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Do you love the rush of fear and adrenaline from a great roller coaster? You’re not alone.
There are more than 2,000 roller coasters in operation all over the world, and everybody’s got their favorite. But a few coasters deliver a really special, one-of-a-kind experience.
The history of roller coasters is actually fascinating. Polyglots may know that roller coasters are called “Russian mountains” (e.g., montagne russe) in several other languages, like French and Spanish.
That’s because they originated in the 17th century in St. Petersburg, where they would build tall mounds of snow and ice supported by wooden beams in order to ride on a sled. In the summer, they’d use a wheeled sled, and the whole course could be completed with the drop of one ride.
From incredible speed to gut-churning drops to head-spinning inversions, there’s something for everybody on our list of the best roller coasters in the world. They are one of the most popular amusement park rides and can be found in amusement parks all over the world.
- 10 of the Best Roller Coasters in the World
- 1. Formula Rossa – Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
- 2. Red Force – PortAventura World, Tarragona, Spain
- 3. Kingda Ka – Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, New Jersey
- 4. Dueling Dragons – Islands of Adventure, Orlando, Florida
- 5. Taron – Phantasialand, Brühl, Germany
- 6. Steel Dragon 2000 – Nagashima Spa Land, Kuwana, Japan
- 7. Intimidator 305 – Kings Dominion, Doswell, Virginia
- 8. Superman: Escape from Krypton – Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia, California
- 9. Coney Island Cyclone – Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York
- 10. Do-Donpa – Fuji-Q Highland, Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan
- Tips Before Going on a Roller Coaster
10 of the Best Roller Coasters in the World
1. Formula Rossa – Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Riders with a need for speed will find the world’s fastest roller coaster in Ferrari World Abu Dhabi: Formula Rossa, which will make you feel like you’re in a racing Ferrari. The launch system is hydraulic and gives you the sensation of taking off in a fighter jet, reaching 149 miles per hour in 4.9 seconds. Formula Rossa has held the number-one position among the world’s fastest roller coasters since 2010.
Riders are actually given protective glasses to keep their eyes safe from tiny particles when traveling at such high speeds, but dealing with the 1.7 Gs it generates is up to you. This ride is worth the money, too, as it’s second in the world for length at almost 1.3 miles.
The only other coaster in the Middle East (and the rest of the world) that may eventually beat this thrilling experience is the planned Falcon’s Flight at Six Flags Qiddiya in Saudi Arabia. When finished, it should reach speeds of 155 miles per hour and be 519 feet tall, overtaking two records. Smart travelers will plan their trip to the region wisely and hit both.
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2. Red Force – PortAventura World, Tarragona, Spain
If the Middle East is just too far for you, there’s another record-breaking Ferrari-themed steel coaster just outside Barcelona, Spain. Red Force is the tallest roller coaster in Europe, located in the Ferrari Land section of PortAventura World. It’s also the fastest, with a top speed of nearly 112 miles per hour.
After launching, cars ascend a 367-foot “top hat” hill that basically ascends and descends vertically, with giant Ferrari emblems in the middle of the structure that make it easily spotted from far away. The extreme acceleration up the tower and thrilling drop back down are essentially the entire experience. While it’s quick, it’s a must-do for thrill seekers and Ferarri enthusiasts in Europe.
3. Kingda Ka – Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, New Jersey
I still remember the excitement of Kingda Ka’s grand opening when I was a kid. The world’s tallest and fastest roller coaster at the time was to hit a maximum speed of 128 miles per hour and would tower above us at 456 feet in the sky. I was fascinated that they had to install blinking lights near the top to alert aircraft in the vicinity at night!
The structure is strikingly similar to Red Force in Spain – but Kingda Ka came first, and still has it beat in roller coaster rankings like height and speed. The experience is another quick but adrenaline-inducing one, with a g-force takeoff up a vertical incline. Kingda Ka lost its titles in 2010 when Formula Rossa opened.
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4. Dueling Dragons – Islands of Adventure, Orlando, Florida
If you’re looking for a heart-pounding coaster experience, look no further than Dueling Dragons at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida. True to its name, this dueling experience consists of two tracks that race side by side at speeds of up to 62 miles per hour.
While that may not be as ridiculously fast as others on this list, you’ll surely feel the wind in your hair as you twist and turn your way through the very many curves and drops of this coaster. What makes Dueling Dragons so special is the unique design that allows two coasters to race.
You feel like you’re part of the competition as you speed through the windy track. Plus, two tracks move the line a bit faster, which is always welcome when trying to get your adrenaline fix! This park and neighboring Universal Studios are great additions to the Disney parks of central Florida, and roller coaster lovers should not hesitate to make time for them.
5. Taron – Phantasialand, Brühl, Germany
Taron is a steel roller coaster at Phantasialand theme park in Brühl, Germany. It can be found in the Klugheim section of the park, which has an Old Norse culture theme, and the track of this ride weaves in and out of various buildings and decorations.
This is a multi-launch roller coaster, meaning there’s more than one point of high acceleration, and the maximum speed is a thrilling 72 miles per hour. Taron also holds the world record for most intersecting points on its track – it crosses over or under itself 58 times, making this a great choice if you like whipping around just as much as you like speed.
See Related: Best Resorts in Germany
6. Steel Dragon 2000 – Nagashima Spa Land, Kuwana, Japan
The Steel Dragon in Nagashima Spa Land is a marathon ride – the world’s longest, at 8133 feet of pure adrenaline, a record held since 2000. The one-minute climb to the top of the first hill will have you squirming in suspense.
And the drop that follows? 306 feet straight down.
Hang on to your hat, as this is just your introduction to three more minutes of thrills. It is also the tallest steel roller coaster in Japan, with a height of 318 feet. If you happen to visit during the summertime, Nagashima Spa Land has a great waterpark right next to the theme park, and you may need a nice, long float in the lazy river to recuperate.
7. Intimidator 305 – Kings Dominion, Doswell, Virginia
This ride in Kings Dominion is one of the most intense roller coaster rides you’ll ever scream your way through; the first drop of the Intimidator 305 had to be re-profiled during its first year of operation after people were actually blacking out in the dive.
Chances are you’ll still feel a bit queasy as you navigate the 300-foot drop, which ranks among the 10 longest in the world. Intimidator 305 also makes the list of the top ten tallest steel coasters in the world at 305 feet in height, giving it its name.
Interestingly, Kings Dominion is owned by Cedar Point, operator of the famous park of the same name in Ohio – and the company just announced plans to merge with Six Flags. That’s good news if you’re a Six Flags fanatic.
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8. Superman: Escape from Krypton – Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia, California
There are few rides that will make you feel more like Superman than this Six Flags Magic Mountain roller coaster in southern California. At first, when you look at it, you might mistake it for a coaster under construction and not quite finished, as the track just looks like a giant ramp to heaven. But no, that’s the whole point!
The 415-foot tower was the tallest in the world when the ride opened, and it’s not a one-way trip. Riders slow as they reach the track’s end and head straight back to Earth. Even better? The launch up is facing backward, making this one of the most unique coasters out there, and the return to a lower altitude is just missing your Superman cape.
9. Coney Island Cyclone – Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York
The Cyclone at Coney Island is one of the most iconic roller coasters in the world. It’s also one of the oldest, having been built in 1927.
It’s a wooden coaster that features 27 drops and reaches speeds of up to 60 miles per hour. Riding the Cyclone is an exhilarating experience that will leave you breathless.
It’s probably the most famous roller coaster of its generation, and it’s now designated as a historic landmark. But that’s not why you should ride it.
The wooden track begins with a bone-rattling 85-foot drop and rolls into six twisting bends. There are eight more drops with aggressive, disjointed movements, making it consistently considered one of the best wooden coasters in the world.
The Cyclone was one of the fastest wooden roller coasters back when it opened, but the fastest and longest wooden roller coaster nowadays is the Goliath, Six Flags Great America; the record holder before that was El Toro at Six Flags Great Adventure. The latter isn’t too far from Coney Island, and you could potentially hit both in the same trip.
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10. Do-Donpa – Fuji-Q Highland, Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan
Dodonpa is a steel roller coaster at Fuji-Q Highland Amusement Park in Yamanashi Prefecture, just outside Tokyo, Japan. Designed by Mitsushige Nakai and built by Premier Rides, it was the fastest roller coaster in the world when it opened on July 16, 2001, with a top speed of 106 miles per hour (171 km/h). It held this record until 2003 when Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point in Ohio beat it.
Dodonpa uses a compressed air-launch system to send riders from 0 to 106 miles per hour (171 km/h) in 1.8 seconds, and riders experience 4.5 times the force of gravity during the launch. A few years ago, a renovation added a vertical loop to the track, which also gave it the title of the fastest coaster in the world with an inversion.
If you open your eyes briefly, you’ll see Mount Fuji sitting serenely on the horizon. Unfortunately, the ride has been closed since 2021, after several riders actually broke bones from the force of this thriller – if that sounds exciting to you, then keep a close eye on this one for its reopening.
Tips Before Going on a Roller Coaster
- Never ride if you’re pregnant or have a heart condition.
- Every coaster is different, so it’s important to research and know each ride’s height, speed, and intensity.
- Ensure you wear comfortable clothes and shoes – you don’t want anything to restrict your movement or get caught in the ride.
- Avoid eating a big meal before going on a coaster, as it might make you feel sick.
- And finally, if you have any other health conditions that could be exacerbated by riding a roller coaster, it’s probably best to sit this out.
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Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he’d heard.
Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he’s learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.
He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time.