There is this weird breed of people that exist in the world that are crazy about theme parks and roller coasters. I am proud, and at times slightly embarrassed to associate myself with this subculture. We call ourselves roller coaster enthusiasts. We know an uncomfortable amount of stats about rides. If you show us a close up photo of roller coaster track we can tell you the name of the ride, the manufacturer, how tall is it, what year it was built, how good the ride is (sometimes without even riding it), and many other details the average person wouldn’t even think about.
We are grown adults that can walk into an amusement park anywhere in America and have this strange sparkle in our eyes. The kind of sparkle you see in a 6 year-old kid visiting a park on their birthday. It’s our addiction. Our vacation days are spent driving to the next new coaster, or spent driving across the country to visit as many parks as possible in the days we are allowed to not be at work. We count all the coasters we ride (I’ve rode 225), and we aren’t ashamed to ride the kiddie coasters to pad our coaster counts. At any given moment, if you ask us where we would rather be, we’d say walking the midways of any amusement park in the world.
Another thing we do when we aren’t on dates with women (which is always) is make countdowns and rankings. We just wait for the opportunity for someone to reach out to us to share what we think. Well, ladies and gentlemen, that’s exactly what has happened to me. Now I am lucky enough to present to you the Top 10 Roller Coasters to Try Out This Summer.
- Phoenix – Knoebel’s – Elysburg, Pennsylvania
This coaster is nothing new to coaster enthusiasts. It has been a favorite in the coaster riding community since it was relocated from San Antonio in the 80’s. While at first glance it looks like a “Plain Jane” wooden roller coaster, it’s packed with a little something us coaster nerds live for called “airtime.” This is known to the everyday visitor as, “OMG I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO FLY OUT!!” And even as a coaster pro, I’m pretty sure that’s how I described it after my first ride. Seriously, I was even afraid to put my hands up.
It also helps that this coaster lives in my personal favorite park in America. Stepping into Knoebel’s is like stepping back into time. The food is fantastic and cheap. There is no admission price, as you pay for tickets to ride every ride (Don’t worry, it’s still cheaper than most parks). It is the perfect mix of fair nostalgia in a permanent theme park. Another fun aspect of this place is that you can camp on their property. Just let the roar of the classic coasters be your alarm clock!
- Banshee – Kings Island – Cincinnati, Ohio
This ride was new to the park in 2014, and it was a HUGE hit for the place. Let your feet dangle and kick the sky on what many consider the best inverted roller coaster in the world. You won’t see many roller coasters out there hitting 68 miles per hour and flipping you upside down 7 times.
The park is home to 14 roller coasters and boasts an award winning kiddie area. Also, the only theme park in the world where you can order a 3-way… Chili that is. Spaghetti topped with chili. Skyline Chili is a Cincinnati staple, and a must eat in the park. Try not to wink at the waitress and giggle like a school girl when you order. It’s a fun game.
- Skyrush – Hershey Park – Hershey, Pennsylvania
Skyrush is one of many coasters in what I feel is the most underrated “coaster parks” in America. There is so much airtime on this ride, Jesus gives you a high five.
Hershey Park is a great place for chocolate lovers. It’s where Hershey candy was founded. Chocolate World shares a parking lot with the theme park and is free admission. You can buy all sorts of sweets, and even ride a free ride that explains the chocolate making process. Ladies, it’s the perfect post-breakup getaway!
- Coney Island Cyclone – Coney Island – Brooklyn, New York
Built in 1927, the Coney Island Cyclone is a National Historic Landmark, and is one of the most classic wooden roller coasters in the world. The place is full of amusement park history, and this ride pays homage to the area’s past. It’s not the smoothest ride in the world, but you can’t go to New York without a ride on it.
Coney Island is the reason we have amusement parks today. It’s full of history. In past years it has been a bit run down, but it has recently been bought out and given the love it deserves. It’s the perfect example of how a beach boardwalk place should feel. Make sure you visit Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs. It’s where the hot dog eating contest is held every 4th of July.
- Twisted Colossus – Six Flags Magic Mountain – Valencia, California
Twisted Colossus is one of the more anticipated new coasters of 2015. Not only is it from one of the hottest coaster manufacturers right now, but it is a racing coaster. And the way that it’s set up is basically two rides in one! One of its highlights will include the “Hi-Five element.” It’s a moment where its appears you can high- five people on the other train while being tilted at 90 degrees!
Six Flags Magic Mountain has more roller coasters than any other park in the world with 19. What else is there to say?
- Thunderbird – Holiday World – Santa Claus, Indiana
Thunderbird is Holiday World’s first major steel coaster. It will feature a 60 mph launch, and go upside down 4 times. Another unique feature is that the ride vehicle is set up so that you are sitting on the outside of the track with nothing under your feet.
Holiday World is one of the nation’s best kept secrets. It is home to 3 very good wooden roller coasters, and the best water park I’ve ever been to. Add free parking, free drinks, free sunscreen, and free water tubes, and you are guaranteed to have a blast for a great value!
- Kingda Ka – Six Flags Great Adventure – Jackson, New Jersey
Kingda Ka is the tallest roller coaster in the world, and fastest roller coaster in the US. The ride goes 128 mph in 3.5 seconds, and is 456 feet tall.
Six Flags Great Adventure is home to 12 roller coasters, and 4 of them are in my top 20 with Kingda Ka being #20. Best coaster park in the nation.
- Cannibal – Lagoon – Farmington, Utah
Cannibal is another promising new for 2015 ride at a small park on the Great Salt Lake. The ride is 208 feet tall, with a first drop at the angle of 116 degrees. Wait, how is that possible?
Coaster enthusiasts claim this is one of the best independent parks in America. I’ve never been, but with this new ride I’m willing to test that claim.
- Outlaw Run – Silver Dollar City – Branson, Missouri
Outlaw Run is my favorite roller coaster I’ve rode. Have you ever been upside down on a wooden roller coaster? Sound painful? What if I told you it was super smooth? This is one of the most unique coasters in the world, and features elements that don’t seem physically possible.
Silver Dollar City is one of the only parks where you will see old people everywhere. So old that their toilets have those old people booster seats built into them. This park is historically a place for people of all ages to walk around to shop and eat fantastic food out of skillets. With Outlaw Run, the park made a statement that they are also here to thrill people. It’s a pretty unique place, and a must visit.
- Fury 325 – Carowinds – Charlotte, North Carolina
Fury 325 is by far the most anticipated new for 2015 rides. This ride is the tallest roller coaster in the world with a traditional lift hill. It features elements that interact with the park’s new entrance area, and has received nothing but rave reviews since it opened a few weeks ago.
The park is home to 14 roller coasters. With the addition of Fury 325, the park is now a destination regional park. Mix this new ride with other park staples, and it’s the must visit park for 2015!
There’s the top 10. A list for what’s hot this summer in the coaster world! Amusement parks make for a great road trip with friends and loved ones. Traveling to a new park is a great way to relive those special moments many had as a child. Hopefully this list inspires people to try something different, and maybe even fall in love with the experience all over again! See you out on the midway.