Below is a list of ten top roller coasters for your bucket list, especially if you’re a roller coaster fanatic. Visiting them all also includes a fair bit of travelling, which is a bonus in itself. So, hang on to your hats, phones, money and shoes… and make sure they don’t come flying off during the corkscrew.
There are over 2,500 roller coasters in the world. The best ones measured by their speed, inversions, height, material, age, theme and their ability to hit the highest G-force! But which ones are the must-do rides?
NOTE: This article is written by a Brit. So, the measurements used are MPH for speed and feet (ft) for height and length.
1. Leap The Dips
Let’s start this off with an oldy but a goody.
Constructed in 1902 in Lakemont Park, Altoona, Pennsylvania, Leap The Dips is the oldest roller coaster still in operation. It might not have any loops or corkscrews. And reaches speeds of just 10mph and measures only 39-feet tall. Its 1,453 feet of wooden track is almost 100 years old and is still going strong. It’s also thought of as the last wooden, side-friction roller coaster in the world whose track runs as a figure-eight.
Even though this coaster was built in 1902, it did have a cheeky rest for 14 years between 1985 and 1999. This when it was closed down due to a lack of funds and concerns about its structural integrity. But, in 1997, it was taken on by the ACE – American Coaster Enthusiasts. They restored and reopened the rollercoaster to the public in 1999.
2. The Great Scenic Railway
Keeping up with oldies but goodies. You could take a trip to Luna Park Melbourne, Australia, to ride Leap The Dips’ rival: The Great Scenic Railway.
This ride is also a side-friction wooden roller coaster. But, the track is in a rectangle configuration, differing from its American competition. The Scenic Railway opened in 1912 and eventually graduated to The Great Scenic Railway a couple of decades ago. It’s the oldest continuously-running rollercoaster in the world. Having never been shut down for longer than the usual yearly maintenance or national park closures. There are several other roller coasters around the world with the same name, but this one is officially heritage listed.
The Great Scenic Railway is also quite nippy for an old wooden coaster. At its fastest parts, it reaches speeds of about 40 mph and heights of 52ft. It has 3,172 ft of track and, for a full circuit, it takes about 3 and a half minutes. Although it is slow in places, you do feel like you are getting more bang for your buck.
Another really cool thing about this particular roller coaster is that it’s one of just seven roller coasters still in operation that requires a brakeman to stand in the middle of the train. Now, we love a rollercoaster as much as the next person (hey, we’re literally writing an article about them). But imagine working on these roller coasters all day… you will be walking like you’re on a cruise ship for the rest of the day.
3. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (starring Aerosmith)
Right, it’s time to raise the stakes… by a lot!
From personal experience, the Rock n Roller Coaster is probably the most fun. Not only does it propel you from 0 to 57 mph in just 2.8 seconds, but you also get up to 5Gs on the G-Force meter. You go through a sea serpent roll and a corkscrew. Plus, you do it all in an enclosed environment with Aerosmith blearing into your ears!
This ride, which you can find in Disney’s Hollywood Studios Florida, was open 29th July 1999 by Aerosmith themselves at a special, invitation-only party.
With the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, you also get a rather cool pre-ride experience. You queue around Aerosmith memorabilia, digital posters, music and videos of the band welcoming guests. The ride itself is very fast and has a lot of parts in the dark, which makes it all the more exciting.
The Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (starring Aerosmith) was also duplicated in Disneyland Paris in 2002. But it took its last ride around the tracks on 1st September 2019. This in anticipation of the new Marvel Super Hero universe. It’s been reported that the new Iron Man rollercoaster, which is set to open in 2021, will take its place. If it had already opened, I have a feeling it would have very well made it to this list.
4. Steel Dragon 2000
Next, we head to Nagashima Spa Land amusement park in Mie Prefecture, Japan.
Steel Dragon 2000 was opened on the 1st August 2000 and took the title of the longest rollercoaster in the world at 8,133 feet. It took over from Lightwater Valley Theme Park UK’s ride, Ultimate, which was 7442 feet.
Steel Dragon is also the sixth-tallest steel roller coaster in the world at 318.3 feet. And second most expensive roller coaster in the world, costing almost £40 million to build. This was due to the fact that it required far more steel than other coasters for earthquake protection. This amount is dwarfed by the first most expensive ride in the world Expedition Everest. That’s in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park Florida which was a whopping $100 million.
The ride lasts around 4 minutes. With almost one and a half minutes taken by the large 318 ft lift up. However, there are no other lifts for the duration of the ride, but the biggest dip is a whopping, stomach-dipping 307 ft.
The Steel Dragon also takes you up to 95 mph as you whizz up and down across the steel frame and through two tunnels with a G-Force of 4.8.
5. Tower of Terror
While we’ve talked about G-force quite a bit already, get ready for the biggest yet. Gold Reef City in Johannesburg, South Africa, is where you will find Tower of Terror. This ride has been operating since 2001. Now, there are a lot of other rides in the world with this name, but none of them reaches an impressive G-Force of 6.3. To put it into perspective, there are studies that have proved most humans can only withstand up to 9 Gs, making Tower of Terror over two thirds there.
The Tower of Terror is not the longest ride, as it is more about the drop. It takes you vertically up in a lift and drops you 49 feet under the ground into a former mine shaft, reaching speeds of 50 mph. The ride originally used a lift hill to take the rider up to the drop. But, in a 2006-2007 refurbishment, the straight up lift was made, giving the rider a bit more perspective on how high they are going.
The most unique thing about this ride is that it is actually made from an authentic tower from a gold mine. This tower was relocated from about 9 miles away.
6. The Formula Rossa
If it’s speed you seek in a rollercoaster, The Formula Rossa at Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi should 100% be on your bucket list. With an acceleration speed of up to 149.1 mph in just 4.9 seconds, this ride is the cream of the crop when it comes to fastest rides.
In its planning stages, it was going to be called the F1 Coaster, and you can see and feel why when you are on it. Even as a precaution, and to protect you from insects, all riders are required to wear safety glasses when on The Formula Rossa… Now that’s saying something.
The ride opened to the public on 4th November 2010 and is 170.6 ft tall with just over 6,562 ft of the hydraulic launch track. There might not be any inversions on this ride, but for the speed alone you have to ride it to believe it.
7. The Smiler
With 14 inversions, 3,838 foot of track, reaching 52 mph (which feels faster when you are upside down). And with a G force of up to 4.5, The Smiler at Alton Towers, Staffordshire, UK, needs to be ridden at least twice in your life. Opened to the public on the 31 May 2013, this ride is among some greats in Alton Towers. The park is also home to other great coasters including Nemesis, Oblivion and Galactica (formally named Air) to name a few.
When it was first opened, the rollercoaster hit world records as the world’s first Gerstlauer Infinity Coaster. With just under 3 minutes’ worth of the most loops ever seen on a track and drops of 98.4 ft, it also features a large spider-like structure as the centre point. The developers called this ‘The Marmaliser,’. Its function is to manipulate riders into “smiling” by causing them to twist and go upside down, hence the name The Smiler. On the Smiler, you get inversions such as Dive Loop’s, Barrel Roll’s, Cobra Roll’s and Bat Wing’s to name a few.
It’s time to go into the fourth dimension as we take a look at Eejanaika, which you can find at Fuji-Q Highland Amusement Park, Japan. This rollercoaster may be the world’s second fourth dimension coaster – the first was X2 at Six Flags Magic Mountain, California, USA. But it is faster, reaching 78.3 mph, taller at 249.33 ft, and longer at 3,782.83ft than its American predecessor.
The “fourth dimension” is achieved by rotating seats, which can move forward or backwards, and 360 degrees in a controlled spin. This is done by having four rails on the track: two of these are running rails while the other two are for spin control.
Now, The Eejanaika also rivals the Smiler as it too has 14 inversions. But a majority of these happen by the spinning seats rather than the track itself, the record stays with The Smiler. It’s still more than bucket list-worthy though!
Another that you really must take a ride on is situated Canada’s Wonderland.
Behemoth is one of Canada’s tallest and fastest roller coasters, taking you from 0 to 77 mph in 3.9 seconds, and as high as 230 feet, with a drop of 226 feet.
This is not just a straight track. There are plenty of places within the 3-minute run time where you will certainly feel your stomach jump, though five air hills and two hammerhead turns.
One of the best parts about this ride is the shape of the cars. The V-shape cars have an unobstructed view. This makes every row feel like the front row. There’s no long wait to get the best experience as you get it wherever you sit, which was a first for this kind of coaster.
10. Journey To The Stars
The final coaster to round off our list can be found in Jinling Happy World in China. Firstly, who doesn’t want to go to a place called Jinling Happy World?! I know I do! Especially as I know that Journey to the Stars is there too…
This 11-inversion roller coaster was first open to the public in 2014. Its top speed is 53 miles per hour and it is 131 feet tall. It also had a brief stint as the rollercoaster with the most inversions in 2017, due to The Smiler closing down for 5 months. On this ride, there is a host of twists and loops as you travel through vertical loops, cobra rolls, double corkscrews, and a quad heartline roll as well as others. If you loved to be twisted, turned, and then twisted again, this is the coaster for you.
So, that’s our roller coasters bucket list, how did we do? Did we miss any that you think should be on the list? I mean I’m happy to visit as many as I can so get in your suggestions below…
If you also have a keen interest in rollercoasters and want to learn more, watch this space as there may be more TheCultureCrossing coaster articles to come.
Check our more of our more random articles HERE.
Star Trek Tech That’s Almost Here
Star Trek is iconic for many things, but its futuristic technology is what wowed and inspired many a viewer.
Bearing in mind that the franchise is 55 years old, some of that tech from the future is already here. So, let’s take a seat on the bridge of the Enterprise and have a delve through the computer’s logs.
What’s been and gone
Let’s delve into the futuristic tech that is within touching grasp of our fingertips. Believe it or not, a warp drive could be coming our way soon. Perhaps not as quick as Picard heading off to engage with the Borg, but still. There are exciting rumblings coming from NASA regarding their EmDrive technology. Although this isn’t ‘exactly’ warp drive, it could lead to super-fast interplanetary travel. Which could then lead to warp drive. So come on NASA, make it so.
Next up, the trusty food replicator. Ever ready to present Jean-Luc with his ‘Tea, Earl Grey, Hot’, the replicator was a staple part of Star Trek. Although there isn’t yet a way to magic up cups of tea, we are close. We have 3D printers. They can print complex three-dimensional objects, so maybe in time, we’ll get an instant Early Grey cup of tea.
Another regular element of ships on Star Trek (and other sci-fi shows), is the tractor beam. Used for a variety of reasons, it was most commonly used to help tow stranded ships to safety. Now, bear with me. We don’t have to ability to use tractor beams to pull large objects along, but there is something similar. Albeit on a smaller scale. Optical tweezers work by holding and moving microscopic objects with two lasers. So, it’s not moving shuttle craft around space, but it’s a start. And who knows where that technology could lead in a few years?
Beam me up, Scotty…
How many of you have wished you could get instantly teleported to where you need to go? Maybe it’s being stuck in a traffic jam and late for work? Or maybe you’re at a social event stuck talking to the worlds most boring person. We’ve all wished there was a metaphorical Scotty to beam us out of a situation. Well, real-life transporters to move human beings are some way off. But there is a glimmer of hope. This all comes down to quantum mechanics. Back in 2015, scientists managed to transport photons across 63 miles of fibre optics. This was a big jump on what was achieved previously, so opens the door to more advancements in the coming years. Good old science.
Tricorders were a doctor’s best friend through Star Trek. They gave them the ability to find out what’s wrong by a quick scan over the body. It was also able to mend minor wounds. ‘Bones’ McCoy certainly enjoyed using it. There was a competition launched in 2014 for companies to create a Tricorder type device. It should be able to detect certain conditions. Although it won’t have the abilities that the fictional device had, it’s still exciting stuff.
One of the coolest things from the Star Trek universe was the cloaking device used by Klingon ships. It enabled them to go undetected from scans until they decloaked. How far off are we from having real-life cloaking devices? Maybe not as far off as you think. Scientists have created cloaking with a small assortment of electronic devices (metamaterials). They managed to change the reflection and refraction of light that we’re used to. This is cool as it opens the door for newer metamaterials to possibly give new effects. Although according to NASA, invisibility cloaking is still a way off.
Full speed ahead
There were many times where Captain Kirk ordered for full impulse power from Mr Sulu. The fictional impulse engines were based on fusion reactions, as opposed to the chemical reactions of real ones. We don’t have impulse power just yet, but they are a real possibility of future engineering. In recent years, ion drive engines have been used by various space agencies to propel probes to asteroids and comets. They’re much more efficient than chemical rockets and were mentioned a few times in Star Trek. Although electric cars are the imminent future, imagine being propelled down a highway with an ion thruster behind you?
One of the more science-focused elements of Star Trek was the matter and antimatter generation. It was one of the most efficient types of power sources for ships. Antimatter has been created in microscopic quantities, but not enough for power generation. Certainly not enough to power anything that resembles a starship.
Who knows what the future will bring, but advancements in science certainly give us optimism that the future just might be Star Trek.
That’s our list of Star Trek tech that’s almost here. What would you most like to see come to life from the shows? Let us know in the comments below.
Check out what we can expect from Star Trek: Strange New Worlds HERE.
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