Best vs. Fun

I have been on numerous roller coasters over the years. I have traveled to multiple states and even out of the country (Canada) to ride roller coasters. Today I want to count down my top roller coasters. I am categorizing my rides into two categories: Favorites and Fun. These are in no particular order, with maybe one or two exceptions.

First the “Fun” category. I want to start with my “official” home park, Six Flags America in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. I have one roller coaster there that I have a sentimental connection to. Six Flags America does not really have any coasters I’d consider a “favorite”. But there is one ride that is an exception. Superman Ride of Steel was my first ever hyper coaster (a roller coaster that stands 200-299 feet tall). I rode this back in the early 2000s and was terrified of it! I had never been on a roller coaster nearly that tall before, at least not up until that point. However once we went down that first 70 degree drop, flying like the Man of Steel at 73 mph, I was hooked! To this day, it is one of my favorite hyper coasters of all time. It isn’t the tallest, the fastest, or the wildest, but for pure “fun” factor, this is definitely towards the top!

Joker’s Jinx is a launched roller coaster that is just a mess of track. It goes from a dead standstill to 60 mph in 4 seconds and goes upside down 4 times. This was my first launched roller coaster, so again, it holds some sentimental value.

Next I want to give a mention to Manta at SeaWorld San Diego. This ride is technically a family coaster, so it isn’t that tall (30 feet) or fast (40 mph) but it is the ride I did most at SeaWorld San Diego. Purely because it is smooth and just plain fun! Two launches, some airtime (where you get lifted out of your seat), and a long ride? What more could you need in a good family ride?

Next I want to talk about Dorney Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania. They have a hyper coaster called Steel Force. I prefer the aforementioned Superman Ride of Steel at SFA, but Steel Force is fun, as well. I want to preface: I have only ridden this coaster in the front. I rode it for the first time back when I was in my early to mid 20s. I thought it was a fun ride! Then I went back in 2019 with a group and got more airtime than I expected. The front row had some ejector airtime (where you feel like you are going to fly out of the ride) and part of me wishes I had tried it again in the back.

Now we get to my home park away from home: Hershey Park. Hershey has some of my favorite coasters, so this is where the categories might overlap. SooperDooperLooper, which ironically only has one loop, was the first roller coaster I ever rode that went upside down. Nowadays, the SDL seems a little “meh” to the average person, but I love this ride! The loop is circular so it is very forceful.

The next Hershey coaster I want to talk about is Great Bear. This is an inverted coaster (meaning you hang under the track) and has 4 inversions. It is a fun invert, but I have ridden a few better ones. Still, it was the first inverted coaster I ever rode, so I love it for pure nostalgia.

It’d be a crime to deny one coaster at Hershey in particular it’s fair due. I am talking about Storm Runner. This thing rockets you from 0-72 mph in just 2 seconds. It has a 150 foot tall hill with a 180 foot drop into a ravine and three inversions. It’s total ride time is only about 30 seconds, but what a 30 seconds it is!

Now on to my favorite park EVER…Cedar Point. This place is a Mecca for roller coaster enthusiasts. It is damn near impossible to rank the coasters there for me, so I’m not even gonna try.

But among my favorite rides at Cedar Point are Raptor (my favorite inverted coaster), Iron Dragon, the swinging roller coaster that goes over a lake, and Blue Streak, the old wooden coaster. Those are in the fun category. My all time favorite coaster is at Cedar Point and I will get to that later.

I want to give an honorable mention to a ride at SeaWorld Orlando. That ride is Journey to Atlantis. It is technically a water ride, but it does have a roller coaster track so I am counting it. Plus it was in the 70s when I rode this so it felt great getting soaked! Oh, and as a bonus, I got stuck on this ride for about a half hour, so I got a free pass to skip the line at any ride I wanted.

I also had the opportunity to ride the world’s tallest roller coaster and 2nd fastest in the world, Kingda Ka in New Jersey. Kingda Ka launches from 0-128 mph in 4 seconds. It’s fun but due to how fast it is, it can get a little bumpy.

Now onto the “favorites” category.

I have had the opportunity to visit Kennywood near Pittsburgh, PA. The top ride there is Phantom’s Revenge. This thing is 160 feet tall, but it’s main drop is a whopping 220 feet! So how does it do that? Well Kennywood is built on a ravine and Phantom’s Revenge plummets into that ravine at a speed of 85 mph. I have only ridden this ride once, but it was memorable because I rode it during Phantom Fright Nights (Kennywood’s Halloween event) with scare actors in the front row…IN THE DARK! And when I say “dark”, I mean pitch black. Like that “you can’t see your hand in front of your face” dark. It was wild!

Last year, I visited the Disney parks in Orlando. Among my favorite rides at all the Disney parks (excluding Star Wars) are Tower of Terror (my favorite drop ride EVER!), Slinky Dog Dash, which maybe is more in the “fun” category, Expedition Everest, and the biggest surprise for me, Space Mountain.

I also visited Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Here’s where it starts to get good. Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is probably my favorite launched roller coaster of all time. It is a long ride and has a jaw-dropping seven launches. Plus this ride is special to me seeing as I had the honor of being the last person allowed on the ride before the park closed for the night.

I want to give a special mention to one roller coaster that does not exist anymore: Volcano the Blast Coaster at Kings Dominion. This was the only launched inverted roller coaster ever made. It literally shot you out of an erupting volcano with real fire! So yeah it was pretty sweet!

Here is where I am going to backtrack for a minute. As I said, I visited SeaWorld Orlando back in 2018. This park is home to my favorite hyper coaster in Mako. In the front, this coaster is great! In the back, this coaster is AMAZING! I rode Mako 17 times in one day! And of those 17 rides, 10 of them were without leaving my seat. Manta is a flying coaster (where you lay under the track) and is my favorite flying coaster I have ever ridden. It is very fun and actually scenic. Not to mention smooth.
Next I want to take you to Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, California. I have a few “favorites” here. First is Xcelerator. This thing is 205 feet tall, lasts about 40 seconds, and catapults you from 0 to 82 mph in 1.7 seconds. And believe me…you absolutely feel that punch!

GhostRider is among my favorite wooden coasters. It lasts a long time for a roller coaster (almost 3 minutes) and has plenty of airtime!

Going back to Cedar Point, I want to narrow it down to my favorite coasters there. Maverick, a launching roller coaster, Millennium Force, the first roller coaster to ever go over 300 feet, and my all-time favorite roller coaster (up to this point) …Steel Vengeance. Oh…my…God! This ride is Heaven on Earth! And add the fact I rode it at 12:00 am, when it was hauling, and you get one great ride! Remember all the airtime in the rides I mentioned earlier? Yeah…well take all that airtime and double it! Steel Vengeance was voted the best roller coaster in the world and I can see why!

So those are my top roller coasters, and we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface with the coasters I have ridden. I am sure I will add more to my collection and re-ride some old favorites. What are your favorite rides? Let me know in the comments and thanks for reading!

-Tom

Author: AuTom Spectrum Blog

I have Autism and am a self-advocate and public speaker. On the side I do stand-up comedy. I live in Baltimore County and have an AMAZING girlfriend

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