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Top 10 Roller Coasters in the United States

Written by: Editorial Staff

September 20, 2012
Filed Under Offbeat 

Contributed by Info Guru Paul Seaburn

It’s funny that we call them “amusement” parks because most of us visit them to be scared out of our wits on the roller coasters.

Roller coasters can trace their beginnings to mine cars, but the gravity-defying, heart-thumping, upside-down speed trips of today’s rides would make miners find another line of work. The list of top roller coasters in the United States changes yearly as new ones are built, but these are a good selection from both the steel and classic wooden varieties.

10. Mean Streak

mean streak

Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, is home to a large collection of great roller coasters and Mean Streak is the best of the wooden ones. The first hill is 161 feet tall and the top speed is 65 miles per hour. For safety, the Mean Streak has its own carpentry staff.

9. SheiKra


SheiKra lives up to its namesake – the shikra hawk that dives straight down when attacking. With its wide cars and 90-degree vertical drop, the SheiKra at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay was the first ‘dive’ roller coaster in the U.S. when it opened in 2005. It was later converted to a floorless coaster, allowing riders to dangle their feet as the car hesitates for six seconds before the big drop.

8. El Toro

el toro

It’s no ‘bull’ to say that El Toro is one of the best wooden roller coasters in the United States, if not the world. It’s 76 degree drop is the steepest of any wooden coaster in the U.S. and El Toro’s riders hit a height of 188 feet and a top speed of 70 miles per hour. El Toro is located in the Six Flags Great Adventure park in Jackson, New Jersey.

7. Millennium Force

Millennium Force

Millennium Force at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, has been voted the number one steel roller coaster in the world by a leading roller coaster survey six times since it was opened in 2000. It was the first roller coaster to top 300 feet in height (310 feet total) and is still the second longest roller coaster in the U.S. Millennium Force has a top speed of 93 miles per hour and a maximum G-force of 4.5.

6. Maverick


The Maverick at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, starts with a 105-foot climb followed by a first drop of 95 degrees, making it 5 degrees beyond vertical. The steel coaster has a top speed of 70 milers per hour, 10 banked turns with the sharpest at 92 degrees and the first twisted horseshoe roll on a U.S. coaster.

5. Incredible Hulk

incredible hulk

A superhero steel coaster, The Incredible Hulk at the Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida, has a launch lift hill rather than a chain lift which gets it to 40 miles per hour in two seconds. It has one of the world’s tallest cobra rolls at 110 feet and the coaster makes a roaring sound as it reaches a top speed of 65 miles per hour.

4. The Rattler


Living up to its name for both its snaking shape and its teeth-rattling ride, The Rattler at Six Flags Fiesta Texas has a top height of 179 feet with the first hill measuring 166 feet. Top speed is 74 miles per hour.

3. Superman: Escape from Krypton


Another steel coaster named for a comic book superhero, Superman: Escape from Krypton is in the Six Flags Magic Mountain park in Valencia, California. Built in 1997 and upgraded in 2010, this steel coaster has a 328-foot first drop, a top height of 415 feet and hits 104 miles per hour in under 6 seconds. The ride holds the tallest vertical loop record at 145 feet.

2. Top Thrill Dragster

top thrill dragster

When it opened in 2003, Cedar Point’s Top Thrill Dragster set records as the world’s tallest, fastest and steepest coaster and was the first complete circuit coaster to reach 400 feet. This steel launch-lift coaster has a drag strip-style Christmas tree light to start the ride that hits a 120 miles-per-hour in 3.8 seconds and climbs to 420 feet.

1. Kingda Ka

Kingda Ka

The top roller coaster in the U.S. on most lists is the Kingda Ka steel coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey. It’s the world’s tallest and second-fastest, reaching a height of 456 feet and a top speed of 128 miles per hour, which it reaches in an incredible 3.5 seconds. Named for one of the park’s Bengal tigers, Kingda Ka reaches a 1.67 G-force and has 418-foot drop and a 270-dgree spiral twist in its 28 second ride.

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