Altair CCW-0204
Location: Cinecittà World in Rome, Italy
Backstory: Cinecittà World quietly opened in 2014 with only two roller coasters — this one and the Darkmare — but both had the backing of the highly respected manufacturer Intamin, the company behind other marvels like Formula Rossa, the Top Thrill Dragster, Flying Aces, and, of course, China’s 10 Inversion Roller Coaster.
What makes it awesome: Altair cycles through 1,200 passengers per hour and boasts speeds of 52.8 miles per hour. It stands 108.3 feet tall, runs 2,870.8 feet in length, and, like the 10 IRC above, has 10 inversions of its own, which ties the record for operating coasters. Specific elements include the cobra roll, heartline roll, quad heartline roll, double corkscrew, and vertical loop.
Location: Fuji-Q Highland Park in Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan
Backstory: Gerstlauer built this impressive $28.5 million structure that boasts a 3,300-ft. length and 141-ft. height. Takabisha opened on July 16, 2011, and to date, it boasts one special record that no other steel or wooden roller coaster has been able to top for five years (and counting).
What makes it awesome: While there are a number of categories where Takabisha falls short — speed of only 62 miles per hour being one — there is one white-knuckle detail that it gets right, and that simply has to be experienced by the roller coaster enthusiast — a 121-degree max vertical angle drop. Watch the video to see what we're talking about. There are both off-ride and POV shots for the masochists among you.
So there you have it, the 25 best roller coasters in the world!
Think any of the ones on this list got a bum rating?
Any ranked too high? Which ones should have been here but weren't?
We invite you all to leave your picks below. Be safe out there!