For theme park thrill-seekers, nothing beats the adrenaline rush of a wooden or steel coaster. There are a number of roller coaster facts that may pique any rider's interest.
Best of the Best
With the need to keep thrill seekers satisfied and returning to their favorite parks year after year, theme park owners are always looking for the next great coaster. To appeal to roller coaster lovers, parks strive to build the biggest, longest, highest and fastest coasters.
Longest Roller Coasters
The two longest steel coasters are located in Japan and England.
- The longest steel coaster prize goes to Steel Dragon 2000 at Nagashima Spaland in Mie, Japan. Steel Dragon, which opened in 2000, totals 8,133 feet of track.
- Taking second place for length is the 7,442-foot Ultimate, which opened in July 1991 at the Lightwater Valley theme park in North Yorkshire, England.
The United States is home to the top two longest wooden coasters in the world.
Part of the fun of zipping along on a roller coaster is the incredibly high rates of speed they can reach. These coasters will really have you feeling the wind whipping through your hair.
Opened in 2010, the Formula Rossa at Ferrari World in the United Arab Emirates accelerates to a thrilling peak speed of 149.1 miles per hour (240 kilometers per hour) in just five seconds. Riders experience a force of 4.8 Gs, travelling so fast that skydiving goggles must be worn.
- Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari in Jackson, New Jersey currently holds the record for the second fastest roller coaster (it was fastest until Formula Rossa came along and it is still the fastest in North America), reaching 128 miles per hour. The coaster opened in May 2005 in the park's jungle-themed area.
- Placing a close third, at 123 miles per hour, is Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point in Ohio, which opened in May 2003.
Steepest Angle of Descent
While many modern steel roller coasters boast a 90 degree angle of descent (straight up and down), there are actually coasters that have inverted angles of descent greater than 90 degrees.
- Takabisha at Fuji-Q Highland in Japan has a 121 degree tilt drop free fall, making it the steepest roller coaster in the world.
- The Green Lantern coaster at Movie World in Australia has a 120.5 degree vertical angle.
- The Timber Drop at Fraispertuis City in France has a 113 degree maximum vertical angle.
- The roller coaster with the steepest angle of descent in the United States is the Fahrenheit at Hersheypark in Pennsylvania. It has a 97 degree angle of descent.
If you're afraid of heights, then you may wish to avoid the world's tallest roller coasters.
- The tallest steel roller coaster in the world also happens to be the second fastest. It's Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari, and it's 456 feet.
- Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point comes in as the second tallest steel roller coaster in the world at 420 feet.
- The Hedie Park resort in Germany has the world's tallest wooden roller coaster, Colossos. It is 197 feet (60 meters) tall.
- T Express at South Korea's Everland Resort is the second tallest wooden roller coaster in the world. It is 184 feet (56 meters).
Part of the thrill of the roller coaster is its biggest drop.
- It's probably no surprise that Kingda Ka takes the top spot for the largest drop of any roller coaster; it's 418 feet from the top of the largest drop to the bottom.
- Top Thrill Dragster's drop places second at 400 feet.
- Goliath, which opened at Chicago's Six Flags Great America in 2014, has the biggest drop for a wooden roller coaster, at 180 feet (55 meters).
- El Toro at Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari in New Jersey has the second biggest drop for a wooden roller coaster at 176 feet (54 meters).
Gravity defying designs keep thrill-seekers in the loop with adrenaline filled fun.
- The Full Throttle roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California has the tallest vertical loop measuring 160 feet tall.
- A British roller coaster known as The Smiler ranks first for the highest number of inversions with 14 hair-raising corkscrews, loops and rolls. The ride opened at Alton Towers in 2013 and made headlines with an unfortunate crash in 2015, seriously injuring some of the passengers.
- Kings Island in Mason, Ohio is home to Banshee, the world's longest inversion roller coaster with seven mind-bending inversions along 4,124 feet of track.
- In early May 2016, Ohio's Cedar Point theme park unleashed Valravn, which broke numerous world records as the tallest (223 ft), longest (3,415 ft) and fastest (75 mph) dive roller coaster. It also boasts the highest inversion (165 ft) and most numerous inversions (3) of any dive coaster to date.
For thrill ride enthusiasts, finding out where the most coasters are located ensures that they can get the most bang for their buck during their theme park visit.
Of course, it's not all about the thrills. Some park visitors marvel at the history of roller coasters, from their humble beginnings as moderate amusements to the heart-racing adventure rides of today. A few facts that make the history of this ride so interesting include:
- The concept for roller coasters was first conceived in 15th century Russia, where they constructed ice slides between seventy and eighty feet tall and hundreds of feet long that people rode on sleds.
- Two coasters were built in France in the early 1800s that first featured wheeled cars that locked to the track for riders to sit in.
- The first American roller coaster was actually a train designed to move coal down a mountain, called the Mauch Chunk Switchback Railroad. After the train no longer needed to transport coal, passengers rode it for thrills from the 1850s through to 1929.
- LaMarcus Thompson is credited with conceiving and patenting the first official roller coaster in America in 1878. He created the Switchback Railroad at Coney Island, which opened in 1884.
- The oldest operating roller coaster is Leap the Dips at Lakemont Park in Pennsylvania. It was built in 1902.
Bigger Thrills Yet to Come
Roller coaster buffs can rejoice because coaster engineers aren't done yet. They continuously push boundaries in an effort to make exciting new rides in theme parks all around the world.