The world has been fascinated with roller coasters since the first one—The Cyclone—debuted at Coney Island in 1927. Today’s coasters are faster and higher with more twists and turns but still deliver the same basic thrills of feeling your stomach drop and the wind in your hair. Theme parks across the United States boast some of the best roller coasters in the world.
The Cyclone is the oldest coaster in the United States and earns praise for being one of the most iconic rides in the world. Located at Astroland in Coney Island (coneyisland.com), The Cyclone was named a National Historic Landmark in 1991. This wild ride is not for the faint of heart: it features sudden drops and turns, and riders have no more than a loose belt and lap bar to hold them down.
The Millennium Force
Located at Cedar Point (cedarpoint.com) in Sandusky, Ohio, the Millennium Force takes riders on a heart-pounding ride. First they get to soak in views of the adjacent Lake Erie as they travel up the coaster’s staggering 310-foot hill. Riders fly through dark tunnels and sharp turns before the coaster comes to the end of the 6,595-foot course.
Although Kings Island’s The Beast (visitkingsisland.com) is old by roller coaster standards, some enthusiasts still deem this wild ride the best wooden coaster in the country. Located in Cincinnati, Ohio, the coaster first gave riders thrills in 1979 and was built to shatter world records. It still holds one record: at 7,359 feet, it’s the longest roller coaster in the world and winds through dense woods.
Located at Six Flags New England (sixflags.com/newengland) in Agawam, Massachusetts, Bizarro features a 221-foot plunge, fog-filled tunnels and wild twists and turns. This coaster has been named the best steel coaster five times by Amusement Today.
The Intimidator 305
Virgina’s Kings Dominion (kingsdominion.com) is home to The Intimidator 305, a coaster with a 5,100-foot track. It is one of the few giga coasters in the world, meaning that it reaches a height of more than 300 feet (the coaster's first hill is 305 feet). The coaster also reaches speeds of 90 mph and is the tallest coaster on the East Coast.
Roller coaster lovers from around the world have voted the Voyage at Holiday World (holidayworld.com) in Santa Claus, Indiana, the number-one wooden coaster on the planet for four years in a row. The coaster gives riders more air time than any other wooden coaster: for 24.2 seconds during the ride, riders can experience a feeling of weightlessness. The Voyage also boasts five underground tunnels.
Kingda Ka reaches a speed of 128 mph in less than four seconds. This death-defying coaster also sends riders over a staggering 456-foot hill. Lasting just 59 seconds, this coaster is located at Six Flags Great Adventure (sixflags.com/greatAdventure) in Jackson, New Jersey.
El Toro features the steepest drop of any wooden coaster at 76 degrees. Inspired by the courage of a matador, this Six Flags Great Adventure (sixflags.com/greatAdventure) coaster also features three additional drops, stomach-dropping airtime and a twister finale.
With a 255-foot drop and reaching speeds of 85 mph, this Six Flags Magic Mountain (sixflags.com/magicMountain) coaster was once dubbed the fastest and longest in the world. Although it quickly lost that title to the Millennium Force, it remains a favorite among thrill seekers thanks to its near-vertical drop and underground tunnels.
A classic wooden roller coaster, Kennywood’s Thunderbolt (kennywood.com) is still beloved by coaster enthusiasts. It offers a bumpy yet thrilling ride, with numerous drops and sharp curves.