Recently we announced the addition of Carowinds in Charlotte, North Carolina to our list of destinations that we serve, and we look forward to helping thrill-seekers visit the 400-acre amusement park. With 13 different rides, Carowinds ranks 5th in the world for having the most roller coasters in one park, so it’s a must-visit destination for anyone who loves world-class attractions and heart-pumping adventure. If you’re the type of person who can’t get enough of the adrenaline-fueled excitement that a good roller coaster provides, we wanted to share our picks for the top five best roller coasters in the United States.
Carowinds, Charlotte, NC
You don’t have to go far to ride the world’s tallest and fastest giga coaster, because it’s right here at Carowinds in Charlotte, North Carolina! Fury 325 lifts riders to a peak height of 325 feet, then sends them down a dramatic 81-degree drop, into a massive 190-foot tall barrel turn, and a high-speed S-curve reaching speeds of up to 95 mph. You’ll also experience an astonishing 91-degree overbanked horseshoe turn, and the “Hive Dive” that takes riders underneath a pedestrian bridge at the entrance to the park, so that every park visitor can see what’s ahead of them. Fury 325 is North America’s longest steel coaster, at over 1.25 miles long, and you’ll get plenty of time to enjoy it, since the average ride time is 3 minutes and 15 seconds. You’ll even cross the North and South Carolina state line in the middle of the ride, for an interstate travel experience you won’t soon forget!
Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, TN
Another top roller coaster in the Western North Carolina area, the Lightning Rod at Dollywood is the world’s first wooden roller coaster with a magnetic launch system. That means that unlike other wooden coasters, which clackety-clack climb up an initial hill and then use gravity to gain speed, Lightning Rod launches riders from zero to 45 mph, and actually gains speed as it climbs up the first 20-story-tall lift hill, and then sends riders over twin summit airtime hills before sending them back down the main 165-foot drop. With 3,800 feet of track and top speeds of 73 mph, it’s also one of the fastest wooden roller coasters in the world. And unlike a lot of coasters that weave through asphalt jungles, Lightning Rod was designed to weave through the trees and over the hills and valleys surrounding Dollywood, so you’ll feel like you’re on an adventure through the wilderness.
Cedar Point, Sandusky, OH
Regularly named the best roller coaster in the United States by riders at CoasterBuzz, Steel Vengeance is the world’s first steel-on-wood hybrid roller coaster to stand over 200 feet tall, creating an entirely new category of thrill ride they call the hyper-hybrid. With 10 world records, it’s the world’s tallest, fastest, steepest, and longest hybrid roller coaster, and has the most airtime of any roller coaster in the world! You’ll climb to a height of 205 feet, before flying down the 90-degree initial drop at up to 74 miles per hour. There are 4 inversions, almost 30 seconds of airtime (the most on any roller coaster on Earth) and countless ricocheting movements left-to-right, up-to-down, and side-to-side.
Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, NJ
Rated the best roller coaster in the United States by CoasterCritic.com, El Toro is easily one of the best wooden roller coasters in the world. The ride begins with a climb to 176 feet, followed by a 76 degree drop, which is the steepest drop of any wooden roller coaster in the country. As you will race through the coaster at up to 70 miles per hour, El Toro sends you over a series of nine insane hills designed to give you maximum airtime, with ‘ejector’ airtime that launches you out of your seat and makes you feel like you’d fly away if the restraints weren’t holding you back. Unlike other wooden roller coasters that are built on-site, El Toro was built using prefabricated track, which makes it smoother, faster, and more exciting than any wooden coaster you’ve ridden before.
Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia, CA
When it debuted in 1978, the twin-track Colossus at Six Flags Magic Mountain was the world’s tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster. However, as other rides continued to evolve, Colossus was no longer thrilling riders like it used to, so the designers re-imagined the whole ride and turned it into a steel-wood hybrid coaster called Twisted Colossus that made it one of the best coasters in the world yet again. By turning the twin-track coaster into a single track, Colossus riders get to race through twice as many thrills along the massive 5,000-foot-long track, including two 80-degree drops and almost four minutes of ride time. Best of all, if operators time it right, two trains can “race” each other through the track, including one of the most unique features of any roller coaster in the world: A “Top Gun Stall” where the two trains spin around either other, one directly over the top of the other.