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.
9 Rarest And Most Valuable Pokémon Cards In Existence
If you’re one of the millions of people with a set of Pokémon cards stashed away somewhere, it might be time to dig-lett them out (sorry). Time to see if any of these babies are in your collection. Here’s our list of the top 9 rarest and most valuable Pokémon cards in existence.
Chances are you haven’t caught them all. But having even one of these could net you a large wad of cash.
Pokémon has been an on/off craze ever since it first started back in the mid-’90s. But despite releasing games, a cult anime series and several films, it’s those little cards that are making a profitable resurgence right now.
Even in just the last three years, rare Pokémon cards have been sold for thousands of dollars at auction. So now is definitely the time to check your collection. Time to see if you could be sitting on a small fortune.
9. 20th Anniversary 24-karat Gold Pikachu
Crafted in solid gold
Sold for 216,000 yen ($2,081) in October 2016.
You don’t get much more unique than a Pokémon card made from solid gold. Yep, you heard right. This insanely unique and incredibly rare Pokémon card was produced by Japanese jewellery maker, Ginza Tanaka. A limited number of solid gold cards were created as a replica of the original Japanese Pikachu card (affectionately nicknamed ‘Fat Pikachu’).
Made from 11 grams of pure 24-karat cold, the only way to get a copy of this ultra-rare Pokémon card was to enter a lottery held in 2016. If you won, you were given the chance to buy a copy of the limited-edition card for 216,000 yen (around $2,081/£1,700).
The solid gold card was shipped in its own unique box and housed in a plastic frame. And what makes this even more incredible is that, whilst most rare and unique Pokémon cards stem from early on in the game’s beginnings, this card appeared for the first time in just the last 5 years. Definitely one of the rarest (and coolest) Pokémon cards in existence.
8. Master’s Key
A more recent card – but no less rare
Sold for $21,000 in November 2019.
Like the 20th anniversary gold Pikachu, Master’s Key is another rare yet relatively new Pokémon card. It made its first appearance just over ten years ago when it was awarded to competitors in the 2010 Pokémon World Championships held in Hawaii.
Participants in both the TCG (Trading Card Game) and video game counterpart received a copy of Master’s Key. Only the trophy case differed depending on the category.
Only 36 copies of the card are estimated to exist – equal to the number of participants in all age divisions of the world championships. And to prove just how rare this Pokémon card is, one of them sold at auction in November 2019 for more than $21,000.
7. Espeon and Umbreon Gold Star POP Series 5
A pair of Gold Star Pokémon cards from one of the most valuable Pokémon sets of all time
Sold for $22,100 and $20,000 respectively between December 2020 and February 2021.
The Gold Star Pokémon cards are one of the most valuable Pokémon sets ever produced. At the time of writing, a near mint full set of 27 cards is for sale on eBay. The price tag? £35,000 ($49,717).
But it’s the Espeon and Umbreon which are the real moneymakers. Perhaps the rarest cards in the set, these two alone sold for over $20,000 in just the last few months.
The cards are named after the gold star that appears next to the Pokémon’s name at the top of the card. It signifies that the card features alternative colour artwork which is different from the common version.
Only 27 Gold Star cards were released from 2004 to 2007. Making them some of the rarest Pokémon cards in existence.
Whilst the Japanese versions of the cards remain the most valuable due to their limited availability, the English versions of the Espeon and Umbreon Gold Star cards still command a high price. PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator – the prestigious organisation that grades the quality, condition and value of trading cards) values the two cards at $194,209 and $187,277 respectively. Easily making them two of the rarest and most valuable Pokémon cards around.
6. 1999 Pokémon Japanese Promo Tropical Mega Battle Tropical Wind
An ultra-rare promo card – one of only 12 ever made
Sold for $65,100 in October 2020.
When it comes to availability, you don’t get much rarer than the Tropical Wind card.
With just 12 being given to the top players at the 1999 Tropical Mega Battle tournament, the Japanese Tropical Wind promo card is extremely rare.
This inaugural tournament – a precursor to the Pokémon World Championships – took place in 1999 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu, Hawaii. The event was invite-only and was a battle between the best 50 players from Canada, Latin America, Europe, the United States, and Japan. During the event, a handful of trophy cards could be obtained. One of these was this baby right here.
This particular Tropical Mega Battle promo card (the 1999 Japanese-language copy of Tropical Wind) has sold at auction for as much as $65,100 in PSA Gem Mint 10 condition, with the most recent sale taking place in October 2020. PSA estimates its value to be as high as $148,482. Making the ultra-rare card a contender for one of the most expensive and valuable Pokémon cards ever made.
5. No. 1 Trainer
Quite possibly the most unknown Pokémon card of all time
Sold for $90,000 in July 2020.
Most people won’t have ever heard of No. 1 Trainer, and it’s even more unlikely they’ll have seen a copy in person. When it comes to rare Pokémon cards, they don’t get much rarer than this.
With only seven copies believed to be in existence, No. 1 Trainer may well be the least known card in existence.
No.1 Trainer is a holographic promotional card awarded to finalists in the Secret Super Battle tournament held in Tokyo in 1999. To earn a place in the competition’s finals (which were held in a secret location) players had to first win a regional tournament. Their prize was the No. 1 Trainer card, which granted them access to the finals.
The text on the front of the card translates to: “The Pokémon Card Game Official Tournament’s champion is recognised here, and this honour is praised. By presenting this card, you may gain preferential entry into the Secret Super Battle.” It’s almost like a modern-day, real-life Golden Ticket to Willy Wonka’s factory.
As only seven regional tournaments were held, it’s believed that just seven copies of the No. 1 Trainer card were made – easily making it one of the rarest Pokémon cards in existence.
4. Pikachu Illustrator
Extremely expensive and extremely rare
Sold for $195,000 in October 2019.
The Pikachu Illustrator card is an incredibly rare Pokémon card. It still holds the Guinness World Record for the most expensive Pokémon trading card sold at auction (although, more about this later…).
Pikachu Illustrator was originally given to winners of promo contests held in 1997 and 1998 by Japanese magazine CoroCoro Comic. 39 copies were officially awarded to the winners. While two copies were reportedly later discovered by one of the creators of the card game, seemingly bringing the total number of Pikachu Illustrator copies to 41.
As well as being ridiculously rare, the card is unique in a number of ways. It’s the only Pokémon card to say “Illustrator” instead of “Trainer” at the top. And has a one-off pen icon in its bottom-right corner to acknowledge its creation for the design contest. The card’s artwork of Pikachu is by Atsuko Nishida, the original illustrator of the fan-favourite Pokémon.
Approximately 19 copies of the card are believed to still exist, with 10 having been certified by the PSA.
A near-flawless copy of the card graded at Mint 9 (one grade under perfect condition) sold at auction in 2019 for $195,000 and broke a Guinness World Record. But arguably, there are a couple of contenders to that crown.
3. Black Star Ishihara Signed GX Promo Card
A signed card to celebrate the Pokémon founder’s 60th birthday
Sold for $247,230 in April 2021.
Of all the cards featured on this list, this rare and incredibly valuable Pokémon card is definitely one-of-a-kind.
Just last month on April 26, 2021, a copy of the Black Star Ishihara Signed GX Promo Card made headlines when it sold for nearly a quarter of a million US dollars.
The card depicts the Pokémon company founder and current president, Tsunekazu Ishihara. It was given to staff as a celebration of his 60th birthday in 2017.
What makes this specific version even rarer is that Ishihara actually signed this near-mint card to boost its price even further.
The ability “Red Chanchanko” refers to the red vest which is traditionally worn on 60th birthdays in Japan and prevents the effect of any attack, ability or trainer card against Ishihara. Meanwhile, its GX move “60 Congratulations” tells you to flip 60 coins, and take a present for each one. A truly unique, legendary card.
2. Pokémon Blastoise #009/165R Commissioned Presentation Galaxy Star Hologram
Quite possibly the only card one in existence
Sold for $360,000 in January 2021.
This Blastoise card is probably the single rarest Pokémon card in existence. One of only two such Pokémon cards ever made, it sold for a whopping $360,000 (£266,000) in January 2021.
This Pokémon card was created in 1998 as a presentation piece by Magic: The Gathering maker Wizards of the Coast to convince Nintendo executives to allow it to handle the TCG’s English-language release. The game would eventually make its international debut one year later in 1999.
While two Blastoise ‘Presentation’ cards were produced, this is the only one that has been seen publicly. Even more impressively, it has been graded at a NM/Mint+ 8.5 level by certification website CGC, meaning that the 20-plus-year-old card is in near-perfect condition. The location and state of the other Presentation card remain unknown. This either means that this card is the sole one remaining, or someone somewhere is unknowingly sitting on a small fortune.
1. 1999 First Edition Shadowless Holographic Charizard #4
The card that every kid wanted
Sold for $369,000 in December 2020.
Charizard. The card that absolutely every kid (and adult too now, apparently) wanted. And while the shiny Charizard has always been a firm favourite, this particular variant is even rarer.
While a number of top quality, first-edition cards from the Pokémon TCG’s early days are worth some money, due to their limited availability and age, this specific version of the holographic Charizard absolutely stands out as one of the rarest and most valuable Pokémon cards ever released.
What sets the card apart is the lack of a shadow underneath the dragon graphic. This was a printing error which was corrected for most of the cards printed but the few that sneaked passed quality control are incredibly sought after.
According to auction house Iconic Auctions, the rare card is “the Holy Grail of Pokémon cards, the most iconic and important card to both the Pokémon franchise and its die-hard fans”.
A mint-condition first-edition shadowless holographic PSA 10 Charizard sold at auction in October 2020 for a staggering $220,574 to the retired rapper – and Pokémon fan – Logic. Then, just two months later in December, another one of the same quality sold for a mind-blowing £350,000.
But as if that wasn’t enough, just a few hours after that, yet another card broke all records, selling for a mind-numbing £369,000.
Although this hasn’t officially been recognised by Guinness World Records, this certainly knocks the Pikachu Illustrator off its perch, as well as the staggering sum held by the Blastoise Galaxy Star Hologram.
Either way, despite not being the rarest, this is definitely the most valuable Pokémon card sold to date. But with the desire for rare Pokémon cards showing no signs of slowing, the big question is: how much higher can their value go?
One thing’s for sure, if anyone out there truly has caught them all, that would make for one incredibly valuable collection.
And that’s our list of the 9 rarest and most valuable Pokémon cards in existence. Did you ever have any of these? Which is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below.
Are Team Rocket just misunderstood? Read our article HERE.
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