The VacationFam are big roller coaster enthusiasts. In fact, we have two upcoming trips just for coasters. Over President’s day weekend we are going to be headed to Dallas for Six Flags Over Texas and then on to San Antonio for Six Flags Fiesta Texas. Then over the summer, we are heading on a Chicago to New York roller coaster tour of seven theme parks over 11 days. So this list is probably going to change over time, but I wanted to share what are my favorite 10 roller coasters that I’ve ridden to date.
10. Full Throttle – Six Flags Magic Mountain (California)
This coaster has 3 launch points. First you are launched over 70 miles per hour straight into one of the largest loops in the country and then around some corkscrew spins and into a tunnel housing area where you come to an abrupt stop. Before you know it, the coaster changes direction and you are shot out backwards and up a corkscrew twist at 90 degrees before entering the tunnel again and gaining speed from the third boost. It is another 70 mile per hour ride over the top of the loop you entered first (this is very unique, and very cool). Do not be fooled by its simple looking design, this one is definitely worth your time.
9. XCelerator the Ride – Knott’s Berry Farm (California)
This is the first launch coaster that I ever rode that went straight up and straight down. The speed boost out of the gate will astound you and the feeling at the top of the loop will make you feel like you are weightless. In fact, it is a little unnerving because you feel like you may be coming out of your seat a little bit. Knott’s claims that it goes 0-82 mph in 2.3 seconds as you fly 205 feet into the air and even get some airtime on the way back. It is over way too fast, but it will satisfy your speed craving.
8. Shambhala – PortaventuraWorld (Spain)
This ride is the one that made me realize I love roller coasters! It is not like many of the other coasters that focus on incredible twists or exhilarating speed—although it has both—instead it is a smooth and beautiful ride through thousands of feet of steel. At 5131 feet long, this coaster takes a long time to complete (over three minutes!) All along the way, you can see all the way across the largest theme park in Europe. This is a hyper coaster, meaning that it is over 200 feet tall and it really gets your heart pumping.
7. Gate Keeper – Cedar Point (Ohio)
This is a relatively unassuming coaster in a park dedicated to them. It starts with a great more than 90 degree inverted drop and then rips you through a series of inversions. What really makes this unique, though, is that you are sitting on the wing of the coaster and not directly on the track. This gives the feeling of flying through the air. That by itself is pretty cool, but it gets even better as they have assemble a tower in the middle of the ride that you twist through (think the Millenium Falcon through the valley run) not once, but twice! I could ride this one all day as it is a smooth ride.
6. Red Force – Ferrari World (Spain)
This is the third highest speed launch coaster in the world, but one of the fastest. In fact, it is so fast that when my brother and his wife rode it in the front seat they had to wear googles. It’s over way too fast but the ride is intense. You get shot out at an incredible speed and then up to 367 feet straight up. At the top of the ride there is weightlessness and then straight back down after a quick twist. Too make it even more cool it is Ferarri themed.
5. Iron Rattler – Six Flags Fiesta Texas (San Antonio)
This is the first hybrid coaster I ever rode. At the time I didn’t know what that meant, but I now know that hybrid coasters are those that used to be wooden coasters but have been retrofitted with steel. It is a rip-roaring time through the wooden structure, but because it has steel track it can do inversions. One of the best parts of these type of coasters is that they concentrate on “air time” where you get the feeling of moving up and down in your seat. It does not hurt that Fiesta Texas is set in an absolutely stunning valley so the views are incredible.
4. Tatsu – Six Flags Magic Mountain (California)
Have you ever dreamed of flying? Well, then Tatsu is the coaster for you. You load the coaster in a similar way that you would any suspended coaster where your feet dangle, but then the seat changes dramatically. Riders rotate so that they are laying on their stomach with face pointed down. After a quick chain pull to the top, you accelerate through a series of drops, inversions, and superfast corkscrews. All of this provides the feeling of flying through the trees of this California theme park built on a mountain. At one point, the coaster makes a head-over-heels dive into a loop that has you laying on your back. It really is one of the most unique coasters in the world.
3. X2 – Six Flags Magic Mountain (California)
I have a love-hate relationship with the coaster. On the one hand, it is a super intense, well designed coaster that will take your breath away. On the other hand, when I rode it I thought I was having a heart attack and they were going to find my lifeless body at the end. Yes, it is that intense. X2 lifts you to the top backwards while playing heavy metal music until it flips you backwards head-over-heels and straight down toward the ground face first. The coaster twists the seats in such a way that maximizes the feeling of every inversion. Definitely ride it… if you dare.
2. Millennium Force – Cedar Point (Ohio)
While it does not have any inversions it more than makes up for it with height and speed. It is technically a Giga Coaster, which means that it is more than 300 feet high. Long stretches of track go back and forth, as the coaster takes you over hills incredibly fast. My favorite part of this ride how quickly it gets you to the top. Instead of a traditional chain pull, the coaster uses a boost type system that has you to the apex in mere seconds. If you like coasters that are smooth as butter you’ll love this one as it has a great restraint system that prioritizes comfort.
1. Steel Vengeance – Cedar Point (Ohio)
For me this is the clear winner. It is one of the newest hybrid coasters and you can see that they are perfecting the mechanics. It doesn’t hurt that the wooden coaster that it is built upon is incredibly long. The initial drop is a great than 90-degree drop that hangs you for a little bit before you go screaming through all types of loops, twists, and rolls. At one point on the ride I thought to myself, “how in the world is this even possible.” If you get out to Cedar Point, do not miss this one or be discouraged by the long lines… it is absolutely worth the wait.
Honorable Mentions: Twisted Colossus, Maverick, Valravn, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, IncrediCoaster, Superman Escape from Krypton
Coasters to Avoid: Hades 360 (Mt. Olympus – Wisconsin), Furios Baco (PortaventuraWorld – Spain)
I am sure that this list will change over time. I am looking forward to getting on the New Texas Giant, riding Kingda Ka, and taking in everything at King’s Island. What do you think about the list? Have you ridden any of these? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Happy riding!