For those of us with comfortable lives, it’s good to look back sometimes and remember that we spent thousands of years hiding in caves, with only our knowledge of fire keeping the wild beasts at bay. As a species we’ve used our intelligence and inventive nature to create a World of relative safety and security for a large proportion of the population, and even though the World today is safer than it’s ever been, danger is something that’s built into our collective genetic memory, and for some of us, the thrill of hurtling into the unknown at enormous speed is a life-enhancing experience that has great benefits.
It’s perhaps unsurprising that as a result of this, we have devised ever more inventive and technologically advanced ways of scaring the living daylights out of ourselves as life has become more civilised and routine, and roller coasters are the perfect mix of exhilarating thrills, with no real risk at all. Amusement parks have been around since the middle ages in one form or another, but the technological and mechanical advances of the nineteenth century led to the first wooden-framed roller coasters. Over the next one hundred and fifty years, rides got bigger, faster and higher, but it was in 1989 that the Magnum XL-200 was completed, and things started to get seriously exciting.
Magnum was the World’s first hyper coaster, a coaster that exceeds 200 feet in height, and it was not only the tallest ride in the World upon completion, it was the steepest and the fastest too. The breathtaking speed of 72 MPH kicked off a period of intense competition and rivalry between various parks to have the biggest, best and above all fastest ride of all. But now in 2018, where has the race to build the most thrill-inducing roller coaster of all time led us? Read on to find out which are the fastest rides in the World today.
#10 – Goliath, Phantom’s Revenge and The Titan – 85 MPH
There are three rides that tie at tenth place in our list at 85 MPH each. The Goliath is the fastest of the nineteen coasters at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California, the largest number at any theme park. Goliath has a dizzying array of extreme turns, and despite only appearing as number ten in our list, it is considered one of the most extreme coasters and riders will experience significant G-forces. The hyper-coaster Phantom’s Revenge at Kennywood, in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, was formerly known as the Steel Panther and famed for its high-speed inversions, but after several revamps and a toning down of the wilder turns, these days the focus is on it’s powerful speed. The Titan at Six Flags over Texas, in Arlington, Texas is similar to Goliath at Magic Mountain, featuring a 255 foot drop and terrifying high speed runs through darkened tunnels over 100 feet in length.
#9 – Intimidator 305 – 90 MPH
Are you easily intimidated? Or are you instead someone who enjoys a challenge? Well you might answer both of those questions differently after you experience the Intimidator 305 at Kings Dominion at Doswell in Virginia. If heights are not your thing then this ride may be a bit much at 305 feet high in places. Being above 300 feet qualifies the Intimidator as a giga-coaster and after the initial 300 feet drop, which is at an almost vertical 85 degrees, the coaster hugs the ground at wild speeds and throws riders into over-banked corners and wild gyrations at a truly terrifying rate. The Intimidator originally ran at 94 MPH but the extreme G-forces led to a few riders almost blacking out in the more extreme sections, so trim brakes were added to reduce the speed slightly. It’s still an extreme ride with plenty of G-Forces involved and it is renown for it’s apparently reckless speed, so if you don’t want too many inversions and are looking for a breathtakingly fast ride with a touch of extreme height thrown in, then you might want to give the Intimidator a try.
#8 – Leviathan – 92 MPH
Canada is the home to our next fastest roller-coaster. The Leviathan at Canada’s Wonderland in Maple, Ontario, The Leviathan is made by Swiss designers Bolliger and Mabillard who have become known for the smoothness of their coasters in recent years. The company has designed and manufactured 100 roller coasters throughout the World and The Leviathan is the second fastest coaster they have ever produced, as well as their first giga-coaster. Canada’s Wonderland has sixteen roller-coasters but the Leviathan is Canada’s highest and fastest ride overall. It has a drop of over 300 feet at 80 degrees, followed by a couple of camel-back hills that will leave riders feeling as if they are flying our of their seats for a few troubling seconds. There’s also a barrel roll tunnel and an over-banked turn that twists riders more than ninety degrees before a huge drop and twist combination. The Swiss precision engineering makes Leviathan almost silky smooth despite it’s extreme speed and huge drops.
#7 – Millennium Force – 93 MPH
Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, which opened way back in 1870 has long been amongst the most popular theme parks. It is home to the Magnum XL-200 which started the race for ever more thrilling roller-coasters back in 1989. The park, situated on the sandy shores of Lake Erie, is billed as ‘The Roller Coaster Capital of the World’ and boasts seventeen rides, second only to Six Flags Magic Mountain’s nineteen. Millennium Force, opened in 2000 was the World’s first giga-coaster and is the third longest ride operating at the present time. Millennium force has only failed to win the Amusement Today Golden Ticket award for the best steel roller coaster twice since it’s unveiling, both times coming second in the list instead. Despite it’s 310 feet height, top speed of 93 MPH and dizzying G-forces of 4.5 G’s occasionally causing black-outs for some riders, it’s still not the fastest ride at Cedar Point on our list.
#6 – Steel Dragon 2000 & Fury 325 – 95 MPH
The year 2000 was the Year of the Dragon, and that year the Steel Dragon 2000 opened at the Nagashima Spa Land amusement park in Japan. Making its début just three months after Millennium Force, the Steel Dragon 2000 took the title as the highest roller coaster in the World away from it’s recently opened rival and held the distinction until 2003. Steel Dragon begins with a slow climb to an incredible 318 feet, but you’ll only have a few moments to enjoy the incredible view before you begin the face-meltingly fast descent after all that anticipation. The Steel Dragon ride is to this day the longest Roller Coaster in the World with a total track length of 8,133 feet, but once that first hill is crested the whole ride is gone in just two or three minutes, and the breakneck speed never diminishes until the end. Steel Dragon was hugely over-engineered to protect against Japan’s frequent earthquakes and cost over $50 million to construct, far more than other giga coasters in more stable areas.
In a tie for number six on our list is the Fury 325 located at Carowinds in Charlotte, North Carolina. The tallest giga coaster in the World at 325 feet when it was built in 2015 the Fury 325 has an even longer drop than the Steel Dragon, and the plummet to certain terror is at a terrifying 81 degree angle.
#5 – Superman: Escape From Krypton & Tower of Terror II – 100 MPH
Merely to be seriously considering riding any of these terrifying visions of imminent death makes you a superhero to my vertiginous self, so somewhat aptly, the next ride hits triple figures, and was the first to exceed that magical 100 MPH mark when it was opened in 1997. Located at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California and with it’s main tower reaching a towering 415 feet off of the ground, Superman: Escape From Krypton is still the third highest ride in the World today. Although plagued with problems and frequent periods of maintenance during it’s early years, the ride was overhauled in 2011 and is these days far more reliable.
The Australians have some of the most dangerous wildlife in the World, so their joint fifth entry on our list is probably only as thrilling as a walk through the local Black-Widow infested park to some of them, but the magnetic induction coaster Tower of Terror II, located in Dreamworld in Queensland, not only hits 100 MPH, but it does so going forwards and backwards, requiring a truly blind act of faith on the part of its riders. Thanks Australia for combining my twin phobias of heights and massive spiders so effectively, I’ll write a proper thank-you note during one of my many upcoming sleepless nights.
#4 Dodonpa – 107 MPH
In December 2001 The Japanese took the crown of fastest Roller Coaster away from the Superman and Tower of Terror rides with the introduction of Dodonpa. Located in the Fuji-Q Highland Amusement Park in Yamanashi the speed is not its most overwhelmingly terrifying feature, instead it’s the acceleration that really takes your breath away. Dodonpa was the second Roller Coaster to use compressed air to launch the ride at a breakneck pace, and even today Dodonpa is the fastest accelerating ride in the World. It reaches the maximum speed of 107 MPH in just 1.8 seconds and riders will be embarking on a seventeen storey climb past Mount Fuji before they know it, and there’s a dreadful blind drop waiting for them at the top. The average space mission launch will subject astronauts to up to 3 Gs of force during lift-off, and Dodonpa is not far behind, with a maximum G-Force of 2.7 Gs imposed on it’s riders.
#3 Top Thrill Dragster – 120 MPH
It’s back on the shores of Lake Erie and Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio for the next entry on our list, the Top Thrill Dragster. This ride became the tallest and fastest ride in the World upon completion in 2003, and it’s still the third fastest and second tallest today. But like Dodonpa it’s the acceleration that makes this ride such a hard-core experience. Top Thrill Dragster has a drag racing theme, and after a tense moment in front of some traffic lights, you’re launched at an incredible pace up to 120 MPH. The huge 420 foot climb is interrupted by a gravity defying 90 degree turn halfway up and the subsequent blisteringly fast drop is punctuated with a 270 degree twist. Within a minute or so it’s all over but even experienced Roller Coaster addicts admit that the impression it leaves lasts far longer.
#2 Kingda Ka – 128 MPH
Kingda Ka runs on a virtually identical track to the Top Thrill Dragster, but it’s just that bit faster, higher and somewhat bumpier. It was opened in May 2005 as the World’s highest and fastest ride, and at 456 feet at it’s highest point it’s still the tallest roller-coaster in the World today. The top speed of 129 MPH is reached in just 3.5 seconds followed by a twisting journey over the huge tower before there’s a brief moment of weightlessness on the second hill. At such lofty heights there are other potential dangers to consider, the only real incident on the ride was in 2012 when a young boy suffered very minor injuries after being struck by a bird somewhere along the route.
#1 Formula Rossa – 149 MPH
The oil-rich United Arab Emirates are no strangers to mega constructions, but just a few miles from that jewel of the Desert Dubai, there is another huge attraction that also happens to be the largest indoor Theme Park in the World. Located on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, Ferrari World has over 925,000 square feet of space containing many attractions, but even such a roomy space cannot contain the Formula Rosa, which tops our list of the fastest roller coasters with a speed of up to 149 MPH in places. That pace is reached in just 4.9 seconds at the start of the ride and riders can enjoy a speedy trip through the Ferrari World dome, a blast around the outside, complete with a 171 foot climb, long over-banked curves and forces of up to 1.7 Gs, before they return to the dome within little more than a minute. The racing theme is completed with Ferrari Formula one styled cars and even goggles to protect riders from the desert sand during the outside element of the journey.