Celebrate National Roller Coaster Day on one of the 7 best coasters in the US

Aug 16, 2021

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The anticipation building as you climb the track before the first drop, the delighted screams as your stomach dips with the fall, the wind whipping through your hair, the adrenaline pumping through your veins … For thrill-seekers, there’s something uniquely freeing about roller coasters.

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The U.S. is home to some of the best roller coasters in the world, and you can celebrate National Roller Coaster Day — Aug. 16 — this year by hopping on one of these coasters.

Jurassic World VelociCoaster

The VelociCoaster at Universal Orlando. (Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando/Facebook)

One of the newest roller coasters in the U.S. is the Jurassic World VelociCoaster at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando.

The ride will take you 155 feet high at up to 70 mph on 4,700 feet of track. There’s a barrel roll over water, two high-speed launches, a zero-gravity inverted stall and an 80-degree drop after the tallest peak of the ride.

This isn’t the tallest or fastest coaster on this list, but the VelociCoaster has also been heralded for its immersive queue experience that tells a story as you wait to board the ride. You’ll even see life-like animatronic raptors.

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. (Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando)

Another immersive roller coaster that is considered one of the best in the U.S. is Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure at Universal Orlando. The ride offers two separate types of carriages — a motorbike and a sidecar — that make you feel like you really are riding on Hagrid’s motorbike.

The coaster doesn’t twist upside down or send you screaming down the track at 100 mph, but it still provides plenty of thrills. The storytelling is immersive even on the track (which is a feat for any coaster), and there are some surprising moments — from a backward section of the ride to a literal drop.

Fury 325

Fury 325 at Carowinds in North Carolina. (Photo courtesy of Carowinds)

If you’re near Charlotte, check out Fury 325 at Carowinds amusement park. This hornet-themed ride will send you down a 325-foot drop with twists and turns at speeds up to 95 mph — and that first drop is a doozy.

Fury 325 is also one of the longest coasters in the U.S., measuring 1.25 miles in total. Roller coasters tend to offer short-lived thrills, but you’ll get a good bit of ride time out of this coaster.

Superman: Escape from Krypton

Superman: Escape from Krypton at Six Flags Magic Mountain. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Superman: Escape from Krypton at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California has been around for a decade now (the first version of the ride actually debuted in 1997) and remains one of the best roller coasters in the U.S.

With top speeds of 100 mph and a maximum height of 413 feet, it’s still one of the tallest and fastest coasters in the country. Plus, this is a reverse freefall coaster, which means you’ll be hurtling at high speeds while going backward.

Kingda Ka

The top of Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. (Photo by Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)

Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey is home to the tallest roller coaster in the world, Kingda Ka. It soars 456 feet in the air, sending passengers along the track at speeds up to 128 mph.

It’s a short ride, but you’ll be screaming the entire time. You go from zero to 128 in just 3.5 seconds up a 90-degree hill. Then, you’ll drop right back down in a 270-degree spiral. All in all, it takes less than a minute, but it’s still worth it.

Montu

Montu at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. (Photo courtesy of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay/Facebook)

If you’re a fan of coasters that take you upside down, Montu at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has you covered. The ride has an impressive seven inversions, including a batwing inversion (a heart-shaped section of the ride that puts you upside down twice in quick succession), an Immelmann loop (when you loop and roll at the same time) and a weightless roll.

Outlaw Run

The Outlaw Run at Silver Dollar City. (Photo courtesy of Silver Dollar City/Facebook)

Most of the coasters on this list are made of steel, but Outlaw Run at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri, breaks the mold as a wooden roller coaster. The wooden track matches the general “old-timey” aesthetic of Silver Dollar City, but it doesn’t hinder the ride’s thrill factor.

It’s one of the shorter coasters on the list at only 107 feet tall, but you’ll reach speeds of up to 68 miles per hour while looping through three inversions throughout the ride. The primary drop is 162 feet at an 81-degree angle.

Bottom line

For many, roller coasters are the highlight of any theme park experience.

But keep in mind that coasters aren’t for everyone. They aren’t suited for small kids — all have a height requirement (usually at least 41 inches if not taller). Additionally, roller coasters aren’t always the most size-inclusive attractions for plus-sized travelers. In my personal experience, rides at Six Flags and other smaller theme parks actually tend to be better about inclusivity than Universal Studios, but it is something to keep in mind before you plan your trip.

But for those who can ride these top coasters, you’ll be hard-pressed to find more thrilling coasters in the U.S.

Featured photo by Thomas Barwick/Getty Images.

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