Top Ten Biggest Roller Coasters

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True coaster aficionados understand “bigger” does not always mean better. “California Screamin’ “ and “Montezuma’s Revenge” pack plenty of pow into very tiny spaces, because who doesn’t love upside down and backwards? The coasters that leave your feet dangling in mid-air offer a whole new thrill factor, a big splash at the end always adds a nice touch, and darkness is always a nice effect. Among coaster fans, distance and duration mean very little. Who cares if the ride lasts half-an-hour when the trip is boring? “Bigger” refers strictly to vertical drop. For sheer coaster thrill, the vertical drop matters most. When you feel your heart in your throat, you know you’re having fun.


1. Kingda Ka (Jackson, New Jersey, USA)

Kingda Ka (Jackson, New Jersey, USA)

The state of Intamin’s art: 418 feet at 128 mph. Yes, it has lovely landscaping and the hint of a theme, but really Kingda Ka is all about cheek-wobbling, eyeball-shaking speed.


2. Top Thrill Dragster (Sandusky, Ohio, USA)

Top Thrill Dragster (Sandusky, Ohio, USA)

Another qualifier from Cedar Point, which clearly goes higher and faster than Magic Mountain, out-dropping and out-thrilling those west coast wanna-be’s every day of the year. Also an Intamin design built on the same premises as the Australian and SoCal models, but upgraded to the “steel rocket” class, and designed to go up and over instead of simply up and down. Intamin powered-up the hydraulic launch and increased the drop for maximum terror-per-meter. You probably though zero to 100 in seven seconds represented the ultimate speed thrill, but that little milestone was Intamin’s warm-up for the genuine thrill—zero to 120 mph in just four seconds. A total vertical drop of 400 feet, and more sheer terror than rollercoaster amateurs can endure in half-a-minute.


3. Superman, The Escape (Valencia, California, USA)

Superman, The Escape (Valencia, California, USA)

Another Magic Mountain entry and more living proof that the park rocks Southern California. Designed and built by Intamin, the same architects and engineers who delivered the Tower of Terror to Queensland, Superman works on the same “steel reverse freefall” design. Like TOT, Superman lifts you slowly and then drops you at what feels like light speed; you fall 328 feet. This half-minute of your life surely will remain in memory for a lifetime.


4. Tower of Terror (Coomera, Queensland, Australia)

Tower of Terror (Coomera, Queensland, Australia)

TOT’s official classification tells its story—“reverse freefall.” No loops, no twists and turns; purely vertical, but still qualified as a “complete circuit,” TOT features an LSM launch and rockets you from zero to 100 mph in just seven seconds. Combine the heart-in-throat, g-force thrills of all the coasters in the list so far, and you get half of TOT’s exhilaration. Even veteran coasteristos will feel their knees wobbling as they stagger off of Tower of Terror. The ride lasts only 28 seconds, dropping riders 328 feet; it only feels like an eternity.


5. Steel Dragon 2000 (Nagashima, Mie, Japan)

Steel Dragon 2000 (Nagashima, Mie, Japan)

Modified and re-certified after three years out of service because of a serious accident in 2003. Stretching 8133 feet and taking riders through two tunnels, Dragon drops riders more than 300 feet at 95 mph. Recent riders say the safety modifications have had no effect on Dragon’s excitement and thrills, and park operators express confidence they will not see a repeat of their 2003 disaster.


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