There’s a rumor in Las Vegas that if you can eat a six-pound burrito, you can ride one of the city’s hottest roller coasters all day for free. That’s either the most disgusting thing you’ve ever heard, or the coolest challenge you’ll experience on a family vacation. Which pretty well sums up the worldview of roller coasters in general. You either hate ‘em or you’re… wild about roller coasters!
Check Out These Roller Coaster Havens
Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas offers some great thrills beyond the blackjack table and nickel slot machines. The city has become almost as well known for its roller coasters as it is the hotels.
The Roller Coaster is the biggest of the roller coasters on the Las Vegas Strip, circling New York-New York on a 4,777-foot track. The maximum height is 203 feet, then you drop like a rock through corkscrews and loops at a staggering 67 M.P.H. Definitely not for the timid, really hard on your neck, and a must-ride Las Vegas roller coaster!
Beneath the Circus Circus Adventuredome, there is a serious loop coaster called the Canyon Blaster. A little slower than the previous coasters with a top speed of 55 M.P.H. over a track that is 2,000 feet long, there are still plenty of thrills and a serious double loop. Well worth the trip during your next vacation!
On the very top of the Stratosphere Tower at the far north end of The Strip is the High Roller. The only thing that makes this ride exciting is its location, some 900 feet above the city on a spindly column. Some say it would be a “kiddy coaster” except for this. At only 30 M.P.H. with a timid 30-foot drop, it’s not unlike riding home from church in Grandma’s Buick. You will want to ride it during your next Bluegreen vacation, however, because you need to say you did. And the view of the lights of the Strip at night is well worth it.
In Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, there is Montu, with seven inversions and almost 4,000 feet of track. The biggest, baddest inverted Florida roller coaster, the ride reaches speeds of more than 60 M.P.H. and thrills with a 60-foot vertical loop. The three-minute ride is a winner with G-force of 3.85. Capturing the power and speed of an African hawk, SheiKra features floorless cars, a genuine 90-degree dive and an Immelmann loop (one that turns you out at the apex of the loop and then allows you to drop dramatically). The second vertical dive spirits riders into an underground tunnel, assuming you have your eyes open to notice such things. It’s another Busch Gardens stunner and the tallest coaster out of any of the Florida amusement parks. And, with it being so close to your resort in Orlando, it’s hard to resist a visit.
In Orlando, you can’t miss with any of the big coasters at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure. The Incredible Hulk Coaster™ is wicked and fast and adds a couple of subterranean thrills to the loops and dives. Dragon Challenge™, formerly known as Dueling Dragons®, provides a thrilling experience with twists and loops at super high-speeds.
If you like a little theme with your thrills, you can’t go wrong with Universal Studios’ Revenge of the Mummy, Disney’s Animal Kingdom®, Expedition Everest, or the celebrated darkness of Space Mountain® at Magic Kingdom. If you can handle high volume along with high speed, you’ll probably like the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster® starring Aerosmith at Disney Hollywood Studios™. Universally accepted as one of the best Orlando thrill rides is SeaWorld’s massive Kraken. The soul of the sea monster is unleashed in this looping thrill ride.
The best coaster town in the Northeast is arguably Hershey, PA. And it only takes one theme park to put this small town on the big map, coaster-wise. The park is Hershey Park™ and the coasters are fast, furious and famous. There are so many Hershey roller coasters and so varied, that HersheyPark™ grades them on a scale of 1 to 5. There are some respectable 3s and some attention-getting 4s, but for fanatics, coasters with a rating of 5 are the rides of note.
There are five HersheyPark™ roller coasters with a 5-rating, which are dubbed “aggressive thrill rides.” They aren’t kidding. There’s a classic wooden one, the Wildcat, with 3,100 feet of clackety track. There’s the Sooperdooperlooper for those who love their loops. There’s the Great Bear—a looping, inverted steel coaster that dangles riders below the track and includes an Immelmann loop. And there’s the Wild Mouse, which gives the illusion that riders will fall off the edge of the track.
For many, coasters hit their peak with the debut of Storm Runner, a hydraulic-launch coaster that takes you to 72 m.p.h. in a mere two seconds. That’s just the beginning. There is also an 18-story ascent and a straight-down dive, plus a 135-foot cobra loop, barrel rolls and an experience called a flying snake dive that may be the most intense thrill in the entire 58-second experience. Don’t even bother trying to breathe.
And if that wasn’t enough, 2008 introduced Fahrenheit—a vertical lift, inverted loop coaster that combines a 90-degree, 121-foot ascent followed abruptly by a 97-degree (yes, beyond straight down) drop. To finish off the experience—assuming you are still conscious, Fahrenheit gives you a cobra roll, an inverted corkscrew and an airborne, inverted S-roll. While not the fastest coaster at only 58 M.P.H., it is utterly unique—a real coaster to separate the weak from the strong, men from boys, and you from your lunch—or at least every coin in your pocket.
Ready to vacation on the very edge? You’re in for a very wild ride at some of the top roller coasters in the country.